Remember I mentioned last week about my struggle with quieting my mind which has impacted my ability to read and listen to podcasts? And that I threw in the towel on my previous read Teacher Man, bowed out at chapter three and placed the book neatly amongst other TBR books on my office console? Seems like all is not lost! As I was taking a walk in Karura Forest yesterday, a brilliant idea struck me. How about trying pocket books for a change?
I learnt about the concept of pocket books a couple of years ago from Bikozulu, just before he published his first book Drunk. That was when I used to read fiction like a maniac, and would always harass Biko for recommendations every so often. His suggestions hardly disappointed, and to date, some of my best reads have come from his list.
All The Light That We Cannot See-Anthony Doerr
Angela’s Ashes-Franck McCourt
Fates and Furies-Lauren Groff
So I kept pestering him almost on a weekly basis and at some point, he got tired of my demands.
“Why don’t you sign up to Goodreads where you can get countless recommendations?” He offered.
“I don’t want a public platform with such diverse interests, and then end up with more misses than hits.” I whined.
“Ok then just wait for my book to get published.” He retorted.
“In 2029?” I joshed.
“Oh ye of little faith!” He rolled his eyes. “Next month.”
“Oh wow! I can’t wait!”
“It’s going to be a pocket book though.” He clarified.
“Whatchu mean?” I asked. “Have you moved from writing to women’s fashion? Where I come from, pocketbook is synonym for handbag.”
“No dummy!” He responded, bemused. “It is simply a small book that can be carried in a pocket. So within no time you’ll be back pestering me.”
True to his prophesy, I inhaled that book in less than two hours and was back on the streets in search of exciting reads. That was in 2017. Fast forward to six years later where my challenge is no longer the inability to find interesting books, but the affliction that befalls most people-the struggle to grab a book, block out all the noise and dig in like you would a feast made for kings. I figured if I could give myself small targets in the form of pocket books, then surely I would get inspired to read more and more every time I wrapped up a book. And because I have an entire library of books that are craving my affection, thanks to the fact that I am always buying books as a form of therapy even as they continue to pile up and accumulate dust, I did not need to head to a bookstore to get one. I clambered up the staircase, my hips and pelvic area hurting from the 5km walk I had completed a while ago, and dug out George Orwell’s Why I Write from one of the book shelves at home.
It is amazing how the universe always leads you to what you need especially when you did not know you need it. In my sweaty joggers, I crouched and landed my bum with a thud on the first staircase right after the landing, and flipped the pages to the first chapter. George gives a preamble of his childhood as he believes one cannot assess a writer’s motive without knowing something of their early development, explaining how he knew he was going to be a writer from the age of 6. He had no playmates (his siblings were either too old or too young), his dad was not present in the early years and mum was of course super busy. So he had the lonely child habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons ha ha. I found myself smiling as all that was so relatable, except that I have never, at any point of my life, known what I wanted to be when I grow up. My folks, in their wisdom, decided to plug a 5 year gap between one child and the next one, and worse still, sent all of us to boarding school from the age of 9 years. So when I turned 4, my older brother was off to boarding school, and then my sister was born when I turned 5, which meant that by the time she was old enough to be a playmate, I was already in boarding school. The lonely child syndrome was also upon me.
The lack of playmates did not deter me from living my best life. I created imaginary friends in the flowers that stood tall around our house and held court every morning after breakfast. I assumed the role of a kindergarten teacher with the flowers as my students, and I would impart the little knowledge I had to them with the same enthusiasm as a nanny on payday. I loved my students as they were never late to class, they never disputed my assertions, stayed present and attentive constantly nodding in agreement especially on windy days. And after the end of every session, I sang to them for being such exemplary students, and not just any songs but my own compositions! Many moons later, it is no wonder I get more frustrated than a druggie who has missed a shot of their daily fix, when my real children find it wiser to ignore my rules and do as they please.
I only got off the staircase when I realised my stomach was rumbling vehemently, and there was this pungent smell that clung on to me! I had already gotten to page 64 in less than two hours, with another 56 to go. In those two hours, I discovered that While George Orwell writes for political purpose, I write for aesthetic enthusiasm-the desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed!