Read, read, read, never stop reading. And when you can’t read anymore . . . writeChinua Achebe
It’s yet another day! You are in quarantine and you are wondering what to do with all the time in your hands. You have worked all you can, watched, and re-watched almost all movies you know of and spent the remaining hours daydreaming about life pre and post corona. Still, the day hasn’t ended. What to do next?
Yes, pick up a book. For some, reading is overrated while for others, it is underrated. Whatever the case, reading is good for you. Yes, and you too. Among the myriad benefits tied to reading such as reducing stress by 68%, opening a book is good for your mind, body, and soul. Here are books that will keep you going through the pandemic and give you a breather from the chaotic social media scene.
Not only are these recommendations great books, but they are by our very own Kenyan authors.
South B’s Finest
by Makena Maganjo
A funny, thought-provoking, surprising and endearing coming of age story about friendship in all of its varied shades and intrigues. The novel is set in Nairobi in the 1990s. Three families find their lives interweave as they find themselves living across from each other in an idyllic middle-class neighbourhood, Malaba Estate, South B. As the decade charges on, their lives begin to show similarities in the secrets they keep and the mistakes they make.
The Dragonfly Sea
by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
A vibrant, stunning coming-of-age novel about a young woman struggling to find her place in a vast world–a poignant exploration of fate, mortality, love, and loss. Told with a glorious lyricism and an unerring sense of compassion, The Dragonfly Sea is a transcendent story of adventure, fraught choices, and of the inexorable need for shelter in a dangerous world.
by Makena Onjerika (ed.)
This anthology compacts the work of new and emerging writers based in Nairobi who participated in the Nairobi Fiction Writing Workshop, led by Caine Prize for African Writing winner, Makena Onjerika. Digital Bedbugs presents 12 stories of convicts and their mobile phones; an illicit house warmer who swears he didn’t kill the kid; a man who cannot help running through the night stark naked; a cop who excels at making bodies disappear; a husband who doesn’t want sex and a wife who must have some with him by all means necessary; a mother who sends her son interesting photography; a music instrument that induces psychosis; the unhealthy consequences of Nairobi nightlife; incels who know their knives; a reverend, his farm and his prize bull; horses, oaths and machetes; and of course, an unplanned trip to Kerala.
A Journey Through Time
by Newton Mudaki
It’s a coming of age story that focuses on themes of home and identity, the freedom of choice, the power of a rebirth, poverty, and reconciliation. The characters employed in the book are a true reflection of the Kenyan diversity-a blend of communities, cultures, and races. This is a book that promotes integration and cohesion of communities in the different social stratifications in Africa and across the globe.
My First Time
by Janet Mbugua
My First Time brings together 50 women’s voices who narrate their personal stories on menstruation. It advises on the support to be provided to girls who have had menstruation for the first time in their lives. The stories have the potential to improve the lives of millions, not only in Kenya but also around the world, in putting an end to “period poverty”.
The People of Ostrich Mountain
by Ndirangu Githaiga
The book chronicles the interconnected lives of three outsiders as they navigate the vagaries of race, gender and immigration. Githaiga concocts an exquisitely imagined, sweeping historical saga that traces the generations of one Kenyan family from 1952 to the 21st century. The author writes with expert ease about a dark time in Kenyan history when common people were caught in brutal conflicts between the Mau Mau and the British colonial government. Githaiga doesn’t pull his punches when he describes these atrocities, nor when he shows the racist attitudes of the white American doctors at Raymond’s residency program.
by Jackson Biko
It starts with a girl. Girls actually. It’s only fair that it starts with a girl, no? Only problem is that most stories that start with a girl always end up with someone banging on the door saying; I just want to talk. This is not one of those stories.
This one is about Larry.
He shags girls.
He hates his father.
And he looks nothing like his step brother, who stays by his side throughout his madness. When Larry does something terrible, it looms over him, shaping his future, transforming all the relationships around him and hurtling him into a rabbit hole. Oh, and wheelbarrows are involved. Five of them. Somehow Larry and one of these wheelbarrows will collide and things will get pretty hairy – for Larry, that is, not for you, dear reader.
Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum
by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner
Find Me Unafraid tells the uncommon love story between two uncommon people whose collaboration sparked a successful movement to transform the lives of vulnerable girls and the urban poor. It is a story about a fight against poverty and hopelessness, the transformation made possible by a true love, and the power of young people to have a deep impact on the world.
MAU MAU CHILD EXPERIENCE- BORN AND RAISED IN THE KENYAN MAU MAU UPRISING ERA
by Alice Wanjikῦ Mangat
A fascinating and inspiring autobiography of the renown Kenyan-born German author of the ‘Kiswahili for beginners’ books. A relevant and shrewd account of her life which many will relate to but seldom talk about. The MAU MAU CHILD EXPERIENCE is the first in a series of stories from the life of Alice Mangat that will leave you wanting more.
Through My African Eyes
by Jeff Koinange
A concise narrative covering the major players in 20th century African politics. The book is rich with insights into the personal and intellectual underpinnings of many historical events on the continent. Chronicles of warlords, soldiers, victims and politicians lend insight into Koinange’s celebrated journalistic style. describes complex geopolitical issues with incisive analysis. He provides readers with a step-by-step explanation on the way that biased media coverage splinters African nations and promotes disintegration by pandering to people’s lowest instincts. Wrapped in the political narrative are lesser-known details about Koinange’s life. With frankness, he discusses his family, which serves as a symbolic bridge between the beginning and the end of colonialism.