As you may know, the Storymoja and KNLS campaign for a ‘reading revolution’ is already well under way. It will include the world record attempt at ‘most people reading aloud simultaneously’. This will be on June 16th. Immediately after, the Reading Marathon will begin, and will include the fulfilment of pledges to complete reading four books between June 16 and September 15, and the book drives to collect books which will go to the KNLS libraries as well as to schools that need books.
I never fell in love with books. I jaywalked in love with them, haphazardly crossing Nairobi streets with my eyes gobbling up words. How intriguing books were. How could entire cities fit in there? How could I see horses galloping across the pages, and yet not a single word had moved?
The people inside books had such odd concerns. Like the people in Pride and Prejudice -the Bennetts- how could such rich-sounding people claim to be so poor and unfortunate?
The books of my childhood were all about chartering my young mind. They were also about looking for friends to keep me company in the hovels of my loneliness.
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women gave me a bunch of sisters. Meg, Amy and Beth March were always there for me. Jo March wasn’t there for me; she was me. She was ludicrous and clumsy and unaware. Like me, she wanted to be a writer, and that’s about the only thing she was sure about herself.
I read books set in the prairies, about Indians and pilgrims and pioneers, of savages, of girls who only had buttons as souvenirs of their boyfriends’ love. I wept!
And then I threw those books out because I realized that I didn’t need to get ulcers just because Edward had lost the silk handkerchief that had Love, J. S embroidered in the corner. For one, I couldn’t even imagine how a handkerchief could be made of silk. How practical is that, really?
My literary palate converged towards books whose characters I could relate with. I was growing up. People claimed I was a young woman. I didn’t feel like one though (young, maybe, but a woman? I didn’t even remember feeling like a child). At this point in my life, out of respect for my age group (let’s call it that and not peer pressure), I read Judy Blume and Francine Pascal.
Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret was my first ever Judy Blume text. In it I was sorely reminded that I was a young woman (there was too much talk of Tampax and bras *gag*). In Sweet Valley, the Wakefield twins had boyfriend trouble from when they were eight! Do you know what I was doing when I was eight? I was a long distance runner; running to keep up with my dad’s long steps.
I delved into the riveting world of crime fiction.Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys kept me up each night. Forget CSI and NCIS. These characters invented the art of finding an eyelash inside a dumpster.
… In books I found a home for my homeless heart. Books taught me the tenets of tolerance and respect. I learnt love and peace and strength. Books taught me how not to be ashamed of being a young woman, how to embrace the person that I am and the person I am destined to be.
So, why do you read? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please send in a short piece, no more than 600 words and include a photo of yourself reading, by yourself or with family and friends. If we like your piece it will be added to The Reading Revolution’s Why I read Page. (You will also find the link to the registration page on the upper right hand column.)
And now allow me to send you to this week’s readings. Please remember to vote on all stories, and to offer constructive critique.
2. A Reminiscence: The phone rang. The high-pitched ring tone pieced the stillness like staccato gun burst shattering my thoughts. At the fifth vibration, I picked it up.
3. Returning Home: I always preferred dealing with the landlord’s wife, Mrs Kamau, as opposed to the husband. The old lady, with her evident rural upbringing …
If you would like your work to be featured here, please send in your short story to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday of every Sunday.
Don’t forget to join the Reading Revolution! Have a great week ahead!
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