What you need to know:
- Books in the Kindle store are much cheaper than a paperback. I also have titles not stocked with any bookshop or street vendor in this town.
- When I long press on a word, it shows me its meaning and saves the context to my vocabulary builder. I usually reference this library when writing.
There are two types of relationships folk have with books.
There are those who want to worship at its shrine; to do nothing else but sit at its feet and drink in the eternity of words and stories.
Then there are those who think books eat up too much space. Space that should have gone to more internet. These ones are cursed to dance naked around a bonfire of burning books.
I am in awe of words. I read because my writing demands that I read — you cannot write well if you do not read frequently. I also read because I just love to read stories.
I picked up the habit of reading and writing from my sister.
Back in the early 90s, growing up in the Nairobi suburbs, she would read a novel, finish it then I, the silly impressionable little sister, would pick it up to read.
I began to write in a journal because I saw her doing so. (I owe my writing to you, Maggie. Thank you for planting the seed that grew this rich ever-expanding forest of my creative life.)
MAKING A MARK
I am 35 and a big girl now. Reading and writing are such a significant part of who I am that it is the very definition of me.
My current favourite books are Us by David Nicholls and I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman by Nora Ephron.
I love Us because it is well-written. I am learning plenty about the storytelling elements of art and craft.
I also love the main character and its narrator, Douglas. Douglas is an overachieving nerdy scientist with an artsy wife who wants to leave him and an underachieving millennial son who does not love him.
He has a wry sense of humour. Douglas has me cracking a smile at every turn. I could have shared some of his wisecracks but word count does not allow.
Nora Ephron showed up at my doorstep at a time when I was doubting my growth as a writer and my future as a creative.
My pal had just released his novella and it was flying off the shelves. I grew jealous.
It was an ugly unfamiliar feeling; I told no one about it. Ironically, he recommended I read Nora Ephron. “She’s very good. And funny. You’ll love her.”
She was. And I did. I Feel Bad About My Neck is a collection of her published magazine columns.
Reading Nora, I heard her tell me, “Look, Bett, calm down and have a drink. Loosen up, already. Your best writing will come in your 40s and 50s. When you’re free from all the nagging obligations of children, monthly periods and a full-time job.”
I only read on my Kindle these days. Folk argue that they love the reassuring weight of a book in their hands.
And to feel the texture of the pages between their fingers. To smell paper. Those who love the internet want to be seen on the internet with a book.
But it is hogwash. Moses did not whine when the commandments came inscribed in those stone tablets.
I bought my Kindle from Amazon in June 2016. It is a Kindle Paperwhite, second generation. The cost of purchase, accessories and shipment was no more than $100 (Ksh10,100).
Buying that Kindle was one of the smartest investments I made in my writing.
Learning became a five-finger exercise. I can highlight sexy paragraphs and email them to myself.
When I long press on a word, it shows me its meaning and saves the context to my vocabulary builder. I usually reference this library when writing.
Books in the Kindle store are much cheaper than a paperback. I also have titles not stocked with any bookshop or street vendor in this town. Like Nora’s work right here.
When I moved out of my parent’s home to my home with GB and Muna, I moved with several carton boxes of my books and magazines.
Most of these boxes remain unpacked because there is not enough room in our flat to display them.
GB is also a voracious reader, so … Kindle can hold 1,500 non-illustrated books — I am not competing with anyone for shelve space.
I sometimes lose sleep in the middle of the night. At 3am, the hour of the devil.
Instead of leaving the warmth of the comforter — and him — I reach for my Kindle on my nightstand and read under the covers. Words take a life of their own at 3am.
I carry my Kindle whenever I travel. I always list it high up on my packing list, before my shoes, eyeliner and hair conditioner.
I am in Kaplong for the holidays with my folks and their cows, and I have my Kindle with me.
I am rereading sections of old books I loved. I think it has something to do with my age.
Thankfully, I never have to worry about the books getting tattered or dog-eared. Or worse, asking for whoever I lent it to to bring it back.