1 January 2018

Zimbabwe: The Reader's 2018 Reading Challenge


In the spirit and tradition of making New Year resolutions, this columnist invites you to add to yours the intention to read more in 2018. To aid you on your reading journey, here is a list of 12 categories and suggestions of books you could go through.

The list is not in any specific order and various books can fit into various categories, however the idea is to read 12 books in total, during 2018. At the end of each month, this column will review one of the categories on the list and some of the books that fall under it. So without further ado, here are the categories for the 2018 reading challenge.

A book by a Zimbabwean

This category has a number of options, both classic and contemporary, fiction and non-fiction. For something old, one can turn to Dambudzo Marechera, Charles Mungoshi or Chenjerai Hove. Contemporary writers include Petina Gappah, Tendai Huchu and Brian Chikwava. Specifically, on my list this year is a book written in vernacular.

A classic novel

A throwback to literature in English during high school, this category can be completed by going through anything by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Harper Lee, Leo Tolstoy and many others. If one has read very little Russian literature so, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina might be on the list this year.

A play

Plays are very interesting reads. There are a variety to choose from, the antiquated works of William Shakespeare or the latest edition to the Harry Potter series, The Cursed Child. My 2018 read will by The Trial of Dedan Kimathi by Ngugi wa Thiong'o.

A book translated from another language

Going through a book in its original text is perhaps the best way to read them but that depends on how many languages one knows. A translated book allows one to get to engage with literature from different parts of the world.

An autobiography or biography

Reading about people is always an interesting experience especially when you are used to experiencing only one side of them. On the list for this year are biographies of comedians as a lot of them have interesting background stories. If one is looking for a biography to read, I recommend The New Tsar by Steven Lee Myers, which is a book on Russian leader Vladmir Putin.

A book by a person of colour

The world of books tends to be dominated by white authors yet the world is far more expansive than that. This challenge is therefore to read something by an Asian, South American, Middle Eastern or African author.

A collection of short stories

This is perhaps one of my favourite types of writing. Short stories are quick reads but also often witty and the best one finds end with cliff-hangers or twists. Many writers have such collections, if you're looking for something close to home then Petina Gappah's An Elegy for Easterly and Rotten Row is where I'd go.

An anthology of poems

Poetry is good for the soul. As a recommendation, I would say Tapiwa Mugabe's Zimbabwe is a great place to start. It is short but also quite touching.

A book by a woman

Again this category is wide open and one can choose from something old or new. There are writers from all over the world who fit into the category, a lot of the acclaimed contemporary African writers are women, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Yaa Gyasi, and Taiye Selasi.

A graphic novel or comic book:

Books with pictures are some of the first that we encounter when our reading journey begins. Graphic novels are fun to read and I am specifically looking forward to getting my hands on Kariba by Blue Forest Collective, this year.

A science fiction/fantasy book

Isaac Asimov is perhaps the one that shall make my specific list, but there are different options depending on whether one wants robots and technology or magic and aliens.

A non-fiction book

It could be a self-help book, a book on engineering, a book on understanding how the world works, a book on a historical event -- the options are endless. On my specific list will be reading on the Middle East and Central Africa, with the more specific intention of understanding the conflicts in those regions.


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