I’ve spent the past month working on so many projects, walking around the city with the kids, and also figuring out my next steps in terms of employment. As I said in one of my blog posts in August, I’m tired of writing content for others that I don’t specifically believe in, or that bores me to tears. So I decided that my writing services are now solely reserved for projects that I want to work on rather than feel like I should because I need the money and the “exposure”. I feel a lot happier after making that decision, and somehow it opened so many more doors than I thought it would!
I have also been reading a lot, as always, and this year specifically I have been trying to expand my horizons in terms of learning and reading. I’ve been a bit all over the place, hopping on different reading challenges started by others, discovering a variety of wonderful writings and writers from all over the world. My main goal has been to always read books by those who are underrepresented in terms of where they come from, who they are, and what they write about. In August I had a sudden need to read more about Ethiopia, and then about Eritrea, and this developed into a plan to read as many books from different African countries this year. Obviously I have read books written by Africans in my life, but nowhere near enough. Not even a speck on the horizon of near enough. So now this has developed into a real reading challenge with a Google Doc sheet and a map that I am coloring in, and lists and lists of authors and books and library holds and searches.
I even created a hashtag #ReadAfrica2018, to hold myself accountable, and for anyone else interested in joining in.
There are a few rules if you want to join in: it has to be something you have read in 2018, previous years don’t count (so for example I have to find an unknown to me Nigerian author or book, even though I have read quite a bit of Nigerian literature in the past); it has to be written by someone who was born in Africa, but they can now be living elsewhere; and it can be any of the following: fiction, non-fiction, play, or poetry. And most importantly: it cannot be written about somewhere in Africa from the perspective of a person who has only visited, even if the visit was for an extended period of time. There are loads of good books on different areas in Africa but the point of my challenge is to read work by Africans. (This also means trying to avoid any work written by descendants of colonizers).
So, there are 55 recognized states in Africa according to data online (I have counted 56 in my list though so I need to figure out the discrepancy). I am 6 countries and 7 books in and I shall be starting on Morocco or Somalia this week. Obviously this is a personal reading challenge but I would be delighted if others want to join in, suggest books etc. Some countries are proving more challenging than others, but I am determined to complete this challenge!
I will be keeping my challenge list right here, and reviews of all of the books I read will be going up on From The Inside Book Reviews as usual. My first love is historical fiction as it’s a gateway for me to do my own research on the time written about, so a lot of my choices are obviously going to be based on that preference, but I will try to vary things as much as possible! I will also try to read in French if that is the original language, but it’s already proving a little difficult to find certain books here even in English.
Reading challenges, new writing projects, new jobs... The rest of 2018 is building up to be quite exciting, on a personal level. On a more general level this country is still going down the loo quite spectacularly and I cannot wait for the day that we can finally afford to leave and continue our lives in a country where we don’t feel like we have to fight for everything every single day. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but hope and hard work is what drives us every day. In the meantime I will continue to protest, read, write, and fight. I am going to be back on Instagram this week, but most likely not on FB ever… You can follow the reading challenge there if you are interested in seeing what books I choose! And also on Goodreads where I have created a special shelf dedicated to the challenge.