By Nyana Kakoma | October 13th, 2014

In the recent past, I have had quite a number of people come to me and confess that reading books is not their thing. In the past, I would have judged them for this poor, poor choice in life but I am learning that we can’t all be the same. They probably feel the same way towards me when they are going out dancing and I say, “Have fun, guys. I’ll just go home and chill.” I wouldn’t want them to judge me for that choice so I will let them be.

However I have also met a couple of people who are not in the habit of reading books but wish they were. And I know sometimes we book lovers make it seem like reading is an earth-shattering activity but sometimes, let’s be honest,  it isn’t. I have been thinking of ways one can read more books without sometimes having to buy more books. So far this is what I have:

1. Reading challenges. You can set a challenge for yourself (with other people) to read books. The books would depend on your taste or whatever more you want to read. To make it work, it is wiser to set a deadline so that it does not become like that “Go to the gym” resolution you set at the beginning of the year that you have not gotten round to yet. There are so many ways to go about this. You can choose genres, authors by continents, or complete works by particular authors. Personally I have never been a fan of sci-fi books and it’s one challenge I will be taking on in the near future.

Day 1 of #100DaysOfAfricanReads with Angela Wachuka
Day 1 of #100DaysOfAfricanReads with Angela Wachuka. Photo by Msingi Sasis

For today, I would like to point out an exciting campaign that was launched on October 10 by Kwani? Director, Angela Wachuka. The challenge, #100DaysOfAfricanReads, is supposed to celebrate great African writing. So far, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe), Song of Lawino by Okot p’Bitek (Uganda), Children of the Revolution (published as The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears in North America), by Dinaw Mengestu (Ethiopia) and Search Sweet Country by Kojo Laing (Ghana) have been featured for the first four days.

I love this campaign because it is such a great way to add to your “To read list” and a chance for you to share the African books that have changed your life. You can be a part of this by liking the page Sisterkilljoy on Facebook or follow @sisterkilljoy on Twitter. If you can have some portraits of yourself taken with your favourite African book, add the hashtag #100DaysAfricanReads so we can see the books you are celebrating or a leave a comment on the Facebook page to get to know how you can be featured.

Wanjeri Gakuru reads Song of Lawino Photo by Mutua Matheka #100DaysofAfricanReads
Wanjeri Gakuru reads Song of Lawino Photo by Mutua Matheka

2. Book clubs are another fun way to get into the habit of reading. I am told that there was once a big book club in Kampala that used to meet at the National Theatre. No one seems to know what happened to it. I know very few book clubs that have passed the test of time. People get busy, maybe even bored and forget why they started in the first place. The few successful one that I know have worked among friends who have decided to make it more than just a book club. There is one I was told of recently that shares recipes as well and has some sort of cookout. After cooking together, they sit to discuss the book as they eat. Food and books? You would have me!

Here is a link on how to start a book club and another checklist that might help. If you can, get people who stay in the same area as you so that getting across town to your home isn’t one of the excuses for not showing up.

3. Book swaps.  At a book swap, a group of people meet with their books and exchange them. If it is a group of 10 people and each brings five books, that means there are 50 books to be exchanged. This gives the reader a variety of books to read and you can spend a while without worrying about not having something to read.

4. For poetry, recitals and poetry sessions are the most fun ways to get to know new poets and enjoy the performances. In Kampala, look out for recitals by the Lantern Meet of Poets every couple of months, Poetry in Session and Open Mic. Kwivuga is also back! A book swap at any of those poetry gatherings would be a great idea!

5. Modern fireplaces is an idea I have not tried out but I think would work well. Just hear me out. I constantly worry that I do not remember most of our folktales, proverbs, myths and legends. The last time I fully encountered these was back in my literature classes at university. It would be a shame if we lost these completely and personally, I would not want to read only Jack and The Beanstalk to my kids. So I have been thinking of ways these could be revived. How about you organise a modern fireplace night with a couple of friends who can tell some of the folktales that they remember? If they do not remember any, how about they speak to parents or older relatives for some of those stories? Imagine the number of stories you can learn from as many parts of Uganda as possible. Would you be willing to try this?

6. Game nights for books lovers. How about a game night based on books of different genres? Famous first or last lines, actors in movie adaptations of books, outstanding characters in books, sonnets, poets, authors, places where the books were set etc? The next time you have a game night, try a book theme and see if this won’t make you want to read even more.

7. Here is a brilliant thing happening in Nairobi where books are put in a cab so you can read while you ride. And if you want to take a book, you have to leave one of your own. Isn’t that brilliant? I do not know if it would work well with our cab system but this is an idea that could work in a restaurant, I think.

How are you making sure you have enough books to read? Which one of the above would you be happy to try?

7/7 is Sooo Many Stories’ way of helping you beat the Monday blues. 7 things that are making me happy in the literary world that will make you happy too!


  1. Carol Beyanga
    October 13, 2014           Reply

    Modern fireplaces sounds FUN. It would be a good way to get hubby, the only one in the house who isn’t a great reader, interested. Will definitely see if we can get my parents to tell us stories during Christmas time! Good ideas these.

    1. Thanks, Carol! Thanks for always reading!

  2. Call me for 5 or 6!!! Interested.

    1. Sawa!

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