This was one of the books I deliberately refused to include in my 2018 to read list. Why? I judge a lot. Yes, I’m one of those people who judge a book by its cover. In fact, I wouldn’t have imagined being seen with such a book. As in nitaambia watu nini? What do I tell my kids I’m reading? I’d rather read books like How to Euthanise a Cactus by Stephen Derwent.
First of all, the title to me sounded rogue. I imagined people reading such books would be girls. Not just any girl but that girl who doesn’t give a £¥**€ about anything. She would be in tattered jeans with dreadlocks, purple lipstick with rainbow nail polish, chains of skulls and snake bracelets. And she would be smoking, drinking and doing all that mama told her not to do. Yes, that’s me judging. Guess what, I met the exact girl. In the train. On my way to Nairobi. And guess what she was reading? Exactly! I did not like her a bit. At one point she was so uneasy I thought her system was running low on pot. She held this book so high I was embarrassed on her behalf. I mean, there are children, old people, Muslims, Nuns and me – angel Gabriel’s assistant. How can she just flash a book with such a title on everyone’s face? Abeg! Heavenly fada, send faya down nah! I prayed silently. But guess what, she never gave a >¥«€*%
All through the journey she never smoked, never ordered for booz but just stuck to her book. Though she went to the toilet twice and took longer than the time I allocated her… but I guess it was her jeans. She had those ones that have buttons. I hate them. Taking forever to find the right hole for every button is so annoying.
I almost asked her what’s intriguing In the book but I imagined the kind of response I would get from someone looking like that, reading that kind of book. So I did not engage. The way she buried her head into the book got me curious. Since I could never be seen with such a book, I decided to download it.
Well, I did not like the beginning, in fact, I did not like the book even before starting but there I was, keenly analysing every word knowing well that I am wasting time and nothing good will ever come from such literature. And by the way, I was convinced the author was a lady. One of those dreadlocked mzungu unkempt backpackers trying to look more African than Africans themselves. I was wrong.
Any way, three hundred and seventeen pages into this now interesting book by Mark Manson, I made the most stupid decision. I must buy this book! Yes, I will go to a bookshop and buy it. Maybe very early before people start coming in or two minutes before they close just in case I meet my pastor or in-laws at the counter. I will also buy a cover to wrap it.
After going round Textbook Centre for an hour plus, sampling some new arrivals, I cannot see the book. I know it’s there but I just can’t see it. How do I even start asking the attendants? Ati which book are you looking for? Or me walking to the counter, to this cashier mama almost the age of my mother and excusing myself amidst dignified customers “do you have the subtle art of not giving…. ”
Then it hit me that I can actually make the sentence incomplete. Went straight to the attendant and confidently asked “excuse me, do you have the subtle art?” While crossing my fingers hopping she would say yes. “Yes” she said yes and I wasn’t even on my knees! But from her look I’m convinced she judged me. Maybe a little more than I judged the rainbow lady who I later realised was more of an angel than myself – from her phone conversations in the train.
So there I was, in chapter 9; And Then You Die. Yap, that’s the title to chapter 9. And guess what, it’s the last chapter. Meaning I’ve only got about 30 pages left. I finished the book at Java.
One day I will write a book about a book.
The Sabtle Art book review to follow.