Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hello world.

It's been awhile.  I know.  I've recently been inspired by my college girlfriends' blogs to take another stab at mine.  I don't have all that much to share, so I figured I'd go the route of "stuff we do in rural East Africa."

We get asked (and ask) this all the time.  I'm increasingly involved in hiring for my organization and we always ask some version of "what do you like to do in your free time?"  It's a soft-ball question for sure, but it is actually pretty important.  Our staff live in rural environments without the options of museums, movie theaters, shopping, restaurants, yoga classes, Netflix, etc. that plenty of folks have come to expect for after-work fun.  Being able to self-entertain is pretty crucial.

Luckily, I come from a long line of hobbyists.  After my grandfather passed away, my grandma counted up his hobbies and determined he had been pursuing 14 distinct hobbies.  I probably have 4.  But anyway.  One is that I love to read.  My grandfather did too.  He started keeping a list of all the books he'd read after he retired and we figured it out:  he was averaging a book a day from the day of his retirement until the day he died.  And he still maintained 13 other hobbies.  Sheesh.

Anyway - I read more like 2 books a month.  I know this for sure because, in his memory, I also keep a list.  It's like 15 years old now, so it represents a decent data set.

Currently working on The Underground Girls of Kabul - thanks to a
recommendation from my college roommate/fellow bibliophile, Hannah.
I wouldn't normally think of reading as a social hobby, but I've been pleasantly proven incorrect over the last few months:

I've always wanted to be in a book club.  I joined one once before but, as even Wikipedia will tell you, most book clubs are a disappointment.  They're usually more about wine and gossip than the literature and it's tough to get members to actually read.  I was skeptical at first, but last August, I was visiting our Rwanda operations.  While on a three-hour car journey to our program site, I was squished in the backseat with two colleagues and all of our luggage.  We got to chatting and somehow discovered a mutual love: nautical fiction.  NPR had just published a post about the best nautical reads to get you through the summer doldrums, and it included a brief introduction to Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier:

"I guarantee you at least one delightful moment where you will crush the book to your chest, sigh deeply, and cast a slightly disappointed eye toward any seatmate, companion, or spouse who is not a French pirate."

Internet, I ask you: how could you not start a book club on the spot?

Anyway, we're approaching the meeting of our 7th book, so I figured I'd share our books to date:

1. Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier
2. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
3. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent*
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
6. Small Island by Andrea Levy
7. Lila by Marilynne Robinson

*The club's current favorite.  Check it out!

I'll have to regale you with the tales of fire-breathing, beer-brewing, and ice-cream making (a process that actually starts at the cow), but those are the weekend pursuits of my ever-so-much-cooler colleagues.  For now, you're stuck with just another reader... and it's back to the book for me!


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