Revisited: Lessons from Reading (2)

Keep an Open Mind: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence is a book ahead of its time that is notoriously known for its erotic scenes. I approached it from this angle. But I was quickly reminded to avoid making judgements about something or someone without full knowledge about them, when I realised that the book addresses other important themes, such as love, industrialization, etc.

Say No to Evil: Do not turn a blind eye to evil. Choose your weapon (mine is a pen) and join forces against evil. Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book by Charles French reminded me that evil often targets the weak and the innocent, and those with power or have a voice should speak up.

Listen: When I say I thirst for stories (poetry) from Africa, I mean I want to hear about current affairs from the continent’s contemporary writers. Stories from the Sun by Nametso Phonchi, a poetry anthology took me to Gaborone and Johannesburg, where ‘streets are coloured with anguish’. This another reason I love poetry, it forces me to really listen.

Your Story Matters: Somewhere in the process of writing, doubt asserts itself and derails a writer from their writing journey. An anthology of personal essays, Daddy edited by K.E. Garland served as a much needed reminder that every story matters because it might just be what one person or reader wants to hear.

Be Bold: Women have long been shamed into keeping quiet about their dreams or success. This happens in The Muse by Jessie Button as well, where Olive and Odelle go into great lengths in concealing the real artist, whose talent deserved to be acknowledged and celebrated.

What if Olive had been bold and claimed her success? It would have surely inspired other girls and women in her era. So yes, let’s be bold. But remember bold doesn’t mean being boisterous but rather saying what you want to say.

The Muse happens to be my favourite from this summer’s reading list. It started slow. But when I finally matched its pace, I was mesmerised by the beautiful and lyrical language, and the story that spans over centuries. And the characters…compelling! If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.

And that folks is a wrap. Thanks to all my enthusiastic writerly friends, who took up this challenge and read with me. It was a great, informative and most inspiring exercise.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. We can learn so much about our own writerly struggles by reading biographies of other writers and peeking beneath the veneer of their stories… We simply must stop believing the myth that other writers had it easier…Good writers are like good athletes: they simply make it LOOK easy, but none of us is there for the blood, sweat, and tears of the journey…we are too busy grieving our own.

  2. Thanks Khaya! I like this way of reviewing a book, without reviewing a book. Explaining what you gleaned from it can be so much more helpful than a synopsis, per se.

  3. Another wonderful recap of lessons learned. I enjoyed this immensely, Khaya. And a few recommendations for me to browse as well.

  4. Thanks Kathy, I’m glad you like this style of reviewing. I’m no expert in writing synopsis, so instead I share what/why/how the book or story affected me. Maybe one day I’ll share some of the books that made an impact on my life. 🙂

  5. Yay! I’m super pleased to hear you find some books you’d like to browse. That’s the whole idea. Thank you, I appreciate your encouraging comment.

  6. One of the things I love most about Lady Chatterley’s Lover (and about good fiction in general) is how a well-told story can do such wonder with layering. We can miss so much when we enter a story with our minds made up. On the same note, we win all sorts of awesomeness when we read with eyes and hearts and brain open.

    I might have to give The Muse a go.

  7. I absolutely agree, we do miss much when we enter a story with our minds made up. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was a lovely surprise and demonstrated what good fiction can do. The book could have been my favourite from this reading list.

    But there was The Muse; a historical mystery with the story set in the art world narrated by a Caribbean immigrant in London. This book did it for me, not only because I’m a huge fan of historical fiction but because I could relate to the characters, and…the language was so beautiful and lyrical; a poetic sigh. I do hope you enjoy it, too.

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