Verah Omwocha, 25, is a writer, book editor and reviewer at Writers Guild Kenya. Although she trained as a teacher, she discovered upon graduating that her passion for literature was outside the classroom.
In 2015, she plunged blindly into the world of editing books and writing short stories with a strong determination to learn. Later in the same year, she won the Tito Livio Award for Historical Fiction for her short story, “The Crescent Moon”.
TRAINED AS A TEACHER
Her background as a trained teacher has given her an opportunity to co-author books for the new curriculum for primary and secondary levels at Longhorn publishers. She has also published a children’s book titled Maria and her Tomatoes and is currently working on two novellas that are set to be released soon. She runs a blog called “Books and Life” that features reviews on various books as well as musings about life. She spoke to Nation.co.ke.
What are the three most memorable books you have read so far?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The narrator in this book, Death, is so sarcastic and lyrical at times adopting a sympathetic tone towards humans. I almost liked him.
Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. The characters are so vivid. I still feel Shams of Tabriz breathe the forty rules into my system. I see myself in him too, roaming the world, looking for the God in me.
Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo. That book simply speaks to the depths of my soul.
How many books on average do you read in a year?
I always lose the count somewhere along the year but I read about three to four books in a month. Most of these books I have read while commuting; it is a great distraction from the unnerving traffic jam. I loved bedtime reading but I recently got married so I have not been able to do much of it.
Which is your least favourite genre of books?
I’m not particularly choosy but I read few motivational books. I guess I’m already motivated enough (laughs).
Which are your two most treasured books and why? Would you lend them out?
They can’t be only two but let’s go with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and Forty Rules of Love. On lending – that’s the problem – when they are so good, I want to share hoping they’ll impact someone else as much. But I’ve been let down in the past. I think I’ll learn to hoard books.
If you were to become a character from a book, who would you be and why?
Janie Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God. She taught me about living for myself.
If you had the opportunity to meet three authors, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Leo Tolstoy – he is my greater than great grandpa. He’s my teacher.
Euphrase Kezilahabi — he makes reading Swahili books so enjoyable.
I would also love to meet Morrie from the book Tuesdays with Morrie to thank him for teaching me about the things that truly matter in life.
Christmas is around the corner, if you were given an opportunity to choose three books as a Christmas gift, which ones would they be?
Yesterday I Cried by Iyanla Vanzant, my friends Patricia and Eunny have already read the book and are giving me no peace. Next is a book which has been on my to-buy list for ages, Ghosts of 1984 by Odour Jagero and lastly Our Life in His Hands, a biography of Tomàs and Paquita Alvira.
But you don’t expect me to turn down any other book that’s not on the list, do you?
What was your last read and how did you find it?
Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez. It was a tense story that left me with so many ‘whys’.
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