In an essay entitled “My Year of Making Lists,” the American writer Hua Hsu reveals that he fell into an obsession with lists in February this year. He writes that he began to keep records of his playlists, movies watched, food, (re-read) books and online purchases because of restlessness. He was trying to “normalise a strange year.”
“Lists make the world seem manageable, communicating the possibility of order. They offer boundaries, a sense of finitude. Keeping my tallies became a strategy for imagining some kind of forward momentum in a period of global stasis.”
My own list is not as expansive as Hsu’s adventure. It does however help in decluttering my mind and reducing the occurrence of procrastination which I still find challenges with. I am encouraged in my endeavour by writer Lailah Gifty Akita who declares that, “each day I will accomplish one thing on my to-do-list.”
My take-off and progress was almost derailed by an unusual word that I came across during the week – “expagorate.” I looked up the word in all the dictionaries available to me. All of them suggested that I was probably looking for the word “exaggerate” instead.
I eventually found an answer of sorts in the online Urban Dictionary which defines expagorate as a word that “supposedly means to provide more information or to explain further.” More interestingly, several other informal posts define the word as Zimbabwean slang for a “more detailed insight.”
The Herald newspaper used the word in an article entitled “Unpacking 4G, Long Term Evolution (LTE)” in 2015. Nonetheless, there seems to be agreement that the word does not exist.
Having lost a possible new addition to my vocabulary, I will still focus on books, whether memoirs, literary or historical fiction, non-fiction and histories. Reading remains a great and veritable builder of such personality traits as extraversion, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness.
Besides expanding one’s vocabulary, experts emphasize that being articulate is a great boost in any profession. Whether one is interested in literature, global affairs, or, especially this year, advances and breakthroughs in science and medicine, books go a long way in changing the way we interact with the world.
The writer of the novel Strange Flowers, Donal Ryan, says that, “books, like all art, offer an escape route, however, temporary, from the restlessness of this year of fear and isolation.”
Because books also empower the reader with an increased tolerance for uncertainty, they enhance our abilities in relationships with colleagues, employees, superiors and clients.
I hope to expand my to-do-list into an experiment on an online book club as part of efforts to create better and effective communicators with a keen sense of emotional intelligence. In a year characterized mostly by issues of identity, family, loss, stress and burnout, books have retained their place as great stress busters.
In the book, Farewell to Dreams, suspense novel writer CJ Lyons noted that, “you are never alone when lost in a good book.”
Established participants in book clubs say that, besides reinforcing the ideal that reading is not a solitary activity, the clubs help people to commit to systematic reading habits as well. Further, the interdisciplinary thinking that is shared helps club members to become more comfortable and confident in their respective professional discussions.