Hello Fellow Traveling Readers!
How is Kenya treating you this month? Because the selection of books about or set in Kenya is pretty slim, probably the hardest part of this challenge is finding a book that interests you. Don’t give up – there are some excellent ones that are well worth the search! (see this post for some suggestions)
Of course, because of the lack of Library Police, there is no rule that says you can’t read a book set in a different African country. Or different country from anywhere for that matter. However, if you’d like to stick with the African continent, there are some amazing books.
Travel to Botswana with any of the titles in the delightful No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. These fun and charming books follow Mma Precious Ramotswe as she untangles the various problems of her clients with wisdom and humor. Her love of Botswana and its people shines throughout. There’s also a beautifully done television series which originally ran on HBO.
The Congo, with it’s dark history, has inspired some outstanding books including The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a journey into the African wilderness and the human heart. I would also recommend The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver about a fire-and-brimstone preacher who brings his family to the Congo to be a missionary. The book is elegant and thoughtful and absolutely devastating.
If you want to explore South Africa, there is no better place to start than with Nelson Mandela. Look in the Biography section alphabetical under Mandela for books about this man’s remarkable life. For a classic, try Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton about a black man’s country under white man’s law, written with dignity, courage and love. Or check out the Tannie Maria mysteries by Sally Andrews, set in rural South Africa. The first in the series, Recipes for Love and Murder, is filled with humor, romance and recipes (and a murder!)
What about you? What have you read this month?
Daybreakers – Willem Defoe, Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill
In the year 2019, an unknown plague has transformed the world’s population into vampires. As the human population nears extinction, so does the blood supply. Now the vampires must find a blood substitute before time runs out. Researcher Edward Dalton and a clandestine group of vampires have made a remarkable discovery, one which has the power to save the human race.
Extraordinary Measures – Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser
On the fast track and ready to taste the success of corporate America, John Crowley walks away from it all in hopes of finding a cure for two of his fatally ill children. With his wife Aileen by his side, he teams up with brilliant but unconventional scientist Dr. Robert Stonehill, and together they form a company to develop a life-saving drug. But just when it appears that a solution may be found, the relationship between the men is tested and the fate of John’s children is at stake.
Invictus – Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon
Nominated for two Oscars
Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match.
I have long been fascinated by Nelson Mandela — intrigued by how an individual could endure 27 years in prison and then become South Africa’s charismatic leader during a critical phase in its history. Though not a biography, this compact book, subtitled Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage, gives us insights into the man’s character and allows us to easily absorb some of his life’s essentials truths. Here are a few examples:
- Courage is Not the Absence of Fear
- Have a Core Principle
- See the Good in Others
- Know When to Say “No”
The author, Richard Stengel, editor of Time magazine, spent nearly three years with Mandela, eating with him, traveling with him and watching him interact with other dignitaries — and it shows. Stengel obviously has deep affection for his subject, and he uses events in Mandela’s life to illustrate the lessons — how as a child, Mandela was raised by a tribal king as a companion for his own son — how he became a freedom fighter and seldom saw his own family — and how he found new love and remarried at the age of eighty.
I enjoyed this easy-to-read book and would recommend it not only to adults eager to gain new leadership skills, but also as an appropriate gift for those soon-to-be graduates on your list.