Monday, February 07, 2005

Booky McBookerson: The Recommendations

I don't have a TV, or access to reasonably-priced trashy magazines (yes, I can purchase a Cosmo or a Vanity Fair here, but for the bargain price of about 20 dollars), and so I read a lot of books. A lot. Of books. Lots.

But anyways, many of these books fall into the 'good, but nothing to write home about' category, and quite a few of them are very good, but are not specific to being in Africa, and so don't really make sense to write about here.

And some books are both relevant to this weblog, and are also absolutely amazingly incredible books. And so I am making some recommendations, the first two of which are fairly timely, and the third which is just a book I enjoyed.

1) If you read one non-fiction book this decade, please, for the love of all that good and human, read We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. It's about the Rwandan genocide, and although its' topic is heavy and horrifying, it's written in a very readable and human way. It's been said that this book should be required reading, and I agree. READ IT. (I don't usually get pushy and admonishing about 'things african', so assume that I'm beings reasonable, mmmkay?)

2) If you can't face a book with a title like that, and you'd prefer a novel, read A Sunday By The Pool in Kigali. That pool (one that I have sat beside while eatinglunch) is at the Mille Collines Hotel in Rwanda, and is the hotel of the movie Hotel Rwanda. The book is a fictionalised account of a Canadian writer living in the hotel during the months of the genocide, and focuses partly on the romance between himself and one of the Rwandese hotel staff. An excellent book.

3) The Last King of Scotland is also a novel, this time about the Idi Amin era in Uganda. A great book for those who have no interest in learning about Africa, and just want a good read; you will probably gain a bit of knowledge about this country I am in whether you like it or not. I found it particularly thrilling to sit on the pool patio of the Grand Imperial Hotel here in Kampala, while reading scenes of Amin's insanity in that very pool. Neato! The title refers to the fact that Amin's nutso-ness led him to believe that he was Scotland's rightful king. Also, he named himself "His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular." Yep, bonkers!!

I've read a few other books about africa that were reviewed/recommended to moderate acclaim, but frankly found them kinda crap.

Do you have books you'd like to recommend? i'm always looking for ideas.


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