Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday for August 16th!!

Upon first reading this week's topic, I didn't think I could come up with a list of ten books I have read all set within the same locale, but then it occurred to me...
Of course I could--AFRICA!
I love to read about Africa and novels set in Africa...
always will, I guess!
Top Ten Books Set in Africa
This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Perhaps I was able to make this connection because I just 
read West With the NightBeryl Markham's autobiography. 
I am in the midst of composing the review to post, and there is 
so much that I want to quote directly from the text!
I agree with Hemingway:
Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West with the Night? 
...She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed 
of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, 
picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together
and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But this girl, who is to my knowledge
very unpleasant and we might even say a high-grade bitch, can write rings 
around all of us who consider ourselves to be writers ... it really is a bloody wonderful book."
It was, in fact, this praise that brought the book back into the limelight and 
reissued this 1946 release in 1983 when Markham was 80 years old.

I read Markham's autobiography as a direct result 
of having read Paula McLain's 
Circling the Sun, a historical fiction 
novel depicting Markham's 
childhood and early adulthood, 
including, of course, all her 
"first female" achievements!
This woman was a go-getter, to say the least!
I venture to say there was nothing much she wouldn't try...
and after all, if you never try, you never achieve.

I am glad to have read Nadine Gordimer's My Son's Story
I felt it was rather depressing, though authentic and 
I definitely appreciated Gordimer's writing skill. 
I guess I'd not read much of anything before that dealt
with the children of activist parents and their sense of
abandonment and neglect. I felt so badly for both Will and Baby.
Then to realize his mother was also leading a duplicitous life!
In fact I immediately started researching and have decided I 
really want to read her novel The Conservationist.

One of the first books I ever read that was set in Africa was 
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith! 
I absolutely love this series and feel as if I am Africa, as I read each installation. Book #17, Precious and Grace, is due to be released October 11, 2016. I need to catch up before that time and then post a review on this blog, though I have mentioned McCall Smith and this series, as well as others of his (e.g. Corduroy Mansions and Isabel Dalhousie), 
I have yet to post a review here. 

Heart-wrenching, yet I feel this is 
a very necessary story 
that should make each of us think about 
every single gallon of gas we consume...
Little Bee by Chris Cleave. 
From my Goodreads review: 
This story depicts the ultimate in loving sacrifice. 
And not just once... 
I cannot purchase gas without thinking of this one...
and regretting that I cannot do more.

by Ishmael Beah 
These children! 
Such abuse and terror they suffer, 
and through no fault of their own 
other than being alive! 
All these people displaced from 
their homes and villages, 
living in the wild and trying 
to obtain food just to survive, 
never knowing when they may be attacked yet again! 

King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild 
My Goodreads review posted January 25, 2013:

Read this about 2 years ago for book club and 
I can't remember when I have absolutely loathed and 
despised a historical figure as much as I 
now do King Leopold II. 
I realize it was a very different age with attitudes and 
beliefs that were very different, at least among the 
majority of people, but I can't stand it. 
The exploitation of others for purely monetary gain, 
power, and prestige sickens me. 
I equate this with the present-day corporations that 
exploit workers outside the U.S. because they can 
get by with paying a small pittance for labor and 
thereby greatly increase their 'profit margins.' 
Another huge advantage for companies 
in this global production enslavement--no need 
to provide safe work environments, decent living wages, 
and FORGET any benefits or protections on the job! 
Why we allow this, I will never understand, except that I guess 
the white guys who make up the 1% really DO control the world! 
It is beyond reprehensible, in my opinion! Anyway, I apologize for my rant! 
This book gives an excellent history of the invasion of Africa and literal and figurative 
enslavement of the people living there and is well worth the read 
to gain this knowledge, though it literally makes me nauseous to even think of 
this historical genocide. The stats will blow you away...

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver 
The Cross-Cultural Book Club I founded at Borders read this at the same time as 
King Leopold's Ghost to get a more comprehensive picture of the invasion of Africa 
by greedy self-serving white men. 
My Goodreads review:
This was one remarkably illuminating fictional work!
 This work depicts how well-meaning yet ignorant self-centered 
narrow-minded "conservative" people 
(typical "white folk," in my opinion) can destroy so much 
while intending to "convert" others (especially "savages") 
to their belief system. This "preacher"/white "American" 
was extremely disrespectful of the people whose country and 
village he had "invaded" and disrupted! Not only that, 
but he drags his family out to a very primitive 
(in comparison to the U.S.) society with absolutely 
no preparation or research to determine what they might need most to survive, let alone thrive. This was an extremely powerful and intense read; enlightening, to say the least! Lesson: meaning well is not enough! Be smart! Research! The fact that you have white skin does not make you smarter than anyone else, 
and especially doesn't mean you know what is best for anyone else!
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
My Goodreads review:
For me, this book was quite reminiscent of the 
writing style of African authors I have read, 
so no surprise to learn the author was 
born and raised in Ethiopia. 
This book was quite intense and dramatic, 
yet in an understated way at times. 
The characters were authentically true to 
themselves throughout the book which created 
a very stable foundation for the story. 
My only hesitation with this lengthy saga was 
the Sister's mysterious/unknown impregnation. 
I found the medical details fascinating, as well as the characters, and I thrive on characterization!

What is your favorite setting for a book?

Happy reading!


  1. I've never read a book set in Africa, but these all sound interesting. Great list! :)

    1. Thanks fore stopping by! Glad you liked it! I have always had a strong interest in Africa. I can only assume that in a former lifetime I was a native person on that continent somewhere... :)

  2. These all look awesome. Great post - I haven't read any of these books!

    1. Sorry to take so long to acknowledge your comment. I've been offline (too much work) the past 2 weeks! Honestly, I so enjoyed reading each one AND it is such an eclectic list--whatever your mood, you can probably find one to fit! :) Thanks for stopping by, Laura!