Friday, January 20, 2012

More About Africa and What I am Reading Now

Went to the library and picked up two more books from "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series by Alexander McCall Smith. I got "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party" and "Tea Time for the Traditionally Built." Both were good reads, and uplifting, as our protagonist, Precious Ramotswe, has a positive outlook.

If you did not read my previous posting, this series is about the one and only woman-owned detective agency in Botswana. I have really enjoyed reading about Botswana, and have wanted to learn a bit about Africa in general, because I have not read much about it.

So, while at the library I grabbed, "Djibouti" by Elmore Leonard off one of the shelves. (The only reason that I know that Djibouti is a country in Africa is because my eldest son, Josh, once had to pick an African country to do a report on. At the time, I suspected that he had chosen the country because it is (roughly) pronounced "Ja Booty," and as he was in the fifth grade at the time, I figured he liked to go around saying that.)

But, I digress.

I plowed through the Detective Agency books really quickly. They are light, fun reads. Then, I turned my attention to "Djibouti." (Yes, I am aware that I just said that I turned my attention to Ja Booty.) Basically, it is about a woman that travels to Africa to make a film about the Somali pirates. Seems like a good premise. But, to be honest with you, I could not get into the book. The dialogue seemed stiff. I put it down after a few chapters and just did not pick it up again.

So, I decided to test-drive a couple of Alexander McCall Smith's other series. First, I read, "The Sunday Philosophy Club." I read the whole thing, but to be honest, I thought that it dragged a bit. However, the end had a nice twist to it.

Next, I read "The Unbearable Lightness of Scones," from the "44 Scotland Street" series by the same author. THAT was a winner! In the book we follow the action of several families and individuals who live at 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh. They are a lively group, and I am going to snatch up the rest of the series as it shows up at the library.

Smith. our author lives in Scotland. But, according to the dust jackets of his various novels, I know that he was born and raised in Zimbabwe. This was the British Colonial country of Rhodesia (I confess that I only know that from the movie, "Blood Diamonds.) Still curious about Africa, I pick up a book called, "The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe." I am a few chapters in and am learning that it is about the murder and displacement of a lot of farmers there, many of them from the old colonial days.

To be honest, this book has been sitting open on the floor next to my bed for several days. I'm just not up for a lot of murder right now. I am enjoying good old hunky-dory Batswana too much with Precious Ramotswe. So, I think that I will return "Djibouti" and "The Last Resort," and try to get more of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" books while I am there. Luckily, Smith is a very prolific author. By the way, here is a map of Africa that I got from the website of some international investment bankers at

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