A Year In Books

Ok- full disclosure, I haven’t completely finished this weeks book yet. I’m reading Justinian’s Flea and I am loving it and don’t want to rush through it and not give it’s due. I don’t feel too bad about  missing this weeks deadline because there have been other weeks when I’ve read more than one book, so technically, I’m still ahead of the game.

In lieu of a reviewing a new book, I thought I would share one of my favorite reads with you guys this week instead. I promise a full review of Justinian’s Flea next week. But as for today……

The Shadow of the Sun

I would like to introduce y’all to The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski. This is my absolute favorite non-fiction book of all time. It’s a collection of stories that Kapuscinski wrote while traveling as a journalist in Africa during the independence movement of the 1960’s. Ghana was the first African nation to declare independence in 1957 and Kapuscinski was one of the many foreign journalists to travel there and report back on the developing events, however, unlike many foreign journalists, Kapuscinski didn’t stop in Ghana. He continued on across the continent reporting on the independence movements and subsequent coups and civil wars. He lived in Africa, and deliberately chose to live many times not in the rich white areas, but with the Africans. He was in Uganda at the time of Amin. He battled a cobra with a barrel in a roadside hut. He caught malaria and suffered through it many times. He saw countless battles and the carnage they left behind. He met leaders that were later assassinated. He was there. There for all of it, the good and the bad.

I read The Shadow of the Sun on the airplane the first time I traveled to Uganda. It was an invaluable resource to me. Even though the Uganda I entered and resided in was very different from the Kapuscinski experienced, I found some things to be the same. I was well prepared to be called “mzungu” because of that book. I recognized the pride the Bugandan people take in their appearance and with their courtesy towards others. More than anything, what this book prepared me for was the overwhelming hope I would feel in spite of the overwhelming poverty. Because, no matter how bleak and grief-filled Kapuscinski’s accounts of events were, there was always a tone of hope. Always the sun after the rain. I was able to fully embrace and experience the beauty and joy of Uganda because I read his book. Maybe it was because, after reading his brilliantly written account, I felt as if I had already been there, like I was traveling to a place I knew well. It took a lot of the fear out of traveling by myself to Uganda and not knowing for sure what I was about to experience. And when I went to Uganda for the second time, I took The Shadow of the Sun with me again. And when I feel homesick for Uganda, I read The Shadow of the Sun and it helps a little bit.

What are you guys reading this week?

11 thoughts on “A Year In Books

  1. I want to answer your question with something exciting like, “My 47th pregnancy test,” but I got nothing. I do like this post, though – that’s something, right? …Right?

  2. I am reading The Man in The Rockefeller Suit. It is a fascinating and chilling story about an immigrant who lived as an imposter for 30 years or so. During this time he committed a murder or two and defrauded people of millions. He went by the assumed name of Chris Rockefeller. He was recently found guilty of murder.

  3. I just started reading “A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano” by Katie Hafner.

    Hafner’s writing is easy and engaging to read, and so far I’ve learned a lot of history I didn’t know about Glenn Gould, piano tuning, and how Steinways are made.

    I may write a “review” once I’m finished.

    Glad you’re enjoying Justinian’s Flea!

  4. I’m currently reading “Bones of Betrayal” by Jefferson Bass. Not as important a work as Shadow of the Sun, but it passes the time on lunch hour 🙂 Its part of a series of fiction/mystery books co-written by the forensic anthropologist that started the Body Farm at the University of Tennesee. Pretty entertaining, for what it is….

    I enjoy your book reviews very much. Do you read “real books”, or do you use an e-reader? I’ve been reluctant to switch from physical books to a reader, mainly because I’m stubborn. Starting to give it serious consideration, though. I read a book or two a week and it sure would be more convenient – if I ever make the leap.

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