I have a confession to make: I haven't read a book straight through in... years. I don't even know how many years. And I'm not talking a long book (see War and Peace or Atlas Shrugged). No. Even a book not much more than 100 pages. Uncomplicated books without philosophy, morals, religion. I haven't read any sort of book. At all. 

But today, for the first time in a long time, I finished a book. Cover to cover. I started on Saturday (this past Saturday!) while we away at the Busua beach. I read all day Saturday. Then some on Sunday, some on Monday, and finished Tuesday morning. And that's that. I finished a book.

Of course, you might have noticed, I have the ability to read. I've been reading since I was, what, 4 years old? It's not so much "I can't do it" as I couldn't get through a book. And now, having been in Ghana for a little more than a month, I realize why that was: it's because there were too many distractions that I could involved with. I had a flat-screen TV (not cable, but it did the job), constant internet (we share an internet stick here, or as Brits call it, a "dongle") and thereby constant entertainment whenever we wanted. There was always a need to feel productive, and if I wasn’t productive, then I needed to be mindlessly entertained.

But now, being in Ghana, without TVs, streaming internet, and a pressure to feel productive all the time (it still feels like we’re on leave from the U.S., not that we’ve moved here for two years), reading has become more interesting, even comforting.

So, in the end, it’s not so much learning how to read, as in putting letters together to make words, but learning how to fall back into a situation without the normal First World luxuries and finding new activities to take their place.

Well then. Onto the next book.


Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith. The second book in the series, “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” about Precious Ramotswe, a private detective in Botswana and her adventures. Well recommended.

7/9/2011 03:15:45 pm

You used to read a lot... and big books, too! 100 Years of Solitude? Les Miserables? The Fountainhead? (Maybe that last one was for IB, I don't know. I certainly never had to read it.) In any case, welcome back to the land of the reading. It's lovely weather this time of year... :)

7/11/2011 09:18:19 pm

Actually, having finished Tears of the Giraffe and then Things fall Apart in three days, I thought I would get back into reading in general. Tim's business partner brought me more reading material that she had (books about the US, Ukraine, China, etc.). After I started reading one of those books, I realized that it wasn't so much reading that I was enjoying, but specifically African literature where I could easily relate to the scenarios. So. There you go. Looks like I'm only in the land of African reading. At least it's rainy season here. :)

John Harris
7/17/2011 11:36:41 pm

i started to read again when we first moved to africa--it totally is the limited distractions! then, in my case, i found i really enjoyed it. i even kept reading when we went back states side. I brought books with me for my current Nairobi hiatus. Love you guys. John Harris

7/19/2011 03:09:13 am

It's amazing what bad tv, periodic internet and no coffee shops does to one's idea of entertainment. As well as reading books now, we've taken to playing Scrabble (putting Tim's spelling to the test!) and Soduku.

Any books to recommend?

Enjoy Nairobi.


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