Posted by: Ele Quigan | July 26, 2014

Africa part 3 – Truck days and book reviews

Africa Part 3 – Truck days and book reviews

Long truck days are a killer. I’m becoming more tired, belligerent, frustrated. I feel like I’m going crazy these days of long swollen feet & getting to places in the dark.

We’ve had a few too many lately, I’m getting tired of truck life. Snacking to fill time, eating in supermarkets

I feel like I’ve nearly read everything on my kindle, and while I’ll I haven’t been writing up what I’ve read so far here’s a few short notes on those so far, page numbers are in the smallest kindle font so you can see how much I’ve read)

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (477 kindle pages)
One of the most interesting and well-written books I’ve read in a really long time, shortlisted for the Man Booker this year. While it made me feel more white than ever (particularly off the back of the Maya Angelou I read) it’s honestly brilliant. I am however sick of “love stories”. I can’t seem to get away from them at the moment. But outside of that this really is a 9/10 read.

Bedsit Disco Queen – Tracey Thorn’s autobiography (363 kindle pages)
Again beautifully written, surprisingly so. I felt like I was having a conversation, which is how I want to feel that I write?! I want to go back and listen to every Everything But The Girl album now. I’m not even a huge fan (apart from ‘Missing’ & ‘Protection’) but I found it more interesting that a: they are a married couple and b: what it’s like going from a little bit of fame to nothing and back again. What a life.

Children of Dune (3rd dune novel – I’m including this as I’ll finish it today, 408 kindle pages) Frank Herbert
I needed a break from fiction/non-fiction. I’m actually enjoying this more than the first one that I re-read a few weeks back. Anyone else a sci-fi fan? It’s more than that, if you’re into Game of Thrones and haven’t read the Dune series, you’ll love them.

Dead ever after, Dead Reckoning & Deadlocked – I finally finished the Sookie Stackhouse “True Blood” series. 992 pages
I love these books, surely everyone is allowed a little bit of trash, Sookie Stackhouse is mine.

The Etymologicon: A circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English Language. (233 kindle pages)
Sorry Kat but I hated this. It’s your overly almost arrogant toff-like brit wankering on about words. I got so frustrated by the style of writing I wanted to stop reading it, but persevered. The content isn’t bad and to be honest it’s interesting, but the style I found intolerable.

Far from the Tree, a dozen kinds of love– Andrew Solomon – (709 kindle pages)
This is one of the most unbelievably sad books I’ve ever read. It covers 12 chapters of special children. From the product of rape, to autism to prodigies to transgender – it covers a range of parents and children within each chapter, trying to provide an objective viewpoint. It’s incredibly hard to read some chapters, deaf being one of them – as it brings to surface the debate on Cochlear implants. It has sort of put me off having kids a little, but it’s genuinely worth a read. If you’re the person who recommended it (I can’t remember who it was) thank you – it’s an incredibly interesting book. (Lorren, Hannah, Divina if you’re reading this, check it out.)

The hundred-year old man who climbed out a window and disappeared (385 kindle pages) – Jonas Jonasson
Sigh I know EVERYONE loved this book who I spoke to – but I hated it. It’s like Forrest Gump the book, yet somehow more infuriating. “It’s like it’s explaining history” someone said “it’s AMAZING” someone else. Well – I thought it was infantile, ludicrous and annoying.

A History of the world in 100 objects – Neil Macgregor (670 kindle pages)
I adored this, covering objects from one of my favourite places on earth – the British Museum. A sort of alternative world history told but many things I’ve seen. Even with a kindle with pictures that are sort of hard to make out, it’s still amazing. If you’re at all interested in history, it’s a must.

I know why the caged bird sings – Maya Angelou (309 kindle pages)
I read this straight after Americanah, back to back they had a really interesting (and different) view point on similar-ish times in America. Peoples attitudes continue to change, however they show a side to the USA that I’ll never experience and never really understand. It’s beautifully written, like prose, like poetry, RIP Maya, your words will be missed on this fair earth.

Medici Money – Banking, metaphysics & art in Fifteenth-century Florence – Tim Parks (I’m going to make a guess of about 400 pages as there’s only LOC in the kindle)
I spend a week in Florence last year, and it was amazing. 1 week to wander the streets, visit the museums, visit the buildings – incredible. I have a bit of a soft spot for Italy, so it was really interesting to read more about how the Medici were able to finance essentially most of the Renaissance. Great, albeit slow read.

The Plague (Albert Camus – again only LOC so I’m going to guess this has about 250 kindle pages as it’s quite short).
An allegory on the German occupation, it’s a really sad read. As the town manages to survive on the back of a gradually disturbing backdrop, it’s both darkly horrifying and sad at the same time. If course I had been playing far too much pandemic on my phone too – so this all gave me nightmares. Dad if you’re reading this, I think you’d really enjoy it.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (372 kindle pages)
I don’t know about this one, is it like wreck it ralph and a pastiche? Is it a parable on the future of spending too much time addicted to culture? Is it a nod back to earlier times that my generation remember? I think a bit of all of the above. Will, thanks for the recommendation, this kept me sane on one of our really early on long drives. Thought of you the entire time, miss you buddy ☺.

The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer (307 kindle pages)
Kat, if you’re reading this far if I didn’t upset you with my comments on Etymologicon, I loved this. I don’t want to go too much into it as it’s too easy to spoil anything near the plot, it’s unusual and written from a really different viewpoint which I enjoyed much more than expected. Thanks book club.

Three cups of deceit -John Krakauer (71 kindle pages, it’s more like a long investigative journalism article than anything else)
I also got sucked in by “Three cups of tea” by Greg Mortensen. This showcases what’s really happening with the schools he planned to build. It’s hard off the back of seeing the poverty I have here in Africa, I feel determined to do something, but this shows how terribly it can be done. Sad.

Why the west rules – for now – Ian Morris ) (this only has loc as well, but it’s huge so I’m going to guess about 700 pages as it took me ages to get through)
Karl, I think this is the one that I borrowed from you? Read it if you haven’t. It’s good. Similar to Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs & Steel & Collapse). While it refers to Clan of the Cave bear 2 times too many, it’s still a really interesting comparison of the various ways the two sides of the world evolved. Particularly with regards to domestication of animals, growing cereal & grain & the industrial revolution.

So that’s: 17 books, 6,676 pages in 42 days here in Africa. I’m reading a book every 2.5 days. I guess that’s not bad going.



  1. Ele, loving reading about your trip – and of course I love book reviews too. Americanah was awesome and Far from the Tree had me riveted.

    Have you read The Signature of All Things, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, The Invention of Wings, Flight Behaviour, The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat or The Rosie Project? I’d recommend all of them!

    • Hey Tanya!!! Thanks so much for the recommendations! Have only read the Rosie project and flight behaviour (huge Barbara kingsolver fan) will let you know when I’ve read the others. Far from the tree was so interesting, I really appreciated the objectivity with which the author approached the subject matter? Some of the parts has me in tears, like the girl going to the little people of America gathering, it was honest from all sides without being over the top or even try and present an overly positive message.

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