Amani DC’s Summer Reading Picks

Happy Summer!

Now that summer has begun, check out these Amani DC office recommendations from Brittany, Emily, Breanne, Lauren, Mary Ann, and Julia for interesting reads relating to poverty, Africa, women, and more!


The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

 “A detective series based in Botswana; a fun look at an African culture (albeit fictionalized).”

-Brittany

Nectar in Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

 “A heartbreaking novel about the effects of poverty on women in South East Asia.”

– Breanne

Weep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thion’go

 “This fictional book tells the moving story of the effects of the Mau Mau way on the lives of ordinary men and women in Kenya.”

-Brittany

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

“An epic novel that chronicles the story of an American missionary family in the Belgian Congo. Told through the eyes of the women in the family, the book begins in the late 1950’s just before DRC’s independence and follows the women’s lives over the course of several decades. It is a tale of hope in the midst of grief and injustice.”

-Emily (and Breanne)

Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo

 “Written by a native of Zambia, this work of non-fiction discusses the problem with well-intentioned aid to Africa and seeks to find sustainable solutions to it.”

-Emily

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

 “A hard-to-put-down read about the inspiring life and travels of the author as she attempts to bridge the gap between rich and poor.”

-Emily

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder

“The harrowing story of Deo, a young man from Burundi, who narrowly escapes the genocide in Rwanda, studies medicine in the US, and returns to his country to establish a clinic. ”

– Breanne
King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild

“An account of Belgian colonial rule in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. As it describes the horrific practices of colonialism in Africa, it also tells the incredible story of a group of brave individuals who spoke out against one of the most atrocious cases of human rights abuses in the 19th century. A dense but enlightening read.”

-Breanne

Mountain Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

“Kidder writes about Dr. Paul Farmer’s inspiring work and commitment to build local capacity, and to affirm the value and dignity of marginalized people and their right to good medical care.”

-Breanne

What is the What by Dave Eggers

“Dave Eggers chronicles the life of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino, as he journeys to the US and seeks to make a life for himself in a new land.”

-Breanne

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

“A heart-rending tale of what life can be like for many women in the Middle East.”

-Breanne

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
“A story of changing times and clashing cultures in Nigeria.”

-Breanne

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

 “ This story of a white family in Zimbabwe offers a different perspective on what it means to be African. The family struggles to survive, but still holds on to colonial privilege and racism. A raw story that fills the reader with conflicting emotions.”

-Breanne

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

“A memoir of an English boy’s lonely childhood in South Africa. Set during WWII, it deals with issues of racism through the story of boxing.”

-Julia

The Constant Gardener by John le Carre

“Based on real-life events, this haunting book is about a British diplomat in Nairobi who attempts to solve the mystery of his activist wife’s murder, and winds up discovering an international pharmaceutical scandal.”

-Julia

Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman

“This investigative book exposes how Western policies on food aid to Africa have only sustained hunger problems by hurting African farmers.”

-Lauren

Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart by Tim Butcher

“In 2004, a British journalist retraces Stanley’s historic journey from the source of the Congo river deep into the eastern provinces to the Atlantic Ocean. He travels on foot or by boat through vast uninhabited forests coming upon buried rail lines and other remnants of the Belgian colonial presence.”

– Mary Ann

Warlord Politics and African States by William Reno

“An academic look at the downward spiral of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the DRC during the 1990’s.”

– Mary Ann

A Distant Grief by Kefa Sempangi  

“A Ugandan pastor’s story of surviving the Idi Amin regime and his own narrow escape from death. His compelling portrayal of life during the hopeful turned tragically bizarre days of Amin’s reign is a sobering read and a reminder of what is still happening in many places in Africa.”

– Mary Ann

Upon This Mountain & He Gave Us a Valley by Helen Roseveare 
“These books are a continuous story of a missionary doctor, Helen Roseveare, in eastern DR Congo during the transition from a Belgian colony in the 1950’s to an independent nation of Zaire in the 1960’s. Roseveare, and her British and local teammates, started a hospital and medical school from scratch only to see it all destroyed after independence. Her own kidnapping by rebels and subsequent suffering gives her an amazing perspective, and an even more amazing testimony as she returned to the work after she was freed.”
– Mary Ann
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