I grew up in houses where books were everywhere. In my early teens, my father, a bibliophile, told me to read “everything.” I took him literally. My passion for reading gained momentum at King’s College, Budo, Uganda, where the Main Library was very well stocked with books, magazine and local and international newspapers.
Besides professional literature that I read as part of my continuing medical education today, I enjoy books about African and early American history, African culture, music, biographies of the great composers of classical and Jazz music, photography, astronomy and scholarly writings about Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and Christianity in general. The history and traditions of Kigezi and Nkore/Ankole is an area of special interest.
We who are alive in this era of cybershopping are spoiled for riches. I remember the days when I would spare days to visit bookstores during conferences in the larger American cities. London, UK bookstores were favourites. Today, from the comfort of my house, I browse through Amazon’s offerings, order the book(s) I want and get them delivered the next day. All at a discount!
Of course there was something special about browsing through the books inThe World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto.Cyber-commerce and the waning interest in reading printed books killed the WBB. It closed in 2014, ending a weekly ritual of visiting, browsing and buying books that added joy and knowledge to my life. The building was torn down a few years ago. Expensive condos will soon replace the great store. I hardly visit physical bookstores now, except when I am in Kampala or Nairobi where one still finds items by local authors that are not available online.
My reading of works of fiction has narrowed over the years, now restricted to repeated visits to the classic works of African authors like Ousmane Sembene, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, David Rubadiri and Alan Paton. I also love the works of Joseph Conrad, that most controversial wordsmith whose Heart of Darknessis among my top 10 books.
However, one is delighted when one comes across a beautifully written work of fiction by a contemporary writer. One such book that I will be reading again is Under the Jacaranda by Joy Odera (Generation Publishing, 2013.)