To “African Book Addict!” With Love

What are your ideas about being well-read? Do you consider yourself to be well-read?

I was asked this question by Darkowaa, who hosts African Book Addict!, a wonderful blog where she writes well-informed, thoughtfully considered, refreshingly invigorating reviews, recommendations, author interviews, and other bookish content from Africa and the Diaspora.

Today’s post on African Book Addict features “Book Chat: On Being Well-Read (Part 1)” in which Darkowaa asks Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed, David DaCosta, and me(!) what it means to be well-read. Please check out the post and contribute your own ideas about being well-read. We were also asked to make suggestions about books and authors, so get your notepads ready!

In honor of being invited to participate in the book chat, I’ve put together some African titles from my personal library as a visual gift to the African Book Addict!. I purposely selected some “less-hyped” titles in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, coffee table books – and one cookbook! – that I hope will pique everyone’s interest.

The Cartographer of Water by Clifton Gachagua
The Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta
A Man of The People Chinua Achebe
Birth of A Dream Weaver A Writer’s Awakening by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
The Bright Continent Breaking Rules & Making Change in Modern Africa by Dayo Olopade
A Safari of African Cooking by Bill Odarty
A Question of Power by Bessie Head
Wrapped in Pride Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity edited by Doran H. Ross
Through African Eyes The European in African Art, 1500 to Present edited by Nii O. Quarcoopome


  1. Oooh, more books to add to my TBR list. I love learning about African authors with whom I’m not familiar.

    I’m not well-read. I don’t even have an expansive library. That’s one of my goals, although space is an issue.

  2. I learned how non well-read (unwell-read?) I was during my time in library school. Although that’s not what LS is about, most of my classmates were quite enamoured of books and reading while I often couldn’t remember the last book I had read. Not too helpful during my first (only) interview at an academic library. Especially since the question was supposed to be casual during a reception. Yikes.

    I distinguish between bookish (loves to read, reads often, reads a lot, typically on the same/similar topics or genre, typically light treatment of the topic or genre) from well-read (having relatively deep knowledge about a variety of topics as a result of reading and experiences). I may be bookish (in fits and starts, and am definitely not well-read.

    Thanks Les for always making me think and want to be better.

    1. I can see how people would draw a correlation between the commitment to study Library Science and being a Books=Life type of person – Lol!
      I am gaining so much from considering all of these ideas about reading!
      As always, Valeria, thank you for reading and contributing to the chat.

  3. Thank you for a powerful post — and for an intro to a new-to-me blog! (I commented there, too.) Your cover pics make the books evidently a joy to be around just to see them, but I’m glad you go beyond that. I do consider myself well-read, but I am confronted as I think about this by the difference between reading widely and reading deeply. Given time, I do both, at least in some genres, but time is the issue. Thank you for provoking many thoughts — again.

    1. Yay! Margaret, your blogger’s etiquette is impeccable – thank you for reading both posts and commenting on both sites!

      I love that you’ve articulated “reading widely” and “reading deeply” – both of which I feel have an important relationship to being well-read.?

  4. Darkowaa runs a great blog and deserves the praise. I’ll certainly check out the post.
    And thanks for these recs, Leslie. From your list, I’ve added to my TBR The Bride Price, A Man of the People, and Through African Eyes.
    As for the questions posed above, I agree with Didi above in that I don’t think I am well-read, however I do aspire to be well-read though I don’t put much effort into it. I don’t mind using the term “well-read”, but I don’t often do so because I don’t think there are many folks who are. In my experience, the term is usually applied to peeps who read mainly literary fiction or nonfiction, but, like Didi, I think a well-read person who has read a variety of things, and not limited to just books.

    1. Hi Zezee – Thank you for reading both posts and sharing your thoughts??!
      I think I would consider you “well-read” in your preferred genres; what do you think?
      Since you agree with Didi, please check out my reply to her comments!
      I know none of us “needs”-Lol!- more book recs but I’m glad I could provide some worth adding to your [toppling] list!

  5. Leslie – this is such an honor. THANK YOU for this visual gift!
    You always have the best editions of books! The covers for Bessie Head’s A Question of Power and Achebe’s A Man of the People are soo unique. I’ve never seen them before. Bill Odarty’s A Safari of African Cooking is now on my TBR. Hmm, that title is… interesting. I’m so behind on reading the books I have by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, but his recent Birth of a Dream Weaver is def on my list too.
    Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity looks like my kind of coffee table book – looking it up now. I love books that intersect, discuss and showcase the differences and similarities between us Black folk from the past to present times. We are not a monolith!
    Thanks for adding books to my TBR. And thanks a bunch for everything!! *hugs*

    1. Er…I hate to break this to you Darkowaa, but, I think the reason you perceive some of my book editions as being “the best” is because…well….let’s just say I purchased them a long time ago!
      …Yeah…the “Safari” in that title could have been a 1971 (original copyright and 1st printing date) type of decision, if you catch my drift!

  6. Wow! What a powerful cover for A Question of Power by Bessie Head! Geez! I need more books on my TBR like I need a hole in my head, but you know I’m writing everything down Dear. As far as being well-read?? That’s a complex question. I feel as if I’ve read loads of books but I don’t necessarily feel as if I’m « well-read ». A « well-read » reader has covered all the different canons in the world, not just the white Anglo-Saxon one. So at this point no one is really « well-read ». Now it’s possible to be «well-read » in a particular canon. In general I try to steer clear away from that expression because I feel it doesn’t really mean anything. Reading is a lifetime experience with its ups and downs like life. If we tracked our reading from the day we first learned to read we’d learn a lot about what we were going through and how and when we changed. What a fascinating journal that would be?!

    1. Ahhh…..okay, so it seems that none of us is well-read in the traditional sense! But we do read….a lot!
      Do you think that now that we have so many genres and so many “disruptions” of….the Western Canon….that the term “well-read” is obsolete?

      Your comment about reading being a lifelong endeavor adds even more texture to this discussion – thanks❣️

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