Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I think it would be fair to say that since childhood I have been a fully fledged bookworm, I love to read. By age 4 I had read every copy of Topsy and Tim books that my local library had to offer (including the ones I had specifically asked to be brought over from the central library). It’s one reason, among many others, that if I was put in the Big Brother house I would just go completely loopy. I particularly love second hand bookshops, the shelves filled with wrinkled spines and softened pages and of course the spell of the paper, I would love to bottle that smell. So here in Uganda I face a little problem, my nearest bookshop that doesn’t exclusive sell religious works and text books is an 8 hour bus journey away. Of course I brought some books with me but with a 23k luggage allowance and clothes, medicinal supplies, a few pairs of shoes, Oreos (vital to every travelling girl) and basic toiletries to bring there wasn’t too much room left. 

Thankfully, there is a light under the covers. A hostel in town has a small selection of books that you can borrow free of charge. Despite the rule that you can only lend the books, and not swap one for another, there is a pretty high turn over of books and the selection is becoming increasingly multi-lingual. Also anything worth reading will be pinched within a matter of days. This means that I have to check the book shelves regularly for any new gems before they get pilfered. I have been lucky on occasion – I’ve managed to read The Road, I Dreamed of Africa and Les Miserables. However I have also been forced to read books that I would never usually pick up, namely thrillers and crime novels. For some reason the vast majority of books that are left here fit into these genres. This leads me to two possible conclusions: 1. people travelling to Uganda are on the whole lovers of crime and thriller novels 2. People travelling to Uganda bring all kinds of books but the ones that leave books behind are those who like crime/ thrillers. I guess if you’re reading a whodunit there isn’t a great deal of point in reading the book a second time other than to give yourself a smug satisfaction that you know exactly ‘whodunit’ from page one.

Books, books, lover-ly books
So for now I will content myself with titles like Death de Jour and State of Play and hope that Uganda’s next batch of visitors bring some more stimulating reads. When things get really desperate I can always turn to Better World Books, a website I have just discovered. They sell first and second hand books and the best thing is that worldwide delivery is free and unlike so many other sites that claim to offer ‘world wide delivery’, this does actually include Uganda… it’s a good day for bookworms far from home soil.


  1. Thanks for the post, as a fellow bookworm and someone who has traveled in East Africa previously, I can say that it was very dissapointing to find that there was a complete lack of non religious books. And the ex-pat bookstores were hugely expensive. I will be moving to Uganda next month for work and I fully plan to bring my kindle as well as some real life books as well.

  2. Ahhh a kindle, a wise idea! Aristoc in Kampala isn't too expensive compared to bookshops in the wesst, but is in comparison to sites like Amazon - and for me it's an 8 hour journey away so not really viable! Hope you have a great time here in Uganda, Ali.