We are leaving for Uganda this week. And if there are two things I love, it's travel and a good book. Maybe it's the old English teacher in me, or maybe it's the educational family travel blog I ran for years, but I can’t help myself. When a trip is on the horizon I go to work finding a book or two to accompany me on the journey. I love learning what I can about the people, history, and culture of the place I'm traveling to. Whether it's a biography or fiction, the feel for a geographical area comes alive in the pages of a book.

So as we gear up for Uganda, here is a booklist of five excellent picks that either take place in Uganda or were written by Ugandan authors.  We've got some pretty long flights, after all, so plenty of time for reading! Can you guess which three are already packed in my carry-on?

Crossroads: Women Coming of Age

in Today's Uganda

By various authors


Genre: Biography
Page count: 178


African women stand at a crossroads between traditional culture and modern times. Now you can read their own stories in their own words in what one African reader describes as "an intriguing collection of human experiences in a fantastic yet delicate basket...a cultural keepsake."

These African women writers will surprise you as they strike a balance between past and future. Their stories will make you laugh and cry, simultaneously demonstrating what makes Africa unique and celebrating what unites people across cultures. Ultimately, their life stories will leave you celebrating the enduring strength of the human spirit.




Where the Air is Sweet

by Tasneem Jamal


Genre: Historical Fiction
Page count: 384


In 1972, dictator Idi Amin expelled 80,000 South Asians from Uganda. Though many had lived in East Africa for generations, they were forced to flee in ninety days as their country descended into a surreal vortex of chaos and murder.

Spanning the years between 1921 and 1975, Where the Air Is Sweet tells the story of Raju, a young Indian man drawn to Africa by the human impulse to seek a better life, and three generations of his family, who carve a life for themselves in a racially stratified colonial and post-colonial society. Where the Air Is Sweet is the story of a family: their loves, their griefs and, finally, their sudden expulsion at the hands of one of the world's most terrifying tyrants.




Beginner’s Pluck

by Liz Forkin Bohannon

(Part of our book club in 2021)


Genre: Self Help/ Memoir
Page count: 240


Liz Forkin Bohannon wants you to rethink everything you've been told about finding your passion and following your dreams. Why? Hate to break it to you, but you're likely never going to "find your passion." Because your passion and purpose are something you build--actively--day by day. In her signature tell-it-like-it-is fashion, Liz shares 14 actionable principles that will teach you how to do just that. With total transparency, Liz shares hilarious and heartbreaking stories of her journey of screwups and successes that illustrate the mindsets and principles that will give you a jolt of energy, inspiration, and direction toward your True North. By embracing your Inner Beginner, dreaming small, choosing curiosity over criticism, and so much more, Liz's story and the principles of Beginner's Pluck will have you on your way to building a life of purpose, passion, and lasting impact.


In Beginner's Pluck, Liz shares her journey to building Sseko Designs, a social enterprise employing women in Uganda.




Tombstones and Banana Trees

by Medad Birungi and Craig Borlase


Genre: Memoir
Page Count: 204


Growing up with a violent father in the country of Uganda in the 1960s, Medad Birungi faced physical and emotional pain that few people can imagine––yet today he speaks of a revolutionary forgiveness we all can experience. Once a boy who begged to die by the side of the road, once a teenager angry enough to kill, once a man broken and searching, today Medad is a testimony to God’s transforming power. Through his story of healing, Medad calls readers to find healing from their own emotional scars. As Medad’s remarkable journey shows, when people forgive each other, they are doing something truly radical. They are changing relationships, communities, countries. They are welcoming God into the corners of the human soul, where real revolution begins.




A Girl is a Body of Water

by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi


Genre: Fiction
Page Count: 560


In her thirteenth year, Kirabo confronts a piercing question: who is my mother? Kirabo has been raised by women in the small Ugandan village of Nattetta―her grandmother, her best friend, and her many aunts―but the absence of her mother follows her like a shadow. Seeking answers from Nsuuta, the local witch, Kirabo learns about the woman who birthed her, who she discovers is alive but not ready to meet. Nsuuta also helps Kirabo understand the emergence of a mysterious second self, a headstrong and confusing force inside her―this, says Nsuuta, is a streak of the “first woman”: an independent, original state that has been all but lost to women.



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