In the house where we live right now I don't have enough space to display all the books I have collected over the years. They are actually in boxes in the garage! Isn't that sad? It almost hurts to see them there, it's like neglecting best friends.
Now and then I feel I should do away with a lot of the books. I tend to move quite often and all these books take up so much place and are heavy. Then I open the boxes, determined to do away with some. It goes like this: I take one book in my hand, study the cover, open a few pages, flip through the book. And I remember how it was reading this book. The feelings that it brought, the new discoveries, the admiration, yes, the sensation. I sigh and put the book back in the box. No, this one can not go, too dear to me. I take up the next book, same story. Most of the time I end up sitting on the ground rereading passages or going through books I bought but never read. Then I quickly put everything back, close the boxes and say to myself that I can part with a lot of things, but not my books.
I found this list above in a box in the garage. In a drawer in my little study I found the small notebooks where I tended to write down my books after 2005 (when I moved to Cameroon):
When going over the list, it's so nice to see how the kind of books I read change. After moving to Cameroon, books about Africa, development and from African writers start appearing. My introduction to the big development economists like Jeffrey Sachs (inventor of the Millennium Development Goals), Paul Collier, Joseph Stieglitz and the lively discussions I had with friends and colleagues about development. I come to know great African writers that might otherwise have remained unknown to me: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (Read his Wizard of the Crow for a hilarious account of a fictional African leader) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (her marvelous award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun about the Biafra war). Congo's turbulent history became clear to me after reading the brilliant King Leopold's Ghost (Adam Hochschild) and In the footsteps of Mr. Kurtz (Michaela Wrong).
After returning to Holland, the first book I read is Hoe God verdween uit Jorwerd (Geert Mak) and I'm equally touched by the history of a small Dutch village, that depicts how in the 1950's, rural life drastically changes in Holland.
And then I could not end this post without a picture showing you these little notebooks where I tend to write down booktitles, bookpassages, quotes and all other things that come up while travelling. They come from everywhere: Hema (Holland), Indonesia, Cameroon, Italy.