Book Bunk Picnic

A group of about 20 people sitting in a circle on the grass in a park on a sunny afternoonWorking in a library can be hard.  We’re surrounded by books, from poetry to plays, from fantasy fiction to feminist classics, from memoirs to murder mysteries.  Where to start? What to read next? And what to recommend to visitors looking for inspiration?  So to help staff and volunteers broaden their reading and knowledge of GWL’s collection we host a monthly Book Picnic, when we gather during the lunch break at the round table in the library to share what we’ve been reading. This always generates an eclectic and enticing reading list which we then share online. Read about previous recommendations here.

However last month six members of the GWL team, including myself, were in Nairobi to work with and learn from our sister organisation Book Bunk (do check them out if you haven’t already).  Their team of staff and interns love books just as much as we do, so we had a very special Book Picnic in Karura Forest, a green space on the outskirts of Nairobi (mercifully saved from deforestation by Wangari Maathai and other heroines from the Green Belt Mouvement; but that’s another story).

The setting for this gathering was completely dreamy: stretched out on iconic checked masai fabric blankets, with monkeys and a suni (a small antelope) for company, we indulged in a second lunch provided by Book Bunk founder Wanjiru shaded by the forest.

Despite all these distractions, we did get round to sharing the books we brought with us and wanted to share with you the resulting list (with the name of the person who recommended it in brackets).  Do let us know if this inspires you to try something new…  (books with an asterisk * next to it are available to borrow from GWL)

A young woman smiling to the camera and holing up a book.
Orpah recommended a Kenyan classic “The River and the Source” by Margaret A Ogola
  • Trident on Trial: the Case for People’s Disarmament* by Angie Zelter (Jenny)
  • African Love Stories: an Anthology by Ama Ata Aidoo (Wanjiru)
  • The River and the Source* by Margaret A Ogola (Orpah)
  • Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change by Charles Duhigg (Trevas)
  • We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories that Are Funny, Complicated, and True by Gabrielle Union (Marianne and Marion)
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Syokau)
  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Sahar)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani (Wachuka)
  • Emergent Strategies by Adrienne Maree Brown (Adele)
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Nicola)
  • Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho (Marion)
  • The Carbon Cycle* by Kate Rawles (Gabrielle)
  • The Empathetic Store* by Jackie Kay and The Terrorist at My Table* by Imtiaz Dharker (Wendy)


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