Tuesday, May 13, 2014


     My sister is coming to visit me this week. She doesn’t sleep well, so I bought her a couple of paperback books to read for those nights when she will inevitably wake up while everyone else in the house is soundly snoring. I picked up The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith. I carefully removed the Half Price Books stickers and all traces of tacky from the front covers with a little Goo Gone. One of the books had been marked down to a dollar. What a find. Buying books for others can be something of a gamble, but these were so inexpensive I didn't think I could go wrong.


     What if…?

     So I read the first one, taking care not to bend the covers or soil the pages in order to preserve the impression of newness. My sister follows my blog, and I am hoping that when she reads this she will think me charming rather than cheap. I was halfway through the second book and enjoying it so much, I decided I should  buy a few for myself. With limited space to shelve them, I very seldom buy books unless I know I will read them again. I took some Christmas gift money that hadn’t yet burned a hole in my pocket and bought the first six in the series of fifteen.

     Precious Ramotswe, the main protagonist in the series and the owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Botswana, is an African woman of traditional build with a cheerful disposition and a rare gift for gratitude. Her outlook on life is infectious. I was feeling rather sour one morning recently—I don’t remember why, but it was probably due to one of those burnt toast moments we all have—when I began to think about Mma Ramotswe. Before I had finished brushing my teeth and making the bed, that clever woman had cajoled me into a jollier mood.

     That is one of the reasons I read: for inspiration. I want to be inspired by the character and lives of others to become a better version of myself--even if the characters are fictional.

     The author, Alexander McCall Smith, was born in neighboring Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and later worked in Botswana. He writes his African series with a cadence to the language and an outlook from his characters that reflect the culture he is writing about. His observations are amusing, subtle and often profound. The style of his writing in this series is simple, maybe too simple for some to appreciate, but his fans are diverse, claiming the admiration of both Laura Bush and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

     I am finished with all six of the books that I bought for myself, and now I am thinking I should buy another one or two in the series. That way, my sister can wake me in the wee hours of the morning during her visit, to join her on the sofa for a cup of red bush tea and a chat with our new friend, Precious Ramotswe.


1 comment:

  1. His books ( Alexander McCall Smith ) are great . What is wonderful about sharing books you like with others you know is being able to talk about them together afterwards and of course that leads into other discussions and stories which ...