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Thought Piece

Pre-Travelling Book Recommendations

By Laura Wormington
Successfully sending volunteers abroad for 10 years

Before you travel to one of our trip destinations, we always recommend finding out more about the place in terms of its culture, history, geography, and people. There are various ways to do this but reading books is a great way to immerse yourself in a place, gain a deeper understanding of it, and get more out of your time there. With that in mind, here is a compilation of novels, guide books, books about elephants, love stories, and memoirs to get started on...

A History of South Africa by Frank Welsh

A definitive guide to South Africa’s turbulent past, is structured around several pivotal events, such as the Union of South Africa in 1910, which paved the way for apartheid. The book also debunks many of the most common myths about South Africa.

Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer

Written by South Africa’s first Nobel Prize for Literature, this novel is about the life of Rosa Burger living in 1970s South Africa, as she uncovers the story of her father’s history as an anti-apartheid activist.

Say It in Swahili by Sharifa Zawawi

A tiny pocket guide to common phrases and expressions. Useful if you’re travelling to Kenya or Tanzania!

A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Ngugi creates a living history of the independence struggle, retelling the colonial story from a Kenyan perspective.

One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina

Wainaina shares his childhood memoirs of growing up in Kenya - a great way to get some local insight.

The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals

The standard pocket guide to all African land mammals with superb illustrations to aid identification. According to BBC Wildlife, it is "an excellent, comprehensive field guide so you can tell your puku from your lechwe.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This renowned New York Times bestseller tells the story of two half-sisters born in 18th century Ghana who find themselves with very different futures: one sold as a slave, the other married to a British slaver. Yaa Gyasi traces the generations of family who follow, through two continents and three hundred years of history, revealing the legacy of slavery in light of the present day.

Oxford Street, Accra by Ato Quayson

Quayson explores Ghana's capital city with a focus on Oxford Street in Accra's most vibrant and globalized commercial district. He traces the city's evolution from its settlement in the mid-seventeenth century to the present day.

North of Southby Shiva Naipaul

In the 1970s Shiva Naipaul travelled through Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia and documented his experiences, the places he visited and his various encounters in this intimate, comic and controversial portrayal of a continent on the brink of change.

An African Love Story: Love, Life and Elephants

The incredible best-selling memoirs of conservationist Dame Daphne Sheldrick, especially her work with the elephants of Kenya's Tsavo National Park.

Other Thoughts

We've always got plenty going on, so why not check out some of our other latest news and thoughts? Or perhaps you're ready to gt stuck in yourself? If so, Apply Now to get in touch with one of our specialist trip advisors.

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