Acquired via BookCrossing 26 Sept 2010 – at a meetup

I’m not entirely sure, still, what I thought of this book. The premise, telling the story of a camel-borne mobile library in Kenya, was good and interesting; when I picked it up, I wished aloud that it was a non-fiction book and was reassured that it was based on fact.  It was based on fact, in that there is a camel bookmobile project in Kenya, but I really felt that the tales of village life that filled most of the book seemed inauthentic and a bit worrying.  I have no problem with people writing about cultures other than their own, of course I don’t have a problem with that, but inventing the culture and mores of a very remote semi-nomadic community without, it seems, having spent time in such a community, seems riddled with worry to me.  Some of the plot points seemed extremely unlikely (not that I know much about such communities myself, but I have read a fair bit about similar places) and it was a shame that the useful points about the uses of literacy, the battle between tradition and modernity, the city and the land etc., seemed subsumed in the slightly silly (at times) plot, and in fact in the personal relationships between the characters. Yes, the political is personal, and yes, some characters changed their attitudes as the plot moved on, but it seemed a bit stilted and … well, I’d have enjoyed it more if it had been non-fiction!