CWS Bookshelf

I am always looking for a good read. So now that a new batch of fellows are trying to wrap their minds around their upcoming Ghana experience, I thought I’d take the opportunity to recommend some reading material I find interesting or relevant to my time here in Tamale. Past fellows, please keep this discussion going with any books you loved and would recommend!

#1 most important book for traveling in Ghana

Ghana: The Brandt Travel Guide. Go for the most recent addition you can get your hands on – recommendations about where to sleep/visit/eat have been so essential to traveling here. CWS Field Staffer Wahab borrowed my copy from the office, and while he says some of the information is a little off, he is reading it cover to cover so it can’t be that bad!

Some background info on the global water crisis:

WHO/UNICEF’s Progress on sanitation and drinking water: 2010 update. Disclaimer: This publication is 60 pages BUT has some good visuals. There’s some great info here but if you read it cover to cover you will resurface speaking NGO-ish and referring to everything you love by acronyms.

UN Water’s Gender, water and sanitation: a policy brief. A more concise summary of the relationship between women and water in the developing world.

Good Reads:

 The CLASSIC Things Fall Apart. It’s become the pillar of West African literature, so…

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Ok, so this is about Nigeria’s Biafran war of the late 60s, (not Ghana – historically very stable and peaceful!) but I just love her colorful and nuanced descriptions of foreigners in West Africa, gender roles, familial relationships, urban vs rural spaces … well I just love it in general.

Ok enough of my thoughts! Past fellows – what books or articles helped shape the way you thought about your CWS experience? Extra points if they are fun to read!


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3 Responses to CWS Bookshelf

  1. Kate says:

    Awesome list Kathryn! Here are some of my recs:
    “Small is Beautiful” by Schumacher – This book changed the way I thought about engineering-design and is the first text to define “appropriate technology.” CWS’ approach to water treatment comes straight from Schumachers’ concepts.

    My go-to, fun “Africa” reads are the Poisonwood Bible, Cutting for Stone and Little Bee. None are based in Ghana but all are fabulous stories!

  2. luke says:

    KP for Mayor of Tamale!!

    by way of preparation for arrival, it’s hard to beat the local paper:

    but unless you’re a fan of strangely placed adjectives and slightly skewed syntax, it might be about as fun as your third bottle of Chairman (**attn fellows**: definitely order this drink).

    the single most emotion-wrenching novel in the history of emotion is Alan Paton’s “Cry, the Beloved Country.” this book will redefine your appreciation of prose. it will make you think about inequality, justice, race relations and grace. it will give new meaning to the meaning of ‘meaning’; and “such a thing is not lightly done.”

    “North of South” by Shiva Naipaul is also well-written. it touches on some almost comic aspects of socialism in Tanzania in the 70’s and you may find your Ghanaian experience downright efficient in comparison to this writer’s exploits. it’s about east africa though, and it’s sort of out-of-date.

    lastly, I recommend “The Crisis Caravan” by Linda Polman. it will lend you a critical eye with which to scrutinize CWS protocol; only under scrutiny does it become clear just how many things CWS is doing right. this book will give you a greater respect for CWS and a greater sense of pride in your efforts as fellows.

    get pumped!! the fellowship is gonna rock your socks!

  3. Lauren Wilson says:

    “The Blue Sweater” was the book everyone kept recommending I read before going to Ghana. It definitely helps you understand philanthropic efforts in Africa…and why most of them don’t work. It gave me a whole new respect for CWS and how much they have accomplished and keep accomplishing!

    I’m currently reading “What is the What”. It’s about a man who was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. He comes to the United States and tells about his past struggle in Sudan as well as new struggles of living in the US. While fiction, the main character in this book is real and this book is his retelling of the story, but as time went on he couldn’t remember exact conversations. So the story is a bit embellished in that sense.

    Finally, I just picked up “Half the Sky” and it looks interesting…a little more on a girl power side of life. It’s about fighting poverty around the world by fighting oppressed women. I’m thinking of listening to some Spice Girls jams to get the right mindset for reading this book.

    HAVE FUN IN GHANA FELLOWS! You all are going to be wonderful and love every minute of your time in Ghana!

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