10 books like Conversations with Ogotemmêli

By Marcel Griaule,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Conversations with Ogotemmêli. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa

By Henry Barth, Heinrich Barth,

Book cover of Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa: Timbúktu, Sókoto, and the Basins of the Niger and Bénuwé

This is exploration literature at its very best. Heinrich Barth was inclined to pedantry, but he was thorough and meticulous (his maps were models of their kind); he was also a skilled linguist (fluent in Arabic, he later published vocabularies of eight African languages including Tamashek and Hausa, and learned enough Hausa on a single journey from Ghat to Agadez to be able to converse freely).

He stayed in the Sahara for six years in the 1840s, and returned with massive journals packed with priceless ethnographic and geographic information, only to find fame passing him by. His contemporary, David Livingstone, was much more suited than the stolid German to a life of the celebrity traveler, and spoke much more eloquently at revival meetings and at conventions of Geographical Societies. (Livingstone met Barth once, and gave him an inscribed copy of his Missionary Travels, which must have grated). Barth’s massive…

Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa

By Henry Barth, Heinrich Barth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Nomad

By Mary Anne Fitzgerald,

Book cover of Nomad: One Woman's Journey Into the Heart of Africa

African exploration has a rich history of intrepid women travelers (I think particularly of Mary Kingsley, who had once ascended Mount Cameroon in a day, Victorian petticoats notwithstanding. Kingsley finally died of typhoid in South Africa while she was administering to Boer prisoners of war, but before that, she made many an expedition among the Fang of Gabon and, as she put it, “danced many a wild dance with the wild river.”) Mary Anne Fitzgerald is the best modern example. Jailed by the dictatorship of Kenya’s Daniel Arap Moi and subsequently expelled, she then reported from hotspots all over Africa, including Liberia, the Central African Republic, and Cote d'Ivoire, coming under fire and under threat more than once, facing down guerrillas and governments in turn. 

She also has an eye for the piquant detail. She was once an eyewitness to a mass circumcision of an age cohort of young Samburu…

Nomad

By Mary Anne Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nomad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A South-African-born journalist who was exiled from her home in Kenya describes her return to the continent of Africa and her experiences dodging bullets in Ethiopia, dining with aristocracy in Nairobi, and seeing the victims of famine. 15,000 first printing.


Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

By Wole Soyinka,

Book cover of Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

All right, so a Nobel laureate doesn’t need any encomiums from me, but what the hell. Soyinka’s first book in nearly half a century is revealing, enlightening, satirical, gleeful and just plain damn funny, while telling you more about the chaotic politics and sociology of his native Nigeria than you ever thought possible, a wonderful window into Africa’s most populous country.

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

By Wole Soyinka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Soyinka's greatest novel ... No one else can write such a book' - Ben Okri 'A lion of African literature' - Financial Times 'Chronicles is many things at once: a caustic political satire, a murder mystery, a conspiracy story and a deeply felt lament for the spirit of a nation' - Juan Gabriel Vasquez, New York Times A FINANCIAL TIMES AND SPECTATOR BOOK OF THE YEAR To Doctor Menka's horror, some cunning entrepreneur has decided to sell body parts from his hospital for use in ritualistic practices. Already at the end of his tether from the horrors he routinely sees…


Loot

By Barnaby Phillips,

Book cover of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes

This is far more than a colonial era whodunit, a recounting of yet another colonial atrocity – though it is that in spades.  Yes, in 1897 the British occupation army reacted to the killing of a a few colonial officials by razing an empire to the ground, careless of its causes and its effects. So much, so commonplace. But what an empire! The Benin artworks the army looted, subsequently dispersed to museums around the globe, were and still are a revelation to those whose notions of African art were to that point limited to masks and fetishes. A mere catalogue of the pieces would be enough to explain why Picasso, among other artists, was captivated by the art of Africa, but Philips has done more than that – he puts the looted artifacts into their context and into their culture. There is nothing didactic or preachy about this book, but…

Loot

By Barnaby Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Prospect Best Book of 2021

'A fascinating and timely book.' William Boyd

'Gripping...a must read.' FT

'Compelling...humane, reasonable, and ultimately optimistic.' Evening Standard

'[A] valuable guide to a complex narrative.' The Times

In 1897, Britain sent a punitive expedition to the Kingdom of Benin, in what is today Nigeria, in retaliation for the killing of seven British officials and traders. British soldiers and sailors captured Benin, exiled its king and annexed the territory. They also made off with some of Africa's greatest works of art.

The 'Benin Bronzes' are now amongst the most admired and valuable artworks in the…


The Fruitful Darkness

By Joan Halifax,

Book cover of The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey Through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom

I have to admit, part of me squarely into midlife, is still scared of my own shadow. This was the first book I read after my father passed away, and not only was it the perfect guide through the grief, loss, and rite of passage, but also a homecoming of sorts. Roshi Joan Halifax has clearly wandered the vastness of her own inner landscape and offers up treasures from the dark, mysterious depths. She makes it clear, that yes, darkness exists. And also, yes, evil and other unspeakable things may hide within it. But upon her travels and fearless exploration, she has found other luminous gifts that only the soul houses, and only a valiant seeker could discover. The Fruitful Darkness as she calls it is akin to the night sky filled with stars, the fertile soil with seeds, or the womb brimming with new life. It is alive, inviting…

The Fruitful Darkness

By Joan Halifax,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fruitful Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Buddhist teacher and anthropologists Joan Halifax delves into - the shadow side of being, found in the root truths of Native religions, the fecundity of nature, and the stillness of meditation.


No god but God

By Reza Aslan,

Book cover of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Aslan writes engagingly and urgently about Islamic history from a contemporary Muslim-American perspective. He grounds his account in academic scholarship but does not let it overshadow the excitement of the rise of a new world civilization. Aslan attends to the potential within Islam for democracy and for greater rights for women and rejects the bigotted “clash of civilizations” model that sees Muslims as always outsiders in Western society.

No god but God

By Reza Aslan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No god but God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Much of the Muslim faith remains largely unknown and misunderstood in the West. To many in the west, Islam means jihad, veiled women and suicide bombers. Yet these represent only fringe elements of the world's fastest growing religion. While there have been a number of successful books on the topic of Islamic history - from Karen Armstrong's Islam: A Brief History to Bernard Lewis's The Crises of Islam, there is surprisingly no book for a popular audience about Islam as a religion, let alone one by an author from an Islamic background. No God But God fills that gap, addressing…


In and Out of This World

By Stephen C. Finley,

Book cover of In and Out of This World: Material and Extraterrestrial Bodies in the Nation of Islam

The religious history of America has long overlooked the unique spiritual life of Black Americans. Dr. Stephen Finley has been at the forefront of a new generation of researchers and historians chronicling the incredibly rich history of Black New Religious Movements in the United States and how they’ve influenced both popular Black culture and all-American culture. In and Out of This World peels back closely guarded beliefs and practices and gives readers the context to understand them not as fringe lunacy but a logical endpoint to a diverse and robust cosmology. Dr. Finley does what the best historians do—makes us care about people while giving us the information to understand their ideas and beliefs.

In and Out of This World

By Stephen C. Finley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In and Out of This World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With In and Out of This World Stephen C. Finley examines the religious practices and discourses that have shaped the Nation of Islam (NOI) in America. Drawing on the speeches and writing of figures such as Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Warith Deen Mohammad, and Louis Farrakhan, Finley shows that the NOI and its leaders used multiple religious symbols, rituals, and mythologies meant to recast the meaning of the cosmos and create new transcendent and immanent black bodies whose meaning cannot be reduced to products of racism. Whether examining how the myth of Yakub helped Elijah Muhammad explain the violence directed…


William S. Burroughs vs. the Qur'an

By Michael Muhammad Knight,

Book cover of William S. Burroughs vs. the Qur'an

How can you have a list of cult books without William Burroughs? I nearly put some Burroughs on this list, but as this is for hard-to-impress fans of cult books, you’ve probably already read him. I was also tempted to include Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone, but again, you’ve probably already read him (or object to him on reputation alone). Michael Muhammad Knight takes on both these figures while attempting to write the Great American Queer Islamo-Futurist Novel. Contains hip-hop history, gay fiction, and sacrilege – what’s not to like? A blasphemous blend of autobiography and literary experimentation.

William S. Burroughs vs. the Qur'an

By Michael Muhammad Knight,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked William S. Burroughs vs. the Qur'an as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Michael Muhammad Knight sets out to write the definitive biography of his “Anarcho-Sufi” hero and mentor, writer Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), he makes a startling discovery that changes everything. At the same time that he grows disillusioned with his idol, Knight finds that his own books have led to American Muslim youths making a countercultural idol of him, placing him on the same pedestal that he had given Wilson.

In an attempt to forge his own path, Knight pledges himself to an Iranian Sufi order that Wilson had almost joined, attempts to write the Great American Queer…


The Garden of Truth

By Seyyed Hossein Nasr,

Book cover of The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam's Mystical Tradition

Written for contemporary audiences by a living Sufi philosopher and world-renowned authority of comparative philosophy and mysticism, The Garden of Truth is a must-read for anyone who wants to have an understanding of, awaken to, and joyously live in the present moment. Unlike any book I’ve seen in English, this work explains how the Sufi path of liberation is all about realizing that one can only return to the present moment by proceeding from where we are in the here-and-now. Once we get There, we realize that Here is Now, since Now was always Here.

The Garden of Truth

By Seyyed Hossein Nasr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Garden of Truth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sufism has made significant contributions to the spread of Islam and the development of various aspects of Islamic civilisation. Many conservative Muslims disagree with many popular Sufi practices, particularly saint worship, the visiting of tombs, and the incorporation of non-Islamic customs. Consequently, in recent centuries Sufism has been a target for Islamic reformist and modernist movements. Nasr is the preeminent Sufi scholar in the U.S., and in the tradition of Martin Buber's I and Thou, here provides the beliefs and vision of the mystical heart of Islam. A gentle anitdote to the extremist Muslim fundamentalists who capture the headlines and…


Popol Vuh

By Allen J. Christenson,

Book cover of Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya

If I were talking about this book over coffee with a friend, I would say this: you cannot understand the ancient Maya without reading it. The Popol Vuh is the written version of an oral, indigenous creation myth more than two thousand years old. There are many English and Spanish translations of the Popol Vuh; but this one is my favorite because it is approachable and precise at the same time. For example, you can choose to ignore the footnotes and their implications. However, if you decide you want to go down the rabbit hole (as I always do), you will not be disappointed. I learn something new every time I pick up this book—it is that good.

Popol Vuh

By Allen J. Christenson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Popol Vuh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Popol Vuh is the most important example of Maya literature to have survived the Spanish conquest. It is also one of the world’s great creation accounts, comparable to the beauty and power of Genesis.

Most previous translations have relied on Spanish versions rather than the original K’iche’-Maya text. Based on ten years of research by a leading scholar of Maya literature, this translation with extensive notes is uniquely faithful to the original language. Retaining the poetic style of the original text, the translation is also remarkably accessible to English readers.

Illustrated with more than eighty drawings, photographs, and maps,…


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