The most recommended books about Botswana

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to Botswana, and here are their favorite Botswana books.
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Book cover of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Susan McCormick Author Of The Fog Ladies

From my list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters.

Who am I?

I am a doctor, an award-winning writer, and lifelong lover of mysteries. Many mysteries feature smart characters. I prefer those with wise characters, who can teach me something about a life well-lived. Or not. Sometimes the mistakes are more instructive and more fun. Stories with older characters offer a plethora of life experience and wisdom, and usually poignancy and humor as well. From my life as a doctor and my daily visits to my mother’s retirement community dinner table, I see seniors who are strong, wise, vital, and often overlooked. I love stories that give voice to this robust and rich generation who have so much to offer.

Susan's book list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters

Susan McCormick Why did Susan love this book?

Some might consider this cheating, as Mma Ramotswe’s age is not obvious as the books progress, but after 23 adventures, I will count her tending toward middle if not old age.

If she is not, the gentle mannerisms and thoughtful concerns of her and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, definitely put the books into this category of wise and poignant characters.

There may still be a mystery to each book, but these stories offer marriage advice, friendship advice, life advice in as joyful and tranquil a way possible.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Precious Ramotswe, a cheerful woman of traditional build, is the founder of Botswana's first and only ladies' detective agency. Here is a gentle interpretation of the detective role: solving her cases through her innate wisdom and understanding of human nature, she 'helps people with problems in their lives'. With a tone that is as elegant as that which is unfailingly used by his protagonist, Alexander McCall Smith tenderly unfolds a picture of life in Gaborone with a mastery of comic understatement and an evident sympathy for his subjects and their milieu. In the background of all this is Botswana, a…


Book cover of A Song of Comfortable Chairs

Susan McCormick Author Of The Fog Ladies

From Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Doctor Cozy mystery lover Giant dog lover San Francisco fog lover

Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Susan McCormick Why did Susan love this book?

I have read this series since its inception in 2003, I’ve watched the television show, and I’ve seen Alexander McCall Smith in person. I am a true fan, and anything in this series is something I know will make me warm inside, a comfortable read like the comfortable chair in the title.

This was one of my favorite Ladies Detective Agency books of late. So enjoyable, with trouble with Mma Makutsi, BFF of No 1 Lady Detective Mma Ramotswe, plus trouble for the beloved Double Comfort Furniture Store, not to mention trouble with a teenager.

The conflict is real and resolved in a wonderful, charming, warm, and fuzzy manner.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Song of Comfortable Chairs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The twenty-third book in the perennially adored The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

Grace Makutsi's husband, Phuti, is in a bind. An international firm is attempting to undercut his prices in the office furniture market. Phuti has always been concerned with quality and comfort, but this new firm seems interested only in profits. To make matters worse, they have a slick new advertising campaign that seems hard to beat. Nonetheless with Mma Ramotswe's help, Phtui comes up with a campaign that may just do the trick.

Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi is approached by an old friend who has a troubled…


Book cover of Maru

Evadeen Brickwood Author Of Singing Lizards

From my list on Southern Africa you might not know.

Who am I?

I moved from Germany to Botswana when I was a fledgling translator and then on to South Africa 2 years later. I fell in love with this part of Africa that had a hand in making me the person I am today. Since I used to travel a lot, not all of my books are set in Southern Africa, but I have a passion for sharing my African stories with the world. My latest project is the Charlie Proudfoot murder mystery series, which is set in South Africa. Being a translator, I also translate books into German/English and four of them so far, are my own.

Evadeen's book list on Southern Africa you might not know

Evadeen Brickwood Why did Evadeen love this book?

When I moved to Botswana, I wanted to learn more about the country, where I should live for more than 2 years. Somebody gave me books by Bessie Head and I learned so much by just reading these books. Maru was not the only book I’d read by Bessie Head, but it was one of the best books on Botswana.

By Bessie Head,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Read worldwide for her wisdom, authenticity, and skillful prose, South African–born Bessie Head (1937–1986) offers a moving and magical tale of an orphaned girl, Margaret Cadmore, who goes to teach in a remote village in Botswana where her own people are kept as slaves. Her presence polarizes a community that does not see her people as human, and condemns her to the lonely life of an outcast. In the love story and intrigue that follows, Head brilliantly combines a portrait of loneliness with a rich affirmation of the mystery and spirituality of life. The core of this otherworldly, rhapsodic work…


Book cover of The Sunbird

Roy Aronson Author Of The Curse of the Ancestors, with Jamie James

From my list on animals, mysticism, and the wild heart of Africa.

Who am I?

I am a veterinarian who has worked extensively with African Wildlife in the heart of the African bush. I have also met African Sangoma’s, witch doctors. I have made a study of African mysticism and Ancestral communications and have participated in African mystic rituals, including the cleansing ritual called smudging or burning of herbs and utilizing the smoke for spiritual cleansing. In my books, I fuse my knowledge of African wildlife, African customs and rituals, and my innate ability to tell a good story and have brought forth the Jamie James series. They are quintessential African Adventures taking place in the heart of the African bush.

Roy's book list on animals, mysticism, and the wild heart of Africa

Roy Aronson Why did Roy love this book?

The Sunbird was Wilber Smith’s first book. It was one of the first books on Wild African Adventure that I read and has kindled in me a lifelong passion for Africa, African animals, and the love of wildlife. It was a reason that I became a veterinarian and that I wanted to work with African Wildlife. It is a mix of contemporary and historic African Fiction. It is memorable because it is a wonderful story that I would want to share around the fire in a camp somewhere in the heart of the African bush. I would want Wilbur Smith to tell me the story as we sit around the fire. It evokes all that is magical and wonderful about Africa, the continent I love and live on. The book taught me that the story is paramount. Not the skill of the author as a literary giant. I want to…

By Wilbur Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A photograph and a curse are the only clues Dr Ben Kazin has before he stumbles on the archaeological discovery. Beneath the red cliffs of Botswanaland a civilization has remained buried for millennia. But the magic of uncovering a lost culture is interrupted by the violence of terrorists, love, intrigue and the secrets of centuries.


Book cover of In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Who am I?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

Fiction is an excellent source of inspiration for leaders. This book is a prime example. The book is part of a series of books on the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” in Botswana. The proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, uses a combination of wisdom, intelligence, and humor to solve crimes. Like leaders and entrepreneurs everywhere, she must handle a variety of challenges using limited resources. A special treat in reading these books is learning about daily life in Botswana. 

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Company of Cheerful Ladies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SIXTH BOOK IN THE BELOVED NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY SERIES

The one where Mma Makutsi finds a dancing partner . . .

Although Mma Ramotswe and Mr J. L. B. Matekoni have finally settled down, at the shared premises of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Speedy Motors the staff are not mixing in a perfectly peaceful manner.

But in the course of investigating her latest case, Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van comes into contact with a man on a bicycle who might be able to restore harmony.

And Mma Makutsi at last seems to have found…


Book cover of Cry of the Kalahari

John M. Marzluff Author Of Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans

From my list on wild animals written by scientists that study them.

Who am I?

I am an ornithologist who studies the myriad ways in which we affect birds and they, in turn, affect us. I’ve conducted field research for over four decades, focusing mainly on the behavior, ecology, and evolution of corvids—crows, ravens, jays, and their relatives. Through these birds I’ve discovered how our settlements, agriculture, and recreation play into their hands, often to the detriment of less adaptable species. As a professor of wildlife science for 25 years, I’ve mentored many graduate and undergraduate students and written hundreds of technical articles. In my writing for popular audiences I aim to celebrate the successful birds that share our world and raise awareness of those we are driving toward extinction.

John's book list on wild animals written by scientists that study them

John M. Marzluff Why did John love this book?

If you are longing for an African safari, this book is for you. The Owens’ are a young couple conducting their graduate research in the deserts of Botswana. In reading, you are in the field with them, waking to the roars of lions, drifting to sleep as hyenas yowl, and experiencing the daily grind, danger, and thrill of field research. I love this book because it is so real. It allows me to see the animals the Owens study—mostly lions and hyenasthrough their eyes and in so doing not only appreciate their wonderful biology but also learn what it takes for a young scientist to understand them.  

By Mark Owens, Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cry of the Kalahari as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The incredible memoir by international bestselling author of Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens and her then partner Mark Owens', charting their time researching wildlife in the Kalahari Desert. Reissued and in full colour, for the first time since its original publication.

In the early 1970s, carrying little more than a change of clothes and a pair of binoculars, Mark and Delia Owens caught a plane to Africa, bought a third-hand Land Rover, and drove deep into the Kalahari Desert. There they lived for seven years, in an unexplored area with no roads, no people, and no source of water…


Book cover of The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case

Lisa Selvidge Author Of The Magic Campervan, Book 1: The Forbidden Slide

From my list on reads for young kids to read with or without parents.

Who am I?

I'm a writer and a mother. Prior to the birth of my son, I wrote mainly fiction but fiction grounded in reality. As my son grew up, I wanted to write stories for him but as soon as I had written a crocodile story, he had already outgrown it. The years seven until eleven are a magical time for reading and perhaps the age group I enjoy writing for most. As a single, older mother I found the most engaging narratives for myself and my son (who is not a reader although loves being read to) were those that were grounded in reality, particularly the setting and with challenging as well as challenged characters.

Lisa's book list on reads for young kids to read with or without parents

Lisa Selvidge Why did Lisa love this book?

Similar to the Mac B books, this is a series about a character who likes to solve crimes/mysteries, and the characters and settings are realistic. Even more wonderful is that the setting is Botswana and it gives much insight into the country and people. I was fortunate enough to be able to read this with my son while travelling with him in Botswana. Perfect.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Cake Mystery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY - Young Readers

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective.  In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea.
 
Have you ever said to yourself, Wouldn’t it be nice to be a detective?
 
This is the story of an African girl who says just that. Her name is…


Book cover of The Colors of All the Cattle

Gareth Williams Author Of Rescuing Richard

From Gareth's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Novelist Historian Pyrenean Mountain Dog lover Mountain man Reader

Gareth's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

I love this book because it is written in the elegant and heart-warming style that epitomises Alexander McCall Smith.

He has an abiding love for Botswana and its people and he makes me share his passion. This is the 19th outing for Mma Ramotswe, founder of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and she remains as resourceful, compassionate, and wise as ever. Who wouldn’t want to spend the afternoon with her drinking redbush tea and eating fruitcake (and I’m not that keen on either!)?

The apparent simplicity of the plot belies the deep philosophical eye that McCall Smith brings to everyday lives and foibles. Love of family. Love of cattle. Love of honesty. Love of all upon which our present is built. These are the qualities that the comfortably built Mma Ramotswe embodies so generously. I always feel better for spending time in her company.   

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Colors of All the Cattle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NINETEENTH BOOK IN THE BELOVED NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY SERIES

The one with the election . . .

When Ramotswe enters politics to oppose the construction of the dubious-sounding 'Big Fun Hotel', her opponent turns out to be local troublemaker, Violet Sephotho. But the general air of excitement cannot eclipse important matters of detection. Charlie, assigned a mysterious hit-and-run case, strives to prove his worth to his superiors as well as Queenie-Queenie, the woman who has captured his heart.

Mma Makutsi is meanwhile in danger of being outwitted by a local bigwig property developer.

Twists and turns abound…


Book cover of Whites

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Who am I?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

This collection of six short stories, set in Botswana in the mid-1980s, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1987. It made my list because Rush puts a variety of privileged, well off and well-educated expats—Boers, Europeans, and Americans—under a microscope and provides a real and exquisitely detailed view of the expat life in Botswana in that era—it doesn’t always look good. Clearly, the expat lives are in stark contrast to those of the Batswana's, and Rush is generally careful to stick with what he knows; in only one story is the POV character Batswanan. It’s easy to see Rush’s experience as a poet in this literary fiction and the story lines are unique.

By Norman Rush,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Whether they are Americans, Brits, or a stubborn and suicidally moral Dutchman, Norman Rush's whites are not sure why they are in Botswana. Their uncertainty makes them do odd things. Driven half-mad by the barking of his neighbor's dogs, Carl dips timidly into native witchcraft—only to jump back out at the worst possible moment. Ione briskly pursues a career as a "seducer" ("A seductress was merely someone who was seductive and who might or might not be awarded a victory. But a seducer was a professional"), while her dentist husband fends off the generous advances of an African cook. Funny,…


Book cover of Africanfuturism: An Anthology

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Author Of Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations on Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In A Pandemic

From my list on introduce you to African speculative short fiction.

Who am I?

As an African speculative fiction writer who had long hoped to see the development of African speculative fiction being embraced by the larger SFF community, it was a joy to see all these anthologies showcasing the works of Africans and platforming them for a larger audience to see. And it's been a joy as well to contribute to this growth both as an award-winning writer and editor of African speculative short fiction. 

Oghenechovwe's book list on introduce you to African speculative short fiction

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Why did Oghenechovwe love this book?

It contains work by some of the most brilliant speculative fiction writers on the continent and also expands on the title, Africanfuturism, in its Introduction by Nnedi Okorafor. She also happens to have a story in the book. Another of the stories in it, by Motswana writer Tlotlo Tsamaase won the 2021 Nommo award for short story and a number of works in it, like Egoli by Tendai Huchu also made recommended reading lists and Year's Best anthologies. The anthology itself was a finalist in the Locus award for best anthology.

By Wole Talabi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

n celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we bring you a collection of Africanfuturist stories. Africanfuturism is a term coined by Nigerian sci-fi/fantasy author Nnedi Okorafor to describe science fiction that is rooted in the African world. Other African writers have since embraced the term as a way of identifying what makes their work distinct from Afrofuturism.

Africanfuturism: An Anthology edited by Wole Talabi is the first anthology to directly engage with the idea of Africanfuturism. The collection of 8 science fiction stories cover various aspects of African life. It features a mix of established and emerging voices in the African sci-fi…