What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Memoirs this week. First up was Bright Lights, No City by Max Alexander. Subtitled: An American Adventure on Bad Roads with a Brother and a Very Weird Business Plan. How could I not want to stop and look at this one!
From the publisher Hyperion Books:
"The hilarious story of two brothers, a truckload of batteries, and a brilliant plan to bring light—and new business opportunities—to Ghana.
At age forty-seven, Whit Alexander, the American cofounder of the Cranium board game, decided to start a new business selling affordable goods and services to low-income villagers in Ghana, West Africa. His brother, Max, a journalist, came along to tell the story. Neither of them could have anticipated just how much of an adventure they’d find there.
In Ghana, Whit’s initial goal is to market a high quality rechargeable AA battery for off-grid villagers. If successful, he planned to grow a larger for-profit business based on those batteries: creating a trusted African brand that would provide life-enhancing products, services, and jobs, without relying on charity.
Ghana, however, presents extraordinary challenges, and the brothers wage daily battles against deadly insects, insane driving conditions, unspeakable food, voodoo priests, corrupt officials, counterfeiters, and ethnic rivalries on their way to success. From signing up customers who earn a few dollars a month at most to training employees with no Western-style work experience, the brothers quickly learn that starting a business in Africa requires single-minded focus, a sense of humor, and a lot of patience.
Along the way, Whit and Max relive their own childhood, bickering across the African bush and learning a great deal about Africans as well as themselves. Irreverent, hilarious, and ultimately inspiring, Bright Lights, No City challenges accepted notions of charity; shows the power of broadening your horizons; and suggests that there is hope and opportunity in Africa."
Next up was Home is a Roof Over a Pig by Aminta Arrington. Subtitled: An American Family's Journey in China.
From the publisher Overlook Press:
"When all-American Aminta Arrington moves from suburban Georgia to a small town in China, she doesn't go alone. Her army husband and three young children, including an adopted Chinese daughter, uproot themselves too. Aminta hopes to understand the country with its long civilization, ancient philosophy, and complex language. She is also determined that her daughter Grace, born in China, regain some of the culture she lost when the Arringtons brought her to America as a baby.
In the university town of Tai'an, a small city where pigs' hooves are available at the local supermarket, donkeys share the road with cars, and the warm-hearted locals welcome this strange looking foreign family, the Arringtons settle in . . . but not at first. Aminta teaches at the university, not realizing she is countering the propaganda the students had memorized for years. Her creative, independent (and loud) American children chafe in their classrooms, the first rung in society's effort to ensure conformity. The family is bewildered by the seemingly endless cultural differences they face, but they find their way. With humor and unexpectedly moving moments, Aminta's story is appealingly reminiscent of Reading Lolita in Tehran. It will rivet anyone who is thinking of adopting a child, or anyone who is already familiar with the experience. An everywoman with courage and acute cultural perspective, Aminta recounts this transformative quest with a freshness that will delight anyone looking for an original, accessible point of view on the new China."
(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come
the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my
interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them
and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has
them on their shelves!)