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A Guide to the Birds of East Africa

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,933 ratings  ·  549 reviews
A beguiling novel that does for contemporary Kenya and its 1,000 species of birds what Alexander McCall Smith’s Ladies Detective series does for Botswana

For the past three years, the widower Mr. Malik has been secretly in love with Rose Mbikwa, a woman who leads the weekly bird walks sponsored by the East African Ornithological Society. Reserved and honorable, Malik wouldn
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 18th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2008)
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Chrissie
Oct 07, 2011 Chrissie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chrissie by: Jeanette
NO SPOILERS!!!

In conclusion: The ending is cute, but with this final note I haven't given anything away. It is how you get from A to Z that is important. A perfect comfort read, if that is what you are looking for. Please see below for more detailed information.

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AFTER 80%: What I like about GR is that we help each other find books that will fit our own interests. No matter how much effort I put into studying a book before I choose it, each book is always
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Lee
Oct 03, 2011 Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lee by: Sandy Thomson
I loved this book. The main protagonist, Mr. Malik is simply adorable. He is a man of unusual integrity living in a city filled with corruption. He is an older man in love with a woman who has no idea of the secrets that lie behind an unassuming facade. The story unfolds over the course of a few weeks and the reader, chapter by chapter, becomes privy to these surprising depths. Mr. Malik is an extremely private person and not even his closest drinking buddies at the club, nor the bird watching k ...more
Meaghan
WOWEE! I had never expected I would love his book -- I half expected I wouldn't even like it very much. But instead it was a tour de force, with all the elements of a great story: unrequited love, a protagonist who's brave and sweet-hearted and true behind his shyness, an appropriately dastardly villain whom you just want to smack in the face, a race to the finish line, and a good subplot to move things along. Seriously, I was floored. FLOORED. And no bloodshed or sexual activity for conservativ ...more
Sarah
Favorite quote: "There is a distressing but not uncommon condition of presidents and other world leaders known as Worrying about Africa. It is usually picked up overseas as at summit meeting on world poverty or disease, and symptoms include painful twinges of guilt over the discrepancy between First and Third World wealth, uncomfortable feelings somewhere below the stomach that perhaps unfettered capitalism is not the benevolent force for good we are constantly assured it is, and frequent attack ...more
Marilyn
An absolutely delightful about a man in love, the honorable, sweet, stubborn Mr. Malik of Nairobi. It will appeal to Alexander McCall Smith fans, but definitely stands on its own and will beguile any reader who appreciates sharp wit and gentle charm.
Hana

Jeannette told me it's funny and heartwarming--a love story about birds and Kenya--and she was right! A Guide to the Birds of East Africa seems at first a charming but slight book, even a silly one.

The plot has more speedy twists and turns than a black mamba but it's much friendlier. I loved the protagonist, Mr. Malik--a truly good and gentle man-- and all the supporting cast were wonderfully alive and drawn with affectionate humor. (I grew particularly fond of the lawyer who loved to drop Latin
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Actuarially, I am past middle age. In fact, more than 90% of the world's population is younger than I am. And that shows in the things I care about, read, and buy. Advertisers, take note: Old folks in America are *not lying down to die*! Pay attention to us!

Like the author of this book did. Mr. Malik, a widower and Mrs. Mbikwa, a widow, both of a certain vintage, are the focus of the love story in this book. Each has lost a well-loved spouse, each is living a full, interesting life and each is a
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Mmars
Years ago I struggled to find books my mother would like. They needed to be devoid of anything that smacked of worldly immorality - just about anything I was reading in the 70s and 80s. Simply put, she was narrow. I was broad. She appreciated good writing. But somehow this made it even harder. I wish I had discovered this then.

Not only is the book squeaky clean, there's a clean feeling to his storytelling. It's like laundry flapping behind your neighbor as she tells you the latest news around t
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Lisa Vegan
Dec 30, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa by: Lee
I love the little pen & ink drawings of birds, with their names shown, that are at the start of every chapter. The chapters are extremely short, and this should have been an incredibly quick read, but for some reason it took me some time to slog through, even though I enjoyed it, and as the story went on, it grew on me more and more, though I wasn’t perturbed when I had to put it down.

It’s a gentle and slow little story, and I could have done without the fact that the ball in question is at
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Jill
This was such a sweet story set in...where else...Africa! My latest obsession. Anyway, this is a story of Mr Malik, a middle-aged man living in Nairobi Kenya who is in love with his bird-watching guide Rose Mbikawa, but just can't work up the nerve to ask her out. Along comes his old school rival, Harry Khan, and the competition begins. This was a sort of tortoise and hare story and you just can't help but adore Mr Malik by the end.
Katerina
Очень легкое каникулярное чтение, как замечательно выразилась Таня, "о том, как мирные занятия обогащают жизнь".
В Me Before You, например, автор настойчиво устами прикованного к коляске авантюриста подстегивает читателя поднять свою задницу и покорить Эверест, и бедный читатель невольно задумывается, дрожащий он или надо идти сегодня на пробежку. "Книга птиц" же говорит, что иногда можно разглядеть редкую птицу на собственном заднем дворе, прийти на бал без подготовки и получить помощь откуда н
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Jycel
Lo que me atrajo de este libro, a primer vistazo, fue su portada. Y como el precio era asequible y el resumen que había en la contraportada me gustó, lo compré con bastante ilusión.

El título en español es "Un Baile en Nairobi". Ésta es una de esas rarísimas veces en las que estoy de acuerdo con la libre traducción del título, porque le viene más al caso.

No me arrepiento de haberlo hecho. No conocía al autor ni nada de su obra, pero fue como uno de esos flechazos que dan de vez en cuando con lo
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Michele
This book is being compared to #1 Ladies Detective Agency, but it shouldn't be. It's actually so very posh and full of all things British. Yes, it takes place in Africa but I found more similiarities to "Mr. Pettigrew's Last Stand."

I found this book nothing short of delightful. If you love nature, good narration and witty word play, this is the book for you. I even enjoyed and giggled over the Bill Clinton jokes. In a word this book is satisfying.

If you've ever experienced the beauties of Afric
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Sarah
I'd give this a PG rating due to a couple curse words and mild innuendoes.

I thought this book was delightful. I love the story of a couple of old men waging a bet at a club of old men over a woman. The narrator lets the story unfold in a charming and quaint way. To show that the club is a place where men enjoy betting on anything and everything we are first introduced to a bet between two patrons over a study on how often a man farts in a day. I love the idea of a couple of old farts discussing
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Adrienne
This a charming and delightful story, set in Nairobi, Kenya, about a retired man who has admired the woman who leads his bird-watching group for many years, but has been too shy to do anything about it. He then learns that another man, whom he has known from his younger school days, is also interested in the woman. A competition develops to determine which of the men can be the one to invite the woman to an upcoming ball. Although the story starts off a little slow, it soon becomes very entertai ...more
Jess
I unexpectedly loved this book. While I knew I wanted to read it for the College Students Spring/Summer Challenge this year, when I actually picked it up from the library I actually hesitated before bringing it home. For whatever reason, the font really bugs me in this book, but I got used to it. I also find it can be difficult for me to read books with British spellings, punctuation, and dialogue (because of the punctuation), so I was a bit hesitant.

I am so thrilled to have read a book about Af
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Jeanette
Some books are like a raging river with lots of twists and bends, white water and breathless near escapes from capsizing - Nicholas Drayson's A Guide to the Birds of East Africa is not one of these. It is more like a meandering river that rolls expansively along the plains though it does begin to pick up a stiff current about halfway through the book. Drayson uses an omniscient point of view - which adds to the whimsical feel of the book - and on occasion breaks in with chummy narratoral comment ...more
verbava
чудова маленька річ, повна сонця, доброго гумору, любові до світу – навіть якщо в цьому світі пахне димом, стріляють із ак-47 і не скрізь є електрика (але не подумайте, що то загальний пейзаж, то тільки окремі деталі, а пейзаж складається ще з купи інших) – і, звісно, неймовірних пташок східної африки.
аж хочеться, щоб це була серія і щоб у цих симпатичних і благородних персонажів було більше схожих пригод.

користуючись нагодою, вітаю себе із тисячною прочитаною книжкою на гудрідсі.
Victoria
A review on the back of the book jacket states "a sort of P.G. Wodehouse meets Alexander McCall Smith." I've got to agree with that. The voice of the narrator threw me at first, because Smith's books are told from the points of view of the characters only. By page 50, I made the switch and couldn't put down the book until the end of the story. I found a certain depth missing, but I think it's because the author touched on so many interesting facets of that world without providing much elaboratio ...more
Сhristie ♥
Зараз я вам відкрию невеликий секрет. Навіть два. Вечорами після роботи, я поспішаю додому, щоб зайнятися улюбленою справою: поринути з головою в наступну книгу. Такі ж душевнохворі, як я зрозуміють і підтримають: book lovers never go to bed alone. А як інакше можна без копійки помандрувати, скажімо, в Кенію і закохатися в неї? Ось тут ховається мій другий секрет. "Книга птиц Восточной Африки". Коли знаходиш хорошу книгу, хочеться ділитися нею навіть з незнайомими людьми в трамваї і приставати д ...more
Barbara
Sweet and charming story set in Kenya. Malik and Harry, two very different men, find themselves pitted in a birdwatching contest whose winner will have the chance to ask Rose to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball. The story moves slowly but surely to a somewhat predictable ending but that's okay. I'd love to see all those great birds with the wonderful names. Now who was that strange but funny narrator?
Polly
A pleasant read if you like birds and have been to East Africa. Not riveting otherwise. A sweet tale of a birdwatching contest, some politics, some love amongst the older birdwatchers. Similar to an Alexander McCall Smith novel but takes place in Kenya and most of main characters are Africans of East Indian heritage.
Sorento62
The first 5 chapters or so were slow. But the book progressively revealed more and became more amusing after that point. Not heavy handed and dramatic, but really really good. While there is a lot of talk about birds in the book, it is more about people. The story is very good, mixing a bit of a fairy tale feel in with its insightful realism.

One slightly odd style point is that the 3rd person narrator occasionally refers to himself and some experience of his own in the first person (and even to
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yexxo
Ach, war das eine schöne Lektüre! Ein Hauptdarsteller, der zwar etwas lethargisch daherkommt, aber nichtsdestotrotz so symphatisch ist, dass er kaum von dieser Welt sein kann. Ein Wettstreit, der trotz des eher friedlichen Inhalts um Leben und Tod geht. Eine überwältigende Beschreibung der Vogelwelt Kenias, sodass es einem gerade zu in den Fingern juckt, sich das alles selber anzuschauen. Undundund - eine Geschichte, die einfach rundum glückselig und zufrieden macht :-)
Herr Malik, die Hauptperso
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Terri
The only way to describe this book is "lovely." "A Guide to the Birds of East Africa" is similar in flavor to McCall-Smith's "No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series and "Baking Cakes in Kigali" by Gaile Parkin - books that I adore. "A Guide to the Birds of East Africa" is set in Nairobi, Kenya. The first person narrator is cunning and charming. He (the author we assume) speaks directly to the reader at times and sets a tone in which one can picture him with a wry grin on his face as he tells us t ...more
Linda Lipko
This is a book that is humorous, breezy, light, romantic and balm for a weary soul.

Rose Mibikwa is a lovely, charming, gracious woman who happens to know a lot about the birds of East Africa. Leading weekly tours, her eclectic group of followers scan the skies and the ground for a glimpse of colorful creatures.

Quiet Mr. Malik is captured by the spirit of the birds and the soul of Rose Mibikwa. He longs to invite her to the coveted Hunt Club ball, but three things stand in his way -- his shyness,
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Fluffy Flowers
Before the holidays I swept my local library for reading material. I came away with a pile of books, one of which was A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson. I must admit that this is not my typical book and that I was swayed to slip it into my stack by the pretty birds on the cover.

This novel is set in modern day Nairobi, Kenya with a short, bald, round, brown man, Mr. Malik, as it's protagonist. Mr. Malik is quite ordinary indeed, having been raised in the usual English boardi
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Deepika
It is indeed a very sweet novel for romantics. You may not like it as much if you are cynical and are proud of it. I randomly picked up the book on library shelf and was rewarded with some pleasant reading. This is definitely a feel good book much like Alexander McCall-Smith’s novels. In fact the book’s jacket says ‘P.G. Wodehouse meets Alexander McCall-Smith’.
Mr.Malik is one of the most endearing characters you will come across. He is a middle-aged semi-retired widower of Indian descent living
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Mrsgaskell
This is a warm and charming little book that made me laugh out loud a few times. Set in Kenya, it would probably appeal to most readers of McCall Smith’s Ladies’ Number One Detective Agency. There is interesting information about the birds of Kenya as well as some general political commentary and glimpses into Kenyan life.

Mr. Malik is a “short, round, balding brown man”, a widower, sixty-one years old and sporting a comb-over. For the past three years he has regularly taken part in the Tuesday
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Rachel
Nov 20, 2011 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people looking for a quick read filled with lovely characters and gentle charm.
Oh yes! I found this book to be positively delightful. On several occasions I chuckled out loud, and in many other occasions my eyes welled up with tears, sometimes sweet and sentimental, sometimes sad. Old friendships, grade school pranks and bullying, parental expectations, happy marriages, bad marriages, infidelity, honor, honesty, remorse and regret, government corruption, family duties, racism, class-ism, "traditional" views on homosexuality, government censorship, kidnappings (for child so ...more
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Nicholas Drayson has written extensively about wildlife and natural history and is the author of Confessing a Murder, which was hailed by Booklist for its "view of darwin never before seen." An Englishman by birth, Drayson lived in Nairobi for two years. He now (2008) lives in Australia, where he received a Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales.
More about Nicholas Drayson...
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“It's happened to me, and it's probably happened to you. From the first exchange of good mornings they had recognized in each other a kindred soul. Though neither spoke much to start with, they felt an immediate ease in each other's company that was both surprising and yet the most natural thing in the world.” 5 likes
“There is something about African time that even the Swiss find a challenge.” 3 likes
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