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A Guide to the Birds of East Africa

(Mr Malik #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,186 ratings  ·  742 reviews
For the past three years, 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. Just as Malik is getting up the nerve to invite Rose to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball (the premier social occasion of the Kenyan calendar), Harry Khan, a nemesis from his school days, arrives in town. ...more
Hardcover, 202 pages
Published September 18th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,186 ratings  ·  742 reviews

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Richard Derus
Oct 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five


The Publisher Says: For the past three years, 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. Just as Malik is getting up the nerve to invite Rose to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball (the premier social occasion of the Kenyan calendar), Harry Khan, a nemesis from his school days, arrives in town. Khan h/>The/>TODAY
Feb 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Chrissie by: Jeanette

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.


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
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Kathryn in FL
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa
I remember reading this book when it was first released. I expected it to make it "big" among readers but alas, I think it got nary any publicity and no one I knew had read it. I hope that despite it's lack of acclaim, some will read it despite its lack of renown. This was a gem
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hana by: Jeannette

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 legal phrase
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beach-reads
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
Lisa Vegan
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 que
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cute and quirky story!
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took me forever to finally pluck this one down from the shelf but what a delight it was, plus lots and lots of bird chatter, mixed in with romance and humor. An ideal palate cleanser.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2013
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 beaut
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
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?
Danny Musgrove
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it

Just absolutely a sweet little story about a widow and a widower who share an interest in bird watching. Neither is ready to act on their attraction until another man enters the picture. This is a romantic comedy, set among bird watching in an East African community. Malik pines for Rose, a widow who organizes bird watching tours, and wants to finally ask her out to the annual ball at a local country club. Then his rival shows up, with the same intentions. The honorable gentlemen of the club dee
Allanah Osborn
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my high-school years I had the opportunity to live in Nairobi, Kenya. So, reading this novel, A Guide to the Birds of East Africa, was quite the experience. It was great to have such a concrete visual in my mind of all the places mentioned in the book. They would go to Naivasha, and in my head, ‘Oh! I’ve been there,’ and the Muthaiga Club, ‘Oh, that’s where we had our senior prom.’ To say the least, I really enjoyed reading this book.

Set in Nairobi, Kenya, is this unexpected love story
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
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 b
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Deon Stonehouse
A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson is a charmer! It is so lively and delightful the words practically sing off the page. Rose Mbikwa has won the heart of Mr. Malik, she is unaware of his devotion. Mr. Malik’s doctor suggested a hobby; he selected bird watching and joined Rose’s weekly bird-walks. For years he has attended the bird-walks with devotion, gazing on Rose from the sidelines. It has taken him a long time but this year he decided to stiffen his resolve and take acti ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is not 'high' literature, but it is a beautiful book. I usually take one book from the library which I would classify as 'light reading' for those times when I HAVE to read but do not want to concentrate too much. Upon occasion I thus stumble on a little gem. It is like picking up a scrap of glass because it is shiny only to discover that it is 'THE REAL THING'.

This book, in my opinion, is such a find. As another reviewer said, it has everything to make it an excellent story. It is a quick
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
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
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-books
I was hoping this might be a bit like the No1 Ladies Detective Agency books at least in style if not storyline but I was disappointed. There was no real resolution to the story at the end and the lady that both men are interested in isn't really that important to the story at all judging by how little is actually written about her.

All of the characters felt a bit underdeveloped to me - like I didn't really get to know any of them in detail. I felt a bit like an observer to something going on in
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
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
Nov 30, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Dale Dixon
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely book. It's nothing like the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, its only similarity being that it is centered in another African country. But if you love birds, bird watching and a rollicking story, this novel hits the mark. It makes you feel good about life and people. Read it, you just never know, you just might enjoy it.
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
A charming tale set in Kenya. Two gentlemen race to see who can spot the most bird species, as the winner gets to ask a certain lady to the club dance. Written in the sweet and gentle style of Alexander McCall Smith, this book proves you're never too old to be a fool for love.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Packed with nature details and funny asides our mystery narrator (did I miss something? who tells this story?!?) is as much a delight as the story’s characters. This book could easily have been read in an afternoon or split over two except that the font is so tiny. Get your readers or a magnifying glass out for this great little book.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover (done) 3 11 Apr 21, 2017 01:04AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson 1 10 Jun 02, 2015 04:58AM  

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Nicholas Drayson has written extensively about wildlife and natural history and is the author of the novels Confessing a Murder, which was hailed by Booklist for its "view of Darwin never before seen", Love and the Platypus and A Guide to the Beasts of East Africa. An Englishman by birth, Drayson has worked as a journalist in the UK, Kenya and Australia, writing for publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Australian Geographic. He h ...more

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Mr Malik (2 books)
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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.” 9 likes
“Is it an endearing quirk among European explorers to imagine that every geographical feature they clap eyes on for the first time is in need of a new name, or is if just a plain silly one? As far as I understand, humans have been knocking around this part of Africa for - give or take a birthday candle- three million years. The existence of a large wet patch smack in the middle of them had not gone unnoticed. How large? Bigger than Lake Michigan, bigger than Tasmania, bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island all rolled into one. It is so big that people on one side gave it one name, people on the other side gave it another, and people in between gave it several more. But that didn't matter to Dr Livingstone. Along he came and he didn't ask the locals what they called this large lake at the top end of the Nile. He gave it yet another name, in honour of the elder of a tribe of white people on a small island five thousand miles away.” 5 likes
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