Reading Around the Globe: arestlesstraveler in Mozambique
Welcome to Reading Around the Globe, a series here on Reader Voracious Blog geared at fostering a culture of understanding in the bookish community about access to books in various countries around the world. Each post in the series highlights a full interview with one international reader. You can read more about this series and catch up on previous interviews on the master post.
- What is your name? I’d rather keep my blog anonymous so lets say “arestlesstraveler”
- Blog URL? https://arestlesstraveler.wordpress.com/
- Twitter handle? Don’t have one
- Where do you live? I’ve been traveling for the past 6 years (currently in Spain) but I grew up in Mozambique
- Do you find that there is a culture of reading where you live? If not, tell us a bit how you came to be one! Nearly half the population in Mozambique is illiterate so it’s safe to say reading is definitely not part of their culture. I, however, grew up in a house were both my parents are avid readers. My mom is a university professor so she is always reading non-fiction academic stuff whereas my father loves fiction and is a great storyteller himself (with one published short story collection). So, really I had no choice but to become a reader.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? Fiction, definitely fiction, but what genre within fiction might be harder to define. I go through stages where all I want to read is fantasy and then it will be young adult or historical fiction. I do seem to read contemporary and mysteries more than other genres though. Oh, and I also enjoy good biographies and memoirs so perhaps not only fiction.
- Have you always been a reader? When I was 5 my sister, who is 6 years older than me, decided that waiting another year for me to go to school and learn to read was too much so she taught me herself and I’ve been hooked ever since.
- Do you also read books published in your native language/published locally to you? If so, tell us a bit about what kinds of books are published in your country! I prefer to read in English but one of my favourite authors, Mia Couto, is Mozambican so his books I always read in Portuguese. As to what books are published in Mozambique I think the answer is next to none. Perhaps a few local authors but I’m not sure. The books you find for sale in Mozambique are mainly imported from Portugal. And yes, this makes them rather expensive.
- Are there libraries where you live? If so, what kinds of books can you find there? Are you able to get the books that you want? The Capital city of Mozambique has the grand total of one public library and all the books in it are from the colonial era. Having said that, while I was growing up there were two schools in town that had good libraries and I was lucky enough to attend one and have friends in the other. The problem was when I graduated and no longer had access to these libraries.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) First I need to tell you that growing up there was only one bookstore in the entire town and 99% of its books where old Portuguese classics. In the late 90’s one other bookstore opened in town and not only did it have a better array of books but it also had a section in English, plus they took orders! Which, admittedly often took months to arrive but it was still way better than before. Two other small bookstores opened in the 2000’s so things are slowly improving.
- Do you use NetGalley or Edelweiss to request electronic galleys for review? If so, what kind of success rate would you estimate for you personally? I never heard of NetGalley or Edelweiss before.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Now that I own a kindle the only barrier might be how much I want to spend on books but before I bought my first kindle the only way to get books was to buy them in South Africa. Meaning a 2 ½ hour drive across the border to visit a proper bookstore. Not only the driving but the long wait at the border, the annoying customs officer wanting to check your car and all the police controls along the way. I went often but I obviously couldn’t go whenever I wanted so when I did I always left with more books than I could carry. For the rest of my family that refuses to get kindles, yet still lives in Mozambique, crossing the border to South Africa remains the best way to gain access to what they want to read.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Everything? Better put, I’d start a publishing landscape!
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Like I said above I now own a kindle so that’s basically it. Any book I want whenever I want it. Plus whenever I’m at hostel with bookshelves I look through them and pick one or more. It’s nice to hold a proper book and flip through real pages once in a while.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Not exactly an experience as a reader but a shout-out to an amazing organization called “livro aberto” that opened in Mozambique in 2007. They are doing an amazing job at improving the literacy rates and making books available to everyone. When I left Mozambique 6 years ago I donated all my books to them. If you care to know more about them visit http://www.livroaberto.org/about-us
Please note that all experiences reflected in the interviews are personal and are not meant to generalize what reading access is like in each country. If you are interested in participating please DM me on Twitter.
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Let’s go on another adventure together!