This evening I went running through Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I brought 5,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $5) with me in case of emergency. After about 20 minutes, I passed a table by the side of the road where a book peddler was packing up his wares. I can never resist the pull of a pile of books, so I looked over the collection. He had the usual fare: lots of outdated American textbooks, a couple of books by African writers, The Mystery of Atlantis. I’ve always had trouble finding locally written literature in Tanzania, even in Swahili, although I have a few books in Swahili at home.
So I bought a copy of Studs Terkel’s weighty Working (oral histories of people about their jobs). I enjoyed jogging home with the hefty volume in my hand, imagining fighting off muggers with Studs.