For a number of reasons I read very little purely for pleasure and most of what I am looking at any given time is vocational in some way and ties in with whatever I happen to be working on at the time. That is not to say that I do not enjoy those things, and often have a lot of selectivity with them, just that they tend to be fairly narrowly focused while I am involved in a particular project. Books I read or referred to before, during, or after my two-week trip to Ethiopia included:
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. This historical novel looks at the history of Ethiopia in the 1950s through the 1970s through the experiences of a medical doctor in Addis Ababa and the staff of the hospital where he is born and eventually practices. My mother read this book in conjunction with her own trip to Ethiopia and gave me a copy of it as an early Christmas present so that I could avail myself of it as well. It is both a fascinating work of fiction and an insight into the troubled period of history that began with the demise of Emperor Haillie Selassie's regime and the rise of the repressive Soviet-backed Derg government.
Ethiopia, the Bradt Travel Guide (Edition 6), by Phillip Briggs. Suffice it to say that this was a very useful general-purpose travel guide and that I got good use out of it. It did not have entries for a number of places that I stayed out, however, revealing a degree of apparent bias in what the author chose to cover or not. It also contained some commentary that I think was off the mark (e.g., that the food at the Blue Nile Resort in Bahir-Dar was not good, whereas I had an excellent meal there).
A Guide to Lalibela.
A Treasury of African Folklore, by Harold Courlander.
A History of Ethiopia in Pictures. Several of the vendors in Axum were peddling this book and my guide recommended I pick up a copy. He negotiated a price for me of 300 birr ($15) and said it tends to cost about 450 birr; probably paid too much for it in any case but am glad to support the Ethiopian economy in my small way. It is, in any event, a fun and useful title with lots of great information and black-and-white illustrations and has become the current bathroom book in my home office.
The Blue Nile, by Alan Moorehead.
Culture Smart! Ethiopia, by Sarah Howard. My brother loaned me this book but pretty much de-recommended it in favor of the much more substantial Bradt travel guide mentioned above. It did, however, include some useful information on social mores that I did not stumble across in the other book.