Books to Read if You’re Living in Rwanda

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One of the practices I’ve developed over our almost 3 years here in Kigali is to always be reading a book that deepens my understanding of my host culture. This has looked different over the past few years- from heavy accounts of the genocide and war in East Africa, to more comprehensive looks at topics like economics, microfinance, and adoption.

We often get asked for book recommendations, particularly by supporters and visiting teams. So, I thought I would compile some of our favorites to share. And if YOU have any recommendations, please let us know!

I’ve included Amazon links to the Kindle editions of these books- so you can start reading tonight, if you want! The Kindle App is my favorite way to get new books over here 🙂



If you’ve ever wondered how a genocide could happen in a Christian nation, this is the book you need to read. While is does talk specifically about the genocide, it also makes connections to how nationalism and tribalism can creep up in ANY nation and ANY church- and serves as a humbling warning to every reader. This one is fantastic and we recommend it to all of our visitors.

*Note- this book is definitely from a Christian worldview, so if that’s not something you share, you may not jive with this book.



This was the very first book I read when we decided to move to Rwanda. It was recommended to me in a number of different circles, and has very much helped me understand the different economic and social values at play here in Rwanda. While not all topics are specifically applicable here, most are- and this book will undoubtedly help you understand this culture a bit more.




The heavy hitter. This book is a journalistic masterpiece, and is probably the most comprehensive work on the 1994 genocide. It doesn’t hold back, and many passages are extremely difficult to read- but if you want to really have a good understanding of what was happening in Rwanda in 1994 and the surrounding years, I haven’t read a better book.



This isn’t about Rwanda specifically, and actually talks more about the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) next door, but shines a light on the political climate of East Africa and gave me a much better understanding of where I live and what has happened in this region in the past 30 years. Again, sometimes quite difficult to read- but honestly, this is a riveting book while still being extremely informative.



I am SO glad I read this book. I needed something a bit less graphic after this^ one and it was incredible. Ever wonder why every poor person you see has a cell phone? But why they can’t save money for emergencies? Or why people have a TV in a mud hut? This book was so eye opening for my and really helped me understand the different decisions that the poor face in the developing world, and why their decision might be different than I would assume it to be.



To be clear, I have only halfway finished this book- but this is a riveting firsthand account of the genocide from the man who was apparently the only American expat to stay in the country for the entire 100 days.


I hope you find some new books to inspire you and help you love and understand Rwanda a bit more! If you have any books that you think would be a good addition to this list, please let me know, and I will try to read them and add them as I can 🙂

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