Bestselling Books of 2011

Written By Faith Oneya

Perhaps you have been thinking about what books to read next, which ones to buy as presents for the New Year, or maybe you just want to know if you have read any of the books that have made the list! Literary Chronicles has seen it fit to end the year by highlighting some of the bestselling books of 2011 in Nairobi city.

The compilation  has been as a result of research conducted at major bookshops in Nairobi. The list is based on the books that elicited the highest sales by December 2011.

LC did not include any school set books for obvious reasons. The concentration is also on adult books as opposed to children’s books.

The bias of the article is on Kenyan authors though there was not much to go by with booksellers admitting that books by Kenyan authors generally registered very low sales. The Kenyan(or rather global citizen) that has maintained consistently high sales through the years remains Ngugi wa Thiong’o.Kwani Trust publications have also dominated the market over the last couple of years thanks to their formidable distribution network and contemporary, cutting-edge and quality work.

In the Kenyan / human style, where heroes are feted after their demise, Wangari Maathai’s books also registered high sales after her death in September 2011 perhaps in a bid to immortalize her.

Self-help books by renowned motivational speaker Pepe Minambo among others also seem to be popular and the “preferred stock” of Kenyan writing for some bookshops.

Award-winning Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie remains a force to be reckoned with as her books literally “fly off the shelf”.

As expected, booksellers register more sales from foreigners (Read: White folks) than from Kenyans. This makes one revisit the words: ‘‘If you want to hide something from an African put it in a book’ and ponder on its grains of truth. That, however, is a discussion for another day.

Novels and Short Story Anthologies

v  Half a Yellow Sun-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Kwani? African Fiction Omnibus

v  On Black Sister’s Street-Chika Unigwe

v  Purple Hibiscus-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

v  Say You are One of Them-Uwem Akpan

v  Son of Fate -John Kiriamiti

Songs of Enchantment-Ben Okri

v  The Stone Hills of Maragoli-Stanley Gazemba

The Thing around Your Neck -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

v  To See the Mountain and other stories (The Caine Prize for African Writing 2011)-Kwani Trust

v  Tracking the Scent of My Mother-Muthoni Garland

 Memoirs, Biographies and Auto-biographies

v  Broken to be Made Whole-Winnie Thuku

v  Can Scars Become Stars?-Catherine Gitonga

v  Dreams in a Time of War-Ngugi wa Thiong’o

v  In my Dreams I Dance -Anne Strike

v  Left to Tell(Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust) by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin

v  One Day I will Write about this place –Binyavanga Wainaina

v  Tale of Kasaya: Let us Now Praise a Famous Woman  -Eva Kasaya

v  Unbowed-One Woman’s Story-Wangari Maathai

v  Wahome Mutahi’s World-Longhorn Publishers


v  Anyone Can Win -Murori Kiunga

v  Be Inspired before you Expire -Pepe Minambo

v  Breaking Protocol (Street Wisdom)Rahab Gikaru

v  Challenges of Starting a Business and How to Overcome Them-Murori Kiunga and Muriithi Gituma

v  How the Rich Make Money and Keep it by Murori Kiunga

v  How to Become a Lifelong Financial Success-Manyara Kirago

v  How to Save Money for Investments-Ken Monyoncho

v  Inspired for Greatness-Pepe Minambo

v  The Art of Entrepreneurship- Mukuri Kunga


Creative Non-fiction

v  Nairobi 24(An exploration of a city by photographers and writers)-KWANI TRUST-Sponsored by Goethe Institute

v  Dead Aid-Dambisa Moyo

v  How to Write About Africa-Binyavanga Wainaina

v  Kenya Burning-(Magoro Baada ya Uchaguzi)-Kwani Trust

The Challenge for Africa-Wangari Maathai

v  Re-Membering Africa-Ngugi wa Thiong’o

v  The Peculiar Kenyan-Sunny Bindra

v  Living Memories-Al Kags

v  Kizuizini-Joseph Muthee

v  How To be a Kenyan-Wahome Mutahi

Literary Journals

v  Kwani?Hung’arisha Haswa-Africa’s best creative writing-Kwani Trust

v  Kwani?Vol.2 Badala ya Aerial Ekeni Sufuria Niwape Food ya Ubongo-Kwani Trust

v  Kwani?2 Kwani Trust

v  Kwani?Vol.6-Kwani Trust


v  Cut Off My Tongue-Sitawa Namwalie

Special Thanks from LC  to the Participating bookshops.

Savanis Bookshop Westgate
New Media bookshop, Westgate
TBC Sarit Centre
Bookstop Yaya Centre
Wells Bookshop
Bookpoint Limited
Stanley Bookshop
Prestige Bookshop

Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

10 thoughts on “Bestselling Books of 2011”

  1. Faith, this is absolutely commendable of you. My desire to read some of the books is certainly whetted up already. I think that one way of having Kenyan writers and readers (plus publishers) churn out more stuff can be encouraged through this kind of effort. Congrats. I just wonder, was that ‘magoro’ or you meant ‘mgogoro’? Keep up the good work. Maybe the next big thing will be top Plays in the theatres monthly or yearly, top
    Poetry etc. And of course you can still develop a generic questionnaire with which you can always give out several Kenyan literary stuff to be considered by a representative sample of readers? Just a thought. 👍

    1. Hi thanks for reading and for the correction.(I will need to find the boat that Swahili came in and board it;)
      We have also thought of having a questionnaire so this is a work in progress!

    1. Hi Peter,thank you for reading this.The bible, we thought,is in a league of it’s own.We did not consider religious texts, even though the bible itself has a lot of literary Gems…endless,poetry,prose etc. Keep reading!

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