The side-effects of Covid-19 pushed Kenyans into reading, according to Text Book Centre (TBC), a leading bookstore in Nairobi.
TBC has since published its list of the 20 best sellers in 2020.
The educational, cultural, and technological content and products distributor used sales data from its network of stores and eCommerce platform.
The rankings also considered reviews and general reception in the market.
TBC Managing Director Armand Houahu said the company reported a 300 percent surge in online sales in 2020.
In March 2020, when many countries implemented coronavirus lockdowns for the first time, this uptick became apparent.
That month, there were 1.51 billion visits to e-commerce sites for books and literature, an 8.5 percent increase from the month before.
Topping the list was former US President Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land.
Released in November after national elections in the US, the book covering his time in office and hopes for America has been a global best-seller.
The first of a two-volume series, A Promised Land sold 887,000 copies in the United States and Canada on its first day, breaking a record previously held by his wife Michelle Obama for Becoming.
It likely proved popular with readers in Kenya not just for its content but also because of Obama’s Kenyan roots. The former President’s father, Barrack Hussein Obama Snr., hails from Siaya County.
The TBC list features three titles from Kenyan writers which include Wanjiru Koinange’s The Havoc of Choice, actress Lupita Nyong’o’s Sulwe and late environmental activist Wangari Maathai’s autobiography Unbowed.
The Havoc of Choice is second on the TBC best-sellers list. It is Koinange’s debut novel and follows the lives of members of a politician’s family in the context of the 2007/08 Post-Election Violence (PEV) in Kenya.
She explores corruption, politics and violence through a Kenyan lens, shining a light on the country’s demons.
Sulwe was a critically acclaimed children’s book from Academy award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and tells the story of a young, dark-skinned girl who wants to be considered beautiful and doubts herself. A fantasy-like journey through the night sky, however, changes everything.
The book, published in English, Swahili and Luo, earned plaudits for tackling issues of colorism and for its message to young African girls.
African writers on the list include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and comedian Trevor Noah for Born a Crime.
Classic books on the best-seller list include Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.
Here is the full list of TBC’s 20 best-sellers of the year:
1. A Promised Land – Barrack Obama
2. The Havoc of Choice – Wanjiru Koinange
3. Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o
4. Becoming – Michelle Obama
5. AM Club – Robin Sharma
6. Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
7. Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
8. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
9. Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson
10. Guinness World Records 2020
11. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
12. Unbowed: One woman’s Story – Wangari Maathai
13. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
14. Sapiens: A Brief History of humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
15. The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling
16. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
17. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
18. Out of Africa – Karen Blixen
19. Purble Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
20. The Leader Who Had No Title – Robin Sharma