Some of my Ghanaian and African reads for the first six months of 2016 include
Ghana reads include books by Ghanaian authors, Ghanaians in the diaspora, on Ghana, or with a Ghanaian setting:
- Quartey, Kwei: Murder at Cape Three Points (mystery/crime with Inspector Darko Dawson)
- Agyeman-Duah, Ivor: Africa – a miner’s canary into the 21st century (a collection of essays on African countries)
- Insaidoo, Kwame Afadzi: Ghana – An incomplete independence or a dysfunctional democracy (political analysis)
Africa reads include books by African authors, Africans in the diaspora, on African countries, or with an African setting:
- Singh, Astha: Congo – a journey (fictional account of an Indian family in DRC)
- Guillaume, Laurent: White leopard (thriller set in Mali)
- Mahlangu, Songeziwe: Penumbra (prize-winning South African novel with the main character having a mental breakdown)
- Camus, Albert: The stranger (this was a re-read of the classic which I originally read in French)
- Orford, Margie: Like clockwork (crime/thriller set in South Africa)
- McCain, Paula: Circling the sun (fictional account of early part of Beryl Markham’s life, mostly set in colonial Kenya) [read for Accra Book Club]
- Davids, Nadia: An imperfect blessing (a family saga set in the Cape Town of 1993-94)
- Farah, Nuruddin: Hiding in plain sight (a diasporan Somali family adapts to loss of a member to a terrorist attack) [read for Accra Book Club]
- Banda-Aaku, Ellen: Sula and Ja (a young adult novel about two teens discovering more about each other, set in Zambia)
Plus a special mention of three cookbooks with African/Ghanaian connections:
- Sloley, Patti Gyapomaa: A date with plantain (I admit that ripe plantain is one of my absolutely favourite foods)
- Osseo-Asare, Fran and Baeta, Barbara: The Ghana cookbook (comprehensive, and great if you are a non-Ghanaian or not living in Ghana)
- Timothy, Duval and others: The groundnut cookbook (lots of West African recipes adapted to more Western/UK tastes)
As today is the beginning of July, that means that already six months of 2016 has passed, so we are now in the second half of the year. How time flies!
So I thought I would look at my reading so far – or rather the books which I have finished reading, because I do have to admit that I usually have several books on the go at any one time. For instance at the moment, I have one which I read in the bathroom, another in bed (alternating with some library magazines/journals), one for the bus going to and from work, plus a novel to read while eating, and another via Kindle apps. And as I wrote the last sentence I realized that actually I had forgotten to mention two others which I dip into occasionally. So I think that adds up to about seven – at least as of the time of writing!
I don’t usually insert tables or charts into posts, but in this case, I wondered whether a chart would show some trends in my reading – at least for the first six months of the last three years.
I have to admit that I am not sure there are any real trends that I can detect. I still tend to read more physical books than e-books, and even though I do read some books from my work library, they aren’t that many.
Fiction continues to predominate, and some years I have read more women writers. I continue to read works by/on Ghana and Africa but by no means exclusively so.
Two book related events this past week: an Accra Book Club discussion and a visiting writer.
Accra Book Club was a rescheduled event, so there were only two of us – one of the other regulars having traveled! But we had a good talk about Anthony Doerr’s bestseller, All the light we cannot see, and other books and reading in general.
The visiting writer was Elnathan John, who recently published his first novel, Born on a Tuesday. The readings were organized by the Writers Project of Ghana, and took place at Vidya Book Store in Osu. About 40 or so people came and all seemed pretty engaged. Elnathan John read excerpts from his novel, which was available for sale, and at a reasonable price, and spoke about writing, especially in the context of Northern Nigeria. It was a very enjoyable way to spend a late Saturday afternoon!
I look forward to more of such events.
The recent news of the death of Harper Lee brought to mind the Accra Book Club’s choice of Go set a watchman and To kill a mockingbird as our first reads for 2016.
I think all of us had read To kill a mockingbird in younger days (usually in secondary school/high school, so this was a while ago) and/or seen the award winning film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus.
So it was definitely re-reading a book from an earlier era, in the context of also reading a sequel (by when it takes place)/ prequel (when it was actually written).
We all agreed that To kill a mockingbird was definitely the better book, and still worth reading. It really is a classic of the 20th century.
The end of January saw one of those typical Accra days when there seemed to be a multitude of events all happening on the same day.
Not unsurprisingly I chose to attend two book events – back to back: a long awaited cookbook launch and the first Accra Book Club gathering of the year.
The first was the launch The Ghana cookbook, by Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baeta, at Flair Catering. I have followed the first author’s food blog, (Betumi Blog ) for several years, so I was aware that this cookbook has been in the making for quite some time.
The audience was mostly female (not too surprising) and many were not young (probably not too surprising either). Apart from some historical background provided by both the authors/cooks, I particularly enjoyed Elizabeth Ohene’s tribute, part of which is mentioned in the following article .
And to top off the occasion there were delicious Ghanaian small chops, including one or two which brought back memories of life in Kumasi in the not so easy 1980s.
I had already bought a copy of the cookbook, but at least I managed to get it specially autographed.
I am not a real foodie, as I don’t cook much, but I do like reading through cookbooks and recipes. And indeed I do have a few shelves of them!
I did a fair amount of reading during 2015, though I didn’t meet my target of 75 books in the Goodreads challenge for 2015: I read 72 books which was 96% – not too bad!
I still tend to read more physical books than e-books – 60% for the physical. And still have four shelves+ of To Be Read titles! And yes, there are TBR titles on my Kindle too!
I borrowed about 5% of the books read – mostly from where I work (an academic library).
My reading in 2015 was still dominated by fiction – about 60%, with women authors featuring in over 50% of the titles read.
As usual I read a fair number of crime, science fiction/fantasy and thriller books – covering more than a third of what I read.
These were some of my favourite 2015 books:
- Midnight in the garden of good and evil, by John Berendt
- The short and tragic life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs
- An untamed state, by Roxane Gay
- Southern Reach trilogy, by Jeff Vandermeer
- Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
- The passage, by Justin Cronin
- Colour my English, by Caryl Phillips
I know that some people do come across Accra Book Club via this blog.
So here are Accra Book Club’s selections for 2016, though the first book was read in December 2015
- The fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma – December 2015
- Go set a watchman & To kill a mockingbird, by Harper Lee – January 2016
- All the light we cannot see, by Anthony Doerr – February 2016
- A spool of blue thread, by Anne Tyler – March 2016
- A tale for the time being, by Ruth Ozeki – April 2016
- Circling the sun, by Paula McLain – May 2016
- Hiding in plain sight, by Nurrudin Farah – June 2016
- The children’s crusade, by Ann Packer – August 2016
- Everything I told you, by Pauline Ng – September 2016
- The dinner, by Herman Koch – October 2016
- The girl on the train, by Paula Hawkins – December 2016
I missed the discussion of the first book – work commitments prevented me from attending this gathering, much to my distress. [One of the disadvantages of working one and half hours out of Accra!]
I have read both the Harper Lee books, and am looking forward to this discussion, coming up at the end of January.
I have physical copies of three of the remaining nine books; the remaining ones I will probably read on my tablet.
Obviously, if someone is interested in joining this book club, please leave a comment, and I will send you further details.