The third book group I belong to is quite different from the others. It is led by a real bookworm, who is a book reader and lover, a photographer and producer of several podcasts https://soundcloud.com/bookradioafrica related to books and reading. He also has an online business selling books though that website seems to be under reconstruction at the moment!
Members too are young and mostly Ghanaian. I think yours truly is the oldest member.
A theme is chosen each month and then Bookworm Man puts together a list of contemporary books, complete with blurbs and audio files. Members then vote for their choice, and sometimes even there is a second round!
Since mid-2017 we’ve read and talked about the following:
Here comes the sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn [set in contemporary Jamaica]
Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig [main character is an autistic teen]
Who will catch us when we fall? by Iman Verjee [takes place in Kenya]
Born a crime, by Trevor Noah [autobiographical account of the South African comedian’s early life]
The book of night women, by Marlon James [takes place in late 18th century Jamaica]
Before I go, by Colleen Oakley – our March 2018 read
I probably wouldn’t have chosen some of these books if I had been browsing for myself, but then that is the great thing about a book group. You read what you like; and you read material that is different from your own “preferences” (whatever those might be).
I also belong the NAWA book group, which is made up of members of NAWA – a multinational group of women. This group is as a result restricted to NAWA members, but I still felt like sharing the titles of our reads.
For the first few months of 2018 this book group is reading the following:
Hillbilly elegy, by J D Vance [this was our January read]
The gift of rain, by Tan Twan Eng [I actually read this last year while on vacation; it was long but really good] – for February 2018
The miraculous fever tree, by Fiametta Rocco – originally for March 2018 but cancelled
Stay with me, by Ayobami Adebayo – now the March 2018 read
Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid [I just finished reading this for Accra Book Club] – for April 2018
Fever dream, by Samanta Schweblin
Empire of the summer moon, by S C Gwynne
A year of marvelous ways, by Sarah Winman
Unfortunately, I usually end up missing the discussions as they take place during the day, while yours truly is at work. Sigh…
During 2017 I did a good bit of reading, and even managed to read over 80 books according to Goodreads.
This did include books on Ghana/by Ghanaian authors as well as books on Africa/by African authors.
For Ghana, I only read one fiction book:
From pasta to pigfoot, by Frances Mensah Williams [written by a diasporan Ghanaian, taking place in both the UK and Ghana]
Why only one fiction book from Ghana? Well, I do admit that I don’t have very many on my TBR shelves.
For non-fiction there were a few more:
The President’s physician: Bumps on a smooth road, by Bettina Ama Boohene-Andah [memoirs of President Kufuor’s physician]
What’s up: Vocabulary for those new to America, by James Gyasi Boateng
Ghana on the go – African mobility in the age of motor transportation, by Jennifer Hart
Future of the tree – Towards growth and development of Kumasi, edited by Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa
Values, standards and practices in Ghanaian organisational life, by Samuel N Woode
Crossing the color line: Race, sex and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana, by Carina E Ray [included a chapter of several women married to Ghanaians]
Reflections of an ordinary African woman, by Akua Djanie
I did read several books by African writers:
Aya de Yopougon, vols 4-6, by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie [graphic novel, read in French!]
Born on a Tuesday, by Elnathan John
Blackass, by A Igoni Barrett [for Accra Book Club]
Amie: An African adventure, by Lucinda E Clarke [gave this a low 2 star rating]
Radiance of tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah [for Accra Book Club]
The maestro, the magistrate and the mathematician, by Tendai Huchu [for
Accra Book Club]
Behold the dreamers, by Imbolu Mbue [for Accra Book Club]
Who will catch us as we fall, by Iman Verjee [for GhanaMustRead book group]
For non-fiction on Africa, I read the following:
We should all be feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer [for Accra Book Club]
The house my father built, by Adewale Maja-Pearce [dealing with tenants in an inherited
block of flats in Lagos!]
The African city – a history, by Bill Freund
Longthroat memoirs, by Yemisi Aribisala
Born a crime, by Trevor Noah [for GhanaMustRead book group]
Part of my reading by Ghanaians/on Ghana depends on availability. I do find there aren’t a lot of fiction books written by Ghanaians. As for the books on Africa/African fiction, there is of course much more choice.
At the moment I am involved with two book clubs/ book groups here in Accra. Here are the reading choices for 2017 – at least what I know of, as of the time of writing.
Accra Book Club (contact via accrabookclub [at] gmail [dot] com). Meets monthly except July (and even that is flexible).
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi – January 2017 Do not say we have nothing, by Madelein Thien – February 2017 The underground railroad, by Colson Whitehead – March 2017 Blackass, by Igoni Barrett – April 2017 The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer – May 2017 Wonder, by R J Palacio – June 2017 The sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen – August 2017 13 ways of looking at a fat girl, by Mona Awad – September 2017 Radiance of tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah – October 2017 The woman who breathed two worlds, by Selina Sian Chin Yoke – November 2017? The maestro, the magician and the mathematician, by Tendai Huchu – December 2017? Behold the dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue – January 2018?
NAWA book group (nb: one has to be a member of NAWA in order to take part, but I still thought I should share the list):
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi – January 2017 A man called Ove, by Fredrick Backman – February 2017 Longbourn, by Jo Baker – March 2017 Dead wake, by Erik Larson – April 2017 Caliph’s house, by Tahir Shah – May 2017 The Wright brothers, by David McCullough – June 2017
Of course, all the above titles are available via Kindle (and I presume Nook). And Vidya Book Store in Osu does stock some titles.
Usually sometime early in the year I look back on my reading for the previous year, and share the books on Ghana and Africa I read.
For Ghanaian fiction, I read three novels: two are diasporan authors, while one is based based here in Ghana (at least now)
Glover, Boakyewaa – The justice
Gyasi, Yaa – Homegoing [a January 2017 choice for two book clubs/groups I belong to!]
Quartey, Kwei – Murder at Cape Three Points
For Ghanaian non-fiction, I count four works
Addo-Kufuor, Kwame – Gold Coast boy [autobiography, by a brother of Ghana’s former President, a physician and politician]
Ashun, Mary – Tuesday’s child [another autobiography, with an emphasis on the author’s childhood]
Insaidoo, Kwame Afadzi – Ghana – An incomplete independence or a dysfunctional democracy?
NAWA – No worries. 6th ed [I actually have all 6 editions of this guidebook to Accra!]
My African fiction category is a mixed bag, including some novels with locations in African settings, which I realize some people might not consider “real” African fiction.
Abouet, Marguerite & Oubrerie, Clement – Aya de Yopougon 1-3 [a series of graphic novels with Ivoirian characters]
Banda-Aaku, Ellen – Sula and Ja [story for young adults/teens by prize-winning Zambian author]
Boyd, William – Solo [anoatther James Bond novel, partially set in Nigeria]
Camus, Albert – The stranger [this was a re-read of the classic]
Davids, Nadia – An imperfect blessing
Farah, Nuruddin – Hiding in plain sight [read for Accra Book Club]
Guillaume, Laurent – White leopard [thriller, with a Malian location]
Jemisin, N K – The fifth season [prize-winning science fiction/fantasy novel which takes place in what had once been Africa’s tropical regions]
Jonasson, Jonas – The girl who saved the King of Sweden [another comic book from this Swedish author;the main character is South African]
Lotz, Sarah – The three [author is South African, and part of the novel is set there]
Mahlangu, Songeziwe – Penumbra
McCain, Paula – Circling the sun [read for Accra Book Club, set in colonial Kenya]
Orford, Margie – Like clockwork [thriller set in South Africa]
Singh, Astha – Congo journey [mostly on the Indian community]
Walker, Rebecca – Ade – a love story [set mostly in Tanzania]
African non-fiction was a bit sparse last year, with only three books
Agyeman-Duah, Ivor – Africa – a miner’s canary into the 21st century
Beckman, Bjorn & Gbemisola, Adeoti – Intellectuals and African development
Kpomassie, Tete-Michel – An African in Greenland [quite touching in parts]
I do admit that, apart from book clubs/groups, I don’t really plan my reading. I do have a lot of TBR books which fill one medium bookcase, and always feel I should concentrate a bit more on these books, but somehow it doesn’t always work out!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, there were/are several library related events going on during the months September – December 2016. Last week I was very much pre-occupied with events involving the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH), including a meeting, training organized by publishers EBSCO and Cambridge UP and the 2nd CARLIGH International Conference which took place here in Accra from 28 to 30 September. See the GNA website for their story on the opening ceremony.
Regrettably therefore I missed the latest Burt award ceremonies which took place last week – but I am glad to acknowledge their efforts! The winners were:
Dr Ruby Yayra Goka, for her book The step-mother
Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, for her book Rattling in the closet
Nii Kpani Addy, for his book Red spectacles knows
For more information on the event, see the GNA story (even though it is not totally accurate)!
It struck me a few days ago that there are many, many library and information events going on in Ghana over the next couple of months or so, including:
A TEEAL/ ITOCA training event going on (20-22 September 2016) at Wisconsin International University College, mainly for those involved in providing and accessing agricultural related information.
The Ghana Library Association 4th Library and Information week celebration (26-30 September 2016), with a theme “Ensuring quality education for all: the role of the librarian”. The main launch is taking place in Tamale on 27 September.
2nd CARLIGH International Conference (28-30 September 2016) at CSIR-INSTI here in Accra, with a theme on “Knowledge management and information professionals”.
The Conference of University Librarians and their Deputies (CULD) is holding a workshop on Procurement of information resources in academic and research libraries, taking place in Kumasi (6-7 October 2016).
The Ghana Library Association is holding its 2016 Biennial Congress (20-21 October 2016) at the University of Ghana, Legon, with the theme “Libraries and the UN2030 agenda for sustainable development in Ghana”.
Currently I am planning to attend at least two of these events – no 3 (which I am involved in organizing) and no 5 (as a member of the GLA).
It is great to hear of so many opportunities open to members of my profession!
Another book event is also taking place next week: Burt Award for African Literature – Award ceremony and book launch 2015, which is taking place on 28 September 2016, at British Council, Accra. [Unfortunately I will miss this]
If anyone reading this wants more information, just let me know.