Favourite reads of 2011

In a very belated response to my colleague, ImageNations, asking for our Favourite reads of 2011, here are
mine:

  • The city and the city, by China Mieville. From one of the best contemporary SF/fantasy authors – a “noir” mystery set in two parallel but intersecting universes that seem to be somewhere in Eastern Europe
  • The boy in the striped pyjamas, by John Boyne. I read this story set in wartime Germany/Poland before watching the film, and found it very moving.  I know the main character is supposed to be nine years old, but many of us can be naive about what is really going around us.
  • Alice in wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. The classic, which I re-read again, and still loved, and still found something different to appreciate.  I read it on my Kindle, and did admit that I found the lack of illustrations a little disconcerting.  I guess that shows my age!
  • The historian, by Elizabeth Kostova.  Normally I am not into horror/vampire lit, but this tale of Dracula was pretty good. It is long though.
  • Drive, by Daniel Pink.  Someone ordered this for work, and I did find it interesting.
  • State of wonder, by Ann Patchett.  Read this for Accra Book Club.
  • Imperial life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.  I bought a couple of years ago, and was prompted to read it after watching the film Green Zone and noting that it was based on Chandrasekaran’s book.  The film was enjoyable but in my opinion its relationship to the book is somewhat tenuous.  And I thought the book was really good, one of the best reads of 2011.
  • The education of a British-protected child, by Chinua Achebe.  A wonderful set of essays from the master of Nigerian literature.
  • Hallelujah! the welcome table, by Maya Angelou.  Although I suspect I bought this because of its recipes, the stories behind the food were much more interesting.

The above are the books I gave the highest ratings to during the year – a mixture I do admit of the serious, and not-so serious, but then this is a reflection of the type of reading which I do.

Thanks Nana Fredua Agyeman for taking the initiative, so others could follow!

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TEDxDzorwulu in Accra

I was privileged to attend TEDxDzorwulu (with the Twitter hashtag #TEDxDz) on Saturday 10 December 2011. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay the whole day, because of another personal commitment, but I was very glad that I did go, as one of my favourite bloggers, Kinna Likimani (http://kinnareads.wordpress.com/) was one of the speakers. My only concern when I arrived was whether she would be one of the morning speakers or in the afternoon. Luckily – for me – and for many of us,  Kinna was the first speaker of the day!

Kinna spoke passionately about the functional illiteracy which is horribly common here in Ghana, illustrating her points with her own experience. She also emphasized the fact that all Ghanaians are multilingual and that there is a “wall of English” which is a barrier to all too many children in rural areas – and which leads them to a destiny of illiteracy and often poverty.

In addition to two other speakers – Fred Deegbe and Sheila Bartels-Sam – each speaking of failure and then successful entrepreneurship, there were three videos in the morning :

Then lunch outside the comfort zone, as we were advised to sit with people we didn’t know or hadn’t met before.  And that was good – a Liberian entrepreneur, a Canadian/Ghanaian relocating to Ghana, a volunteer, someone working for an international donor organization, a photographer and a tekkie – were in the group I was sitting and talking with.  Once again I felt challenged.

I had to leave early – another engagement – but I came away inspired, and wishing that there were more of such events – with people who challenge some of our existing beliefts and encourage us to strive.