2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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October and November bookish activities

At the beginning of the last few months, I have felt rather guilty about not writing about my reading, and now
I have no excuse whatsoever for getting my act together, as I am off work for almost two weeks for the
holidays! So plenty of time to read (yeah!) and write (a bit of discipline and focus needed), as well as just
generally relaxing at home.

Over the two months I completed twelve books – which seems about average for me – though once again I admit that I am often reading more than one book at a time. For example I find that when I am going to sleep, I need something interesting, but not too exciting, so that often means non-fiction. Ditto bathroom reading, often in small chunks!

So a few stats on the books read:

  • eight male authors, and four women – a little unusual I admit, as I think I read quite a few women authors
  • seven fiction, and five non-fiction – though in October, I read mostly non-fiction
  • three with a Ghana focus (either authors or location), two with an Africa focus, and seven non-African books

And these are the titles:

  1. Every day is for the thief, by Teju Cole – a diary like account of a Nigerian expat’s visit to Lagos. I did like this
  2. No worries, 5th ed, by NAWA – a great guide to Accra. I have all five editions!
  3. Memoirs of an imaginary friend, by Matthew Dicks – an Accra Book Club read, which I enjoyed. Gives an insight to a young boy who is on the autistic spectrum
  4. High on the hog, by Jessica Harris – on African American food
  5. The complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman – moving graphic story of the author’s parents in Poland – using figures of mice. Moving.
  6. Burnt shadows, by Kamila Shamsie – a family saga that ranges from Japan to India, Pakistan and the US.
  7. The beautiful tree, by James Tooley – illuminating story of private education at the so-called bottom of the pyramid – with Indian, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Kenyan and Chinese examples. Was recommended by a colleague at work, and I finally got around to reading it.
  8. Ender’s game, by Orson Scott Card – an Accra Book Club read. I definitely used to have a physical copy, but it seems to have developed wings, so I had to re-read this on my Kindle. I enjoyed it, and actually look forward to seeing the movie.
  9. Consider the fork, by Bee Wilson – on selected kitchen appliances and implements over the years. I love this kind of book.
  10. The night gardener, by George Pelecanos – a couple of mysteries are solved, and crimes investigated, but none of the characters in this book are perfect. I liked the Washington DC area setting, so different from what one sees on the news or TV.
  11. Among others, by Jo Walton – I am not really sure what I expected when I bought this book; I think more fantasy/SF. Instead it was basically a teen growing up story, with lots of SF titles mentioned. A little disappointing.
  12. Defeating dictators: Fighting tyranny in Africa and around the world, by George B N Ayittey – not really academic, but fun to read. I do love the author’s passion, and belief in the possibilities of change in Africa.
  13. Waiting for the barbarians, by J M Coetzee – I suspect that this is a book which might grow on me as I reflect on it.

The book-buying front was relatively quiet – I bought four physical books, including three with a Ghanaian focus, plus four on my Kindle (including more freebies).

There wasn’t much happening in October – only a small gathering of the Accra Book Club, but November was pretty busy, as I mentioned in a previous post .

December is of course more than half done, but there are still quite a few reading days left!

Six events in two weeks!

In typical Accra style the last couple of weeks have been horribly busy on the bookish front. Often there is a dearth of activities or events, and then suddenly – boom, one after another, to the extent that I hardly feel I am keeping up.

So six different bookish events in the period of two weeks: Programme for Nketsia book

3 book launches
1 book reading
1 book club gathering
and 1 meeting of librarians!

The book launches were for three rather different books, which interestingly enough, were all non-fiction.

Nana Kobina Nketsia V launched his large, and expensive (GH¢200 – which is a little under $100), volume entitled African culture in governance and development: the Ghana paradigm, at a ceremony which was long, and with speakers dominated by what I would nicely call, gentlemen of a certain generation. Almost everyone who spoke was over 60, with the exception of playwright Kobina Sekyi’s granddaughter, who got to give the vote of thanks. Ironically, given the criticisms of colonialism, the launch took place at the British Council! There were a good number of people who matter in attendance, including the Vice-President. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough money to buy a copy – but maybe I’ll get one for work at some later date?

Africa: A miner's canaryThe second book launch was for Africa: A miner’s canary into the 21st century, by Ivor Agyeman-Duah. I freely admit that I have known the author for many years, since he started his writing career as a journalist in Kumasi, so I do try to support any of his events. And I did buy a couple of copies of the book – one for work, and one for myself.

I was late for the last book launch – there was a work away day/retreat – but I have to admit that I was not too unhappy about this. Nana Awere Damoah’s latest book, I speak of Ghana, was launched at a I speak of Ghanalocal bookshop, Sytris, in the evening of the Farmers’ Day public holiday. The venue was packed, but I wondered why some of those present were actually there, as there were constant loud conversations going on at the back of the venue – to the extent that the MC conducting the auction had to actually ask people to keep quiet. And I don’t think any of the noise makers were book buyers! But I bought a copy of the book, and had the author autograph it, and look forward to reading some of Nana’s accounts of life in contemporary Ghana.

The book reading, by Malaka Grant, was another opportunity for some book buying, as she brought along some copies of her recently published book, The daughters of swallows. Malaka, who lives in the US, was full of energy and fun, and her audience at the Goethe Institut (part of the Writers Project of Ghana monthly events) responded with great glee. Ironically I suspect that most of those present knew The daughters of swallowsher because of her connection with the blog Adventures from , while yours truly was more familiar with her other somewhat more domestic blog Mind of Malaka.

The Accra Book Club gathering was, in contrast to the rest of the events, a bit of a fizzle. Only two of us showed up! Oh well…

GLA logoAnd finally there was the Ghana Library Association‘s 2013 Seminar and AGM which took place at the Balme Library. It’s an annual affair, and though this was a one-day event, it was good to see other colleagues, some of whom travel from far outside Accra. Plus this year there were not only a few speeches and presentations, but a breakout session which allowed members to speak their mind on selected library topics. And the AGM went smoothly, with hardly any acrimonious comments, which have on occasion characterized such occasions.