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…
But I still read the books.
Accra Book Club is one of the three book clubs/book groups I belong to.
Here are our reads – actual, and planned for 2018:
- The ministry of utmost happiness, by Arundhati Roy – January 2018 (actually discussed on 1 February. I don’t think any of us was overly enthused)
- Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid – February 2018 (we will probably combine this with number 3, but I do need to get started on it).
- The orphan master’s son, by Adam Johnson – March 2018
- Stay with me, by Ayobami Adebayo – April 2018
- Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders – May 2018
- Anything is possible, by Elizabeth Strout – June 2018
- Memoirs of a polar bear, by Yoko Tawada – August 2018
- The woman next door, by Yewande Omotoso – September 2018
- Confessions of the lioness, by Mia Couto – October 2018
- Under the Udala trees, by Chinelo Okparanta – November 2018
- The automobile club of Egypt, by Alaa al Aswany – December 2018
Quite a few African works in this batch – more than usual!
As usual I will probably read most of these on Kindle, but I do already five titles in hard copy.
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.
Thanks to my colleague, Michael F. Quansah, for his blog/post/story on Medium about building a reading culture at Ashesi University College.
Interestingly when students asked for novels, some of the main requests were for the Harry Potter series, and the Game of Thrones series.
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!