Reading culture at Ashesi

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.

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Reading for a couple of Accra book clubs/groups in 2017

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.

 

A backward look at my Ghanaian and African reads of 2016

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!

Missed the latest Burt award!

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:

  1. Dr Ruby Yayra Goka, for her book The step-mother
  2. Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, for her book Rattling in the closet
  3. 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)!

 

Several library and information events in Ghana over the next two months

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 2nd CARLIGH International Conference (28-30 September 2016) at CSIR-INSTI here in Accra, with a theme on “Knowledge management and information professionals”.
  4. 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).
  5. 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”.
  6. UNESCO and CERN are holding a one week (28 November – 2 December 2016) School on Digital libraries at KNUST, Kumasi.

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.

Some of my Ghanaian and African reads for the first six months of 2016

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)

Analyzing my reads over the last three years

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.

2016-07 Nina reads chart

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.