Accra Book Club selections for 2018

Accra Book Club is one of the three book clubs/book groups I belong to.

Here are our reads – actual, and planned for 2018:

  1. 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)
  2. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid – February 2018 (we will probably combine this with number 3, but I do need to get started on it).
  3. The orphan master’s son, by Adam Johnson – March 2018
  4. Stay with me, by Ayobami Adebayo – April 2018
  5. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders – May 2018
  6. Anything is possible, by Elizabeth Strout – June 2018
  7. Memoirs of a polar bear, by Yoko Tawada – August 2018
  8. The woman next door, by Yewande Omotoso – September 2018
  9. Confessions of the lioness, by Mia Couto – October 2018
  10. Under the Udala trees, by Chinelo Okparanta – November 2018
  11. 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.

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2017 reads: Ghana and Africa

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:

  1. The President’s physician: Bumps on a smooth road, by Bettina Ama Boohene-Andah  [memoirs of President Kufuor’s physician]
  2. What’s up: Vocabulary for those new to America, by James Gyasi Boateng
  3. Ghana on the go – African mobility in the age of motor transportation, by Jennifer Hart
  4. Future of the tree – Towards growth and development of Kumasi, edited by Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa
  5. Values, standards and practices in Ghanaian organisational life, by Samuel N Woode
  6. 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]
  7. Reflections of an ordinary African woman, by Akua Djanie

I did read several books by African writers:

  1. Aya de Yopougon, vols 4-6, by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie [graphic novel, read in French!]
  2. Born on a Tuesday, by Elnathan John
  3. Blackass, by A Igoni Barrett [for Accra Book Club]
  4. Amie: An African adventure, by Lucinda E Clarke [gave this a low 2 star rating]
  5. Radiance of tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah [for Accra Book Club]
  6. The maestro, the magistrate and the mathematician, by Tendai Huchu [for
    Accra Book Club]
  7. Behold the dreamers, by Imbolu Mbue [for Accra Book Club]
  8. Who will catch us as we fall, by Iman Verjee [for GhanaMustRead book group]

For non-fiction on Africa, I read the following:

  1. We should all be feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer [for Accra Book Club]
  3. The house my father built, by Adewale Maja-Pearce [dealing with tenants in an inherited
    block of flats in Lagos!]
  4. The African city – a history, by Bill Freund
  5. Longthroat memoirs, by Yemisi Aribisala
  6. 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.

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)!

 

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.

Elnathan John reads in Accra

011Two book related events this past week: an Accra Book Club discussion and a visiting writer.

Accra Book Club was a rescheduled event, so there were only two of us – one of the other regulars having traveled! But we had a good talk about Anthony Doerr’s bestseller, All the light we cannot see, and other books and reading in general.

013The visiting writer was Elnathan John, who recently 015published his first novel, Born on a Tuesday. The readings were organized by the Writers Project of Ghana, and took place at Vidya Book Store in Osu. About 40 or so people came and all seemed pretty engaged. Elnathan John read excerpts from his novel, which was available for sale, and at a reasonable price, and spoke about writing, especially in the context of Northern Nigeria.  It was a very enjoyable way to spend a late Saturday afternoon!

I look forward to more of such events.