2012 reading challenges

I decided to take part in two challenges in 2012 so here is a report of what worked, and what didn’t go quite up to expectations.

Goodreads 2012 reading challenge 
I originally thought I would read 100 books this year, but changed this goal to a somewhat more realistic 70. I doubt if I am going to make that either – I think I may end up between 65 and 67 at the rate things are going. Not sure what all the reasons are; I suspect the major one is the distraction of the web – and all the various lists I subscribe to. Plus a few more excuses I could mention, but won’t!

Kinna Reads Africa Reading Challenge 
I set myself a specific reading list of six books, of which I have read four.  The remaining two, Chicago (Alaa al Aswani) and Broken glass (Alain Mabanckou) are definitely going to be carried over to 2013.

However I did read a pretty good number of books which I would consider either Ghanaian or African. Just to clarify though, my definition of a Ghana author is either a Ghanaian or a diasporan Ghanaian or a resident of Ghana. Then there are also books on Ghana by someone who falls in none of the above categories. Definitions of an African author more or less follow the same model, as do books on Africa.

Ghana fiction read in 2012

  1. Tales from different tails, by Nana Awere Damoah [part of my Africa reading challenge]
  2. Diplomatic pounds and other stories, by Ama Ata Aidoo [bought at the launch]
  3. The mystery of the haunted house, by Ruby Yayra Goka [teen story, from another Burt award winner]
  4. Half blood blues, by Esi Edugyan [part of my Africa reading challenge; also read for Accra Book Club
  5. The kaya-girl, by Mamle Wolo [bought at the Burt ceremony at the Ghana International Book Fair in September 2012; for teens]
  6. It happened in Ghana – a historical romance, by Noel Smith
  7. Brave music of a distant drum, by Manu Herbstein [a sort of sequel to author’s Ama; for teens/young adults]

Ghana non-fiction read in 2012 (including books on Ghana)

  1. Tabom – the Afro-Brazilian community in Ghana, by Marco Schaumloeffel [very illuminating description of a specific area of Accra]
  2. A sense of savannah … Tales of a friendly walk through Northern Ghana, by Kofi Akpabli
  3. Three cheers for Ghana! by Robert Peprah-Gyamfi [autobiographical]
  4. The black body, edited by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah  [several different essays/stories]
  5. Abina and the important men, by Trevor Getz and Liz Clarke  [one of my favourite non-fiction books of the year]
  6. Foods and food related practics of cultural groups in southern Ghana, by Faustina Yaa Amoako-Kwakye
  7. Tickling the ghanaian – Encounters with contemporary culture, by Kofi Akpabli
  8. The Prof – a man remembered – the life, vision and legacy of Dr K A Busia, by Abena P A Busia
  9. King Peggy – An American secretary, her royal destiny and the inspiring story of how she changed an African village, by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
  10. Death and pain – Rawlings’ Ghana – the inside story, by Mike Adjei
  11. In pursuit of my destiny – Memoirs of a parliamentarian, by Kosi Kedem [his library career was also of interest to me]
  12. My first coup d’etat: Memories from the lost decades of Africa, by John Dramani Mahama [author is now the President of Ghana, though the book was written when he was Vice-President.  Also read for Accra Book Club
  13. The seduction of food, by Barbara E Sai
  14. Stones tell stories at Osu – Memories of a host community of the Danish trans-Atlantic slave trade, by H Nii-Adziri Wellington [another book about Accra; again very illuminating for  its description of the origins of many famous Ghanaian families]

Africa fiction read in 2012

  1. Ways of dying, by Zakes Mda [first book I’ve read by this well-known South African author]
  2. 10 years of the Caine Prize for African writing [for Accra Book Club; I had read many of the stories already, as they are often available when the Caine Prize shortlists are announced]
  3. As the crow flies, by Veronique Tadjo
  4. Patchwork, by Ellen Banda-Aaku [personally I preferred the part written from the child’s point of view]
  5. Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes
  6. Mixed blood, by Roger Smith
  7. Ancestor stones, by Aminatta Forna
  8. The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives, by Lola Shoneyin [had several very unexpected twists in it]
  9. The cry of Winnie Mandela, by Njabulo Ndebele [part of my Africa reading challenge]
  10. An elegy for Easterly, by Petina Gappah [part of my Africa reading challenge]

Africa non-fiction read in 2012

  1. You’re not a country, Africa, by Pius Adesanmi [entertaining set of essays]
  2. Indigo – in search of the colour that seduced the world, by Catherine McKinley [read for Accra Book Club.  Actually mentioned some people I know!]
  3. African wax print – a textile journey, by Magie Relph and Robert Irwin [bought at a NAWA meeting, with beautiful illustrations]

NB: Many of the above are available through Amazon (and other international suppliers), but some which were published in Ghana have yet to hit the international market!

I look forward to hearing how others have done on their challenges


Africa Reading Challenge: an update

As I moved into the month of October, I realised that I had to look at progress – or lack thereof – on my one reading challenge, the African Reading Challenge, which was initiated by KinnaReads.

I know I have read quite a few books on Africa and/or by African writers, but I still have the following four on my TBR shelves:

  • Chicago, by Alaa al Aswany – North Africa/Egypt
  • An elegy for Easterly, by Petina Gappah – Central Africa/Zimbabwe – short stories
  • Broken glass, by Alain Mabanckou – Central Africa/Congo – in translation from French
  • The cry of Winnie Mandela, by Njabulo Ndebele – South Africa

So I have decided to move them onto a more obvious TBR pile on my desk, so I will know to pick one of them up as I move to something new with an African flavour.

I only hope that this strategy works!

Africa Reading Challenge joined

My colleague book blogger, KinnaReads is hosting the Africa Reading Challenge for 2012.  [Please do see her website for more details]

Challenge Period

January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012


The entire African continent, including its island-states, which are often overlooked. Please refer to this Wikipedia “list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa”. Pre-colonial empires and regions are also included.

Reading Goal

5 books. That’s it. There will be no other levels. Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books. Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues. Note that at least 3 books must be written by African writers.


Fiction – novels, short stories, poetry, drama, children’s books. Note: You can choose to read a number of individual and uncollected short stories. In this case, 12 such stories would constitute 1 book. Individual poems do not count but books of poetry do.

Non-fiction – memoirs, autobiographies, history and current events

My tentative reading list

  • Chicago, by Alaa al Aswany – North Africa/Egypt
  • Tales from different tails, by Nana Awere Damoah – West Africa/Ghana
  • An elegy for Easterly, by Petina Gappah – Central Africa/Zimbabwe – short stories
  • Broken glass, by Alain Mabanckou – Central Africa/Congo – in translation from French
  • The cry of Winnie Mandela, by Njabulo Ndebele – South Africa
  • Half-blood blues, by Esi Edugyan – this is African/Ghanaian by descent

I am fairly sure that I will actually end up reading more than these, as in 2011 I read 19 books by Africans/about Africa.  And as I write, I am currently reading 10 years of the Caine prize for African writing (for Accra Book Club), Zoo story by Lauren Beukes and You’re not a country Africa, by Pius Adesanmi (a collection of essays)

Thanks a lot to Kinna for taking this initiative.  Now to get reading, and writing about it