Resuming posting

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven’t posted for some time, and perhaps I should explain the reasons why in more detail.

To begin with I had to have some surgery done on both of my eyes, which meant that reading was somewhat limited for much of April and May. And let me tell you, it was hard not to read so much! Plus I wasn’t physically in Accra, though I suppose I could have written about what else I was doing? And finally a close person in my life passed away, so lately I have been pre-occupied with burial and funeral arrangements, and other related matters.

Routines are however reasserting themselves, and I really do want to resume posting more often, just as I go back to reading – either in print, on screen or on my Kindle – a bit more regularly. I will also try to attend more events that have a literary slant to them – including readings, book clubs and book launches, and as I attend, I hope to post my reactions

And of course work too is about to get very, very busy, as Ashesi University College is about to move from rented premises in three different compounds in Labone to its permanent site in Berekuso, on the old Aburi road.

Reading resolutions for 2011

I am not really into making New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I tend to find that I tend to neither remember them, nor bother to do anything about them!

But maybe that is because I didn’t chose an area over which I really had some kind of control, and my reading is certainly one of those areas.

I am not in school, nor am I studying anything, so I can more or less chose what I want to read – within some constraints, naturally.

To Be Read (TBR) pile/shelves:  I have more than a hundred unread books on my shelves, and I feel I really should apply myself to lessening this number.  They are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, with a mixture of non-African and African authors and locales.

There are a good number of crime/mysteries/thrillers as that is a fiction genre which I have always enjoyed – including the award winning Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith, and Malla Nunn’s Let the dead die, which takes place in apartheid South Africa.

Great African Reads:  I do need to read some more African writing, and will try to keep up to date with the books chosen by the Great African Reads group at Goodreads.  Supply is definitely a challenge here, though I suspect it will be less so for some countries.  I already have Uwen Akpan’s collection, Say you’re one of them, and Tsitsi Dangarembga’s The book of not (the sequel to Dangerous conditions), waiting for me.

Book purchases:  I suppose I should try to restrain my buying of books, but again the environment seems to work against this.  I feel if I see something I would like to read – at some point – I should buy it, as it won’t necessarily be available the next time I look.   As I have mentioned before, there aren’t that many bookshops here in Accra, nor are there as many libraries as there once were.

Kindle:  I do have a Kindle, and I am very much still at the experimental stage with this new “toy”.  So this is definitely something I need to work on, especially if I can really get my downloading done effectively.  So far, I’ve had some success, but not via Wifi, but rather via my laptop, though one book just doesn’t come, no matter when I try to download it.

More consistent posting:  And last but not least, I am going to try and post a bit more regularly, and not succumb to a whole host of excuses!

Encouraging reading in an academic environment

A colleague recently wrote about a Reading revolution and how to encourage more reading among Ghanaians.  Her ideas are definitely out of the box – at least for Ghana, and all the more appealing because they are different from what usually comes up.

At work, we are about to launch a campus-wide reading campaign – admittedly part of a general communications strategy to improve the quality of student language skills and general literacy – whether spoken or written.  This will be partly through exposure to pieces of writing which are recognized for their quality in terms of content, theme and how English is used.

The first choice is not surprisingly a novel by a Ghanaian author.  Selection was not as straightforward as it might have been, as the pull of older Ghanaian authors such as Ama Ata Aidoo is strong. But in the end the decision was to opt for something a bit more contemporary, which is how we finally chose The clothes of nakedness, by Benjamin Kwakye.   Fortunately for us, local bookseller EPP seems to have the rights to republish quite a few of the African Writers Series, so we were able to easily buy enough copies for all members of our academic community.

Certainly the news seems to have got out.  Students, faculty and staff have all been coming in to the library for their copies.  Will it be read?  We shall see.

It will be an experiment worth watching.

Books read in October 2009

Quite a few more books read in October 2009, not sure why, but I guess they were probably on the lighter side?

1.  Dan Brown’s The lost symbol:  what can I say?  I enjoyed it, but was constantly thinking about the film that would be made based on the book!   I can already see the special tours in DC!

2.  Anne Fadiman’s At large and at small:  a selection of essays which I read as before going to sleep reading.   Interesting but but not attention grabbing.   I like her writing though.

3.  Bill Bryson’s The life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid:  I enjoy his books, with his sense of humour in whatever he writes.   His own early life certainly qualified!

4.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The thing around your neck:  I mentioned this earlier.   Some very moving short stories.  Actually for an Accra Book Club gathering later on in November, that is if people show up, and we can manage to set a date!

5.  James Tiptree, Jr’s Her smoke rose up forever:  my first reading of any of this author’s work.   Some of the stories are quite dense, but others less so.  Most have quite an edge to them, although they are not “hard” science fiction.

6.  John Connolly’s The reapers:  fairly light thriller, with background information on several characters who have featured in previous novels.

7.  Dorothy Howell’s Handbags and homicide:  I nearly refused to finish this, which was a cross between a trashy romance and a mystery.  Not sure where my brain was when I bought it!

8.  Louise Welsh’s The bullet trick:  Have been on the lookout for one of this author’s books, as reviews have been consistently good.  And the book was, with a “hero” who really had seen better days…  Very atmospheric I thought.  Will definitely try and read some of her other books.

9.  Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society:  On my “to re read” list for quite some time.  Not sure I found the last part as effective as the beginning, but it was quite a change.

10.  Dambisa Moyo’s Dead aid:  partly for Accra Book Club, but also for myself.   Got controversial reviews, but I still think her point of view is worth a look.   Will probably include it in the Reading Corner of a bulletin to be put out at work.