Sunday, May 15, 2011

The 268th good thing about Lagos: African book group

For many years, wherever I've lived, I've been a member of a book group.  I enjoy reading different literature with the intention of discussing it with others.  It impels me to read things that I likely wouldn't pick up on my own and expands my understanding by hearing what others have gleaned from their reading.  I still have a couple of book groups in Houston that I return to when I'm in town for one of their discussions.  Just after I moved here I joined a book group similar in scope to others that I've participated in -- reading a book a month with a broad variety of literature.  It's a great group that I continue to enjoy. 

This past year I joined another book group that operates on a different scale and it's been a rewarding, though sometimes consuming, experience.  The African Book Group has been in existence since 1984.  It's a subscription book group (meaning members pay an annual fee to participate) and maintains its own library.  And it meets weekly, every Thursday afternoon, which is quite a commitment.  We don't read a book each week, sometimes we watch a movie or have a speaker or discuss something that requires less preparation time, as last week when, for the first time, we reviewed a blog about someone's experiences in Lagos.  All the books discussed are either by African authors or about Africa.  The members of the group come from a great variety of experience and background, with Nigerian members as well as expats of many nationalities.  I've enjoyed learning from and hearing of the experiences of the women in this group.  We recently had a luncheon along with an Annual General Meeting, where we discussed the bylaws and organization of the group and had a treasurer's report -- much more official business than I've ever had with a book group before. 

I haven't enjoyed every book we've read this year, but I've always gotten something out of the discussions that we've had on our reading.  And many of the books have given me a greater understanding and insight into African life and experience.  We're currently choosing books for next year's schedule, so if any of my blog readers have suggestions for interesting books about Africa or by African authors, I would welcome your input.


Anonymous said...

I read the book "I did not come to you by chance" by Adaobi Nwaubani who is a nigerian author. Its about a group of nigerian internet scammers in Lagos and Abuja. I thought it was very well written and would definitely recommend it!!


Carolee said...

Hi Kelsey!
I agree -- it was a well-written book. That actually was the book I suggested to the group when I joined and we purchased it and I reviewed it this year. It's also on the schedule for my other book group for the coming year. It's really a fun read!

Anonymous said...

How does one join this book group? I recently moved to Lagos for work, and I am very interested in joining (tho I also don't want to publish my email address here). Thank you!

Carolee said...

Hi Anonymous! If you want, you can leave me a comment with your email address and I won't publish it (I promise), but will email you details and get you in touch with the group's leaders. Or, you can come to the Jazz Hole on Awolowo Road on Ikoyi on Thursday afternoon (just through June 2nd, then we break for the summer) and you can check it out. We start visiting around 2 and the meeting starts at 2:30. You can come a couple of times to see if you like it before joining. Membership is N10,000/year.

Foma said...

Ooh, I really like 'Everything good will come' by Sefi Atta and 'Half of a Yellow Sun' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

There was one I read back in secondary school which was set in colonial Lagos in 1939, and I loved that as well! It was called 'The Joys of Motherhood' by Buchi Emecheta.

Mad Hatter said...

Hi Carolee,

I'm a presenter with a Lagos based radio station, currently helming a book review show. I was wondering if the ABG would be interested in recording some reviews for the show.