Here are our top reads for summer 2019/2020.
Our resident bookworm Nancy Richards recommends some riveting reads for the summer season.
For the current affairs fundis
The Love of the Land: Being a Farmer in South Africa Today (Tafelberg) by Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens
Set against the heated backdrop of land reform, a collection of heart-warming stories of challenge and survival from the unsung and often overlooked agricultural heroes that feed the nation.
The Bosasa Billions: How the ANC Sold its Soul for Braaipacks, Booze and Bags of Cash (Lapa) by James Brent & Paul Vecchiatto
The inside story of how one company hijacked the state to establish an extensive tender network stretching right to the top of the ruling party.
Pick up a memoir
Thembi Mtshali-Jones – Theatre Road: My Story as Told to Sindiwe Magona (Karavan Press)
Seemingly destined for broken dreams, actress and ‘Living Legend’ Thembi’s life changed dramatically, theatrically by chance and an audition. She shares her story with another legend, acclaimed author Dr Sindiwe Magona.
A Headmaster’s Story: My Life in Education (Jonathan Ball) by Bill Schroder
The stuff of which teaching legends are made, Bill Shroder former head of Pretoria Boys High, tells the story of an inspiring career in education honestly, anecdotally with humour, humility, warts and all.
For the People: A Small Town’s Struggle Against Apartheid (Jonathan Ball) by Anelia Schutte
Growing up in Knysna, Schutte was the only white child at a crèche for black children set up by her mother Owena. Decades later Schutte, sets out to find the truth about this little town, through her mother’s eyes.
Yellow and Confused (Kwela) by Ming-Cheau Lin
Born in Taiwan, brought to SA aged three and raised in an East Asian community in Bloemfontein, Ming-Cheau always felt like an outsider. Her colourful, engaging and insightful book has helped her and will help others, make sense of the hurdles.
Get Me to 21: The Jenna Lowe Story (MF Books) by Gabi Lowe
Months before her 21st birthday, Jenna died of pulmonary arterial hypertension. But not without a valiant fight through the #GetMeTo21 campaign. Her infinitely brave mother shares the family’s four-year battle with this rare illness.
Bassie: My Journey of Hope (Penguin Random House) by Basetsana Kumalo
From fresh-faced Miss South Africa to TV celeb then top businesswoman, Bassie tells an intimate and inspirational story, sparing none of the dark side.
For sports fans
Vuvuzela Dawn: 25 Sports Stories that Shaped a New Nation (Pan Macmillan) by Luke Alfred and Ian Hawkey
In the 25 years of democracy nowhere has South Africa’s welcome back into the world been more evident than in sport. These stories reveal the defining drama and passion.
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Food, glorious food
Chef Nti: My Modern African Kitchen (Quivertree) by Nthabiseng Ramaboa
Inspired by her elders, one-time fashionista and TV cook, Nthabiseng realised that to talk to a new generation she needed to reinvent traditional cooking and flavours in a fresh way. The end product is super proudly South African.
Banting: 7 Day Meal Plans (Quivertree) by Rita Venter, Natalie Lawson and Kim Blom
In 2014 Rita started the Banting 7 Day Meal Plan Facebook group. Five years, later they have 1.9 million followers. This is a funky, accessible collection of the members’ 100 favourite recipes and tips to suit all shapes, sizes and income brackets.
For those going green
Wise About Waste: 150+ Ways to Help the Planet (Bookstorm) by Helen Moffett
From small steps to the big ones, a practical guide to reducing our consumption of energy and food, and the waste in which we will soon drown if we don’t manage it properly. Author, activist Helen walks the talk for homes to businesses with hope and humour.
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100 Bushveld Trees (Struik Nature) by Megan Emmett Parker
Filled with full-colour pics, close up details, lists of features, fun facts and a glossary, covers the most memorable trees in the Highveld and Lowveld.
Orca: The Day Great White Sharks Disappeared (Struik Nature) by Richard Peirce
The jury is out on what is causing the disappearance of Great Whites from South African waters but a possible culprit is the other apex predator. As a shark conservationist for over 30 years, Richard’s is a voice worth listening to for answers.
South Africa’s Survival Guide to Climate Change by Sipho Kings and Sarah Wild (Pan Macmillan)
Not a living soul is exempt from climate change. Two reputable environmental journalists offer suggestions on mitigation from reducing our carbon footprint to saving water, and adaptation (making us better able to cope). Simple info no caring person should be without.
Keep it short
Fool’s Gold: Selected Modjaji Short Stories (Modjaji) edited by Arja Salafranca
From 12 years of publishing by this women’s press and designed to give a taste of the work of a range of very different women writers, this collection of stories has been selected by writer and poet herself Arja Salafranca.
Durban Poison (MF Books) by Ben Trovato
From the man who has been outraging and amusing South Africa since 2001, comes another collection of satirical tongue-lashing columns lampooning, well, anyone he thinks deserves it.
Breaking Milk (Karavan) by Dawn Garisch
Over and above milking goats, a day in the life of an organic cheesemaker takes in a number of other issues on her plate – the separation of her estranged daughter’s conjoined twins, the initiation of her employee’s son and the links between humans, animals and the environment.
Being Lily (Kwela) by Qarnita Loxton
Every bit as warm, witty and painfully poignant as her earlier Being Kari, Qarnita deals with Lily’s imminent wedding to ‘tinted Capetonian’ Owen. Perfectly planned until his ex shows up with ‘a daughter’. Eish!
Borderline (Penguin Random House) by Marita van der Vyver
Going through a shoebox of her deceased ex-husband’s memorabilia from his days as a troopie in the 70’s border war, Theresa finds a letter that leads her to Cuba to atone in some way for Theo’s deeds and her own ignorance.
Born Freeloaders (Picador Africa) by Phumlani Pikoli
Siblings Nthabiseng and Xolani were raised in an upper-middle-class family with connections to the political elite. Set over one weekend the book tracks their lives, loves, consciousness, consciences, confusions and clarity.
Murder mystery anyone?
Ghosts of the Past (Pan Macmillan) by Tony Park
In 1906 a young Australian adventurer is condemned to death during the Anglo-Boer war. Generations later his descendant, a journalist comes to South Africa and joins the hunt to find the truth.
Leaving Word (MF Books) by Steven Boykey Sidley
When acclaimed editor Joelle Jesson is fired just hours before the death of her charismatic young boss, there was no doubt there’d be a lot of questions aimed at her. Into this literary quagmire, Sidley brings a rapid-fire raft of art, wit, murk and meanings.
For the poets
Naturally Africa! An Anthology of Earth Poems edited by Dan Wylie and Patricia Schonstein
A collection as biodiverse as creation itself, these poems from the pens of poets of all different kinds draw attention to both the beauty and the vulnerability of everything on this earth.
The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Volume IX (Jacana)
From the almost 700 poems submitted in 10 official South African languages, 67 have been chosen for publication by head judge Professor Mongane Wally Serote and his team. A celebration of language and cultural diversity.
Want to win a hamper of books? Then enter our Holiday Reads Competition here.