Kick back and relax with a selection of fascinating lazy-afternoon reads. We review three for you to consider when you’ve got an afternoon to yourself.
As with most of the books on the South African condition that have been hitting the market lately, this one paints no less a grim picture.
The ailments dissected are familiar – corruption, mismanagement, dangerous levels of unemployment, labour volatility, power cuts, a bloated and still growing bureaucracy feeding off a shrinking tax base, a poor public education service, a haphazard land-restitution system that is playing havoc with agricultural production, etc.
What sets this book apart is that the authors, accomplished researchers that they are, have gone into the field to see what the impact of these failures is on individual businesses and livelihoods, and to hear the opinions from those quarters. The logic of the responses they got makes the solutions look strikingly obvious.
Drawing from all this input, the authors suggest a drastic change of approach by both government and the public sector. Decision makers in particular would do well to read this book.
Authors: Jeffrey Herbst & Greg Mills
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Reviewer: Leon Marshall
Five friends decide to escape their oppressive old-age home/lifestyle village and go on an extended road trip that takes them east to the Kruger Park and then through the heart of the Karoo. Each traveller has his or her own story, and author Gareth Crocker’s easy word-style weaves them together in this ‘coming of old age’ tale.
One dreams of spotting a Kori Bustard in the bush. Another, facing terminal cancer, fights all sorts of personal demons on the way. The hero, who has his own agenda, finds romance and they all discover the night skies above the Upper Karoo. Crocker takes them to Hopetown on the banks of the Orange River, down to Victoria West in the Hard Man’s Karoo and, finally, to Sutherland. The Last Road Trip is light, breezy and fun to read.
It doesn’t answer cosmic questions, neither does it explore too far beyond the drive-by experience of the Karoo. Call it holiday reading, set aside a rainy afternoon and enjoy.
Author: Gareth Crocker
Publisher: Penguin Books
Reviewer: Chris Marais Price: R230
When innocently challenged on her identity by her four-year-old daughter, Kim van Kets decides to prove that she is more than a mother/wife/domestic. Already an accomplished ultra runner and paddler, she sets herself the challenge of her own self-determined ultra around the borders of South Africa.
This, a journal recounting her five-month adventure, sees her running, cycling and kayaking for nearly 7 000km as she circumnavigates the country. The stats are daunting (6 762km in 148 days; 2 409km of running, 3 748km of cycling and 615km of paddling) and her accounts of her journeys through some of the least populated and little-known regions of the country are engrossing.
Author: Kim van Kets
Publisher: Jacana Media
Reviewer: Fiona McIntosh