Captivating history with a scandalous twist, insight into principled leadership, conventional gardening wisdom turned upside down and the ultimate guide to a fulfilling wine life… Enjoy these reads with a glass or two of your favourite vino.
History as chronicled and taught is mostly about the great figures and events of the past. Seldom are we given insights such as these into how folk actually lived and, more specifically, what they were up to.
So there we were given to believe that Jan van Riebeeck and his fellow settlers were a stoic lot, putting up bravely with the vicissitudes of the Cape of Storms. This book tells us some were as busy sowing wild oats as they were growing a garden for the benefit of the passing ships. It tells about the love and lust, often across colour and class lines, and the drinking and debauchery that were much a part of South Africa’s tempestuous formative years right up to the start of the 20th century.
The author is a genealogist, so many a well-known family name features, making her book even more captivating. One can imagine wide-eyed pupils hanging on to every word if history got spiced up more along these lines.
- Author: June McKinnon
- Publisher: Zebra Press
- Reviewer: Leon Marshall
- Price: R200
- ISBN: 978-1-77022-986-0
If getting a better understanding of each other’s history is going to play the part it should in the construction of our new society, there is good reason to read this book. Perhaps one should, in this instance, rather talk of each other’s interpretation of history, as an important segment of the education material this ANC stalwart with his teaching and journalistic background compiled. He did so overtly and covertly, for the benefit of fellow inmates on Robben Island, dealing with factors such as those involved in Afrikaner nationalism’s rise to power.
The book is as intriguing for the insight it gives into the mindsets and political activity that went on behind those prison bars. Learning, both academic and political, became key to steeling themselves. Some who could hardly read or write when they arrived, left with degrees. Not all of what Mbeki taught is gospel, but for a reminder of what principled leadership is about, today’s cadres would do well to take a serious read of this book.
- Compiled by: Colin Bundy
- Publisher: Kwela Books
- Reviewer: Leon Marshall
- Price: R160
- ISBN: 978-0-79570-732-2
Finally, the caterpillar has been vindicated. In Gardening for Butterflies, authors Steve Woodhall and Lindsay Gray turn conventional gardening wisdom upside down by revealing that, far from being the villain, the butterfly-in-disguise is actually the hero.
You see, in munching your plants, the creepy crawly performs an essential role in maintaining the health of your garden. That it transforms into an exquisite butterfly is simply the cherry on the top. This little drama aside, the book offers practical information on how to create conditions that will invite a wide array of butterflies and moths to become your close neighbours. Superb photos accompany accessible explanations about the life cycles and habitat requirements of nearly 100 species of Lepidoptera, while the section on structuring a butterfly-friendly garden takes the mystery out of landscape design. If you’d like your garden to metamorphose into a vital ecosystem, you’ll find this an essential resource.
- Authors: Steve Woodhall & Lindsay Gray
- Publisher: Struik Nature
- Reviewer: Andrea Abbott
- Price: R230
- ISBN: 978-1-77584-124-1
The latest edition of SA’s quintessential wine guide, indispensable for any wine lover, has been brought up to date with most things you need to know about having a fulfilling wine life. The guide has sold more than 1.4-million hard-cover copies since 1980, no mean feat in an increasingly digital world.
The format is largely unchanged and sees the return of red type denoting upper-end wines, which makes it so much easier to read. It features over 8 000 locally produced wines from more than 900 different sources, and is packed with information about the winemakers, as well as where to eat and stay, and rudimentary maps of the wine areas so you’ll know what you’re in for when you set out.
- Publisher: Jean-Pierre Rossouw
- Reviewer: Greg Landman
- Price: R195
- ISBN: 978-0-98700-46-3-5