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Choo Choo Train Story Time

Saturday, March 29th 2014 at 11:00 AM

trainHave you been on a train before? Maybe just the one here in our city, or maybe one that travelled all the way across the country?  Trains are noisy and not all that fast, but they are a great way to  travel and go places. Today we will read some train stories with Conductor Danica, saying “All Aboard!”



Launch of Could I Vote DA by Eusebius McKaiser in conversation with Conrad Koch and Chester Missing

Thursday, March 27th 2014 at 5:30 PM



Kathy Reichs Visits the Book Lounge!

Wednesday, March 26th 2014 at 6:00 PM

Kathy Reichs at The Book Lounge


Launch of 1000 Beautiful Bracelets by Valerie Pole

Tuesday, March 25th 2014 at 5:30 PM

1000 BB


Archbishop Tutu reads his new book for Story time

Tuesday, March 25th 2014 at 10:30 AM

Let There Be Light_Central Lib


March 2014

Tuesday, March 25th 2014 at 9:26 AM

Book of the Month

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter

“The Strangler Vine is a splendid novel with an enthralling story, a wonderfully drawn atmosphere, and an exotic mystery that captivated me.”                      Bernard Cornwell

Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India – or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing.

William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company’s army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. A more mismatched duo couldn’t be imagined, but they must bury their differences as they are caught up in a search that turns up too many unanswered questions and seems bound to end in failure.

What was it that so captivated Mountstuart about the Thugs, the murderous sect of Kali-worshippers who strangle innocent travellers by the roadside? Who is Jeremiah Blake and can he be trusted? And why is the whole enterprise shrouded in such secrecy?

A rattling good yarn…I do not remember when I enjoyed a novel more than this. Finishing it would have been unbearable had it not been for the reassuring promise at the end that Blake and Avery will return for more adventures.”                       Financial Times

The Strangler Vine is a considerable achievement, which left me waiting impatiently for a promised sequel.”                      The Times

Intelligent, extensively researched and packed with period detail, The Strangler Vine evokes both the attitudes of the British colonials and the India of the period…with its ingredients including murder, gambling, opium wars and crime, it’s an imaginative read.”                          Metro

M.J. Carter has cooked up a spicy dish: a pinch of Moonstone, a dash of Sherlock and a soupçon of Fu Manchu added to a rich stew of John Masters. A splendid romp and just the job for a cold winter’s evening in front of a blazing fire.”                              William Dalrymple

“The Strangler Vine is fresh and original with many surprises in store . . . Avery is the guileless Watson of the partnership, and Blake the opaque Sherlock.”              Evening Standard


Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow

This new novel by an American master, the author of Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, Billy Bathgate, and The March, takes us on a radical trip into the mind of a man who, more than once in his life, has been an inadvertent agent of disaster.

Speaking from an unknown place and to an unknown interlocutor, Andrew is thinking, Andrew is talking, Andrew is telling the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies that have led him to this place and point in time. And as he confesses, peeling back the layers of his strange story, we are led to question what we know about truth and memory, brain and mind, personality and fate, about one another and ourselves. Written with psychological depth and great lyrical precision, this suspenseful and groundbreaking novel delivers a voice for our times-funny, probing, skeptical, mischievous.


Mind-bending and brilliant…an astonishing range of modes: vaudeville humour, tragic romance, philosophical speculation…it fizzes with intellectual energy, verbal pyrotechnics and satiric flair. It is a late-career tour de force.”                            Sunday Times

“[Doctorow] is a brilliant, careful observer…he has a poet’s flair.”              Times Literary Supplement

Assured in combining the historical and grand with the ordinary and affecting – this is clearly an E. L. Doctorow novel…For more than five decades, Doctorow has written novels that jolt American history to life.”                                New Statesman

A literary imagination that is still probing its capacities. Doctorow, in his ninth decade, is clearly not happy to rest on those considerable laurels.”                     Telegraph

And Sons by David Gilbert

The Manhattan funeral of Charles Henry Topping would have been a minor affair but for the identity of the eulogist: reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel ‘Ampersand’ stands as a classic of teenage angst. Now Andrew Newbold Dyer takes stock of his own life, the people he’s hurt and the novel that will endure as his legacy. He realises he must reunite with his three sons before it’s too late.

Eldest son Richard is a screenwriter in Californian exile. In the middle is Jamie, who has spent his life capturing the sorrow that surrounds him. And last is Andy, now a pupil at the boarding school that inspired ‘Ampersand’. It is only when the hidden purpose of the reunion comes to light do the sons realise what’s at stake – for their father, themselves and three generations of Dyers.

Daring, entertaining and insightful.

Richly entertaining…beautifully realised and very funny…A book [which] has the rare quality of being funny without being silly, serious without being solemn, and powerfully moving without being either sentimental or coercive.”                             Guardian

A sprawling family saga of moneyed New York, written in highly wrought prose replete with Updikean flourishes. We immediately identify Gilbert with Franzen and his realist forebears…There is much to admire in “& Sons”, it is ambitious and often beautiful.”                              Observer

Hugely energetic…engrossing and superbly done…His novel’s 400-plus pages zip by in a rush of accessible, highbrowish pleasure…[An] intelligent, enthralling novel.”                      Sunday Times

I was floored by the sparkle and brilliance…superbly written, wonderfully entertaining and often outrageously funny.”                                The  Times

A singularly brilliant novel…[which] marks David Gilbert out as a writer of exceptional talent.”                  Literary Review

The Last Word by Hanif Kureishi

Mamoon is an eminent Indian-born writer who has made a career in England – but now, in his early 70s, his reputation is fading, sales have dried up, and his new wife has expensive taste.

Harry, a young writer, is commissioned to write a biography to revitalise both Mamoon’s career and his bank balance. Harry greatly admires Mamoon’s work and wants to uncover the truth of the artist’s life. Harry’s publisher seeks a more naked truth, a salacious tale of sex and scandal that will generate headlines. Meanwhile Mamoon himself is mining a different vein of truth altogether.

Harry and Mamoon find themselves in a battle of wills, but which of them will have the last word?

The ensuing struggle for dominance raises issues of love and desire, loyalty and betrayal, and the frailties of age versus the recklessness of youth.

Hanif Kureishi has created a tale brimming with youthful exuberance, as hilarious as it is touching, where words have the power to forge a world.

Brilliantly funny and entertaining.”`                       David Sexton, Evening Standard

His best work to date…very funny…Kureishi has written a major work, founded on a major literary problem, set by a master of his craft.”                        John Sutherland, The Times

This is Kureishi at his mischievous, subversive best.”                       Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Kureishi’s best novel since The Buddha of Suburbia, perhaps because it returns to the original themes of family, race and identity…the assertion at its heart, that a writer can be an artist, telling the truth, makes this book important as well as enjoyable.”                         Independent on Sunday

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

Vienna, 1899. Josef Breuer – celebrated psychoanalyst – is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings – to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people’, so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the real world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed…

Atmospheric and beautifully written.

Dark and intriguing…a highly clever, original book.”                      Daily Mail

Powerful, heartbreaking, heart-racing, terrifying…It is impossible not to find yourself racing through the pages.”                            The Times

Ambitious and enticing.”                            Independent

Cataract City by Craig Davidson

Cataract City, a dead-end border town overlooking Niagara Falls. Owen Stuckey and Duncan Diggs are fast friends as kids – united by wrestling, go-karts, and metal bands – but as they grow into young men, their once simple affection competes with the tensions created by their respective circumstances. Owen, born to relative privilege, seems destined to get out of the city, while Duncan, honest but hard, is hurtling along the rails towards a future working the assembly line at the soulless biscuit factory, The Bisk. As Duncan becomes more and more desperate to escape, he finds himself at opposite ends of the law to Owen, and as the coils of the city creep ever tighter around the two friends, they find themselves struggling not to break free, but simply to survive.

The Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner

‘I, to this day, hold to only one truth: if a man chooses to carry a gun he will get shot.
My father agreed to carry twelve

Young Tom Walker cannot believe his luck when his father allows him to accompany him on the road, selling Samuel Colt’s newly-invented revolver. They will leave behind the depression and disease that is gripping 1830’s New York to travel the country together.

Still only twelve years old, Tom is convinced that he is now a man. Fate, it seems, thinks so too …

On the road west the towns get smaller, the forests wilder, and the path more unforgiving. A devastating encounter cuts their journey tragically short, and leaves Tom all alone in the wilderness.

Struggling to see a way home, he finds his only hope: ageing ranger Henry Stands, who is heading back east. Tom’s resolve to survive initiates an unlikely partnership that will be tested by the dangers of the road ahead, where outlaws prowl.

It’s a thrilling, violent, dangerous piece of old-fashioned storytelling that is also humane and unshowily moving.”                          The Times

As simply told tales go, this is one of the best. It shares with its hero a plain eloquence and a determination and a grace rare in the world and in books. Give The Road to Reckoning to every man you know and they’ll thank you for it.”                               Joshua Ferris, author of The Unnamed

This quiet triumph of a novel, a sad and impeccably nuanced tale set against a finely drawn landscape of early pioneer America, left me just amazed and delighted: it will surely establish Robert Lautner as a storyteller of the first order…Compelling, gripping and beautiful…a poetic page-turner with precision and heart…Has a very real chance of becoming a cult classic.”               Simon Winchester

Wolves by Simon Ings

The new novel from Simon Ings is a story that balances on the knife blade of a new technology. Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people, with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you, it is as it is imagined by someone else. Ings takes the mordant satirical view of J.G. Ballard and propels it into the 21st century.

Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment they realise that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them.

A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past. A secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder. This is no dry analysis of how a technology might change us, it is a terrifying thriller, a picture of a dark tomorrow that is just around the corner.

Babayaga by Toby Barlow

Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It’s 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn’t think he’s a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy who can’t seem to figure out Parisian girls.
Zoya is a beautiful young woman wandering les boulevards, sad-eyed, coming off a bad breakup. In fact, she impaled her ex on a spike. Zoya, it turns out, has been a beautiful young woman for hundreds of years; she and her far more traditionally witchy-looking companion, Elga, have been thriving unnoticed in the bloody froth of Europe’s wars.
Inspector Vidot is a hardworking Paris police detective who cherishes quiet nights at home. But when he follows a lead from a grisly murder to the abode of an ugly old woman, he finds himself turned into a flea.
Oliver is a patrician, fun-loving American who has come to Paris to start a literary journal with the help of friends in D.C. who ask a few favors in return. He’s in well over his head, but it’s nothing that a cocktail can’t fix. Right?
Add a few chance encounters, a chorus of some more angry witches, a strung-out jazzman or two, a weaponized LSD program, and a cache of rifles buried in the Bois de Bologne—and that’s a novel! But while Toby Barlow’s Babayaga may start as just a joyful romp though the City of Light, it quickly grows into a daring, moving exploration of love, mortality, and responsibility.

The King by Kader Abdolah

It is the nineteenth century and the kingdom of Persia is at a turning point. When a young King, Shah Naser, takes to the throne he inherits a medieval, enchanted world. But beyond the court, the greater forces of colonisation and industrialisation close in. The Shah’s grand vizier sees only one solution – to open up to the outside world, and to bring Persia into modernity. But the Shah’s mother fiercely opposes the vizier’s reforms and sets about poisoning her son’s mind against his advisor.

With bloody battles, intrigue and extraordinary characters, The King brings a historical moment brilliantly to life.

“The King is utterly fabulous in both senses of the word: a sly, witty, knowing fable, full of charm and humour. Deceptively simple in its storytelling, it reads like one of Angela Carter’s fairy tales transposed into the nineteenth-century Qajar Persian court. Kader Abdolah is a masterful and completely addictive storyteller.”                            William Dalrymple

A strong and colourful story illuminating the complex forces that have shaped contemporary Iran.”                      Metro

Glorious.”                          The Times

Told in a simple yet gripping style based on the great epic history of early Persia…Abdolah brings a crucial moment in 19th-century Persian history to vivid life…A modern epic.”                       Independent

The King probes questions of power and authority through wry fable – Salman Rushdie’s Shame meets Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall…the story is rich with subtle touches…in the grand tradition of Persian literary satire, the writing is playful, subversive, and compassionate…resplendent.”                  Financial Times

The Kept by James Scott

How far would you go for your family, for love, for revenge? In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Elspeth Howell returns home to find her family brutally murdered. The only survivor is her twelve-year-old son who witnessed it all. Wounded, frightened and with retribution in their hearts, mother and son set out into the frozen wilderness to track down the red-scarfed men who killed their loved ones in cold blood. Their journey leads them to a rough-hewn settlement on the edge of ice-filled Lake Erie, a merciless place where violence abounds. Here, forced into a brutal adulthood, Caleb begins to discover truths about his mother he could never have anticipated and Elspeth must finally confront the terrible urges that envelop her. All the while, the memory of Caleb’s brothers and sisters presses him onwards. Big skies, deep snow, open wounds: The Kept delves deep into what it means to be a mother – and to be a son. It asks us how far we would go for our family, for love and, ultimately, for revenge?

Winter and discontent…Scott is the master of mood…Haunting.”                           New York Times Book Review

A classically written crime novel that is also an atmospheric evocation of a bygone era.”                               Sunday Times

Reads with the stark clarity of a Johnny Cash song.”                     Washington Post

Kill Your Boss: The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn

If you’re reading this, you’re a new employee at Human Resources, Inc.

Congratulations. And condolences. At the very least, you’re embarking on a career that you will never be able to describe as dull. You’ll go to interesting places. You’ll meet unique and stimulating people from all walks of life. And kill them. You will make a lot of money, but that will mean nothing to you after the first job.

Assassination, no matter how easy it looks in the movies, is the most difficult, stressful, and lonely profession on the planet. Even when you’re disguised as an intern.

John Lago is a hitman. He has some rules for you. And he’s about to break every single one.

Black humor and surprise twists distinguish Kuhn’s highly entertaining debut, which puts a fresh spin on the theme of the hardened criminal planning one last job.”                            Publishers Weekly

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood


In the dazzling summer of 1926, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley travel from their home in Paris to a villa in the south of France. They swim, play bridge and drink gin. But wherever they go they are accompanied by the glamorous and irrepressible Fife. Fife is Hadley’s best friend. She is also Ernest’s lover.

Hadley is the first Mrs. Hemingway, but neither she nor Fife will be the last. Over the ensuing decades, Ernest’s literary career will blaze a trail, but his marriages will be ignited by passion and deceit. Four extraordinary women will learn what it means to love the most famous writer of his generation, and each will be forced to ask herself how far she will go to remain his wife…

Luminous and intoxicating, Mrs. Hemingway portrays real lives with rare intimacy and plumbs the depths of the human heart.


This is a wonderful book: carefully written, richly imagined and emotionally wise … It is all meticulously researched, but, as in the best of Penelope Fitzgerald, the research is worn lightly and never threatens to dominate … Even the well-known details of Hemingway’s life are made fresh, given a new significance.”                    Daily Telegraph


It takes an unusual skill to keep someone reading a story to which they think they already know the ending. But Mrs. Hemingway is so beautifully written, and evocative, that I could not put it down until the last page.”                       Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You


A luminous, intoxicating look at the most important women in the life of a celebrated novelist… A passionate novel based on real lives, full of betrayals and moments of heartbreaking intimacy as Wood gives four remarkable women star billing.”              Marie Claire

The elegiac final chapters are beautifully achieved…the elegant prose and finely-wrought narrative of this humane novel exceed the sum of its parts.”                                  Independent

This really is my book of the year so far. It is completely delicious on female friendship and competitiveness and fancying someone til you go a bit mad. And the fact that said women (the four Mrs Hemingways) are all uniquely formidable and glamorous is doubly fabulous.”                                  Alexandra Heminsley

“[Wood writes] beautifully, with an eye for the perfect detail.”                           Sunday Times

Exquisite. Naomi Wood writes with lightness and grace, deftly evoking history and character and plunging us straight into the heart of each woman’s story. Hemingway’s wives dance off the page and the reader dances with them, entranced.”                      (Sarah Butler, author of Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love



The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Time by Barbara Taylor

The Last Asylum is Barbara Taylor’s journey through mental illness and the psychiatric health care system.

The Last Asylum begins with Barbara Taylor’s visit to the innocuously named Princess Park Manor in Friern Barnet, North London – a picture of luxury and repose. But this is the former site of one of England’s most infamous lunatic asylums, the Middlesex County Pauper Lunatic Aslyum at Colney Hatch. At its peak this asylum housed nearly 3,000 patients — among them, in the 1980s, Barbara Taylor herself.

The Last Asylum is Taylor’s powerful account of her battle with mental illness, set inside the wider story of the end of the UK asylum system.

Eloquent, compassionate, and utterly absorbing. A book about family and friendship, about the complexities of memory, about care and the failure of care, The Last Asylum is the best sort of memoir, transcending the purely personal to confront a larger social history. (Sarah Waters)

We believe our response to mental illness is more enlightened, kinder and effective than that of the Victorians who built the asylums. Can we be sure? Barbara Taylor’s sombre investigation, calling on personal experience, challenges complacency, exposes shallow thinking, and points out the flaws and dangers of treatment on the cheap. It is a wise, considered and timely book.”                     Hilary Mantel

Moving, brave and intelligent.”                               Susan Hill, The Times

Exquisitely written and provocative.”                    Sunday Times

Dazzling…a tale that compels you to keep turning the pages…a great achievement, full of life and hope.”                            Sunday Telegraph

Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart’s loving but mismatched parents dreamed that he would become a lawyer, or at least an accountant, something their distracted son was simply not cut out to do. Fusing English and Russian, his mother created the term Failurchka – ‘Little Failure’ – which she applied to her son. With love. Mostly.

A candid and deeply poignant story of a Soviet family’s trials and tribulations, and of their escape in 1979 to the consumerist promised land of the USA, Little Failure is also an exceptionally funny account of the author’s transformation from asthmatic toddler in Leningrad to 40-something Manhattanite with a receding hairline and a memoir to write.

Kicks ass – more fantastic, more unbelievable than his novels.”                 Mary Karr, author of The

Liars’ Club

A marvel of a story. His finest book yet.”                             Zadie Smith

“Little Failure is a delight.”                           Aravind Adiga

Africa’s Urban Revolution by Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse

The facts of Africa’s rapid urbanisation are startling. By 2030 African cities will have grown by more than 350 million people and the continent will have surpassed the 50% urban mark. Yet, in the minds of policy makers, scholars and much of the general public, Africa remains a quintessential rural place. This lack of awareness and robust analysis means it is difficult to make a policy case for a more overtly urban agenda. As a result, there is, across the continent, insufficient urgency directed to responding to the challenges and opportunities associated with the world’s last major wave of urbanisation.

Drawing on the expertise of scholars and practitioners associated with the African Centre for Cities, and utilising a diverse array of case studies, the book provides comprehensive insight into the key issues – demographic, cultural, political, technical, environmental and economic – surrounding African urbanization.

“Africa’s Urban Revolution is a cutting-edge, insightful book that contains important contributions from some of the leading urban researchers in Africa. Informed by theory and practice, the book makes a major statement about future urban possibilities for the African region.”
Professor Richard Grant, Director of Urban Studies, University of Miami

When the Hills Ask for Your Blood: A Personal Story of Genocide and Rwanda by David Belton

Into the heart of a genocide that left a million people dead

6 April 1994: In the skies above Rwanda the President’s plane is shot down in flames.

In the chapel of a hillside village, missionary priest Vjeko Curic prepares to save thousands.

Near Kigali, Jean-Pierre holds his family close, fearing for their lives.

The mass slaughter that follows – friends against friends, neighbours against neighbours – is one of the bloodiest chapters in history

Twenty years on, BBC Newsnight producer David Belton, one of the first journalists into Rwanda, tells of the horrors he experienced at first-hand. Following the threads of Jean-Pierre and Vjeko Curic’s stories, he revisits a country still marked with blood, in search of those who survived and the legacy of those who did not. This is David Belton’s personal quest for the limits of bravery and forgiveness.

David Belton has written something very special, a work of non-fiction that has a novel’s power to move, enchant and challenge. This elegantly-written book is much more than a history, a work of lyrical beauty that will stand as a memorial not just for those who died in the genocide but to those of us who struggle to make a difference.”                           Tim Butcher, author of Blood River

Belton excavates the truth…to produce a book that is both illuminating and profoundly moving.”                          Independent

Brings the story right up to date, confronting the dilemmas and tensions that lie not far below the surface.. Elegantly written.”                              Observer

To Catch a Cop: The Paul O’Sullivan Story by Marianne Thamm

This book is an account of Paul O’Sullivan’s role in helping to not only nail South Africa’s most powerful policeman, but also the world’s top cop. It is based on thousands of pages of emails, statements, affidavits, letters, press reports, court records and transcripts as well as interviews with O’Sullivan himself.

The drama plays itself out in different layers of South African society, sometimes simultaneously and often in an apparently unrelated fashion. The characters that populate the saga, apart from Jackie Selebi, include the then president of the country, his political rival, myriad crooked, corrupt businessmen, a gallery of rotten, very senior rogue cops, a phalanx of undercover intelligence operatives, two-bit hired guns, scrap metal dealers, drug and human traffickers, international criminal syndicates and a cast of thousands of common-or-garden-variety petty thugs and criminals.

Although this sounds like a movie Paul O’Sullivan is no suave James Bond in a tuxedo – when dealing with criminals he can be abrasive, brusque and uncompromising. But who wouldn’t be in his world of sociopaths and psychopaths? And what drives him? Revenge? A thirst for justice?

Paul O’Sullivan hates criminals and low-lifes. His long career in international law enforcement has equipped him with the intellectual and physical tools to deal with the most canny and violent of criminals. With Thamm’s usual precision and wit, this book explores O’Sullivan’s methods, and how the Selebi story unfolded to its astonishing conclusion.

100 Good Ideas: Celebrating 20 Years of Democracy by Brendan Bell-Roberts

100 Good Ideas: Celebrating 20 Years of Democracy embraces South African creativity. From iconic people and worthwhile innovations to inspiring designs and useful trends, the 100 good ideas presented in this book are as extraordinary as they are diverse. 100 Good Ideas focuses on what makes African creativity a distinctive, valuable resource, celebrating its commitment to goodness.

‘Good ideas contain unfathomable journeys. Good ideas exceed those who generate them. Good ideas are for the greater good … Good ideas are good because they can be connected to other good ideas.’

Brendon Bell-Roberts, is co-founder of the Sustain our Africa summit, expo and festival and the Change Agent Communications Consultancy. His projects combine creativity, sustainability and positive change, helping to define the future Africa. For the past twenty years Brendon has been designing, curating and publishing. With more than 100 major publications and exhibitions under his belt, he has helped launch the careers of many of South Africa’s top artists and creatives. Together with his wife Suzette he is the founder and publisher of Art South Africa magazine, which has evolved into a digital platform in keeping with his focus on the role of creativity, sustainability and positive change in the African digital revolution.

Killing Us Softly: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Dr Paul Offitt

More people than ever are using alternative medicine. But, as expert Dr Paul Offit explains, these untested therapies are ineffective, expensive and even deadly.

Now that homeopathic remedies are offered on the NHS, it’s clear that various therapies once considered alternative or complementary, have become mainstream – prescribed to burn fat, shrink prostates, alleviate colds, reduce stress, eliminate pain and prevent cancer. At the same time, uptake of effective vaccines such as MMR has fallen – a disturbing trend which, in the case of the MMR, has lead to a sharp rise in the number of measles cases.

In Killing Us Softly Paul Offit reveals that alternative medicine – an unregulated industry under no obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks – can actually be very harmful.

Using real-life case histories to back his argument, Dr Offit shows us why any medical treatment – alternative or conventional – must be properly evaluated. ‘There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.’

The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World by Lincoln P. Paine

A monumental, yet wholly accessible work of scholarship that retells human history through the story of mankind’s relationship with the sea. An accomplishment of both great sweep and illuminating detail, The Sea and Civilization is a stunning work of history that reveals in breathtaking depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world’s waterways. Lincoln Paine takes us back to the origins of long-distance migration by sea, with our ancestors’ first forays from Africa and Eurasia to Australia and the Americas. He demonstrates the critical role of maritime trade to the civilisations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley. He reacquaints us with the great seafaring cultures of antiquity like those of the Phoenicians and Greeks, as well as those of India, Southeast and East Asia who parlayed their navigational skills, shipbuilding techniques, and commercial acumen to establish vibrant overseas colonies and trade routes in the centuries leading up to the age of European overseas expansion. His narrative traces subsequent developments in commercial and naval shipping through the post-Cold War era. Above all, Paine makes clear how the rise and fall of civilizations can be traced to the sea.

A magnificently sweeping world history that takes us from the people of Oceania and concludes with the container. In contrast to most books on maritime history, the majority of The Sea and Civilization covers the history of the world before Columbus sailed the ocean blue and at least as much of the narrative focuses on Asia as it does on Europe.”                       Daily Telegraph

“The Sea and Civilization is, without doubt, the most comprehensive maritime history ever produced… Some of the most exciting history published today is by freelancers like Paine who can ignore the rules of academia.”                          The Times

A brilliantly researched and ambitious affirmation of the sea and civilisation.”                  Philip Hoare, New Statesman

The most enjoyable, the most refreshing, the most stimulating, the most comprehensive, the most discerning, the most insightful, the most up-to-date – in short, the best maritime history of the world.”                            Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Poles Apart with Some Pointy Bits In Between by David Bristow, Vaughan de la Harpe and Sean Disney

‘Life is either an adventure or nothing,’ observed Helen Keller. Of course, the concept of adventure is subjective. It’s all about choice really. In the case of Poles Apart with some pointy bits in between, the choice involves the adventure of a lifetime – to see what lies around the next bend, to seek out the unknown, to satisfy curiosity and to push the limits.

Poles Apart shares the adventures of Sean Disney and Vaughan de la Harpe as they travel around the globe to become the first South Africans to achieve the Explorers Grand Slam. To earn this accolade, a climber must successfully reach the summit of the highest mountain on each of the seven continents – Mount Everest, SE Ridge (Asia), Carstensz Pyramid (Australasia), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), Elbrus (Russia), Vinson Massif (Antarctica) – and must ski haul to both the North and South Poles. This is a prestigious group that presently counts fewer than 50 people in the world as its members.

Entertainingly written by David Bristow in an interview style, Poles Apart breaks the mould of conventional adventure accounts and mountaineering offerings. Its combination of irreverence, humour, drama and fact will have you on the edge of your seat sharing in the authors’ sometimes hair-raising escapades and remarkable accomplishments.

Meeting the Enemy: The Human Face of the Great War by Richard van Embden

A British soldier walked over to the German front line to deliver newspapers; British women married to Germans became ‘enemy aliens’ in their own country; a high-ranking British POW discussed his own troops’ heroism with the Kaiser on the battlefield. Just three amazing stories of contact between the opposing sides in the Great War that eminent historian Richard van Emden has unearthed – incidents that show brutality, great humanity, and above all the bizarre nature of a conflict between two nations with long-standing ties of kinship and friendship. Meeting the Enemy reveals for the first time how contact was maintained on many levels throughout the War, and its stories, sometimes funny, often moving, give us a new perspective on the lives of ordinary men and women caught up in extraordinary events.

Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux by Boris Kachka

Mad Men for the literary world.” —Junot Díaz

Farrar, Straus and Giroux is arguably the most influential publishing house of the modern era. Home to an unrivaled twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and generation-defining authors like T. S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen, it’s a cultural institution whose importance approaches that of The New Yorker or The New York Times. But FSG is no ivory tower—the owner’s wife called the office a “sexual sewer”—and its untold story is as tumultuous and engrossing as many of the great novels it has published.

Boris Kachka deftly reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the pugnacious black sheep of his powerful German-Jewish family—with his bottomless supply of ascots, charm, and vulgarity of every stripe—and his utter opposite, the reticent, closeted editor Robert Giroux, who rose from working-class New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who helped define American culture. Giroux became one of T. S. Eliot’s best friends, just missed out on The Catcher in the Rye, and played the placid caretaker to manic-depressive geniuses like Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Jean Stafford, and Jack Kerouac. Straus, the brilliant showman, made Susan Sontag a star, kept Edmund Wilson out of prison, and turned Isaac Bashevis Singer from a Yiddish scribbler into a Nobelist—even as he spread the gossip on which literary New York thrived.

A prolific lover and an epic fighter, Straus ventured fearlessly, and sometimes recklessly, into battle for his books, his authors, and his often-struggling company. When a talented editor left for more money and threatened to take all his writers, Roger roared, “Over my dead body”—and meant it. He turned a philosophical disagreement with Simon & Schuster head Dick Snyder into a mano a mano media war that caught writers such as Philip Roth and Joan Didion in the crossfire. He fought off would-be buyers like S. I. Newhouse (“that dwarf”) with one hand and rapacious literary agents like Andrew Wylie (“that shit”) with the other. Even his own son and presumed successor was no match for a man who had to win at any cost—and who was proven right at almost every turn.

At the center of the story, always, are the writers themselves. After giving us a fresh perspective on the postwar authors we thought we knew, Kachka pulls back the curtain to expose how elite publishing works today. He gets inside the editorial meetings where writers’ fates are decided; he captures the adrenaline rush of bidding wars for top talent; and he lifts the lid on the high-stakes pursuit of that rarest commodity, public attention—including a fly-on-the-wall account of the explosive confrontation between Oprah Winfrey and Jonathan Franzen, whose relationship, Franzen tells us, “was bogus from the start.”

Vast but detailed, full of both fresh gossip and keen insight into how the literary world works, Hothouse is the product of five years of research and nearly two hundred interviews by a veteran New York magazine writer. It tells an essential story for the first time, providing a delicious inside perspective on the rich pageant of postwar cultural life and illuminating the vital intellectual center of the American Century.

A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award

Swashbuckling…Exhaustively researched and sometimes gossipy…Hothouse is the hot book that book people are talking about, and understandably so.”                               Maureen Corrigan, NPR

Gripping…[A] wonderful book…Hothouse is Pepys for our time, an unblinking account of publishing history as it was made by Roger’s firm, the last of America’s major independent publishing houses. Roger would have been thrilled to publish this fine book, including its frequent and deserved criticisms of himself.”                        The New York Review of Books

Valuable…[A] vigorous and often diverting trot through the history of an important cultural institution…No one has previously anatomized a publishing house in such depth…Farrar, Straus & Giroux, moreover, is well worth anatomizing. It’s had a larger-than-life central character, an amusing cast of secondary characters, and a history replete with drama. Most important, it has maintained an amazingly consistent level of quality.”                  Robert Gottlieb, The New Yorker

“Hothouse simmers with gossipy tales of publishing…and [is] blessed with real-life characters who could star in any sexy novel… It’s not a book just for intellectuals.”                       USA Today

“Hothouse is a thrilling look at the heyday of the publishing industry…[and] the man who, as Kachka points out, shaped the postwar intellectual tone in this country through the sheer dint of his brazenness and charm.”                            Entertainment Weekly

Irresistible …Juicy history … A delectable story about the intersection of art, commerce, passion and personalities…Hothouse feels like a party where you’re surprised to discover that you know—and admire—most of the other guests.”                   Los Angeles Times

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer and Jeremy Zerfoss

This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few.

If you’re looking for a handy guide to not just crafting imaginative fiction like sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, but to writing in general, be sure to pick up a copy of Steampunk Bible author Jeff Vandermeer’s lovingly compiled Wonderbook.”                            Flavorwire

Jeff Vandermeer and Jeremy Zerfoss have created a kaleidoscopically rich and beautiful book about fiction writing.”                     Star Tribune

Because it is so layered and filled with text, tips, and links to online extras, this book can be read again and again by both those who want to learn the craft of writing and those interested in the process of others.”                         Library Journal


And finally, from the cheese counter…

The Telling Room: A Tale of Passion, Revenge and the World’s Finest Cheese by Michael Paterniti

In the picturesque Spanish village of Guzmán, villagers have gathered for centuries in ‘the telling room’ to share their stories. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti listened as Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras spun an odd and compelling tale about a cheese made from an ancient family recipe. Reputed to be among the finest in the world – one bite could conjure long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong…

Paterniti was hooked. Relocating his young family to Guzmán, he is soon sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing. The Telling Room is as surprising, evocative and wildly entertaining as the world it portrays.

For my money, Paterniti is one of the most expansive and joyful writers around – big-hearted and humane and funny. This book is a wild and amazing ride.”                             George Saunders, author of Tenth Of December

The Telling Room captures the true essence of happiness – but what’s more, it captures the fact that food is always central, always present in our memories, when we search for it. For those who doubt that food is our most vital social network, this book demonstrates it unequivocally.”                    Ferran Adria, Chef, El Bulli

Michael Paterniti is one of the best living practitioners of the art of literary journalism, able to fully elucidate and humanize the everyday and the epic. In his hands, every subject, every moment of personal or global upheaval, is treated with the same curiosity, respect, empathy, and clear-eyed wisdom.”                         Dave Eggers

The Telling Room is a gorgeous and impassioned monument to the art and mystery of storytelling. It is rich, funny, humane, devastating, and beautiful. It made me want to applaud, it made me want to cry, it made me want to move to Spain. Michael Paterniti is a genius.”                       Elizabeth Gilbert, author Of Eat, Pray, Love

Elegant, strange, funny, and insightful, The Telling Room is a marvelous tale and a joyful read, a trip into a world peopled by some of the most remarkable characters – and, yes, cheese – in memory.”                       Susan Orlean, Author of The Orchid Thief

An amazing achievement. The Telling Room is an inspired, masterly epic that expands and refigures the parameters of the storyteller’s art.”                              Wells Tower, Author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Few writers can write about the taste of food with Paterniti’s vibrancy and precision… [He] is a master of finding and telling great stories (the finding, for most writers, often being as difficult as the telling) that appear to be about something small, such as cheese, but are actually about something far larger-in this case, the whole of human existence… As much as The Telling Room is about a Spaniard’s quest to create a cheese that embodies all the love and pain and joy he’s ever known, it’s also the story of a writer’s quest to channel that obsession into the perfect story.”                     Esquire

Paterniti immerses you in an immersion-friendly milieu of sun-baked highland plateaus, argumentative village rustics and beguiling old ways… There’s no resisting the infectious writerly glee.”                     New York Times

A masterly, joyous piece of non-fiction storytelling that revels in its subject and provides a strangely gripping and moving tale.”                     Financial Times

“[The] best book of narrative nonfiction I’ve read in ages.”                          Michael Pollan

Paterniti dives deeply into Spain’s political history, the pleasures of craft, and the motives and methods of storytelling itself.”                   Harper’s

Unforgettable… a must-read for all who think of Spain as magical, who consider cheese as the ultimate gift of love, who love stories of betrayal, despair, revenge and redemption.”                         Wall Street Journal

The Telling Room is one of those books where time often seems suspended, facts and fables merge and diverge, and memory melts either into a golden longing or the blessed fog of denial. Paterniti’s engaging writing style and his deft ability to glide from the epic to the intimate in just a few sentences belies the obvious pain he suffered during the decadelong gestation of this work… Like the stories told in Ambrosio’s bodega, The Telling Room is a book with multiple themes and digressions, each woven expertly into the others.”                           Chicago Tribune

It’s not often that a writer as restlessly imaginative as Michael Paterniti delves into the world of food. But with The Telling Room, Paterniti has crafted a book that’s as delicious as it is gripping. We food lovers are lucky to count him as one of our own.”                    Adam Rapoport editor in chief, Bon Appétit

“In the end, The Telling Room delivers a wealth of insights about Spain, food, friendship and the art of writing. The path might not be what you expected, but that makes the memories even richer, just like the surprises in a great meal.”                          Washington Post

What is most compelling and engaging about this idiosyncratic travelogue isn’t only the story of the cheese but the story of storytelling itself, the dynamic between the author and his interviewee, Ambrosio, an elderly man finally telling his tale to a stranger. Like food, stories nurture us, they fuel us with energy. This is a story not only of physical but emotional and spiritual hunger, the yearning to make something from love to be shared – whether food or words – and passed on to future generations. It’s a tale about preserving the ‘flavours of the past’ and our cultural heritage while also exploring ethical food consumption, with home-made triumphing over factory food. It’s a book that is, like the cheese Paterniti searches for, ‘made with love’ – and one that readers will in turn love.”                   Metro

Paterniti weaves a wonderful, enthusiastic and idiosyncratic tale here, for sure.”                             Big Issue

 Happy reading!

Bear and Mouse Story Time

Saturday, March 22nd 2014 at 11:00 AM

visitor for bearThere is a new Bear on the scene that has stolen our hearts. Bonny Becker has created an awesome series about Bear and his new friend, Mouse. Bear is shy and set in his ways, he does not always like new things and experiences.

Mouse on the other hand sees the world as one big adventure. He has a sunny nature and you can’t but love him.

Today we will read some stories about these two unlikely friends and the situations they get themselves into.

And then we will make some cards to give to our friends to tell them how special they are


Food Jam for Library Project

Thursday, March 20th 2014 at 6:30 PM

food jam 1With the help of food girl, Jade de Waal, we will be hosting a series of Food Jams over the next few weeks to help raise funds for our Library Project. We are still in need of more than a 1000 books for Westridge High’s Library.

Join us for a Food Jam on the 20th March with Toni Stuart,  a poet who thinks on her feet and who will be auctioning off a take-away poem for someone with a big heart.

Tickets are limited and priced at  R300 and need to be booked for by e-mailing Jade at – it will take place at 34 Camp Street in Gardens, a beautiful spot in the city.

The Book Lounge will have a pop-up store with new cookbooks to indulge in for yourself and some books that you could buy for the Library Project directly as well as other crafty bits in support of Westridge.


Third Thursday Strikes Again

Thursday, March 20th 2014 at 6:00 PM

third thursdayThe East side of the City Bowl is rocking another Third Thursday tonight with events on at different venues in the area.

The Book Lounge will be open till 9 tonight and we will have blackboard specials in our coffeeshop for those who need to just sit down for a while and browse a book.  Please join us for an extended reading night, Lounge-style.


Launch of Imperfect Solo by Steven Boykey Sidley in conversation with Darrel Bristow-Bovey

Wednesday, March 19th 2014 at 5:30 PM