These are the books that have touched us particularly this year -
The Hand of the Designer from Moleskine
This is a unique and beautiful volume containing 450 original sketches which were donated to the Italian National Trust by 150 of the most brilliant and prestigious international designers working today. The project is an intimate look at the creative process of the designer, and a celebration of the everlasting power of free hand sketching even in the AutoCAD® era. Quick sketches, graphic signs, paper collages are all tools used to express each individual designer’s idea. This volume comes with a Moleskine Folio Sketchbook, for your very own flights of imagination.
A visual guide to the way the world really works. Every day, every minute we are bombarded by information – we need a new way to relate to it, to discover the beauty and the fun of information for information’s sake. The book contains visually stunning displays of information that blend the facts with their connections, their context and their relationships – making information meaningful, entertaining and, of course, beautiful
Room by Emma Donoghue
Room starts as a thriller, set within the room in which a young woman has spent her last seven years since being abducted aged 19. Raped repeatedly, she now has a five-year-old boy, Jack, and it is with his voice that Emma Donoghue tells their story. Jack’s tale is more than a victim-and-survivor story: it shows the power of language and storytelling, and is a kind of sustained poem in praise of motherhood and parental love.
A young man goes on three different journeys and in the process affects the lives of others he meets along the way. As the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian the young traveler fails each time to create positive interactions and yet learns a lot about himself. Bravo to an amazing literary telling of one man’s honest search for his place in the world.
Cape Town lawyer, Georgie Allen, his dog, the Dwarf and of course his ex-wife is back in a second novel packed with more dodgy cases to be solved, a brother in a crisis and of course lots of laugh out loud bits. Lotz writes about hard hitting topics in such a fast-paced funny way, that you are barely aware of the fact that she has sneaked in very topical discussions.
We meet Zinzi December, a tough girl, living in Johannesburg and making ends meet with 419 scams and finding lost things. We also meet Zinzi’s sloth. Those who carry animals with them have committed crimes. When asked to find a missing person, Zinzi gets caught up in a dark world of African magic and criminals without scruples. Using her dark sense of humour, Beukes creates a world so real that we find ourselves looking over our shoulders while reading.
Spilt Milk by Kopano Matlwa
This is the story of two passionate people who share a shameful past and a tricky present. Decades after a childhood love affair earns upright principal Mohumagadi and disgraced preacher, Father Bill, expulsion from their communities, the two characters are brought back together under unlikely circumstances. Through her characters Matlwa proves that one is never too old to learn, especially in our country.
In a world all but drowned, a man called Bran has been living in exile on an island for ten years. One day something happens that kindles in Bran such memories and longing that he persuades himself to return to his old world, even if it means execution. He retraces the terrible deeds for which he is answerable, and as he tries to reach out to the one he loved. This is a moving parable about guilt, loss and remembering.
Homing by Henrietta Rose-Innes
A collection of exquisitely crafted stories from one of South Africa’s finest short story writers, Homing is a true gem. The stories are glimpses into the lives of ordinary characters, often with as much menace as delight. Like the title, Rose-Innes wants her characters to find their way home, be it an easy journey or not.
Durbanite Sipho is a “young blood”, a teenager caught up in a world of money, alcohol and greed. He has dropped out of school but dreams of the high life. He gets involved in hijackings and soon the cars and the money lead to destruction. As Sipho gets deeper into trouble, the reader gets an uncanny insight into this world above the law. This outstanding debut marks Mzobe as a writer to watch.
Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
First published in Germany in 1947, this novel evokes the horror of life in Berlin under the Nazis. It portrays an ordinary German couple stung into a life of protest by the death of their soldier son. Fallada’s writing underlines the resistance, sly humour, and most importantly, the hope that remained with many. This rediscovered masterpiece is both harrowing and compelling and reminds the reader that all is not always lost, as it appears in times of such immense violence.
Take a universe that was not fully completed and human inhabitants who all seem to think that something is amiss and you have the start of a zany novel. The hero, also named Charles Yu, is a time-travel repairman, who lives a sad life with his dog and a girl computer who he has a crush on. A truly original take on an established plot (who has not dreamed about traveling back and correcting your mistakes), one is left asking if it is more science than fiction? No matter which universe, the human core of the story remains one we can all relate to; we do not want to be alone.
Die Sneeuslaper deur Marlene van Niekerk
In dié boek verweef Marlene van Niekerk vier stories, met karakters en leitmotifs wat hulle met mekaar verbind. Sy ondersoek die soorte troos wat storievertel kan bring, en daar is ‘n raar emosionele diepte by hierdie ongewone vertellinge wat net versterk word deur die selfbewuste refleksie wat sy terselfdertyd tot die vertel van die stories bring. Die stories is dieproerend – “geen begeerte sonder tegniek” sê Van Niekerk herhalend, en hierdie is ‘n meestersklas in die skryfkuns, sonder gelyke.
This updated edition profiles 46 small scale projects all making an immense contribution in the communities in which they operate. Find out how you can help a range of organisations from literacy projects to a brass band group in Hanover Park!
Marginal Safari by Justin Fox
An account of a trip around the border of South Africa undertaken by the author six years ago, Marginal Safari is not only a travelogue, but also a bit of memoir and full of great historical facts. For South Africans our borders have always carried loaded connotations from our past, but Fox wishes the reader to also see the beautiful and vast spaces we have been allowed to find ourselves in. Perhaps a love song to a one-of-a-kind country.
Max’s memoir has been updated to look at the changing political landscape of Zuma (and Malema), the rise of Cope, the 2009 elections, the country’s slide into systematic corruption as well as the controversies in Afrikaner culture and politics. Du Preez has never been afraid to say what is on his mind and he continues to shoot from the hip in a world where that is rare indeed.
The Kaiser’s Holocaust by David Olusoga & Casper Erichsen
Impressively researched, The Kaiser’s Holocaust unflinchingly catalogues the abuse of human life in colonial Namibia, on a continent the Kaiser never even visited. The book makes us see the roots of the Holocaust in a different way as it tells the much neglected story of the genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples, which foreshadowed the Nazi genocides 40 years later. This book is a vitally important addition to the ever-growing literature of wartime atrocity.
Ronnie Kasrils tells the story of his wife, Eleanor, and how they met in times of turmoil in Durban. She gets captured by the Secret Police in 1963 and the book tells of her daring escape and what she sacrificed for the Struggle and for her family. Kasrils became South Africa’s Minister of Intelligence Services in 2004 and with the death of his wife last year, it was time to tell her story, and in essence a part of his. Truly the love story of the year.
The birth of the new South Africa is an epic tale of struggle and heroism. Harris unravels the complexities and mysteries in his riveting new book called Birth – The Conspiracy to stop the ’94 Election. He looks at the rightwing threat to the election as well as the infamous hacking into the IEC systems that almost brought the 1994 election to its knees. Birth is about a vulnerable moment in a nation’s history, when all the eyes of the world were waiting to see who would step up.
John Crace, creator of the Guardian’s ‘Digested Read’ column, hilariously summarises the great – and not so great – classics of modern literature in this quirky look at what is often called “must reads” from Mrs Dalloway to Trainspotting via Lolita and The Great Gatsby. Those who have never really enjoyed Lord of the Flies will be pleased to find it hilariously parodied in an easily swallowable 982 words. This is essential reading both for those who genuinely love literature and for those who merely want to appear ridiculously well read.
Jane’s Delicious Kitchen by Jane Griffiths
This is a fun, inspiring and practical cooking journey through the seasons – whether you grow your own food or buy seasonal produce. Filled with practical advice and over 100 mouth-watering recipes, this book is about making the most of seasonal bounty. Following in the footsteps of the best-selling Jane’s Delicious Garden, this luscious book is a celebration of the cycles of nature, for garden gourmet chefs and novices alike.
With over 1,000 recipes covering every aspect of India’s rich and colourful culinary heritage, India Cookbook is an amazingly, comprehensive guide to Indian cooking. Written by an Indian culinary academic, the recipes are a true reflection of how traditional dishes are really cooked all over India. They are simple to follow and achievable in western kitchens, with detailed information about authentic cooking utensils and ingredients.
How to Keep a Pet Squirrel by Axel Scheffler
While dipping into a children’s encyclopedia from 1910, Axel Scheffler came across a small but indispensible guide to procuring and caring for a pet squirrel. Intrigued by this oddity, Axel’s imagination set to work. He created a series of delightful, beautifully finished illustrations to accompany the text. It is indeed a charming and beguiling curiosity, packed full of wise advice (but for whom, one would ask?).
When a little bear strolls through the woods and finds a lost boy, Lucy thinks he would be the most adorable pet and decides to take him home. She calls him Squeaker and tries to get him to do all kinds of hilarious things with her. When Squeaker goes missing she is heartbroken, until she finds him back with his “own kind”. The illustrations are old-school magical and the twist of the story great for children who want pets!
Otto by Tomi Ungerer
This children’s classic is a powerful and beautiful book told first-hand by Otto, a German-born teddy bear who is separated from his Jewish owner, lives through World War II, and is reunited with his original owner 50 years later. With the effortless touch of a true master, Ungerer takes the cosiest symbol of childhood—the teddy bear—and transforms it into a battered but proud emblem of the perseverance of innocents. A beautiful tale of friendship, also for grown-ups.
Remember those dreaded spelling book exercises? Use each new word in a sentence. There is something of that in 13 Words, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Maira Kalman With 13 seemingly random words Snicket creates sentences and strings them into a cryptic and convoluted tale about a despondent bird and his loyal dog friend. The adventurous will cheer its playful spirit. How could you not love a book with both cake and haberdashery as featured words?