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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

READ Educational Trust celebrates Mandela and his pursuit of literacy

On behalf of READ Educational Trust

As we look back on the month of July, in South Africa a month synonymous with the late Nelson Mandela, who was born on 18 July 1918, we reflect on this particular year, which marks his 100th birthday.

‘Madiba Month’ generated a phenomenal amount of goodwill, with individuals and businesses around the country paying it forward, donating 67 minutes of their time to creating a better South Africa.

A beautiful quotation by this great man is truly at the heart of READ Educational Trust’s quest of literacy for all South Africans: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

In that same spirit, READ celebrated Madiba Week by visiting Lawley Primary School in Lenasia, Gauteng. Over 50 foundation phase learners were extremely excited to experience our Pop-Up Library. When Mrs Book, a.k.a. Lindiwe Mthembu lit up the room with her animated story-telling skills, the children’s mouths dropped open with delight!

Mrs Book, a.k.a. Lindiwe Mthembu lit up the room at Lawley Primary School in Lenasia, with her animated story-telling skills

 
The little ones loved browsing through the book selection in our Pop-Up Library and couldn’t believe their eyes when they received a donation of books from READ, for their own school library! The Father of our Nation was surely smiling down at South Africans honouring his legacy!

For more information about the READ Educational Trust visit www.read.org.za.

Join the conversations on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/READEduTrust
Twitter: www.twitter.com/READEduTrust
Instagram: www.instagram.com/read_educational_trust


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“Writing this book was painful, but enlightening.” Carol Gibbs on All Things Bright and Broken

Published in the Sunday Times

Writing this book was painful, but enlightening; a journey of self-discovery. When my mother died I had an emotional breakdown, and then I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. I realised the fragility of life and I decided to write. My inspiration has been largely my own despair, a desire to explore family dynamics and understand myself and my parents and siblings on a deeper level. To heal.

Despite this, All Things Bright and Broken is not a sad book. Seen through the eyes of a child, there is lots of unintentional humour. Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes also inspired me. His childhood in the slums of Ireland was different, but there were parallels. I had to face my buried monsters and the dissociation and false self built to cope with the harshness of childhood. It has taken courage to visit those dark places in my mind.

I knew this would be the ultimate journey of self-discovery and so I delved deeper into psychology. I devoured every self-help book I could find. I hope the book resonates with readers, even if it is only discovering gratitude at not having spent a childhood crippled by adverse circumstances.

My first attempts were prosaic and boring. One morning when reviewing the previous day’s longhand scribbling, I read: He sat on the windowsill, framed by the Dorothy Perkins roses … That was the turning point. It may sound ordinary, but to me it was like discovering colour when I had previously only used black and white. Something changed in me. I started writing with a different eye. Everything came alive and flowed with a new rhythm. No one was more surprised than I was. I wondered where this had come from and then I remembered my father’s fascination with language, both English and Afrikaans. He carried a notebook with him at all times, filled with phrases from newspapers and magazines.

But technically I was still in the dark ages. Changing from longhand to computer was a huge challenge. It has taken 20 years to see this book grow from baby steps to the final published product. Some days I ended up in floods of tears – I battled with revealing family secrets and sharing my innermost feelings with the world.

But laughter saved me, and one incident comes to mind. My first version of the story was titled White Boots and Tuppenny Cakes. Having lunch in Kalk Bay, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman at the next table. He enquired about my writing and we swopped e-mail addresses. I received an e-mail enthusiastically enquiring about White Boobs and Tupperry Cakes. It kept me amused for weeks.

Book details


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“Kindness is the core of Gail Honeyman’s superb novel.” Russell Clarke reviews Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
*****
Gail Honeyman, HarperCollins, R205

Now available in paperback, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine has performed astonishingly well on the bestseller lists, and recently won the Costa Award for a debut novel. And for good reason. Miss Eleanor Oliphant lives an ordinary, if slightly odd, life. Written as a first-person narrative, Eleanor is about to turn 30, lives in a flat in Glasgow and works as an accounts clerk.

She’s someone we all know; she rarely interacts with her colleagues, thinks and speaks with a terribly stiff formality, and sees the world in completely different ways. Eleanor is also routine bound. She works quietly all week, eats the same food. On Friday nights she buys herself a frozen pizza and two bottles of vodka, and avoids the world until Monday morning, when she goes back to work and begins the week again. Not much of a life, really.

It takes a little while to figure Eleanor out – she embodies what has become a standard unreliable narrator (think The Girl on the Train, and then banish the thought entirely). Just when you think you’ve got a grip on her, you realise she’s not the unreliable character you’ve taken her for at all. What reads as eccentricity is in truth Eleanor’s detachment from society, and her slight bewilderment at how other people live. And her detachment is in fact rooted in a loneliness and isolation that’s no fault of her own.

An encounter with Raymond, the IT fellow from her office, and the unfolding of human interactions that arise from this encounter, points the way to the core of Gail Honeyman’s superb novel – kindness. Small acts of human kindness; unthinking, unconditional kindness and the micro-interactions – human touch, thoughtfulness – that make modern life bearable.

Eleanor’s story is about mental illness and isolation, but it is about heart – and it’s also funny and touching without being sappy. Eleanor Oliphant will stay with you for a long time. Russell Clarke @russrussy

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“An enigmatic examination of shifting taste and permissiveness – social and personal.” Russell Clarke reviews Alan Hollinghurst’s The Sparsholt Affair

Published in the Sunday Times

The Sparsholt Affair
***
Alan Hollinghurst, Picador, R330

Divided into five fairly distinct, yet linked sections, each with its own set of characters, time-frame and worldview, Hollinghurst’s newest novel is as enigmatic as the author. A self-professed loner who secludes himself for long periods while writing, The Sparsholt Affair is only his sixth novel in nearly 30 years.

Part one introduces us to Oxford in 1940, when David Sparsholt arrives at the university for a single term before embarking on a military career. His arrival causes commotion, owing to his outstanding beauty and physical prowess, particularly among a group of friends who first spy David exercising in his rooms. Engaged to Connie, Sparsholt becomes a preoccupation for this group of gay men (though they wouldn’t have called themselves that in the ’40s). David is clearly not unaware of his beauty, nor entirely impervious to the approaches of his admirers.

Part two fast-forwards to 1966, a year before homosexuality is decriminalised in Britain, where we meet our new narrator, Johnny – David’s son. Young Johnny is obsessed with a French exchange student placed with the Sparsholts, Bastien, and spends much time frustrated by Bastien’s beauty and disregard for Johnny’s existence. Another family is holidaying with the Sparsholts, and it is soon clear there is an affair between David and his male colleague, to which their wives are not oblivious.

Parts three and four move the action into London in the ’70s and ’80s, and Johnny’s burgeoning life as a painter and his discovery of an increasingly open gay life. Also revealed is David’s involvement, in 1967, in the eponymous Sparsholt Affair. Hollinghurst never fully reveals the detail of the scandal, but it appears to haunt David who retreats into an ever-more conservative world, and marries his secretary after his marriage to Connie, Johnny’s mother, ends. Even more problematically, the scandal haunts Johnny, whose family name never fails to raise eyebrows, even decades later. After all, books were written about the scandal. Johnny, if it isn’t clear by now, is also gay.

The final part of the novel introduces us to Johnny’s daughter, and moves the narrative fully into the 21st century, replete with hook-up apps, online porn, and more freedom.

The Sparsholt Affair is impossible to categorise with any neatness. The five-part structure, which begins with a certain formality, falls away so that by the end it is a far looser book than that which one had begun reading.

Hollinghurst’s power lies in his ability to see the fine details of lives, and his understanding and layering of the broad sweep of history and human change over that. The Sparsholt Affair is an examination of shifting taste and permissiveness – social and personal. It’s difficult to decide whether the book is enjoyable or not, peopled by so many characters and covering so many years. Perhaps the uncertainty is Hollinghurst’s intention. Russell Clarke @russrussy

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“Intense, haunting, exceptional” – Anna Stroud reviews Sally Partridge’s Mine

Published in the Sunday Times

Mine *****
Sally Partridge, Human & Rousseau, R240

“People are complicated and love can make us do crazy and unkind things,” says Sally Partridge, whose fifth young adult novel, Mine, is an intense read. It follows the lives of two ordinary teenagers who fall in love, but their love turns sour as their pasts come back to haunt them.

Kayla is a beautiful skater girl with long blue hair and a love for comic books and classical music. Her mother sends her to a posh school in Rondebosch where she can hone her musical craft, but the boys take advantage of her and the girls smear her name. Friendless and alone, Kayla finds it difficult to trust Finlay, who enters her life and promises to save her. Fin makes promises he can’t keep. He’s broken too, and copes by smoking weed and binge drinking. He lives with his old man in Lansdowne, and often arrives at school with fresh bruises on his face. Fin is repeating matric, but he’s the lead rapper in a crew (not band) and calls himself Thor on stage. When he meets Kayla, all he wants to do is protect her from the world that’s been so cruel to her.

But good intentions have a way of causing more trouble.

The most impressive thing about Mine is that the characters are three-dimensional young people who could be from anywhere in the world, battling with anxiety, self-doubt, paranoia, and self-sabotage.

Partridge says the young adult genre appeals to her, “because this is the time we start experiencing the moments that define us and not all those experiences are happy ones. I try to explore how we deal with these experiences.”

Some of the scenes were difficult to write, she says. “If say, a description of a young girl being manipulated or gaslit (having her head messed with) is important to the story or the message I want to communicate, then it needs to be written, even if it’s uncomfortable.”

Partridge gets inspired by “watching people and wondering what’s going on in their heads, making up their stories”. She has a notebook and jots down observations.

Mine is exceptional, from the fast-paced plot, evocative landscape and haunting characters to the awesome cover art by illustrator Astrid Blumer. @annawriter_

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Fiona Snyckers’s first book in a new series is fun, fast-paced and features a strong female protagonist, writes Tiah Beautement

Published in the Sunday Times


 
 
 
Hacked
****
Fiona Snyckers, Indie Publishers,
Available on Amazon, R40

This fun and fast-paced read is the start of the six-book Eulalie Park murder-mystery series, which includes a hint of romance.

Private investigator Eulalie Park is used to working alone. But the new chief of police, Donal Macgregor, is not easy to ignore, especially after he accuses Park’s best friend of murder. As Park sets off on her cherry-red Vespa to prove her friend’s innocence, sparks ignite between the detective and the chief.

“Chief Macgregor is a series regular,” says Snyckers. “I like to think he would be played by fellow Scot James McAvoy if this series made it to the big screen.”

Hacked is set on the fictitious Prince William Island, near Madagascar.

“I’m fascinated by the way in which parts of the world were carved up on paper by Europeans sitting at a conference table thousands of miles away,” says Snyckers. “I wanted Prince William Island to be a real melting-pot of cultures, with a strong Francophone influence.”

The novel’s pacing is smooth, keeps readers guessing, and the narrative avoids deus ex machina to resolve the case.

“It is very important that readers should feel satisfied after reading a murder mystery,” Snyckers says.

“You don’t want want your readers actually to solve the mystery themselves, but you want them to look back on the build-up of evidence in the book and to feel as though they could have solved it if only they had been a little more alert.”

Snyckers’s long-time fans expect stories that feature strong and intriguing female characters. Park is no exception – a heroine with larger-than-life abilities, she’ll be admired by readers young and old. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie


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Start the year off celebrating three timeless and tasty works of fiction

Did you know that Jack London, James Joyce and Charles Dickens, who count among the world’s most iconic authors, would have celebrated their 147th, 136th and 206th birthdays respectively during January and February this year? They may be gone but their words are widely read and revered by literary enthusiasts from around the globe.

In honour of these icons and their birthday anniversaries, visitors to Social Kitchen & Bar can pay tribute to their works by sipping on tailor-made, book-inspired cocktails named after each of their most famous works of fiction.

Ulysses by James Joyce

 
Heralded by some as the best novel in the English language Ulysses has inspired a cocktail that matches the book by taking you on a long journey of flavour. Beginning with light floral and raspberry notes, then moving into a touch of nuttiness and finishing off with delicate vanilla and caramel, this cocktail will make you want to continue the odyssey.
 

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

 
Much like the book, our Call of the Wild cocktail is for adventurers and nature lovers. This earthy cocktail, with cucumber water, a touch of elderflower and a splash of apple soda, is then brought to life by Ketel One vodka. A true adventure for your mouth.
 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

 
The best of cocktails. Wine purists might tell a tall tale about this one, but when they taste the extraordinary combination of crisp South African wine, fresh apple juice and vanilla, shaken together with Ketel One, they will only have reason to pronounce themselves living, truly, in the epoch of belief and the season of Light.

So, now that it’s a new year and dry Janu-worry is over, don’t delay. With such a delicious variety of book-inspired cocktails on offer, be sure to visit Exclusive Books’ Social Kitchen & Bar in Hyde Park. Not only is it Johannesburg’s best restaurant to share conversations and hand-crafted food, but it completes the epicurean adventure with inspired cocktails and a view fit for royalty.

Social Kitchen & Bar can be found in the heart of Hyde Park Corner – level six, inside the Exclusive Books store. For reservations call them on 011 268 6039 or email reservations@socialkitchenandbar.co.za. For more information, visit www.socialkitchenandbar.co.za.

Ulysses

Book details

 
 

The Call of the Wild

 
 
 
 
A Tale of Two Cities


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Book Bites: 28 January

Published in the Sunday Times

Manhattan Beach
***
Jennifer Egan, Corsair, R315

The US has finally joined World War 2 and women are working in jobs that were once the exclusive domain of men. In a Brooklyn naval yard, Anna Kerrigan, supporting her mother and disabled sister, fights to become the first woman diver. After work one evening, she visits a nightclub and runs into Dexter Styles, known gangster, and her absent father’s former boss. The encounter reopens old wounds and raises new questions. Egan crochets the three stories – daughter, father, gangster – into an interesting tale inspired by actual historic groundbreakers. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Logical Family: A Memoir
****
Armistead Maupin, Doubleday, R340

A delight for fans! Who would have known that Armistead Maupin, author of the wildly popular Tales of the City series detailing life in San Francisco from the late ’70s to today, replete with spliffs and gay sex, was a southern Republican conservative? Maupin’s autobiography surprises: growing up white in North Carolina in the ’40s and ’50s is strikingly similar to growing up white in South Africa in the ’70s and ’80s. There’s also his fraught relationship with his parents, his discovery of his gayness, serving in the US Navy during the Korean war – and revelations about some of the people who inspired the characters in Tales of the City, including the identity of the closeted Hollywood A-lister with whom he had an affair. One does get the feeling that Maupin holds back though, perhaps for another installment of his life story. One can only hope. – Russell Clarke @russrussy

Promise me, Dad
*****

Joe Biden, Macmillan, R300

Former US vice president Joe Biden cemented a name for himself as Barack Obama’s second-in-charge and for his role in negotiations with global leaders. This book, however, gives readers a touching portrayal of the man behind the scenes. Biden’s son Beau was diagnosed with a brain tumour during Biden’s term in office and this beautifully crafted story tells of how the family rallied together during those months and how, even after Beau’s death, they remained firm in the face of sorrow. His friendship with Obama is well-known, but here we get an inside glimpse of their dynamics. – Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

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Mike Procter’s autobiography a witty, concise read on the events that shaped his life after his storied career as a player, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku

Published in the Sunday Times

By Khanyiso Tshwaku

Caught in the MiddleCaught in the Middle
***
Mike Procter, Pitch Publishing, R370

The title of Mike Procter’s autobiography Caught in the Middle is an apt one considering he found himself at the centre of two of cricket’s hairiest moments in the mid-2000s. Those events were the “ball tampering” Oval 2006 test match between Pakistan and England and the infamous “Monkeygate” New Year’s test between Australia and India in Sydney in 2008.

On both occasions, he was the match referee. After those acrimonious tests, the International Cricket Council changed the rules to ensure certain infractions were dealt with at a level higher than that of a match referee.

In the 2006 encounter, the Pakistan team led by Inzamam-ul-Haq refused to come out after tea on the fourth day after being accused by the abrasive and controversial Australian umpire Darrell Hair of altering the condition of the match ball.

The 2008 issue centred around Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who is of West Indian descent, by calling him a monkey.

These two moments are the centre of the well-crafted 239-page book, which focuses on Procter’s career as referee rather than player.

Procter said the incidents in London and Sydney changed his outlook on the game.

“The Darrell Hair thing was part and parcel of cricket. It was very unusual but that’s something you’d expect to see in cricket once in a while, but the Harbhajan Singh one, I would’ve preferred not to deal with that one,” Procter said.

It’s a book that can be devoured easily, thanks to Lungani Zama’s brevity and Procter’s witty but concise tone. With this book being Procter’s third, it was a smart move to speak less about his storied career as a player – cut short by anti-apartheid sanctions – and focus more on the events that shaped his life afterwards.

It’s worth remembering he was South African cricket’s first post-isolation coach, from 1991 to 1994, a tenure that included the five-run win over Australia in Sydney in 1994. – Khanyiso Tshwaku @kaymorizm

Book details

  • Caught in the Middle: Monkeygate, Politics and Other Hairy Issues; the Autobiography of Mike Procter by Mike Procter, Lungani Zama
    EAN: 9781785312168
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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“If you read, there’s no limit to what you can do”, writes the prize winner of the Nal’ibali/Sunday Times Storybook competition, Mangaliso Ngomane

BooksLIVE, in collaboration with Nal’ibali, recently ran a giveaway competition, offering 10 lucky readers the opportunity to win a copy of Storytime: 10 South African stories for children.

The first Sunday Times Storybook was launched three years ago to allow children from disadvantaged backgrounds to experience the magic of stories, especially in their own languages.

The Sunday Times has distributed two million copies of the first book in all 11 official languages free of charge to school, libraries and reading clubs across the country.

We asked readers to tell us why it’s so important to nurture a love of stories and reading among school children who have limited access to books.

Read Mangaliso Ngomane’s winning response:

Reading exposes a child to the avenues of their dreams so that they may be opened to the many available possibilities.

Thankfully there are many age appropriate stories in their own indigenous language to assist in early childhood development by relaying salient principles in a relatable way that they can understand and appreciate from a tender age.

Like our dearly departed president Nelson Mandela once said “talk to a man in his language and it goes to his heart”. That is especially true about a child reading in their language and thus taking pride in their cultural heritage and it also preserves their culture for future generations.

Considering all of this it is inconceivable that there are still children that have limited access to books and not just books but interesting books to nurture their love for reading

I for one have a toddler daughter for whom I’m always trying to get books and establish a library for in either siSwati (our home language) or isiZulu (the next best thing: both are Nguni languages).

I read to hear now and when she’s old enough to read on her own there will be a smooth transition into siSwati literature and an overall love for reading.

I recognize in myself, I love speaking siSwati and reading it now however because I picked up on siSwati as a First Additional Language in high school I had to work a little bit harder at it specifically and at reading any language generally.

I’m trying to correct that in her because if you read, there’s no limit to what you can do so I want to equipment her mind with the best possible tool with which to navigate the world.


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