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Garden tomes: Bridget Hilton-Barber on gardening books and happiness

Think of them as self-help books — they inform and inspire, and set you on the right garden path, writes Bridget Hilton-Barber for the Sunday Times

In the chaotic pile of books that lives next to my bed, at least three will be gardening books. Bedtime gardening is one of my favourite things, and about once a week I fall asleep alongside Bold Romantic Gardens or Jane’s Delicious Garden or How to Propagate, depending on whether I’m concerned about my aubergines, needing an escape or just playing part scientist, part philosopher. I have a thing for gardening books, and am lucky to have inherited a fine collection from my grandmother and mother, to which I keep adding. I’m happy to lend them out as long as they get returned. If not – as we gardeners say, with fronds like you, who needs anemones?

In my grandmother’s day, gardening books were illustrated with exquisite line drawings; these days they use full-colour photography and enormous imagery, Lord help us and our credit cards. It was Cicero who said that if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need. I’ll raise the game and say that if you have a garden and a library full of garden books you have more than your heart could desire.

Just what is it about gardening books that makes us happy?

Well they aren’t just about gardening, they’re about life, history, drama, travel, passion, escape and autobiography. One can pick a gardening book according to mood and genre. If I’m inclined towards local travel for example, I may take to bed Remarkable Gardens of South Africa (Nini Bairnsfather Cloete, Quivertree Publications, 2012) – and have an imaginary twirl around some of the most beautiful private gardens in the country, from the amazing food gardens of Babylonstoren in the Western Cape to the moody farm gardens of the misty KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

For the reassurance of the value of beauty, I will go for something like The Classic Italian Garden (Judith Chatfield, Rizzoli Books, 1991); if it’s history I’m after, perhaps I’ll meander through Great Gardens of the World (Ronald King, Peerage Books 1985), taking in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the nymph-haunted gardens of classical Greece and Rome.

In a crime-solving mood? I’ll try What Rose is That? (Mary Moody, Weldon Publishing, 1992). After personal inspiration – hand me Pippa’s Organic Kitchen Garden (Pippa Greenwood, Dorling Kindersley, 2000) in which she transforms a patch of weeds into a glorious kitchen garden. And if I’m into a little eroticism, I’ll dip into Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening (Louise Riotte, Storey Communications, 1975). There’s something deliciously racy in the slow unfurling of fronds, the skyward thrusting of velvety nosed shoots, the tangle of tendrils… As British author Sam Llewelyn wrote, in vegetable gardens beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.

Garden books fulfil a variety of needs. You can read the real-life stories of those whose gardens were a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself. You can lose yourself in the micro world of composting and mulch, or soar heavenward with a book on remarkable trees around the world, from the giant sequoias of Canada to the ancient baobabs of Madagascar.

There is an increasing and healthy trend towards indigenous and water-wise gardening and these books can be invaluable, covering everything from how to grow an urban edible garden to recycling water. Change is part and parcel of gardening history – which is why gardening books are so important. Not only do they offer inspiration, but they provide a record.

Epicurious names Longthroat Memoirs a must-have cookbook for this season

Longthroat Memoir“One of the most enduring myths on the Nigerian Femme Fatale – mammy-water, ‘winch’ or husband-snatcher – has to do with the cooking of fish stew … A woman can do what she likes with a man when she knows how to satisfy his appetite for food.”

Longthroat Memoirs presents a sumptuous menu of essays about Nigerian food, lovingly presented by the nation’s top epicurean writer. As well as a mouth-watering appraisal of the cultural politics and erotics of Nigerian cuisine, it is also a series of love letters to the Nigerian palate. From innovations in soup, fish as aphrodisiac and the powerful seductions of the yam, Longthroat Memoirs examines the complexities, the peculiarities, the meticulousness, and the tactility of Nigerian food.

Nigeria has a strong culture of oral storytelling, of myth creation, of imaginative traversing of worlds. Longthroat Memoirs collates some of those stories into an irresistible soup-pot, expressed in the flawless love language of appetite and nourishment.

A sensuous testament on why, when and how Nigerians eat the food they love to eat; this book is a welcome addition to the global dining table of ideas.

And this hasn’t gone unnoticed by Epicurious.com, the Condé Nast-owned website dedicated to cooking. Longthroat Memoirs has been named one of it’s 32 must-have cookbooks for autumn!

Book details

Kortlyste vir die kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-toekennings 2017 bekendgemaak

Die Afrikaanse resensiebedryf kan homself op die skouer klop te oordeel na die gehalte van inskrywings wat vir vanjaar se kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-wedstryd ontvang is.

Die kortlyste is pas bekend gemaak vir dié pryse, wat ingestel is om die belange van boeke en die leesgenot van boekliefhebbers te bevorder deur die wêreld van Afrikaanse boeke vir die breë Suid-Afrikaanse publiek toeganklik te maak. Dit dien ook as aanmoediging om hoë standaarde in die Afrikaanse boekjoernalistiek te handhaaf.

Altesaam 33 van die voorste resensente in Afrikaans het vanjaar ingeskryf, tien meer as verlede jaar. Twee pryse van R25 000 elk word toegeken vir die beste Afrikaanse resensie wat in 2016 oor Afrikaansie fiksie en niefiksie onderskeidelik verskyn het. Die kortlyste, wat uit 90 inskrywings saamgestel is, is soos volg:

Fiksie

Danie Marais: “Die ‘Kook en Geniet’ van oneerbiedigheid” (oor Anton Kannemeyer en Conrad Botes se Bitterkomix 17, Media24-dagblaaie, 4 Julie 2016)
Charl-Pierre Naudé: “Digterlike afdruk van ‘n lewe verbeeld” (oor Bibi Slippers se Fotostaatmasjien, Media 24-dagblaaie, 5 Desember 2016)
Elmari Rautenbach: “Debuut se stiltes ’n elegie aan verlore liefde” (oor Valda Jansen se Hy kom met die skoenlappers, Media 24-dagblaaie, 18 Julie 2016)

Niefiksie

Reinhardt Fourie: Vlam in die sneeu: Die liefdesbriewe van André P. Brink en Ingrid Jonker (geredigeer deur Francis Galloway, Tydskrif vir letterkunde, September/Oktober 2016)
Daniel Hugo: “Een van die heel grotes” (oor Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou, saamgestel deur Danie Botha, Rapport, 14 Februarie 2016)
Emile Joubert: “Die afkook van ’n vol lewe vind hier beslag” (oor Wat die hart van vol is deur Peter Veldsman met Elmari Rautenbach, Media24-dagblaaie, 31 Oktober 2016)

Die keurders was boekjoernalis en digter Bibi Slippers (sameroeper), senior joernalis en skrywer Jomarié Botha en digter en dosent Alfred Schaffer. Aangesien ’n werk van Slippers geresenseer is, is sy vir die finale keuring deur die redakteur van Huisgenoot, Yvonne Beyers, vervang.

Die keurders was dit eens dat die inskrywings deur die bank van ’n baie hoë gehalte was en werklik leeslus aanwakker.

“Daar was heelparty gevalle waar ek nie noodwendig onder normale omstandighede in ’n sekere boek sou belangstel nie, maar die resensent se entoesiasme en insigte het my genoeg geprikkel om dit ’n kans te wil gee,” sê Slippers.

“Dit was ook veral heerlik om verskillende resensies van belangrike boeke soos Die na-dood, Vlakwater en Koors te lees, en uiteenlopende interpretasies en leesbenaderings te kan ervaar via die resensente.”

Daar was vanjaar heelwat nuwe name onder die resensente wat ingeskryf het. “Ek hoop dat ons deur inisiatiewe soos dié die poel selfs verder kan vergroot. Hoe meer ingeligte, intelligente menings uit verskillende perspektiewe verteenwoordig is, hoe beter vir alle rolspelers in die boekbedryf,” sê Slippers.

Die wenners word op 30 September 2017 saam met die wenners van die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse in Kaapstad aangekondig.
 

Bitterkomix 17Boekbesonderhede

 
 

Fotostaatmasjien

 
 

Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 

Vlam in die sneeu

 
 

Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou

 
 

Wat die hart van vol is

50 Boerekosgeregte: krap maar in hierdie pot wat ’n voorwoord deur Dana Snyman bevat...

Kyk, as Dana Snyman die voorwoord skryf, dan weet jy…

50 Boerekosgeregte is ‘n samestelling van resepte uit die kombuise van die Vrouelandbouvereniging van die Noord-Kaap.

Krap maar in hierdie pot.

Hier is resepte vir weeksdagetes, spesiale geleenthede en familiesaamtrekke, met immergroen treffers soos ‘n korslose souttert, basaarpoeding, gestolde komkommerslaai, kerrievleisvetkoeke, snoektert, karringmelkroosterkoek en groenboontjiebredie.

 
Boekbesonderhede

Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award shortlist announced

The Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award is bestowed upon a local author for a South African published book that booksellers most enjoyed selling or that sold so well that it made a difference to the bottom line of booksellers across the country.

The books are voted for by members of the South African Booksellers Association all of whom are booksellers. It is the Booksellers Choice award, thus the booksellers vote for the book they most enjoyed selling during the year.

The shortlist this year includes previous winner, Deon Meyer, who makes it with his book Koors, a son’s story of his father’s murder. The much-loved comedian Trevor Noah joins him with Born a crime and other stories. Other shortlisted authors include Elsabé Brits who traces the fascinating life of Emily Hobhouse, from her tireless campaigning for women’s rights to her outspoken opposition to injustice, in Emily Hobhouse: Geliefde verraaier. My own liberator by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke plays homage to the many people and places that have helped define and shape him. Meanwhile JAN: A breath of French Air by Jan Hendrick van der Westhuizen is a memoir and celebration of the renowned eatery JAN, a South African restaurant in the South of France. Kook saam Kaaps by Koelsoem Kamalie and Flori Schrikker continues the culinary theme with an easy-going home cookbook with ‘food from the heart’ recipes.

Last year’s winner was Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew. On accepting the award Sally commented: “I am so honoured to win the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Award 2016; booksellers are heroes – up there with librarians in my estimation. Reading can entertain, challenge and educate. It takes us to places and ideas we don’t normally visit. It can even open our hearts and uplift our souls. Thank you, booksellers for this gift you give to us all”.

Stephen Long, Global Managing Director, Book Discovery and Commerce at Nielsen said, “With the help of members of the South African Booksellers Association, the number of submissions for this year’s event has been incredible. We wish all this year’s shortlisted authors the very best of luck.

The short-listed books for 2016 are:

· Born a crime and other stories by Trevor Noah (Published by Pan Macmillan)
· Emily Hobhouse: Geliefde verraaier by Elsabe Brits (Published by Tafelberg)
· JAN A breath of French Air by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen (Published by Struik)
· Kook saam Kaaps by Koelsoem Kamalie and Flori Schrikker (Published by Lapa Uitgewers)
· Koors by Deon Meyer (Published by Human & Rousseau)
· My own liberator by Dikgang Moseneke (Published by Picador Africa)

The winning author will be announced on the 22nd of August at the Sefika Awards Dinner in Durban and will receive a cheque from Nielsen for R 20 000.

Koors

Book details

 
 
Born A Crime

 
 
 

Emily Hobhouse

 
 
 

My Own Liberator

 
 

JAN - A Breath of French Air

 
 

Kook Saam Kaaps

Launch: Curry (1 August)

Journalist Ishay Govender-Ypma threads together the enticing flavours of South African curry. The classic KwaZulu-Natal crab and dried fish curries share the limelight with Cape Malay chicken and crayfish curries, kasi beef curries from Orlando West and Qunu, offal from Calvinia, Karoo venison, kerkbasaar kerrie en rys and vegetarian dhals from across the map. The book takes a tour through the kitchens of respected local cooks as they share their stories and recipes.

Event Details