August Book 3 (Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night)

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Don’t even ask me how I’ve had time to read 3 books this month. I don’t know how and I am just grateful for it. Really I am. Last month I was very sick (with a chest infection that wouldn’t go away) and I spent a lot of time in bed or running around trying to catch up. I’m grateful for my health and being able to wake up early (4:30 am) and read while the world is still quiet-ish.

Sindiwe Magona is a wonderful woman. I interviewed her a few times (when I was a radio person in my past life) and she is hillarious. She is also one heck of a speaker. I had never read any of her work and I wanted to remedy that quickly. It was almost a year ago when I bought this book. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I buy more books than I read (I’m working on my addiction). I never leave home without a book. A few mornings ago I discovered that I didn’t have a book in my bag. I ran downstairs to the dungeon and grabbed the first book I saw. Image

Living, Loving and Lying Awake is collection of short stories about Black Women during apartheid. In fact the first few short stories are those of domestic workers/maids. Those stories are everything that The Help struggled to be. I am absolutely taken with the way Sindiwe Magona writes. She is very honest and never afraid for the story to get ugly.

I wept when I read ‘Two Little Girls & a City’. It is a short story about 2 little girls who are murdered on the same day. One in the township and another on the Atlantic Seaboard. Both in Cape Town. Both had loving parents but their stories were treated differently.

This book is by no means depressing. There are stories of young girls who grew up in townships and their experiences. All experiences I could relate to. I laughed, cried (as stated before), clapped and even exclaimed (as though I was listening to juicy gossip). Sindiwe Magona told so many important, honest and touching stories. I want everyone to read this book of short stories. Do yourself a favour :)

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The incredibly talented Sindiwe Magona (image via Mail&Guardian click on it to go there)

August Book 2 (Sculptors of Mapungubwe)

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*It’s not often one can say they have become friends with one of their favourite authors. I also don’t think I’ve ever read an advance copy of an author’s personal copy. But now I can say that I have. He he he he. Look at me! I turn 30 and start rubbing shoulders with lovely people… And stealing their books. Well… I am returning it this Tuesday so don’t you judge me!

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After the first book of the month I was in desperate need of something that would MOVE me. Oh boy was I moved after I finished reading The Sculptors of Mapungubwe.

We are taken back in time (1223 CE) in the kingdom of Mapungubwe. The story is that of a rivalry between Rendi (Rendani) and Chata (Chatambudza). The 2 are raised as brothers even thought Chata is the son of one of Rendi’s father’s workers. The relationship of the 2 boys begins to strain when Rendi suspects that his father favours Chata.

Years later when Rendi holds the esteemed position of Royal Sculptor he still holds a grudge towards Chata. Chata on the other hand is unmarried (Rendani has 3 wives) and seems to only be interested in doing whatever he pleases.  I was absolutely drawn into this tale of rivalry between the 2 sculptors who once considered each other brothers. It is beautiful, tragic, magical and energetic.

What made me love this novel is the details (and descriptions) of the day to day lives of the people of Mapungubwe. In school we are not taught anything about South Africa before 1652 (Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival). I know it is not a historical novel but dammit it felt good to read about something way before 1652 (in South Africa). I love the book. It’s available on Amazon. Get it, you won’t regret it. This is one of my favourite reads of the year.

*This is not my first time on ‘The Internets’. I know how some of my opening lines can be misconstrued (by the bored and always offended) as boasting. Please believe that I was not boasting and it was all ‘tongue in cheek’ a.k.a ‘I’m such a dork’ b.k.a ‘you know I don’t believe any of that stuff’. So please don’t start something neh? I thank you.

August Book 1 (The 12 Tribes of Hattie)

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Someone I follow on twitter told me about a debut novel that was getting rave reviews. I’m always up for trying something new, so I thought “hey why not?” After going to 2 bookstores and being told the book is sold out… Well, I gave up. I can’t remember where I eventually found it but here it is!

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The title says it all. It is the story of a woman named Hattie and it follows how her family has grown and why the different children turned out the way they have. Hattie appears to be an ‘unloving’ mother. to her children. But she is a woman who is preparing her children for a world that will not be loving.

I enjoyed meeting Hatties many many children and seeing how parents sometimes break their children without meaning to. I can’t say this book was one of my favourites but I can see why Oprah said “I can’t remember when I read anything that moved me quite this way, besides Toni Morrison.”

I’ve read a lot of Toni Morrison. She is majestic and an absolute genius. Perhaps that’s why I was not as moved as Oprah was. But… It’s not a bad book.

July Book 2 (Kafka On The Shore)

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I have always wanted to read Murakami. I just never found the time. Since this is my 30th year on earth, I thought I would treat myself to ‘nice things’. So I got Kafka On The Shore. Admittedly I didn’t know what to expect. A lot of time was spent trying to decide which of his books to start with. I’m not sure what exactly made me choose this one.

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I will admit that my schedule was a little crazy so I ended up reading the first half of the book in a very disjointed way. This may have interfered with my understanding/enjoyment. On a flight to Johannesburg, I decided to give it another try.

It’s a story about two seemingly unrelated characters who couldn’t be any more different. The first is Kafka; a 15 year old run away. He is not running from anyone but a prophecy. The other is Nakata (one of my favourite characters); a man who can speak to cats but isn’t very intelligent. Their stories intertwine in a magical and bizarre way that left me saying “what the…”

I’ve read many authors but none like Murakami. He really trusts that you will follow him into a world where everything makes sense but not in a way that you might understand. It is raw, honest, beautiful, real and unreal. In one of my busiest months so far, I allowed myself to steal a few minutes (between meetings etc) and get lost in Murakami’s world.