There Be Books

26 January 2020 - 00:00

Published in the Sunday Times (26/01/2020)

Welcome to my new monthly column. I'm hoping this will be a happy space for you to read about the latest trends, news and books I'm excited about. It's a new year and my social media is filled with people participating in challenges - there seem to be so many. Here are a few of them:

  • The daunting 100 books a year;
  • #20in20 - read 20 fiction and 20 nonfiction books. Sounds doable;
  • 52 books in 52 weeks. Read 52 books from the 52 different categories provided - find a book that meets the criteria and check it off. Find all the info on www.mommymannegren.com.
  • Around the World in 80 Books is a challenge found on Goodreads. You have to read books that take place in 80 different countries of the world of your choosing, starting with your home country. All great challenges.

One that I am going to embrace is to read more local fiction - as much as I can get my hands on. There are plenty of places to buy local and if you are stuck, read our pages (wink, wink), ask your local bookstore, follow authors and publishers on social media or go to timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/books, where we deliver reviews, exclusive extracts and in-depth interviews on upcoming titles. You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

First up on my list is Joburg resident Amy Heydenrych's The Pact (Bonnier, R180). This is Heydenrych's second book, which was acquired by international publisher Bonnier Zaffre. Like her debut, Shame on You, The Pact deals with the darkness of our digital world. It's an enjoyable thriller set in Silicon Valley that can be gobbled in one sitting. Perfect fare to start the year.

Kelly Clarkson seems to be jumping in and out of my world at strange moments. This holiday I watched an episode of The Voice, where she was one of the judges. And I recently binged the brilliant The Morning Show, where she was the surprise guest for Reese Witherspoon's intrepid-journalist-now-morning-show-presenter character, singing What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger, which became my January earworm.

Then What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young (HarperCollins, R295) landed on my desk. So far the most intriguing cover and title this month. Despite the earworm that manages to weedle into my brain whenever I pick up the book, I can't stop reading it. There have been giggles, tears, head shaking and a few loud expletives. Young, who is one of the top writers on race and culture in America (see verysmartbrothas.theroot.com), spills the tea about his everyday life, that "existing while Black is an extreme sport". It's hilarious and sad because it's true, and sharp and thought-provoking because Young doesn't hide behind niceties at all.

Happy reading!