Warm your heart with one of these reads!
After a violent mugging, Ann Walmsley was understandably hesitant when a friend started a book club in a Canadian men’s prison and asked her to help. She signed up for this untypical book club – no wine and cheese, superficial chat or plush furniture. Instead, classic works of fiction and non-fiction, from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time to Three Cups of Tea kicked off frank discussions about loss, anger, identity and loneliness. The book club became a prized oasis in which the men could regain a sense of humanity. In The Prison Book Club, Walmsley records her experiences and introduces us to Graham the biker, Frank the gunman, Ben and Dread the drug dealers and Gaston and Peter, a pair of robbers, as they share ideas and reveal their life stories in this fascinating true story. Oneworld Publications, R225.
Grizelda Grootboom’s story is truly horrific. She moved to Joburg at the age of 18 in an attempt to start a new life. Instead, she was betrayed by a trusted friend and sold to a human trafficking syndicate on arrival in Yeoville, tied in a room for two weeks and forced to work as a sex slave. She spent the next18 years living a life on street corners, being pimped and taught how to strip, as well as using a variety of drugs. A series of tragedies defined her existence until her ultimate escape from it all. Exit! is Grizelda Grootboom’s heart-rending story. Blackbird Books, R195.
Rich Cohen travelled with the Rolling Stones in the 1990s as a reporter for Rolling Stone. He quickly fell under their sway and was privy to band’s jokes, camaraderie, bitchiness and hardliving. The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones is his chronicle of the low points and the high and he puts his finger on the moments that defined them as gifted musicians. But in the end, after the drugs, girlfriends, rows and endless reunions, the music remains, which means die hard fans will find this a fascinating read. Headline, R380
There can’t be many people in South Africa who haven’t heard of Gareth Cliff. Now he shares his story with fans (and others) in Cliffhanger – Confessions of a Shock Jock. In it, he takes readers behind the scenes to reminisce about his radio and TV careers, lets them meet funny and famous people and get to the heart of every controversy (did he jump or was he pushed?). Altogether, it’s a fascinating read and he ends on a highly positive note by taking a peek into the future of the world as we know it. Jonathan Ball R225.
Jennifer Friedman grew up Jewish in a small Free State town in the 50s and 60s. An outsider on the inside, she moves between child and adult, black and white, as Verwoerd’s grand apartheid plan divides SA. Queen of the Free State is a beautifully written book that perfectly captures the atmosphere of the time. The story involves midnight escapes, stolen loot and banned comics, icy drives with Grandpa, terrifying policemen and Pa’s beatings. Not always the happiest of childhoods for a girl with a strong dose of rebel in her, the tale is nevertheless told with humour and pathos and is at times very funny. Many readers who grew up in the same era will recognise Friedman’s stories of learning to do the twist, a holiday camp for kids, Sharpeville, lucky packets, piano exams… Tafelberg, R250.