Looking for great South African [and African] books to read?

My friend Shelley Finch tagged me in this status on Facebook the other day:

Friends, I am crowdsourcing a book list. Kind of a “recommended reading for every South African”. Fiction and non-fiction. Books that will help people educate themselves on our country’s history and the BIG issues we are talking about i.e. racism, corruption, land redistribution, etc. Books that are accessible to every South African (so not too academic).

So, i stole it and made it my own… and these are some of the suggestions that landed on her wall and mine:

Terry Brauer: My traitor’s heart ( explains much of where we have come from ) Riaan Malan Peter Harris ‘In a different time.’Max du Preez Pale Native. Country of my skull Antjie Krog. My own liberator Dikgang Moseneke ( only dipped into it ) Presidents Keeper Pauw.

Magwaca Siyanda: I Write What I Like – Bantu Biko, How To Save South Africa – Moeletsi Mbeki

Lara-Susan James: The bang bang club – Greg marionovich

Roxanne Jewell: Killing Karoline by Sara-Jayne King. Memoir that looks at cross cultural adoption

Brad Senekal: pale native – max du Preez (extremely challenging/enlightening as a white South African… engaging narrative non fiction style too)

Crystal Warren: Sindiwe Magona. All her books but particularly the memoir To my children’s children and the novel Mother to mother.

Bradley Trout: Biko: Cry Freedom, by Donald Woods

Caroline Thomas Mändlein: Another Country – Every Day Social Restitution by Sharlene Swartz

Tasha Melissa Govender: Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Jess Basson: Mhudi by Sol Plaatje, Cry the Beloved Country – Alan Paton, Country of my Skull – Antjie Krog, Ways of Dying – Zakes Mda, I write what I like – Steve Biko, How can man die better: the life of Robert Sobukwe – by Benjamin Pogrund

Jo Holroyd: Architects of Poverty – Moeletsi Mbeki, A Manifesto for social Change – Moeletsi Mbeki

[On the lighter end Trevor Noah – Born a Crime. Light hearted but still some real life discussion on the state of living a middle  class black life and what it entails.]

Lulama Nosihle Njapha: Peter Harris-In a Different Time, Peter Harris-Birth, Eric Miyeni-Omandingo: The Only Black at the Dinner Party
[And what Jo Holroyd said]

Paul AbrahamsonHum if you don’t know the words – Bianca Marais

Brett “Fish” Anderson [on Shelley’s wall]: ‘How can man die better’ – Robert Sobukwe story is a must as is ‘I write what I like’ by Steve Biko and then i would recommend ‘Country of my Skull’ by Antjie Krog and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as well as Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang…

Rudzani Thangoane: Capitalist N-word – Chika onyeani

Dennis Morton: Fred Khumalo’s riveting memoir, Touch My Blood

Wendy Masters: Birth by Peter Harris, After the Party by Andrew Feinstein, my Traitors Heart by Riaan Malan, Apartheid in my Rucksack by Ted Botha, Country of my Skull by Antje Krog, The Afrikaaners by Graham Leach and The Covenant by James Michener

Ivor Swartz: I write what I like- Biko, Gang Town- Don Pinnock, What if there were no whites in South Africa- Ferial Haffaje, We Need to talk- Jonathan Jansen

John Rayner: The Racist’s Guide to the People of South Africa by Simon Kilpatrick, The Art or the South African Insult by Sarah Britten

Anschen Conradie: Definitely ‘No-one to blame’ by George Bizos.

Roseanne Turner: Both of Redi Tlhabi’s books (Endings & Beginnings and Khwezi), Don Pinnock’s Gang Town and Jonny Steinberg Three Letter Plague for perspective on other topics.

Nathan Blows: A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652-2002 by Sampie Terreblache, Drum The Making Of A Magazine by Anthony Simpson, The Bang Bang Club by Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, They’re Burning the Churches by Patrick Noonan, Children of the Resistence edited by Victoria Brittain and Abdul S. Minty, The Number by Johnny Steinberg, The Spirit of District Six by Cloete Breytenbach,
Ikasa: The Moral Ecology of South Africa’s Township Youth by Sharlene Swartz, The Afrikaners by Hermann Gioliomee, Brotherhood of Power by J.H.P Serfontein, Beyond Fear by Jean Knight-Fitt

Ryan Goldblatt: A tad academic and not a South African book, but “Guns, germs and steel” by Jarred Diamond would be a good book.

Nkululeko Jojo Xaba: Ndumiso Ngbobo is a great author. Some Of My Best Friends Are White is an amazing read.

Megan Furniss: Period Pain by Kopano Matlwa is still with me.

@MakDPostmodern: K***** Boy by Mark Mathabane

Ashley Brownlee: The Magistrate of Gower by Claire Robertson, Africa: a biography of the continent by John Reader, The Smell of Apples by Mark Behr, A Life by Winnie Mandela… and is there a particular reason not to include A Long Walk to Freedom?

What do you think? Anything you would definitely add to this list? Any of these you would highly not recommend? Give us your ideas in the comments section and let us know particularly which one of these you found to be really helpful and energising…

[For the children’s stories version of this list, click here]