As the nationwide lockdown looms and South Africa's fight against the vicious Coronavirus intensifies, we've been asking some of our favourite independent bookshop owners to share some great reads to get you through the crisis.
Griffin Shea is the owner of Bridge Books, an indie bookshop with branches at the historic Rand Club building and in trendy Maboneng. He also leads the African Book Trust’s Literary District project, which promotes libraries and book culture in the Joburg City Centre. Here is his lockdown reading list.
For pure escapist fantasy: Crown of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi
The second volume in the Beasts Made of Night series has just landed. The first volume ended in full conflict around the walled city of Kos, as the magical young mages decided to resists the deadly demands made on them by the wealthy classes. This Nigerian-inflected fantasy world is the perfect place to escape. Black Panther fans, we’re looking at you. Order online here.
I really should have read this before: The Quiet Violence of Dreams by K. Sello Duiker
The size of this book made me put off reading it for ages. It’s one of those modern classics that we all probably should have read before now, and would never admit that we actually never got around to it. Now with some uninterrupted time on your hands, dig into the mind of Tshepo, a university student who has been recently orphaned, released from a mental institution, and set loose on into a world of hustlers and gangsters in Cape Town.
It really is the end of the world: A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia
Think the virus is bad? In this novel, Joburg -- and the rest of the world -- has been destroyed by a supernova. The only survivors were the zama zama miners and others who fled into the city’s cavernous deeps. White people... not so many left. The story begins in the future with young Envers taking on a job at the time-travelling Agency to prevent the end of the world from happening again. His branch specializes in 20th-Century hotspots, and on his mission he uncovers something sinister that leaves the fate of humanity in his hands.
A more familiar kind of killer: Three Bodies by NR Brodie
The problem with coronavirus is that we’re not used to dealing with this kind of killer. In Three Bodies, we get the comfort of a more familiar kind of fatal. Is there a serial killer killing women in Joburg? One body shows up at a golf estate. A finger is found by Park Station. The crime-fighting duo of Reshma Patel and Ian Jack return to solve the mystery.
You’ve just got to laugh: Living Coloured (Because Black and White Were Already Taken) by Yusuf Daniels
Short, poignant and funny stories about growing up coloured in Cape Town. Heart-warming nostalgia mixes with pointed realities that make for a charming book about the joys of community.
Royal intrigue, broken hearts: The Rival by Takalani M
For romance fans, the last volume in the Royal Mistress trilogy wraps up the intrigue around the love life of Chief Mulatshawe Ratshali. The chief can take as many wives as he likes, but does his queen like that state of affairs? Find out why thousands of fans have gotten sucked into the love lives of Venda royalty.
We need something to do together: South Africa: The World’s Longest Dot-to-Dot Puzzle
For when the people in your house are driving you crazy, here are 3,000 that need connecting to reveal landmarks around the country, from Joburg’s skyline to natural wonders. It’s not a book for reading, but for doing something together when our usual pastimes are off-limits.
Armchair travelling: Vagabond by Lerato Mogoatlhe
Since no one’s going to be travelling for a while, take an armchair adventure with Lerato Mogoatlhe. Vagabond is her story of five years drifting around 21 countries in Africa, learning about new ways of life and the variety of ways that the continent is our home.
Help getting through it all: Everyday Ubuntu by Mungi Ngomane
In times of crisis, it’s easy to forget our better selves. Mungi Ngomane reminds us about the power of ubuntu in 14 illustrated lessons about how to live better together -- lessons that we can apply even when we’re forced to stay apart.
We got this, we’ve done it before: Speaking Truth to Power: The Story of the AIDS Law Project by Didi Moyle
Memories can be short, but we have successfully fought against disease before. This time, we’re doing it with the support of authorities, rather than fighting against them. To remember how we pulled together to ward off a plague, Didi Moyle reminds us about how we stood together, insisted on sharing factual information, and fought against discrimination to beat back AIDS.