It’s that time of the year again: schools are closed, people are off from work and it’s the time to kick back and just relax. December holidays are also the perfect time to catch up on all that reading that probably piled up throughout the year. Fatima Moosa and Mishka Wazar have compiled your 2017 TBR (to be read) edition.
1.The Hate U Give (T.H.U.G) by Angie C. Thomas
One of the hottest Young Adult books of 2017, T.H.U.G is a book that is for people of all ages groups and a total must-read. It is concentrated around sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, who is the sole witness to the death of her best friend, Khalid by a police officer. It addresses issues like #BlackLivesMatter, police brutality in the United States, the concept of ‘wokeness’ and allyship. On another note, a movie based on the book is going to be released next year starring Amandla Stenberg. So it’s best to read the book, before the movie arrives on the big screen.
2. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Another YA 2017 release that deals with #BlackLivesMatter, Dear Martin is Nic Stone’s debut novel. Written in the form of a diary, this book looks at race relations in the USA. The main character of the book is Justyce Allister who is caught between two worlds: that of his old rough neighbourhood and the new one he finds himself in. Looking to the teachings of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Allisters tried to make sense of the world and his place within it.
3. Always and Forever by Jenny Ha
This is the perfect read to while away the hours on a hot summer’s day at the beach. It is cutesy and an easy read. The third in the series, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Always and Forever rounds up Lara-Jean’s story. While at first glance, the story looks like a rom-com type of book, it deals with themes of slut-shaming, uncertainty in love and the anxiety that comes with going to college and leaving home. With the series, you might want to read the other two before starting with this one, just so you get the full picture.
4. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
“How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything.”
This novel, Roy’s second after twenty years, is the only long-awaited story that has ever lived up to its anticipation. It’s a story within a story within a story that transcends the limits of imagination and empathy and is a deeply political and deeply human novel that proves that Roy is a writer in a million. This is the one book everyone should read this holiday.
5. Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
Men without Women is typical Murakami – magical realism, manic pixie dreamgirls, cynical introspective men and sex, but in bite-sized short stories. Each story takes you on a tour in the mind of a man who can’t seem to imagine a world without him in it, and loses the women around him as a result. For an oddly satisfying, confusing read, Murakami is your guy.
6. The January Children by Safia Elhillo
One of the most searing poetic debuts of this year, The January Children is a collection of sensual, rich, melancholic poems that tell the story of being an African/Arab woman living in postcolonial Africa still marred with the memory of colonisation. Elhillo writes with an open hopeful sadness that reminds the reader of Warsan Shire’s early poems. Something to read out loud in one sitting.
7. What is Not Yours is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi
A collection of delicious short stories by the brilliant Oyeyemi will have readers sinking into a world of pink houses, golden suns and communicative puppets. The simplistically glamorous prose makes the confusing connections worthwhile.
8. Little Suns by Zakes Mda
Zakes Mda’s newest book is pure literary genius combining true events into a tale of love and perseverance. It tell the story of Malangana ‘Little Suns’ who has spent many years alone in exile. He is searching for his beloved, Mthwakazi, woman he fell in love with twenty years earlier. The pair was torn apart when the colonial magistrate, Hamilton Hope was assassinated. Malangana and Hope’s stories are intertwined showing how the death of Hope affected Malangana’s life. Mda once more shows why he is such a respected South African author.
9. Fatima Meer: Memories of Love and Struggle by Fatima Meer
This book is anti-apartheid activist, Fatima Meer’s memoir. It is filled with interesting experiences and memories that shaped Meer into the person she was. In one incident, she and other ‘non-European’ students organised against the racist practices they encountered at university. There was something powerful about how Meer and others stood firm when demanding their rights. From standing up to racism to surviving attempts on her life, Meer’s memoir is a reflection on all the things she achieved, and the things she felt were left unfinished.
10. Reflecting Rogue: Inside the mind of a feminist by Pumla Dineo Gqola
Smart Black girls rarely get the kind of affirmation they need from the people around them. Even smart Black teachers don’t have all the time in the world to reassure us that we’re good enough for the world. So when a book like Reflecting Rogue comes out that lists whole life lessons about being a smart Black feminist, it’s rest assured that it will become a kind of holy book to live our lives by. A book that should be highlighted and dog-eared for days, reminding the reader of passages affirming their brilliance in a world that tries to dull their shine. This is a book readers will turn to again and again for comfort.