Our 2021 recommended reads

It’s that time of the year to round up the books of the year. There have been some fantastic releases in 2021 from fiction to nonfiction and everything in between. These are the selection of must-reads from South African authors.  

Children of Sugarcane

This release from Joanne Joseph is a perfect read if you are looking to lose yourself in an intriguing story with strong women characters. The story about indenture in KwaZulu Natal is an epic tale that stretches from Madras in India to the Port of Natal. Be warned though – if you start this book in the afternoon you might not be getting anything done until the book is completed. It will also leave you with a lot of feelings once you are done reading. 


Joanne Joseph’s Children of Sugarcane is an intimate look at indenture

They Got To You Too

This book from Futhi Ntshingila is another book to lose oneself in. However, it does deal with a much more personal and slower-paced story if that’s what you’re looking for. With lockdowns in whatever form they come very much a part of our lives, this book will allow you to experience what it means to be locked down physically and emotionally. This book is also a tearjerker of a read – dealing with some complex emotions and memories. It’s perfect for the quieter holiday afternoons especially if it is a rainy December day. 


Futhi Ntshingila writes about human complexity in her new book 

Flow: The book about Menstruation

The politics of the personal don’t get a rest even during the holidays. This is the book to read to find out more about period politics and the different aspects of menstruation. Best of all, once you’ve completed the book, it will be the perfect conversation starter during family and friend gatherings. Not only that, you can educate others about period politics. 


“Flow: The Book about Menstruation” should be mandatory reading 

The New Apartheid 

In this book, Dr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh explains his theory that apartheid did not die and instead was privatised. This might not seem like the typical holiday read but it is an important book to end the year. More than that, it’s a good read to make sense of this year and get a small insight into the status of the country. It will also make for an interesting conversation starter. 


The New Apartheid shatters the idea that apartheid ever ended

Can We Be Safe?

This is another book which might not fit directly into the holiday read category. However, unfortunately safety will always be a huge issue for any person living in South Africa. The end of the year is also a time which sees an increase in crime. But this book will provide those valuable insights around crime, safety and the justice system in an easy to understand manner. Again, it’s an excellent conversation starter especially for correcting those false and misinformed views at the dinner table. 


Ziyanda Stuurman asks: “Can we be safe?” and “how” in new book

When the Village Sleeps

Sindiwe Magona is a masterful storyteller and she has shown that through many different works. This book is a magical realism story rooted in South African society and history. The book is a fantastic read and is an ode to the strength of South African women. While it is a heartbreaking read, the overall message will leave a lasting impression on you after you turn the last page. 


Sindiwe Magona’s When The Village Sleeps is a must-read 

How I Accidentally Became A Global Stock Photo and Other Strange and Wonderful Stories

With the various travel bans and restrictions, these holidays are going to be a little different and difficult. There won’t be much exploring and adventuring to do. That’s where Shubnum Khan’s book comes in. You can lose yourself in her various adventures around the world without having to leave your favourite reading chair. You will laugh and cry with Shubnum as she tries to find herself and her place in the world. Best of all, you will feel like you are right there with her on her adventures due to her brilliant writing. 

Read more: 

Shubnum Khan takes readers on a wondrous journey in her new book

All the books on the list are available online and at all good bookstores. 

Featured image via Flickr