How come Flow’s building in Johannesburg doesn’t have more than two floors? Because the staff turned all the other storeys into articles!
Jokes aside, even our Flowstars in Cape Town and Durban have joined in the fun of sharing the details of two good books they have read in 2018 and why they would recommend them. Some wanted to go overboard and submit more suggestions, but had to exercise a little “shelf-control”. And so now, here’s the list …
First up, there’s PR account director Allison MacDonald, who loved reading Prooi, a crime thriller by Deon Meyer, whose books have been translated into more than 20 languages. Meyer’s novels are so brilliant, Ally reads them in Afrikaans because she’s way too impatient to wait for the English translations.
Another South African writer Ally has enjoyed thoroughly this year is Rebecca Davis. She describes Self-Helpless: A Cynic’s Search for Sanity as “a rollicking account of the author’s journey through a variety of spiritual self-help remedies, programmes and courses available to people struggling to cope in 21st-century Cape Town. It’s terribly funny and a great way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.”
Durban-based editor Christine Marot relished the superb sea breeze while reading Justin Go’s “mesmerising debut”, The Steady Running of the Hour. Her second pick is The Collector of Lost Things by Jeremy Page. “There’s nothing more delicious than devouring a really well-written book,” says Christine, “and this novel was just that.”
Strategist Janet Berger gives her stamp of approval to Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, a book set in the 1970s about a family living on the edge of civilisation in Alaska.
This year, senior writer and editor Sue Blaine held Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in one hand, balanced by the scientific rationality of Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker in the other. One of the key messages the latter book looks to put across is to “look at the facts before you invest in sackcloths and ashes”.
Head of project management Gail Cameron says the best book she’s picked up this year is … A Gentleman in Moscow.
Michael Jackson (interjecting): You mean my song, A Stranger in Moscow?
Me: No, MJ. We’re talking books here, not music. Now, Beat It …
Gail’s choice is actually by Amor Towles, and is a “quirky novel about a count who is under house arrest in a hotel in Moscow soon after World War I. It’s a humorous read, yet the impact of the war is felt on the hotel and the characters in the hotel.”
Another interesting selection comes from head of PR Caroline Smith, who has read a towering 33 books this year, according to her user profile on www.goodreads.com. The books she enjoyed the most are Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Kate Turkington’s “rollicking read”, Yes, Really.
Representing the bibliophilic crew in the Mother City is senior writer and subeditor Libby Peacock. Libby is a huge fan of Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s mammoth autobiographical series, and is about to start reading the sixth book, The End: My Struggle Book 6.
“Knausgaard writes incredibly candidly about his life – sometimes in unbelievable detail,” says Libby. “He does not attempt to gloss over his flaws, his terrible decision-making, and his family and relationship problems over the decades covered in the books.”
Another brilliant book she kept cradled in her palms is The Fifth Mrs Brink, a memoir by Karina M Szczurek. Libby describes Szczurek as an intellectual author who wrote a beautiful memoir after the death of her husband, the famous Afrikaans writer André P Brink. The book is an up-close look at the couple’s life together, painting a vivid picture of their love for each other.
As for me, the two books I gave penetrating stares this year, one more so than the other, are the philosophical masterpiece Nwelezelanga by Unathi Magubeni and an epic thriller titled The Last Sentence by yours truly.
I had to reread the latter and make even more changes than Beyoncé did when she shuffled through outfits at the Global Citizen event in a bid to refine the story of Bandile Ndala, a forgotten scriptwriter who is looking to make a comeback in the entertainment industry.
I’ve been told it’s an intriguing debut with subplots that connect nicely with the main story. Critics have praised the novel for its shape-shifting capability; hey, who knows – it may well come to be regarded as the Optimus Prime of literature.
So, if you are not sure what to read over the holidays and in the new year, have a look at what our Flowstars recommend and see if you can find your next favourite book.