1. SEA CHANGE by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck (Quivertree)
The term “Primal Joy” on the cover is a bit woo-woo but, hey, you’re in the Cape after all. Dive into this exhilarating study of the ecosystem of kelp forests. The authors spent eight years exploring and photographing this virtually unknown wilderness and the result is aweing.
2. THE LAST HURRAH - SOUTH AFRICA AND THE ROYAL TOUR OF 1947 by Graham Viney (Jonathan Ball)
Follow the ineffably glamorous young royal family on a gleaming white train across South Africa, fêted wherever they go. Graham Viney has unearthed never-before published photos of the tour and presents an astute analysis of the politics of the time, when the Nats were waiting ominously in the wings.
3. MELUSI’S EVERYDAY ZULU by Melusi Tshabalala (Jonathan Ball)
Use the time away for a linguistic boot camp for the family. Adman Tshabalala has built up a huge Facebook following by posting a Zulu word a day, words that illuminate and celebrate South African-ness. There is umzulu in all of us!
4. BITTER ORANGE by Claire Fuller (Fig Tree)
A smart, unsettling psychological thriller. Think a hotazel summer, a ramshackle English country house and a louchely attractive couple. Think ennui and secrets, desire and decay … think the headiest read of the season.
5. SECRET CAPE TOWN (Jonglez)
The Jonglez guides to the secrets of cities are excellent and this one is no exception. Have you heard of the beach on Table Mountain? A secret nighttime nature tour? A magical tree famous for its spiritual healing properties? They’re all here - and more.
6. WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? - A CULINARY LIFE by Ann Christodoulou (New Media)
The matriarch of the Hout Bay wine growing family throws open her doors and beckons you in for a feast. This is great holiday food: gorgeous platters of Greek-inspired dishes of fish and lamb, asparagus and aubergines. She includes charming make-yourself table decor. You’ll be flapping the phyllo around like an old hand.
7. THE GAME RANGER, THE KNIFE, THE LION AND THE SHEEP by David Bristow (Jacana)
The subtitle says it all: “20 Tales about Curious Characters from Southern Africa”. Toss off a couple before you doze on the sofa after lunch.
8. BECOMING by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House)
In the most-anticipated memoir of the year, the former Flotus charts her course from the mean streets of Chicago’s south side to the West Wing of the White House. Expect to be inspired and awfully admiring.
9. MILKMAN by Anna Burns (Faber & Faber)
Leave this casually on the coffee table to send a message: you like your literature inventive and ambitious, oblique and unnerving. You like stories that demonstrate the personal is the political -in this case the life of an ordinary teenage girl sucked into the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Winner, not surprisingly, of the Man Booker Prize.
10. NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
The young and gifted Rooney is the current darling of the young and gifted reading set. Pull this out at the beach bar amid the shots-and-slops crowd and enjoy a witty, sexy story about a group of students navigating the anxieties of the age.
- Adapted from the December edition of Wanted.