For the Love of Books: A Reading Challenge

One of my goals last year was to read 52 books, that's one book per week.  It doesn't seem like that much, but with a busy work schedule, travels and a few weeks lost to bronchitis, I didn't quite manage.  Instead I read 49 books. Though, for a person whose passion is making books, you'd think I would be able to read more!  (I don't count picture books in this list, and if I did, I'd be in the hundreds of books per year). 

I read whatever I can get my hands on, and in Cape Town, that can sometimes be a challenge.  In Canada and England I take books for granted; they are cheap, easy to get (via amazon, the library or my local bookstore), and I always seem to have a larger pile of unread books than read ones. 

Finding books in Cape Town is a different story.  Books are almost double the price here, and if you want a specific one, it takes weeks to order one in from your bookstore. I had to wait a over a month to get Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge" shipped in from the States.  

I thought I'd make a list of my top 10 books from 2012.  This is completely subjective, and I wouldn't say they're favourites, just books that make me look at the world in a different way. All books, whether you enjoy them or not, are someone's effort to light a candle in the darkness.  

So, here are my 10 thought-provoking books for 2012 (in no particular order):


Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

 (a witty and honest biography of the author's mother, coming of age in Kenya, Rhodesia and Zambia)


The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

(a futuristic short-story about a world where all the people are plugged into machines and have no human interaction, sounds familiar, no?)


The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield

(absolutely divine writing....)


His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

(A spiritual and metaphysical adventure for children)


The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

(A coming of age tale about Larry, drifting through post-war Europe, trying to find the meaning of life, and going against the expectations of his peers, who seem to value money and power more than spirituality. A life changing book.)


The Story of English in 100 words by David Crystal

 (100 words, defined and explained from the first word ever written in English "roe deer" to modern words like "webinar."  A must read for all language lovers.)  


Goliath by Tom Gauld

(best graphic novel I've read all year, and a new way to look at a Bible story)


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

(two young spies, trying to save each other against all odds in WWII France.  And who is telling the truth?)


All's Well that End's Well by William Shakespeare

(Not your typical love story, Helena hoodwinks Bertram into marrying her: she's happy; he's not. How will it end?)


Wildwood by Colin Meloy

(an adventure in an alternate reality Portland, where two children have to unravel the political and environmental conflicts of a Wildwood populated by talking birds, an army of foxes, other fantastic creatures.  A romp of a read.)

If you want to join me in the reading challenge, you can find me on



And, do you have any recommendations for books I should read in 2013?  Leave a comment and let me know. :-) 

PS:  I have an e-reader, but I'm such an old-fashioned old soul that I find it difficult to muster enthusiasm for reading on it.  I'd much rather have books in my hand and on my bookshelf.  :-)  And, just look at this library, isn't it stunning?  

My new favourite place in Cape Town.... the Central Library!