Reading takes you places


This popular epithet in praise of reading perfectly captures some of the gems on the bookshelves this March.

Some books create worlds, some capture lost ones. Here are some of our top picks from the Exclusive Books Recommends list this month:

Multiple award-winning book like One Hundred Saturdays – Stella Levy and the Search for a lost worlds – is such a book. With nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never before spoken in detail about her past. Then she met Michael Frank. He came to her Greenwich Village apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask her a question about the Juderia, the neighborhood on the Greek island of Rhodes where she’d grown up in a Jewish community that had thrived there for half a millennium. Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella offers a magical modern-day window into what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time—and to construct a life after that place has vanished.

Another woman forced to invent and reinvent her life and home is Noni Jabavu, the first black South African woman to publish books on her life. Returning to SA in 1977 to write a biography of her illustrious father, she is a travelling black woman of means navigating the cruelty of Apartheid South Africa. Her book A Stranger at Home captures the inner and outer conflicts.

The words women leave behind, and the worlds created in their wake, is at the heart of David Ralph Viviers’s book, Mirage.  A century-old trunk has been dug up near the railway village of Sterfontein, deep in heart of the karoo. Inside is the lost journal of Victorian author Elizabeth Tenant – and what appear to be the remains of a child. Without much to go on, university student Michael travels to the old Karoo hotel where Elizabeth wrote her novel Mirage, and amidst Amid talk of omens in the sky, ancient prophecies and the end of the world, he tries to decipher the journal’s secrets. You can smell the karoo in these pages, in fact, it’s almost a character itself.

Then for a book not about lost worlds, but about fast disappearing ones … The Golden Mole, and other Living Treasure, by Katherine Rundell.  The Golden Mole is a celebration of 22 species, each of which is either endangered or “contains a subspecies that is endangered”.  Katherine Rundell is a scholar, a born enthusiast and an exquisite writer. The words are beautiful, and the black and gold illustrations even more so. Rundell’s chapters are never more than eight pages long, but all are full of vivid, sometimes surprising details about the creatures themselves, the stories we tell about them, the ways we have interacted with them and why they are now endangered. A magnificent celebration of everything from bats, crows and hedgehogs to narwhals and wombats.

Lastly, our hero title in the stores is The Day of Fallen Night, by Samantha Shannon. This title is the stunning, standalone prequel to the New York Times bestselling The Priory of the Orange Tree. With its dragons, magic, and fully developed world, this fantastical epic contains all the critical elements of high fantasy. The book is aimed at the Young Adult market. But Shannon, together with Sarah J Maas, are part of the current push of YA authors to be ‘categorised’ and to write for an adult market. The crossover appeal of their existing respective lists makes this a possible transition, and we watch the trend with interest.

These are just some of the titles featured  on Exclusive Books Recommends in March. All promise to take you places – weird, wonderful, magical and magnificent. Fanatics members earn a whopping 200 bonus points on their Exclusive Books Recommends titles from the list during March.


More on the list … and well worth reading are …


Prefer non-fiction? Here are a handful to choose from:


A trio of books for young adults:


10 to 12 year olds will love these:


It’s never too early read to your babes and toddlers … here are four books for birth to five-year-olds: