Good Reading

Holidays are the time most people indulge themselves with some good reading. I keep my holiday flat supplied with books for guests and many leave their own books behind, once they've been read, to add to that library.

In my busy working life I developed a saying 'Life's too short to read fiction". I read mostly inspiring, motivational true life stories. Once retired, I joined a bookclub and have found that I do enjoy reading fiction.

However, non-fiction is still my preference and the books reviewed here are mostly non-fiction. I consider them to be timeless in their wisdom and inspiration and as current now as when they were first written and published. 

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting."
Edmund Burke

For those of you who live outside of South Africa, the books below (and more) can be purchased at my on-line bookstore with

Then there is also the 21st Century "Kindle" option which I think is just fantastic! Could we have imagined even 10 years ago being able to carry around up to 3500 books that would fit into a modest bag in a slither of a capsule thinner than a diary. Think of all the trees we can save (this technology hasn't arrived a moment too soon for our planet) and the convenience of such a device. For a lover of reading like me its blissful. One need never run out of something to read because another book is just a 60 second download away! So please pay a visit to my Discover Sedgefield-Amazon

Note that if you buy any of the books at my Amazon Store or from Loot, you don't pay more but I receive a small commission from the on-line stores.

Recommended as Good Reading

"You're Awesome" is written by a South African for South Africans. The foreword is by Archbishop, Desmond Tutu.  52 chapters for 52 weeks in the year. A year to transform your life and influence the lives of those around you. That's all it would take to make this country one we'd all love to live in. 

It's about how we all could share in one woman's vision to carry on the legacy of Nelson Mandela and a dream  " where families are united, where communities live with strong spiritual principles, where every child is nurtured and educated and where people make the right choices and live their lives with integrity.

..where people live without discrimination and with acceptance of those who are different from themselves in colour, race and religion.

...where we make peace with the past and every individual plays their part in the ongoing work of reconciliation through the principles of Ubuntu.

So the dark clouds that for so long have covered the African continent will lift, letting the light shine through that will give an unequalled nobility and dignity to the people of this great continent."

This good reading is a stunning book that all South Africans could relate to. It's about how we can each be a part of the solution by choosing to change ourselves - our attitudes, our constant negativity about our country that affirms the bad - that things will only get worse not better, ignoring the good and incredible accomplishments of individuals who give of their best and whose efforts are making a difference.

This book shows us in simple ways how we can in our individual capacity become a force that determines a different outcome for South Africa and to allow this country to become a beacon to the world - why not?

First published in 1981, VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY was quickly recognized as a powerful and visionary work in the emerging dialogue over sustainable living. Now, more than twenty years later and with many of the planet′s environmental stresses more urgent than ever-Duane Elgin has once again revised and updated his revolutionary book.

I found this good reading in the 1990's and it profoundly affected the course of my life. It made me examine my values and what really mattered to me and it's why I was ready and able to say good-bye to the corporate world and retire at 54 to a little rural village on the Garden Route.

I've just read the book again and it's more relevant today than when Duane Elgin first wrote it 30 years ago. In his own words, "A simpler way of life is not a retreat from progress, it is essential to the advance of civilisation....

Because we face a crisis in the interconnected global system, changes are needed at every level. New types of communities are necessary for sustainable living, new policies with regard to energy, environment, education, media, etc. and new partnerships amongst nations......"

Being able to live say "I have enough", that LESS in one sense is MORE in another, fosters an attitude of gratitude, a sense of personal empowerment and creative opportunity.

Behaving responsibly towards the planet that supports our spiritual nature by presenting us with awesome aesthetic beauty to nurture our spirits and that sustains our physical well-being with every kind of food imaginable, means living a more simple existence by reducing our consumption of all things material, to enable an inwardly richer life experience.
Finding balance and living consciously, would allow the earth to cope with sustaining all of us and everything else dependent on it for survival.....

'It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.'

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. SHANTARAM is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere. As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals.

The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power. Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas - this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.

I would best describe this good reading as a modern day classic, an extraordinary story, exquisitely written that allows you to see the best and worst of human beings in their endeavours to make sense of the cards they've been dealt and to shape consciously or unconsciously, their destiny. It has all the elements found in today's complex societies.

Shantaram - means "man of peace" and was the name given to Roberts by the parents of his first and only guide, Prabaker who would, in time, reveal all the aspects and intricacies of life in Bombay to him and who would become his truest friend. The name was prophetical, the man Roberts would become, for the years he spent in Bombay, where he was known as Lin, were anything but peaceful! This compelling novel is based on the true life story of the author - an epic journey that draws one into his tangled life experience.

After being destroyed twice while he was in prison, Roberts had to rewrite the epic manuscript a third time to bring it to publication. First published in 2003, it has been reprinted many times - 4 times in 2005, 4 times in 2006, 3 times in 2007, twice in 2008, once every year between 2003-2011 not mentioned above, except 2009.

It is the middle book of a trilogy, the first book has not yet been written and Roberts is currently busy with the final book.

You can find out more about the fascinating life of this author on his website

How are you handling change? Many changes are occurring now in the lives of all of us, but does 'change' have to equal 'crisis'? No! Not if you have the means with which you can change your experience of change-and that is what this book is about. However, it's more than a book about change. It's about how life itself works.

It is about the very nature of change-why it happens, how to deal with it, and how to make it be 'for the better'. On these pages are Nine Changes That Can Change Everything. Is it possible that what you are about to read has come to you at the right and perfect time...? The author of the Conversations with God series presents a fresh and startling perspective on something that will never change: Change.

When a book seems to jump into your hand and you cannot release your grasp, you know it's meant for you - and reading this book was just what I needed, what I needed to remember and that I really already knew deep down inside myself.

"When everything changes..." has Neale's same personal intimate style as his "Conversation with God" books. This time though its just the author and the reader. I felt like he was sitting across from me, talking just to me explaining the mysteries of life in his endearing simplistic way. And I got it...I really got it!

That the topic is current and that God is current - is undeniable. Neale's explanations of the mechanics of the mind and the system of the soul takes us to the deepest places in our spirit. To comprehend the depths, breadth and heights of our eternal existence gives perspective on how that enables and empowers us to live fully and meaningfully in the here and now.

Published in 1951,THE SEA AROUND US is one of the most remarkably successful books ever written about the natural world. Rachel Carson's rare ability to combine scientific insight with moving, poetic prose catapulted her book to first place on The New York Times best-seller list, where it enjoyed wide attention for thirty-one consecutive weeks. It remained on the list for more than a year and a half and ultimately sold well over a million copies, has been translated into 28 languages, inspired an Academy Award-winning documentary, and won both the 1952 National Book Award and the John Burroughs Medal.

This classic work remains as fresh today as when it first appeared. Carson's writing teems with stunning, memorable images-the newly formed Earth cooling beneath an endlessly overcast sky; the centuries of nonstop rain that created the oceans; giant squids battling sperm whales hundreds of fathoms below the surface; and incredibly powerful tides moving 100 billion tons of water daily in the Bay of Fundy. Quite simply, she captures the mystery and allure of the ocean with a compelling blend of imagination and expertise.

Reintroducing a classic work to a whole new generation of readers, this Special Edition features a new chapter written by Jeffrey Levinton, a leading expert in marine ecology, that brings the scientific side of The Sea Around Us completely up to date. Levinton incorporates the most recent thinking on continental drift, coral reefs, the spread of the ocean floor, the deterioration of the oceans, mass extinction of sea life, and many other topics. In addition, acclaimed nature writer Ann Zwinger has contributed a brief foreword.

Today, with the oceans endangered by the dumping of medical waste and ecological disasters such as the Exxon oil spill in Alaska, this illuminating volume provides a timely reminder of both the fragility and the importance of the ocean and the life that abounds within it. Anyone who loves the sea, or who is concerned about our natural environment, will want to read this classic work.

This was good reading - no excellent reading, more captivating than any novel I have read in the last year and I will be reading it again. I live by the sea now but I didn't grow up by it and my knowledge of it is minimal so this book was an eye-opener, an education and an inspiration. The insights it gives and the depth of understanding with which it is written makes it a must-read for anyone who wants to grasp the fundamentals of life on our planet.
Rachel clearly puts forth that all creatures are dependent upon each other for their own survival. They and therefore we, are all links in the chain of life. We will usher in our own demise if we do not embrace this simple truth. It's such a pity that Rachel's talent was lost to the world when she died in 1964 of cancer. She was only 57.

Raised in a desperately poor village during the height of China's Cultural Revolution, Li Cunxin's childhood revolved around the commune, his family and Chairman Mao's Little Red Book. Until, that is, Madame Mao's cultural delegates came in search of young peasants to study ballet at the academy in Beijing and he was thrust into a completely unfamiliar world.

When a trip to Texas as part of a rare cultural exchange opened his eyes to life and love beyond China's borders, he defected to the United States in an extraordinary and dramatic tale of Cold War intrigue. Told in his own distinctive voice, this is Li's inspirational story of how he came to be MAO'S LAST DANCER, and one of the world's greatest ballet dancers. This book has since been made into a movie.

This good reading is truly inspirational. Told in straight forward simple English it conveys Li Cunxin's earnest desire to make the most of his unique opportunity to escape a life of servitude and poverty.

Devoid of parental guidance he bears the weight of responsibility to bring honour and benefit to his family and make his country proud. He physically pushes himself beyond the limits of endurance whilst struggling with self doubt and many other many internal conflicts.

Always striving to do the right thing, he buries his homesickness by developing an immense commitment to his craft. As he becomes a master, his talent opens the world to him. A simple country Chinese boy becomes a famous international ballet dancer. 1 in a population of 1 billion people - what are the odds of such a person escaping from impoverished circumstances to make a name for himself on an international stage? His gratitude is palpable and how his life pans out will be an inspiration to everyone who reads the book.

When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' elephants on his reserve at Thula Thula, his commonsense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival - notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn't take them.

He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining elephants were traumatised and very angry.As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape...

As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, this is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers everywhere.

This good reading is unforgettable. I am always deeply moved by people's discovery of the meaningful relationships that can develop between humans and other animals. My husband read it too and loved it! If you appreciate Africa and its wildlife and wilderness places you will love this book.

SPONTANEOUS EVOLUTION reveals how changing our understanding of biology and human history will help us navigate these turbulent times of economic meltdown, environmental crisis and seemingly endless warfare. Readers are invited to reconsider,
  • The unquestioned pillars of biology including random evolution, survival of the fittest and the role of DNA.
  • The Blueprint for our sustainable life-affirming future is literally inside us - encoded in each of the trillion cells comprising our bodies.
  • How our beliefs about nature and human nature shape our politics, culture and individual lives.
  • How each of us can become planetary "stem cells" supporting the health and growth of our world and every individual in it.
  • Spontaneous Evolution introduces the notion that a miraculous healing awaits this planet once we accept our new responsibility to collectively tend the Garden rather than fight over the turf! When a critical mass of people truly own this belief in their hearts and minds and begin living this truth, our world will emerge from the darkness in what will amount to a spontaneous evolution.

    This good reading found me totally absorbed in the concepts expressed in this book. With science and history as its backbone, it is at its heart, a love story - a paradox - but tantalisingly possible - giving humans an opportunity to express their humanity.

    Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial food pipeline to live a rural life - vowing that, for one year, they'd only buy food raised in their own neighbourhood, grow it themselves or learn to live without it.

    Part memoir and part journalistic investigation, its about a family who revise their whole way of looking at food. Steven L. Hopp who contributes the more academic aspects of the book provides very interesting information about all aspects of food production, about its quality and what it really costs us and what it's costing the planet. Camille Kingsolver, Barabara's daughter, a university student at the time of writing, contributes the many original family recipes.

    This good reading is recommended as a result of Sedgefield qualifying as a Slow Town. The concept developed from Slow Food, the aim of which is to support local farmers and get the freshest produce whilst fostering local traditions.

    I was delighted to come across this book when all these thoughts were new to me and to find a family doing it and documenting it so well, has helped me to understand the benefits of striving to live this way. We do after all, have a wonderful widely-acclaimed Wild Oats Farmers’ Market every Saturday in Sedgefield

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