Readersforum's Blog

November 19, 2013

He who laughs last

CalvinBy Darrel Bristow-Bovey

One of the more agreeable aspects of ageing is that your list of heroes changes. When I was 16 top of the list was Jim Morrison. Now it’s Bill Watterson.

Watterson published the first Calvin and Hobbes exactly 28 years ago, on November 18 1985. Newspaper comic strips have always been a mysterious medium to me. Surely no one after 1936 has ever actually laughed at one: they’re just a place to rest your eyes a moment before it’s back to the grind of news and schmucks with opinions.

The Wizard of Id is about as funny as dropping a bottle on your bare foot; Andy Capp makes me cry a little inside; and I genuinely can’t fathom how anyone can get up each day and draw another Dagwood column without developing the funless kind of drug problem.

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September 6, 2013

Not a closed book just yet

Books+textbooks+dumpedBy YOLISA MKELE

South Africans are rapidly losing their taste for books. This is according to recent data, which shows a sharp decline in the sales of printed books.

Four major publishing houses confirmed that print book sales were waning.

According to Elitha van der Sandt, CEO of the South African Book Development Council, there are only 500000 regular book-readers left in the country.

Steve Connolly, managing director at Random House Struik, said total sales, excluding school textbooks and academic titles amounted to R1.58-billion in 2012, R1.59-billion in 2011 and R1.62-billion in 2010.

“There is clearly a downward trend here, and 2012 would have seen a steeper downward curve without the contribution of Fifty Shades of Grey,”said Connolly.

He said, as a result of the decline, it now takes significantly fewer sales for books to become “bestsellers”.


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August 1, 2013

Authors say they prefer books in print

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 10:14 am
Alain de Botton prefers the real thing

Alain de Botton prefers the real thing

By Louise Gray

A year ago Amazon reported its Kindle e-books were outstripping its sale of printed books.

But reading lists this year show that most authors prefer a proper, old-fashioned book to touch screens.

Writers prefer a well-stuffed bookshelf to one slim tablet, and they admire a well-illustrated book over a touch-screen.

Alain de Botton the philosopher said he dumped e-books when he realised the information didn’t sink in without physical contact with a real book.

”I’m a recent apostate from e-books. I found whatever I read on my Kindle, I couldn’t remember in the long term. It was as if I’d never read it,” he said.

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May 3, 2013

An Uncaged Vision

TIME TRAVELLER: Lauren Beukes is thinking about writing a Western or a 'cool' apartheid story sometime soon

TIME TRAVELLER: Lauren Beukes is thinking about writing a Western or a ‘cool’ apartheid story sometime soon

Tymon Smith speaks to Lauren Beukes, who shot to fame with her sci-fi novel ‘Zoo City’, about her latest book.

Lauren Beukes is certainly a shining girl of the local and international fiction scene, but unlike the women in her latest novel, who earn the label of shining, she’s not due for a visit from a time-travelling serial killer any time soon.

Winner of the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction for her previous novel Zoo City , “a gritty phantasmagorical noir” set in the slums of inner-city Johannesburg, Beukes’s career has gone supernova at a speed that so many others only dream of. She has an international multibook deal – “somewhere in the six-figure range” – and plaudits from every corner of the globe. But as she reminds me over breakfast in a Joburg guesthouse: “To be a full-time novelist is a huge privilege and it’s what I’ve wanted to be since I was five years old. It’s only taken me 30 years to get here.”

Beukes – blonde with sparkling eyes, a slight accent (the result of two years in the US), a forthright intelligence and a self-deprecating sense of humour – is easy to like, even when she’s talking about serial killers and violence against women over fruit salad.

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December 19, 2012

‘Fifty Shades Freed’ Amazon’s best-selling book in 2012, see top 10 list

50+shades+freedThe third Fifty Shades novel and its trilogy boxed set took two of’s top three places among books first published in 2012, with Gillian Flynn’s dark and complex thriller Gone Girl wedged in second place.

E.L. James wasn’t the only writer to profit from 2012’s erotic fiction fad, with Sylvia Day also prominent on Amazon’s list; Jennifer Probst’s The Marriage Bargain also made the most of a rich, eligible bachelor as its romantic lead.

That’s not to say established mainstream writers were cast by the wayside: three lawyers-turned-authors in John Grisham, David Baldacci and William Landay also featured in the combined Kindle and print top ten, as did a controversial insider account of the raid on Bin Laden’s compound.

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December 23, 2010

SA’s best reads of 2010

Selected by employees and critics at The Times, and compiled by Andrew Donaldson

IN A STRANGE ROOM, Damon Galgut (Atlantic)

The Times of London described it as “absolutely brilliant”. Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Galgut’s intense and acclaimed triptych – a collection, if you will, of three novellas – has drawn the inevitable comparisons with JM Coetzee, but Galgut’s really is a unique and original voice in South African fiction. In the stories here, a young man embarks upon a series of journeys, through Greece, India and Africa, in a search for love, identity and home.

CONVERSATIONS WITH MYSELF, Nelson Mandela (Macmillan)

Gathered from unpublished writings, diary entries and correspondence in a seemingly raw and unmediated manner, Conversations gave us the most moving and intimate portrait of the former president. Certainly, it refreshed parts that A Long Walk to Freedom failed to reach. Though Mandela took great care to mask his emotions and feelings, his letters to his wife and children reveal a loneliness and isolation that is utterly heartbreaking.

TELLING TIMES: WRITING AND LIVING, 1950 – 2010, Nadine Gordimer (Bloomsbury)

A companion of sorts to Life Times, an anthology of her best short fiction, this hefty volume gathers up a half-century of non-fiction and reveals Gordimer’s life as a moral activist, political visionary and literary icon. The range of this book is staggering, and stretches back to the dying days of colonial rule to the present-day conflicts of HIV/Aids, xenophobia and globalisation. Throughout all this, of course, was the scourge of racism and apartheid, and it is Gordimer’s brave and commendable engagement with the Nationalist government and the order it sought to impose upon us that particularly enthrall.

SUMMERTIME, JM Coetzee (Vintage)

Completing the trilogy of “memoirs” that began with Boy and Youth, Summertime is a story about a young biographer working on a book about a dead writer, John Coetzee, by focusing on the 1970s when the awkward and bookish Coetzee was finding his feet as a writer. So the biographer interviews a married woman with whom he had an affair, a favourite cousin, a dancer whose daughter was taught English by Coetzee, as well as other colleagues and friends. Praised as edgy, black, remorselessly human, Summertime was also humorous and offbeat, even wacky a portrait of the artist as outsider….read more

A-Z of 2010 in literature

A rocker and raunchy cricketer made it to the shelves, writes Tymon Smith

A: is for Martin Amis, the bad boy of English letters, who started the year with a new book, The Pregnant Widow, which turned out to be one of his best, although it was overlooked for the Booker Prize short list. In publicity interviews, Amis stirred controversy when he advocated suicide booths for old people and dismissed JM Coetzee as having no talent, a comment for which he later apologised.

B: is for Barack Obama, Tony Blair and George W Bush. Obama was the subject of David Remnick’s mammoth narrative biography The Bridge, which surprised not only for its quality, but also in light of the fact that its author wrote it while holding down a 12-hour day job as the editor of The New Yorker….read more

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