#46 In love with books – Karabo Kgoleng

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

I fell in love with books because I find real life to be quite dreary. They are also a cheaper way to travel.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

There are too many brilliant lines for me to choose one – sorry!

#45 In love with books – Sarah Lotz

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

Reading Roald Dahl made me fall in love with books. His children’s books are pure storytelling goodness melded with warped wickedness (an irresistible combination). My favourite is James and the Giant Peach, which is, if you think about it, a really disturbing horror story for under-10s. The thought of being stuck in a hollowed-out peach pip with a giant spider sums up my worst nightmare (spiders and humongous furry fruit), so of course it made a huge impression on me and I loved every word. After that I was hooked on books.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

This is my favourite image from the novel (it’s beautiful and creepy at the same time): “A few minutes later, Miss Spider had made the first bed. It was hanging from the ceiling, suspended by a rope of threads at either end so that actually it looked more like a hammock than a bed. But it was a magnificent affair, and the stuff that it was made of shimmered like silk in the pale light.”

Reading is the perfect way to be alone without ever feeling lonely.

#44 In love with books – McIntosh Polela

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

My love for books started at high school when my English teacher, Cheryl Wood, took me under her wing and treated me as her own son. To help me improve my command of English she asked me to work as her assistant in the school’s library, and personally selected books which she said were going to get me to fall in love with reading, as well as the Queen’s language. She was right. I subsequently became a literature nerd. Just last week I picked up For the Love of a Son by Jean Sasson at the airport just before flying to Umtata. I read it in one sitting. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the clock and realised it was 4 am the next day.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

“I shall never expect the next person to be perfect, until I am perfect – so that we are all safe.” From the Italian-American philosopher, Leo Buscaglia.

#43 In love with books – Jo-Anne Richards

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

At the age of four I learnt that love can be spurned, and the greatest sacrifice can be futile.

I wept until I was empty. My mother, who believed we should experience the beauty of words, sometimes forgot that books could be emotionally, as well as intellectually, hard for children. But I’m not sorry she did. When I turned four, she gave me Oscar Wilde’s collection of children’s stories and read me The Nightingale and the Rose – still one of the saddest, most beautiful, stories I know.

Funnily enough, I remember the sadness – but also that it was an exquisite kind of sadness. I don’t remember its being traumatic. This might have been because my contrite mother implored my father to tell me three baboon stories in succession to stop me crying sufficiently to go to bed.

“There were once three baboons, the youngest of whom was Jo-Anne …” From my dad’s speciality baboon stories I learnt that a baboon could get her hand stuck in a calabash if she closed her fist on a particularly juicy morsel inside. I learnt that words could be funny, and could make you laugh through your tears.

But from Oscar Wilde I learnt that words could be lush and vivid. They could drop you right inside someone’s life strongly enough to smell the blood-red rose and hear the keening song of a dying nightingale. They could draw the heart right up out of you.

That’s the first time I remember wanting to be a writer. Could be hindsight, of course. I might have imposed the awareness on the experience later. But even if I did, that doesn’t make it any less real.

That book had another role to play in my life. It taught me that words could sometimes save you. I came to know the stories well enough to mime reading them aloud. This little trick saved me some of the bullying that resulted from my inability to learn to read.

I was a dyslexic child, who couldn’t relate the written word to its concept. I did learn eventually, but not quickly enough to save me from being a weirdo and a misfit. Yet despite my early difficulties with words, I never blamed them. Seeking refuge, I still gravitated toward the library.

We had a cool, dimly-lit school library that smelt of old paper, and a kind librarian who trained me as a monitor and allowed me to hide out during break-time. That was when I learnt that words could transport you from an unbearable present.

Wherever I went, through my life’s travels, I would look for beautifully illustrated editions of the collection.

A couple of years ago, my daughter travelled overseas and returned with the most gorgeous copy I’d ever seen.

“Oh,” I said, touched. “You found me a new Oscar Wilde collection.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “I bought it for myself.”

The following year she started university and left home properly. That was one of the books she took with her.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

From Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose:

Bitter, bitter was the pain and wilder and wilder grew her song, for she sang of the love that is perfected by death, of the love that dies not in the tomb.

From Murder in the Cathedral by TS Eliot:

Since golden October declined into sombre November
And the apples were gathered and stored, and the land became brown sharp points of death in a waste of water and mud.
The new year waits, breathes, waits, whispers in darkness.
While the labourer kicks off a muddy boot and stretches his hand to the fire,
The new year waits, destiny waits for the coming.

 

#42 In love with books – James Kilgore

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

I learned to love books in the middle of the political struggles of the 1960s and ‘70s in the USA. Up to that time, reading was an occasional diversion for me. Most of the time it was sports books, biographies of famous baseball players. But in those dynamic decades so many things were happening around me – anti-war marches, urban rebellions, women demanding equal rights, dozens of liberation movements springing up. I couldn’t ignore it all and couldn’t make sense of it either. Reading books brought me the bigger picture, put me in touch with a world of possibilities and dreams, a world of people I would never have connected with in any other way. Without books I would never have made it to South Africa or Zimbabwe, never had the slightest idea what freedom meant, how difficult it was to win (or that it was even more difficult to maintain). Without books my world would be a confused place or, even worse, I’d still be reading about those baseball players in blissful ignorance. Thank God (or some such) for books. Now, though, I guess we have to be content with the internet. Oh well.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

A few favorite lines:

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
Maya Angelou

The “flowerness” of the different flowers is expressed in their very diversity. But there is cross-fertilisation between them. And what is more, they all contain in themselves the seeds of a new tomorrow.
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Arundhati Roy

Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo – obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.
Angela Davis

We are all tributaries of the great river of pain.
Ray Phiri

#41 In love with books – Mike Nicol

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

I came to books the hard way. As a child I had to be forced by my mother into reading. Oh, I loved her reading to me, the rhythm of the sentences, loved the stories, and the pictures they created in my head, but, I guess, I was lazy. Anyhow, she duly enrolled me at the local library and made me take out some books. Then, when I told her I’d finished them, she and my father secretly read them and, over supper, gently quizzed me to ensure that I was as good as my word. Well, the books had opened up a parallel universe that was populated by exciting characters who led exciting lives in places that were wonderfully exotic. Mostly these books were about highwaymen and pirates and derring-do. But I became addicted to fiction. I needed more and more and more, and I still do.


What’s your favourite line from a book?

Here are a couple of lines I value:

A friend who is seriously ill quoted these lines from Bertolt Brecht’s poem “Changing the Wheel” recently. It made me realise, once again, how poetry can often express the emotions we wouldn’t otherwise find words for:

I do not like the place I have come from.
I do not like the place I am going to.

Here are some other lines that first intrigued me with the possibilities they conjured up not only for what language could do but of how stories might begin. It’s the repetition in the last line that gets me every time. The poem is “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes.

The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding – riding – riding,
The highway man came riding, up to the old inn door.

There are many novels that I pull off the shelves from time to time just to read their opening lines. There’s a kind of comfort I take from them. One of those that I frequently turn to is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch:

Over the weekend the vultures got into the presidential palace by pecking through the screens on the balcony windows and the flapping of their wings stirred up the stagnant time inside, and at dawn on Monday the city awoke out of its lethargy of centuries with the warm, soft breeze of a great man dead and rotting grandeur.

As they say: Wow!

 

#40 In love with books – Philippa Yaa de Villiers

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

Loving reading is as natural as walking. I can’t remember learning to read. I was sort of an only child, and I felt lonely at night. I would crawl into my father’s bed and lie with my head on his shoulder. He loved reading Louis L’Amour and James Hadley Chase and Hammond Innes and I grew up to the smell of those cheap paperbacks and Pall Mall Plain.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

I can’t say forever that this is my favourite line, but I love it a lot at the moment, because it keeps coming back to me in funny little ways. From The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald – it’s right at the beginning of the book and it runs like a silver thread right till the end. It’s beautiful:

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

 

#39 In love with books – John van de Ruit

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

I have an extremely vivid memory of my father reading to my sister and me, and being intoxicated with the visions the words from his book inspired in my imagination. I think I was about three years old. At age five I devoured my first book, but unfortunately never read it. Thankfully it was a paperback, so chewing my way through it wasn’t as tough as say … an atlas, for example. I remember being brutally but rightfully slapped in the face by the librarian, who still turns up furious and vengeful in the odd nightmare.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

My favourite line is Joseph Heller’s from Catch 22: “He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive.”

#38 In love with books – Lyndall Gordon

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

What made me fall in love with books was the flair of my mother, Rhoda, in reading aloud to her children growing up in Cape Town. She read Katherine Mansfield’s New Zealand stories, where the children lead lives like ours at the Cape, and, reading dramatically – taking multiple roles – the whole of A Tale of Two Cities in a room darkened against the sun when I had measles. That year, aged eleven, I objected to her bedtime choice of Treasure Island with “It’s a boy’s book.”

“You don’t have to listen,” she countered. Crossly, I stamped out of the room and banged the door against the sight of her and my brother under the lamplight. Her voice carried faintly into the passage as sinister Long John Silver arrived on the scene. It was so compelling that, though I was too stubborn to give in, I tiptoed to the door and stood with my ear pressed against it.

So, in childhood, I heard the pulse of language: the throb of the Dickens sentence (“It is a far, far better thing …”); the humorous pathos of Afrikaans phrasing in the folk life of the veld in The Little Karoo by Pauline Smith, which Rhoda pronounced with the intonations of a native speaker (she grew up in Klawer on the edge of Namaqualand), pausing to recall the country folk of her own childhood; and I heard, too, the arduous plod of Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” – that spiritual journey like Rhoda’s own. She taught me how to see and feel; my perceptions are in truth hers.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

My favourite line is the irony of Jane Austen on snobbish Mrs Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility: “A lucky contraction of the brow rescued her face from the disgrace of insipidity, by giving it the strong character of pride and ill-nature.”

#37 In love with books – Hamilton Wende

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

I think I fell in love with books because my mother was in love with them and she read to us all the time, especially when we were travelling in the car on holiday. The first book I ever understood was in that funny phonetic writing they used to teach us in the ‘60s … can’t remember what it was called, but the book had a yellow cover and was about a black cat and I was so pleased that I could understand it all by myself and I read it constantly until its corners got chewed by our dogs, but I loved that book and can still remember sitting cross-legged on the floor near the bathroom reading it.

What’s your favourite line from a book?

My favourite line from a book, play or poem? So many, but perhaps from Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”