MY SHELF writer, poet, lecturer and author Lebohang Masango
Writer, poet, lecturer and author of children’s book, Mpumi’s Magic Beads, Lebohang Masango takes us through reads which have shaped her life
Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes:
Besides giving me a glimpse into the mind of the woman who created my beloved Dr Cristina Yang, this book also lit a great fire in my heart. It’s all about letting go of fear, saying ‘yes’ to what confronts you and then simply working hard to meet that commitment. After reading it, I, too, felt I could say “yes” to opportunity, blessings and a wonderful life. It really works.
The New Testament – Jericho Brown:
Brown’s writing is a literary soundtrack to my life. He writes beautiful poetry about love, God and family with measured tenderness. I love the different feelings he evokes in me and the way I still find new meanings to his words, even though I know his work so well already. I always have a line or two just resting in my mind until I find another one to obsess over.
The God of Small Things – Arundhathi Roy:
What I love most about it is the way Roy tells this complex tale which is, on many levels, a love story, as well as a narrative about revolution, oppression and coming of age, while keeping the children’s point of view visible.
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison:
Morrison is a genius. I first read this book when I was 15 and I keep revisiting it every few years because it continually reveals itself in new ways. At first, I was interested in how she handles the political aspects. Lately, however, I find myself more fascinated by her creative decisions as the narrative unfolds. That’s the thing about Morrison’s work: as you grow, you learn to appreciate its parts anew.
The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster:
This book was assigned reading when I was in Grade 5 and it’s never left me. Milo’s story of being bored with school is a familiar one – and I love the way his explorations lead him to the enchanted world of words and numbers. This book sets my imagination alight each time I read it because I genuinely love stories that show the magic behind the mundane.
Tales of the Metric System – Imraan Coovadia:
When I read this book for the first time, I periodically put it down, stood up and paced in stunned silence.
Coovadia is brilliant on levels I can’t articulate, thanks to his gift for building tension. The way he unravels this narrative as separate chapters, while weaving his characters into each other’s stories to hint to actual South African history, is astonishing.
Anna Hibiscus and Double Trouble – Atinuke & Lauren Tobia:
The chemistry between author and illustrator is undeniable. I collect Anna Hibiscus books because their work is the benchmark for me in children’s literature, as well as in my own work, where I try to be both visually and narratively captivating.
To My Children’s Children – Sindiwe Magona:
I love the fact that Mogona places importance on posterity and ensures that her children’s children and her readers have a true account of what it was like to be a black girl and woman in South Africa before and during apartheid.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling:
I grew up absolutely dedicated to the Harry Potter series (and recently discovered that I belong in Slytherin, not Ravenclaw, as I initially thought). These books were my very best friends at school and I’ve read them countless times. Rowling enthralled children (and adults) all over the world with this incredible story of magic, friendship and the triumph of good over evil. Her attention to detail and the absolute force of her imagination are inspiring.
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron:
Writer’s block and a general lack of inspiration are certainly evidence of an impasse somewhere in our lives. I suffered a big one of these about two years ago, until some women whom I adore recommended this book. I love the way Cameron states so authoritatively that each and every one of our human journeys is about being creative, regardless of our professions. As a writer, this book has been invaluable in making me believe in myself again when I’m in a bit of a slump.