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

Elle (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

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.

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