Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

At the moment my two favorite comedians, and also the main faces of my Facebook newsfeed, are Trevor Noah and Shayne Smith. Shayne Smith tells jokes that have me rolling on the floor laughing because I can either relate, or because they’re just totally absurd. But Trevor Noah, even when he makes a joke, he makes me think. And I love that. His life experiences are so vastly different from anything I could ever imagine, and everyone will have different opinions on this, but to me, his perspective usually feels so…just all-encompassing and well-thought. I feel like he is able to give credit to and kindly acknowledge multiple view points on each issue while giving his own such that I have to be careful to not just accept everything he says as true. I took this picture below from off his daily show website (it had a little “download” button right on it, so hopefully that’s okay! *fingers crossed*

So, when I saw that he had written a book about his childhood, I HAD TO get it from the library and finished reading it in just a few days.

PC: Gavin Bond

Trevor Noah was born in Johannesburg, South Africa (the first image in this post shows the Johannesburg skyline), and “Born A Crime” is the story of how he maneuvered apartheid as a total outcast of the system – not really black, not really white, and not comfortable pretending to be like the other “colored” people that looked like him. Not only that, but in “a woman’s world” where he had no good male role models shares the things he learned from the ladies in his life, and the religion that filled their life.

I can’t say enough good things about this book, the sense of humor amid some deep and disturbing circumstances, the way he thinks about apartheid and people in general, and all the little lessons he squeezes in throughout the book. The book manages to lace abuse, tragedy, humor, love, faith and all the complicated overlap of those things together.

He describes himself as a naughty child, and has the stories to prove it, but I especially appreciated a moment in the book when he took a step back to defend children who’s parents struggle to discipline them, try as they might. He explains that family considered him destructive as a child, but he never intentionally destroyed anything. He just was trying to figure out how things worked. And often broke things in the process. Like in a very minor incident when his mom became upset at him for drawing on the walls, he felt terrible and vowed to never disappoint his mom by doing this thing again. But how would he remember not to do it?? Oh! He could write a note to himself on the wall, of course! And there he was, right back at the wall with a crayon. I found this so insightful into my own son’s little brain, and think that every reader will find themselves at some point in this book caught between realizations of your own misled thoughts/reactions to people, and simultaneously laughing at the presentation of his many schemes and predicaments.

I definitely recommend this book, especially to people who struggle with thoughts of racism, of feelings of being outcasts, who search for miracles, and to those who just love a good read.

Meet the “World-Reading” Sandguppy

Author of “Applesauce on the Ceiling,” “An Embarrassment of Pandas,” and her own blog, “The Sandguppy,” shares the inspiration behind one of her awesome literary ventures.

By: Rachel Unklesbay

I watched a TED talk a while ago that made me think. Ann Morgan talked about perusing her bookshelves one day and realizing something new about herself. Although she thought of herself as a well-read and rather cosmopolitan person, there were almost no books on her shelf from foreign countries. That meant that, as well-read as she thought she was, she hadn’t read any perspectives except those from English—and occasionally, American—authors.

Of course, I immediately started mentally sorting through my own bookshelves. I had a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a few college books from African authors. And aside from that, I had the same culture-blindness. I set out to do the same thing Morgan had: read a book from every country.

She did it in a year. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have a kid, though. And I think her budget for book purchases was higher than mine. (Since she picked up a lot of her books while visiting foreign countries, I’m pretty sure her budget for everything is higher than mine.) Anyways, I didn’t set a time limit. I just made a list of countries, and started asking for recommendations.

Fortunately, my husband works at a bookstore. That makes the finding process a lot easier.

I’ve read 30 countries so far, and I’ve got about two dozen more on my bookshelf, waiting for me to catch up.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned so far? Scandinavian humor. I’m pretty sure my family gets their sense of humor from our Swedish heritage. Everything I’ve read from the north of Europe so far has had a dry, hilarious ability to laugh at the most unfortunate of circumstances. And I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m now on a side-track reading as much Swedish geriatric comedy as I can get my hands on. It’s funny stuff.

If you’d like to know more about Ann Morgan, click here.

And if you’d like to track my progress or read my book reviews, check out this page here.

Drop a comment below to send your love to Rachel for this great idea, sign up for my newsletter, and/or let me know if you would like to share about a favorite book you have read from an author around the world!