Books: AN UNQUIET MIND by Kay Redfield Jamison

Title: An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Author: Kay Redfield Jamison
Published: 1996
Genre: Memoir

Kay Redfield Jamison is an academic. She is, according to the bio in her book, a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, who has written extensively about manic-depressive illness. She also suffers from the illness. I expected the book to read more like an academic text given the author’s background. It does not. It is a candid piece of writing about a widely misunderstood illness from the viewpoint of someone who suffers from it, and who has found a way to live with it.

Books: INDIGO by Catherine McKinley

Title: Indigo:  In search of the colour that seduced the world
Author: Catherine McKinley
Published: 2011
Genre: Memoir

Catherine McKinley writes of her Scottish heritage, and the use of the colour indigo in the tartans of her people. She deftly links it to her African heritage and the indigo in fabrics that she’d seen, namely her introduction to the indigo-dyed fabrics of West Africa.

Books: RED INK by Angela Makholwa

Title: Red Ink
Author: Angela Makholwa
Published: 2007
Genre: Fiction

In a word: gripping. I love watching the TV show Criminal Minds, and reading Red Ink was like watching an extended show of it. Angela Makholwa writes boldly about the violence that is at the centre of her crime novel. She’s descriptive and does not shy away from the details of the blood and gore. In the same way that I cannot turn away from Criminal Minds, I could not stop reading.

Books: THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin

Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Published: 2009
Genre: Memoir

I finally read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. It has been on my kindle for a while, but I felt that it would have been a better read in paperback – but in the same breath I could not bring myself to pay for a paperback copy having already downloaded the ebook. It is one one of the most useful and enjoyable books I have read this year.

Books: AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Title: Americanah
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published: 2013
Genre: Fiction

I have been sitting on this review for a while. Writing it feels like being unfaithful in some way. Here goes: I was disappointed. I loved every single one of Chimamanda Ngozi’s books. A friend gave me a copy of Purple Hibiscus when it was first published, and since then I have read and re-read the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck; have sunk my teeth into Half of a Yellow Sun – eagerly waiting for its release now that Biyi Bandele has had the genius to make a movie of it; and like everyone else that is a fan of Adichie, I eagerly anticipated the release of Americanah – especially since it promised to also tackle that ‘hair issue’.

Books: THE WIFE by Meg Wolitzer

Title: The Wife
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Published: 2003
Genre: Fiction

The Wife opens with Joan Castleman making the decision to leave her husband, Joe while en route to Helsinki where he is to be honoured with the Helsinki Prize, a literary award which is the culmination of what he has worked for all his life. Meg Wolitzer takes the reader through the lives of Joe and Joan: from Joan’s days as a freshman at Smith. She goes on to have an affair with his professor, Joe. His marriage crumbles, his wife leaves him, taking their baby son with him. Joe and Joan move in together – while he attempts to write the great American novel, she works, supporting his writing dream and in the process abandoning her own writing ambitions.

Books: THE TRINITY SERIES by Fiona Snyckers

Title: Trinity Rising  &  Trinity On Air
Author: Fiona Snyckers
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2009  &  2010

The first two books, in a series of three written by Fiona Snyckers were meant to be my holiday reading. I finished them in two days, before the Spring break. I could not put them down. They were hilarious. The protagonist Trinity Luhabe, is a young ‘born free’ South African about to begin her first first year at Rhodes University. Even though her father is a former Robben Island prisoner and anti-apartheid activist, and her mother a former activist and social worker,  “Trinity Luhabe is so over the whole Robben Island thing.”

Books: FASTING, FEASTING by Anita Desai

Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author: Anita Desai
Genre: Fiction
Published: 1999

I enjoyed Fasting, Feasting enough to finish it but can’t really say it is was one of my favourite reads. Anita Desai weaves her story around an Indian family with three children – all three of whom represent the family’s ambitions in some way.
Uma, the eldest is unmarried, clumsy and not particularly bright. The author describes her hunger for knowledge, and her attempts at being scholarly – but it is apparent that her thirst for knowledge is probably that of a spiritual kind.


Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Author: Amy Chua
Genre: Memoir
Published: 2011

When Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was published two years ago; the furore and debates that followed over the methods used by Amy Chua in her pursuit to mould her daughters; Sophia and Lulu into the perfect little pianists and violinists piqued my interest.  Every other article on parenting seemed to link back to Chua’s book and that controversial Wall Street Journal article on “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”.