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On Our Bedside Table: An Artist, a Survivor, an Adventurer, an Explorer and a Leader

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On Our Bedside Table: An Artist, a Survivor, an Adventurer, an Explorer and a Leader

Book-Recommendations-November-2021

Our Book Recommendations November 2021 are here.

 

This month, an artist, a survivor, an adventurer, an explorer and a leader all walk into a book shop…

 

Scatterling of Africa by Johnny Clegg

Published by Pan Macmillan

Reviewed by Zissy

 

Scatterling of AfricaIn a Nutshell

In Scatterling of Africa, Johnny Clegg revisits his formative years. From growing up on a farm in Gwelo, then Southern Rhodesia to moving to Johannesburg with his mother where they lived in a flat in Yeoville. It was there that he discovered Zulu Maskandi guitar music and fell into the world of the Zulu migrant workers where he learnt war dances and poetry and songs that would lay the foundation for his music career and lead to the creation of Jaluka and then Savuka. It’s a book he wrote mostly in the last 5 years of his life and his family have chosen to share it with the world, largely untouched, allowing the reader the privilege of peeking into a raw and unfiltered telling of Johnny Clegg’s origin story and the work and grit that led him to have the music career he did.

 

Book Club Notes

Like every other South African, the music of Johnny Clegg has a familiar feel to it, it sounds like home. But for as much as I may know his songs, his story I only knew in fragmented bits. What a joy it was to read the memoir of his early years and discover his origin story and the little (and big) moments that turned him into the artist and “white Zulu” South Africans knew. Johnny Clegg writes as you would expect a song writer to, throwing in lines that beg to be underlined and remembered for their poetic like quality. He lived an unconventional life and as a young boy followed his own curiosity in a way few are able or willing to do. As much as this story is about him and his origin story, it also provides a history to the Zulu migrant workers and he shares their stories and culture with sensitivity, love and humanity. He fell into that world as a 14 year old who heard a Zulu worker playing the Maskandi guitar and boldly asked him to teach him to play, a move that was borderline illegal during Apartheid and would get him arrested multiple times. Those music lessons became cultural lessons that transported Clegg into the Zulu world of warriors and war dances, a world in which he found his own identity as a man and an artist.

 

In Scatterling of Africa, by sharing his own personal journey to discovery, Johny Clegg gives you permission to follow your curiosities, take chances and choose your own path by having blazed his own path, one that wasn’t an easy one to walk along. But then, following your dreams never is.

 

A Line That Stuck With Me

The only insight you find on top of a mountain is the insight you brought up with you. It was always there, silent and waiting for you to look inward. The climb is rough and it tears away each layer of the self until only raw, unmediated willpower is left. And when you reach the summit, the self-eroded in the physical exertion, you look out across the world and suddenly an insight bursts into your mind. It’s like the view has magical manifesting powers. But that’s an illusion. You just shed the dross of ego and took a breath and liberated what you already knew. Mountains don’t carry wisdom. They only help you see your truth by unravelling your defences.

 

Lily’s Promise by Lily Ebert and Dov Forman

Published by Pan Macmillan

Reviewed by Zissy

 

Lily’s PromiseIn a Nutshell

Lily’s Promise is a moving memoir of Lily Ebert who together with her family was sent to Auschwitz in 1944, where her mother and two siblings were immediately killed. She survived Auschwitz with two of her sisters and when she was liberated in 1945, a Jewish-America soldier gave her a bank-note on which he’d scribbled “Good Luck and Happiness”. Decades later, her great-grandson Dov Forman found the banknote and pressed her for the story behind it. He then took to twitter to track down the family of the GI. That tweet went viral, they found the family and 96 year old Lily Ebert made headlines and was finally able to fulfil a promise she made to herself when she survived – that she would share the truth about the camps with the world. Lily’s Promise is that promise.

 

Book Club Notes

It is remarkable to see survivors in their 90’s choosing to share their stories of survival and add them to the chronicles of history to ensure that the world never forgets the horrors that can happen when man hates man. In the book Lily shares both her own and other survivors hesitation with sharing their stories as well as why so many waited for so long – simply put, in the beginning the pain was too raw, as she says “if we had tried to speak about such pain at that point, we’d be unable to continue living”.

 

Every account of the Holocaust is unique, as everyone experiences things differently and has their own point of view. However, what makes Lily’s story and this book that much more unique and meaningful is the collaboration between herself and her great grandson that has enabled her to connect to a younger generation and share her story (They have a TikTok account together and wrote the book together). It provides a poignant link between a generation we are losing and the future generation. Lily’s promise is a remarkable, heart-breaking, hopeful and heart-warming account of surviving the worst and coming out of it to create a family and life of meaning. By penning this book at 96, not only is Lily Ebert fulfilling her own promise to herself, she is proving that it is never too late to share your story with the world, especially when that story needs to be told.

 

A line that Stuck with Me

It makes no difference what the colour of your skin is or what nationality you are, because for all human beings one thing is for sure: our blood is red, and when you cut us, it hurts.

 

Never Give Up by Bear Grylls

Published by Penguin Random House

Reviewed by Zissy

 

Never Give UpIn a Nutshell

Bear Gryll’s is a global adventurer, Chief Scout and TV presenter whose name is synonymous with survival and outdoor adventure. In Never give up, he chronicles his life and extraordinary adventures since stepping on to screen to share his adventures and survival tips. This is the follow-up to Mud, Sweat and Tears and takes you behind the scenes of his breakout show Man vs Wild. It gives the reader a look into what it takes to produce adventure shows, what it’s like adventuring with the likes of President Obama, Julia Roberts, Roger Federer and more household names. He also shares his own challenges and motto “never give up” and how that has enabled him to live a life of crazy adventure.

 

Book Club Notes

A wild ride of a book, this is one for the adventurous at heart. Grylls is a man’s man with an indominable adventurous spirit whose love for the outdoors, adventure and a touch of danger shines through. I always find it fascinating to get a peek into how things work, how things are made and Never Give Up gives you a fascinating behind the scenes look into how adventure TV is really produced. From long days to near misses to the politics and negotiations of the entertainment industry, Bear holds nothing back in sharing what it is really like to battle nature for a living. It’s a book that will inspire any budding adventurer and leave you wide eyed and gobsmacked as he nonchalantly describes near-death misses and culinary adventures that are what fears are made of. And if you look, squished between those tales of adventure are lessons in grit, kindness, positivity, facing your fears, always moving forward and never giving up.

 

A line That Stuck With Me

Life and experience have repeatedly shown me that when we edge towards our fears, they so often melt away. That the only true way over our fears is right through the middle.

 

Shakleton by Ranulph Fiennes

Published by Penguin Random House

Reviewed by Feige

 

ShakletonIn a Nutshell

In Shackleton, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who has been described as ‘our greatest living explorer’, takes on the task of telling Ernest Shackleton’s life story. Through the lens of his own remarkable expeditions, he has been able to go where no other Shackleton biographers have gone, using his own perspective to enlighten and enrich the legend. As he writes in the introduction, “Indeed, to write about Hell, it certainly helps if you have been there, and no previous Shackleton biographer has man-hauled a heavy sledge load through the great crevasse fields of the Beardmore Glacier, explored undiscovered icefields or walked a thousand miles on poisoned feet, hundreds of miles away from civilisation.”

 

Book Club Notes

Although I had heard the name Shackleton and knew he was an explorer, I knew nothing of his expeditions, nor the remarkable legend of the Endurance. I think this enabled me to truly enjoy the story as it felt new and held mystery. Once Fiennes got into the meat of the book, when Shackleton became the leader of his own dreams, I found myself very invested and wanting to know how it unfolded. I loved the way Fiennes doesn’t romanticise Shackleton by putting him on a pedestal, nor does he tear him down. The way he weaved in his own experiences to portray the journeys that Shackleton took and explain or disagree with Shackleton’s rationale, was appropriately and authentically spaced and really enriched the story.

 

Whether you are a Shackleton/ Polar Expedition fan you or just someone that loves a people or adventure story, you will certainly find it interesting.

 

A line that stuck with me

Not a line, but I learned a lot about the impact polar expedition has on the human body and mind, which I believe warrants a standalone article!

 

The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

Published by Penguin Random House

Reviewed by Zissy

 

The Ride of a LifetimeIn a Nutshell

Robert Iger was the CEO of Walt Disney for 15 years, a position he earned by working his way up the ranks first of ABC and then Disney, starting as a studio supervisor for ABC television in 1974. When he became CEO in 2005, competition was intense and technology changing at a rapid rate. His vision for the future of Disney came down to three idea: recommit to quality, embrace technology and think global. During his time as CEO he spearheaded the aquasitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lacasfilm and 21st Century Fox and reinvigorated Disney animation. The value of Disney went up nearly five times the value of what it was when he started and Iger is regarded as one of the most successful CEOs of our era. In The ride of a lifetime Robert Iger not only shares his career journey and the people he met along the way but lessons in leadership, integrity and trusting your gut.

 

Book Club Notes

This is one of the most inspiring business books I have read and is a book you can learn from no matter where you are in your career. Iger’s character shines through as does his emotional intelligence, integrity and drive. It gives you a fascinating peek behind a company that has invaded most of our childhoods, what it’s like working alongside creative geniuses like Steve Jobs, managing crises and the politics that comes with running one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. There are so many valuable lessons to be learned between this book’s covers, from his essential qualities of a leader, to lessons that shaped his professional life. The common thread in all his lessons is the importance of integrity, surrounding yourself with good people, taking the time to listen to others, embracing change and opportunity and doing your best with every task you’re given. It’s a book that’ll leave a mark on you once you’ve closed it.

 

A line that stuck with me

People sometimes shy away from taking big swings because they assess the odds and build a case against trying something before they even take the first step. One of the things I’ve always instinctively felt is that long shots aren’t as long as they seem.

 

Shop Our Book Recommendations November 2021

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