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MY SHELF: 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.

THE YEAR OF YES BY 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 BY 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 BY 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 BY 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 BY 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 METRICS SYSTEM BY 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 BY ATINUKE AND LAUREN TOBIA

The chemistry between author Atinuke and illustrator Lauren 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.

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