I will soon turn 23. Yeah, I was born on the 11th of September. The infamous 9/11. I also happen to share a birthday with the Syrian politician Assad, and 11 September is also the day when Pinochet overthrew Allende.
So as you can see, it’s a pretty famous day. Unfortunately (very alikely, fortunately) I happen not be famous but that can be changed by a leaked sex tape or two ehhh?
But enough of history and fame comrades and friends and on to more important issues. And what can be more important than books, good books? Well women, for one thing, or beer or having lots of money, or owning a big bank, a nice farm and a mine if you’re a Zimbabwean politician.
Yeah, yeah, all that. But let’s pretend that books are important….because they are. A friend recently said those who say money doesn’t buy happiness have obviously never been to a bookstore with money. I agree wholly with him.
Which is why, on the occasion of my 23rd birthday I will list 23 good books (more like 23 authors really) which you should pick up and read, if you haven’t already done so. The list will also hopefully inform you of my tastes, so you can give me a welcome present, lol.
So here goes:
1. The Holy Bible- Moses and the rest of the Gang
Well, coz it’s the Bible
2 Nervous Conditions- Tsitsi Dangarembga
“I was not sorry when my brother died.”- Opener, Nervous Conditions
Now what can be more epic than that? Without a doubt Zimbabwe’s greatest novel.
3. Wretched of the Earth- Frantz Fanon
Great book, one of my five favourite books. Fanon talks decolonisation, and the development of newly liberated states.
4. The Story of My Life- Joshua Nkomo
Written by Zimbabwe’s foremost statesman during the war for liberation. An essential for any self-respecting Zimbabwean.
5. The Autobiography of Malcolm X- Alex Hailey and Malcolm X
The greatest speaker during the civil rights movement. Malcolm combined sharp wit and a commanding voice, dazzling audiences and winning enemies and admirers alike. This is his life.
6. The Meditations of Emperor Marcus Aurelius- Marcus Aurelius
Possibly the most thought provoking book I’ve ever read. Timeless wisdom from a man who was the most powerful man of his time, yet one who always remained human. And strong.
7. Long Walk to Freedom- Nelson Rolinhlahla Mandela
It’s Mandela. Read it.
8. Things Fall Apart- Chinua Achebe
“Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements.”- Opener, Things Fall Apart
The most famous African novel. Its fame rests on solid achievement.
9. Devil on the Cross- Ngugi wa Thiongo
Ngugi at his best. And he might win the Nobel prize for Literature this year. So you will look cool if you’ve read him.
“Certain people in Ilmorog, our Ilmorog, told me that this story was too disgraceful, too shameful, that it should be concealed in the depths of everlasting darkness.”- Opener, Devil on the Cross
10. I write what I Like- Steve Bantu Biko
It’s Biko. He was the brightest of South Africa’s anti-apartheid activists.
11. House of Hunger- Dambudzo Marechera
“I got my things and left. The sun was coming up. I couldn’t think where to go”- Opener, House of Hunger
Brilliant. Mad. Brilliant.
12. The Lord of The Rings- J.R.R Tolkien
The king, the god, of fantasy. If you think Game of thrones is awesome and detailed, then what of Tolkien who revolutionised high fantasy. Nothing beats Tolkien.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
13. Dreams from My Father- Barack Obama
The most powerful man on earth, in his own words. Granted, he’s been tainted by power, but he’s still great.
14. The Prophet – Khalil Gibran
Gibran’s work has more wisdom per page than any other on this list.
15. Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty and Happiness after the Digital Explosion- Hal Abelson, Ken Leeden and Harry Lewis
This book discusses the consequences of using the internet, the future and the privacy issues. An essential.
16. The Wheel of Time Series (14 Books)- Robert Jordan (with Brandon Sanderson for the last two)
If Tolkien was god, then Jordan was an angel. The epic (and very very long) Wheel of Time Series has no equal in fantasy when it comes to detail, depth, intrigue or richness.
“What cannot be changed, must be endured.”
17. The Black Man’s Medicine- Muzi Kuzwayo
“The black man’s medicine is the white man”.
Are blacks truly incapable of doing anything without whites?
18. A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
The most famous fantasy writer at the moment. He gave us the Taegereyns, John Snow, Sir Barristan the Bold and others. Read him to impress those who only watch the movies.
‘”A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
Read all five
19. The Art of War- Sun Tzu
Two thousand and more years old. Still relevant as ever. To many quotes, just too many brilliant ones:
“To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength; to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.”
“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles s not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
20. Animal Farm – George Orwell
The greatest political satire ever. Animal Farm is Orwell at his best- or perhaps his second best? There is also 1984, just as brilliant. read it if you wonder where “Big Brother” came from.
21. The Road Less Travelled- M. Scot Peck
“Life is difficult.” – Opener, The Road Less Travelled
It changed my life
22. The Importance of Living- Lin Yutang
My favourite Chinese. The greatest of them.
23. How to Win Friends and Influence People- Dale Carnegie
The world would be a much easier place to live if we all read this one.
- This list is not the list of the greatest 23 books ever written, but it comes close.
- The list excludes some more political, Africa oriented books, which I list here
- This is a list of English works, or works, which are in English. There are other great books in Shona, which I may list at another time. ]