What I’m reading: Trevor Noah and Michael Marshall Smith

Just a quick update today to recommend a couple of books: Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

Michael Marshall Smith is one of my favourite authors, and I’m particularly fond of his horror/sci-fi novels. When he switched to writing as Michael Marshall and his work became more thriller-focused, I didn’t love it as much, but not to the point where I won’t read it.

At the Regent 24-hour Book Sale earlier this winter, I picked up a pristine copy of Only Forward for a couple of bucks. It’s been a long time since I first read it and I was excited to read it again. I don’t know if it makes me lucky or not, but my memory isn’t the best, so there are some stories I can read again and again, and still be surprised. (Probably best not to ask how many times I’ve read The Gunslinger or Jingo. Spoiler: it’s a lot.)

Only Forward has the kind of almost-anti-hero I enjoy most – in this case, a guy called Stark who takes a job to find a guy. This premise is played out in the sprawling City, which is filled with distinct and unusual Neighbourhoods (including Cat, Stable, and Fnaph). This is the kind of story that pulls you in, with enough hooks in the narrative to keep you guessing right up until the end. It’s well worth a read and then, if you enjoy his style, check out What You Make It, a collection which includes some of my favourite short stories of all time.

As well as the books I got from book sale, I’ve been putting a few books on hold at the library. It’s $1.50 to do so, which is great value. Plus, it’s kind of exciting to get the email saying the book is ready to be picked up, waiting on the shelf with my name on it.

One of these hold books turned out to be the best autobiography I’ve read to date.

Trevor Noah_Born a Crime

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show and all-round hilarious comedian, charts his childhood and adolescence in South Africa. This is such a well-written book, providing eye-opening insight into his experiences during and after apartheid. You can tell he’s a comedian – even the saddest stories feature an element of humour.

Trevor Noah is one of my favourite political satirists, because he can be both funny and serious all in the same sentence, bringing a pretty unique viewpoint to whatever stories he covers. He speaks, and writes, with poignancy about racism, domestic violence, poverty, and the state of our world, but there’s an undeniable thread of optimism, and this bright sunny streak runs the whole way through the book.

His outlook on life is inspiring, and for all this book’s darker themes, it is filled with hope and laughter. And, these days, that’s a good way to be.

Next up on my reading list is The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey. I’ve read the first few pages and it’s already delightfully weird.

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