Bedside Table books for August


These are a few of the books that landed on my desk recently, and some will be reviewed in full later. – Vivien Horler

Fake History – Ten great lies and how they shaped the world, by Otto English (Welbeck)

Remember the great comeback from Winston Churchill when British Labour MP Bessie Braddock him: “You’re drunk!” To which he replied: “And you’re ugly, but in the morning I’ll be sober.” Apparently Boris Johnson, Britain’s current prime minister and a great Churchill fan, has identified the very spot in Westminster where the exchange took place. But journalist Otto English says it probably never happened. It was first related by English writer Augustus Hare in his diary about an encounter between two unnamed British MPs in 1882, when Churchill was eight years old and Braddock not yet born. This is just one of English’s fake-history put-downs in this fascinating book that exposes myths of World War II, the adventures of Christopher Columbus (who never set foot on the continents of north or south America), the belief that Britain’s royal family is German, that Abraham Lincoln believed all men were created equal and that ancient people thought the Earth was flat (they knew it wasn’t).

  • This is one of Exclusive Books’ top 25 books for August.


Afraid of the Light, by Douglas Kennedy (Hutchinson)

Veteran novelist Douglas Kennedy, who has been described as the “maestro of family noir”, has written about one of big divisive issues of our time: abortion. An Uber driver has to drop off a retired professor at the abortion clinic where she volunteers, and is caught up in a violent vortex of protest. Afraid of the Light is described as “a novel of high suspense and considerable moral complexity”.

  • This is one of Exclusive Books’ top 25 books for August.



Two Women in Rome, by Elizabeth Buchan (Corvus)

Lottie is an archivist at Britain’s National Archives at Kew when she meets Tom at a wedding. He lives in Rome, and within nine months persuades her to marry him. A whole new life beckons for Lottie when she secures a job as an archivist in the eternal city. She discovers a valuable 15th century painting, and decides to explore the life of Nina Lawrence, the woman who left it behind. Nina had gone to Rome after World War II to restore gardens that had been devastated by war. But when she died in 1978 no one attended her funeral and Lottie is puzzled by this. She uncovers a complicated love story set in the turmoil of post-war Italy, and what she finds will come to affect her own future. Elizabeth Buchan is a best-selling prize-winning British novelist and Two Women in Rome looks like a wonderful read.

  • This is one of Exclusive Books’ top 25 books for August.

The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Bloomsbury)

Twenty-six-year-old Nella works as an editorial assistant at a New York publishing company. But the job isn’t great in that she’s the only black employee, and she becomes tired of loneliness and what she sees as her colleagues’ micro-aggression. And then Hazel, another black woman, joins the staff, and Nella is delighted. They hit it off, but a series of events follow which leave Nella under a cloud of opprobrium while Hazel is seen as the office darling. Shortly after this, nasty notes appear on Nella’s desk saying she should resign. Is Hazel writing them? What is going on? Soon Nella realises there is more than her career at stake. This novel has been described as “dark, funny and furiously entertaining”.

  • This is one of Exclusive Books’ top 25 books for August.


Comrade Editor – on life, journalism and the birth of Namibia, by Gwen Lister (Tafelberg)

Anyone who followed the news of the struggle in Namibia in the 1980s would know the name Gwen Lister, who first worked as a journalist in Windhoek with the maverick Hannes Smith on the Windhoek Advertiser and later the Windhoek Observer, and then founded her own newspaper, The Namibian, in 1985. Feisty, brave and intolerant of cruelty, she exposed atrocities of the SA Defence Force during the Border war. She was born in East London, studied at UCT and went to what was then South West Africa when she was just 21as a reporter for the Windhoek Advertiser. This is her account of the tumultuous years of Namibia’s struggle for freedom, and the many dramatic stories that accompanied it.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *