Non Fiction

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime

“On February 20, 1984, my mother checked into Hillbrow Hospital for a scheduled C-section delivery. Estranged from her family, pregnant by a man she could not be seen with in public, she was alone. The doctors took her up to the delivery room, cut open her belly, and reached in and pulled out a half-white, half-black child who violated any number of laws, statutes, and regulations—I was born a crime.”

Trevor Noah‘s Born A Crime will make you both smile and cry. There is something raw about it that will get to you. Noah‘s coming-of-age story during the end of apartheid era stole my heart and is, in my opinion, one of the best memoirs I have read so far.

Let’s take a look at Goodread‘s summary first:

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humour and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.


Noah is a stand up comedian and knows how to entertain his audience. I wholeheartedly recommend listening to this as an audio book. Noah speaks many languages, imitates different accents extremely well and the audio platform was born for his performance. Honestly, it’s that good. There is of course a high level of personal investment there, given he is telling us his story, his take on growing up in post apartheid South Africa.

It is emotional, full of heart and there were many times I laughed but had tears in my eyes.

Born A Crime is a tribute to Noah’s mother, Patricia. His love and adoration for his mum is an ever present theme throughout the entire memoir. You feel it not only from his words but also from the sound of his voice. I needed a lot of tissues during those last chapters of his memoir. Trevor’s mother, a deeply religious and fierce woman taught him to “challenge authority and question the system”. She also “did what school didn’t. She taught him how to think.” 

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” 

Born a Crime has many messages: feminism, povertyracism, privilege, religion… it’s all there. I find Noah intelligent and highly articulate – his stories are full of wit and heart. He doesn’t want us to feel sorry for him but he does want us to consider what a privilege is and what it truly means to live a free life. One minute we are laughing at adventures of one extremely mischievous young boy, the next we are being hit with realities of apartheid.

“The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.” 

Born a Crime shows a deep bond between a mother and her son and its messaging will leave you with many thoughts to ponder about long after you finish it.

I wholeheartedly recommend it.

PS. Lupita Nyong’o has confirmed that she is set to produce and star in a movie adaptation of this memoir. I can not wait to see it!


Over to you my friends.

Have you read this book? If so, what do you think?

If not, would you consider it?

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by! 

Non Fiction, Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER Week 4: Reads Like Fiction

Nonfiction NovemberWelcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find:

Week 1 – My Year in Nonfiction post here , Week 2 – Fiction with Nonfiction Book Pairing here and Week 3 – Be The Expert/Become the Expert here.

For those who need a recap, Nonfiction November is a month-long celebration of all things nonfiction. Each week, we’ll have a different prompt and a different host looking at different ideas about reading and loving nonfiction. This week our host, Rennie from What’s Nonfiction, has a totally new topic for us to discuss:

Reads Like Fiction (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction): Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

I always fall for a good story. And I honestly don’t mind if the story is fictional or based on real events. As I appreciate an excellent story telling, my favourite non-fiction reads that compare well to fictional reads are following:

  • Memoirs

I appreciate raw memoirs that tell us stories of growth and self-discovery. I talked about those two categories in my pairing fiction with non-fiction post here.

One of my favourite memoirs is Steph Davis‘ book Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog. Davis is a well known rock climber amongst the climbing community and appeals to me because of her love of animals as well as her fight for creating a sustainable future for our next generations. I loved her memoir as it’s full of growth, there we go again! 😉 , and talks openly about how she dealt with her loss and gave me hope in our strength to push forward and lean into discomfort when needed.

  • Journalism

Remember how much I enjoyed Jon Ronson‘s So You Have Been Publicly Shamed book? His writing belongs to a category of journalism that is very dear to me.

This category of non-fiction reads extremely well because the authors are… journalists.. .. and they have been trained to write compelling stories. 😉 I especially enjoy how these authors build their cases, a bit by bit the tension starts going up, I am hooked and want to know more.

My favourite authors that belong to this category are: Malcolm Gladwell (I absolutely love his books),  Jon Ronson and from the TV world, Louis Theroux and his thought provoking documentaries.

  • Travel documentaries

I enjoy travelling. I am also happy to go to places via a compelling travel documentary. I really enjoyed Tim Butcher‘s Blood River – a documentary of his mission to re-create the expedition of H. M. Stanley in 1870’s – travelling alone through the Congo. It’s an incredible book and I got to read it weeks after returning from Africa, which magnified my memories of this beautiful continent. Butcher is a journalist as well – which means this book would probably fit the category above as well! 🙂

  • Mythology & Folklore

I talked about myths in my pairing fiction with non-fiction post here. In my opinion, to those who love fantasy and are still reluctant to read non-fiction, folk stories are a great introduction to this particular genre.


I hope these posts somehow increased your appetite towards non-fiction. 🙂

As always, I love hearing from you – what’s your favourite ‘reads like fiction’ books amongst non-fiction? 🙂

Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Week 3 – In Search of Growth

Nonfiction NovemberWelcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find Week 1 – My Year in Nonfiction post here – and Week 2 – Fiction with Nonfiction Book Pairing here.

Today’s topic is Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert and is hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness

There are three ways to join in this week – we can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that we have read and can recommend (be the expert), we can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that we have been dying to read (ask the expert), or we can create your own list of books on a topic that we’d like to read (become the expert).

I’ve decided to roll up my sleeves and look at the topic, that is, as a life coach, very close to my heart. I feel I have read a lot of books on this topics but I’d like to read more books as well. So I’m mixing Be the Expert with the Ask the Expert categories.

Today, I would like to talk about Growth and why I firmly believe in the “it’s not about the goal but rather about the journey” concept.


I feel we live in times, when we talk a lot about achievements. Don’t take me wrong – I don’t want to dismiss them or downplay them. Achievements start bothering me when the outcome becomes the only thing ‘that matters’. When all that discomfort, courage and grind that lies behind them gets overlooked. When the primary focus is on the result, rather than its process.

I firmly believe that behind any self-development is a strong desire to grow.

But when we talk about growth, I guess the important part is how we approach it. In other words:

  1. do we want to grow become we believe we are not good enough and are hoping that if we grow, we may become someone else and will feel better
  2. or do we want to grow because we want to be uncomfortable and enjoy the process, rather than its outcome.

Those two different categories indicate from which place we approach growth, the first one is coming from a fear mindset – i.e. I need to change, I’m afraid they don’t like who I am, I am not good enough, have not enough, do enough…

The second category comes from an abundance mindset. We believe we have enough and are enough but also feel that we can still go after our dreams, face our fears, be uncertain / vulnerable, let people in – in other words, we are happy to be uncomfortable and face all emotions that come with it.

Deciding how to approach growth is critical. I always tell myself: “I will grow because I want to, not because I feel I need to.” This simple sentence can shift my own mentality profoundly.

My favourite question to ask myself is: “who am I becoming in this process“? Let’s think about it. It’s a very direct question that prompts us to look for growth and how it shapes us.

I also agree with Tony Robbins, who once said: “All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.” Without discomfort, there is no growth. And without growth, there is no story to tell. At least that’s what I believe in.😊

Which books would I recommend on this subject? I’m glad you asked!

Brené BrownDaring Greatly , Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness

“…sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.” ” ~  Brené Brown

Tim Ferriss: Tools of Titans

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” ~ Tim Ferriss

Martha N. Beck: Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live

“Fear is the raw material from which courage is manufactured.” ~ Martha N. Beck

Byron Katie: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” ~Byron Katie

Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Susan David: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life 

“Emotions are data, they are not directives” ~  Susan David

Rob Bell: How to Be Here

“It’s important to embrace several truths about yourself and those around you, beginning with this one: who you AREN’T isn’t interesting.” ~ Rob Bell


That’s just a few of my favourite books. There are many more but also, there are even more I am yet to read! So many books, so little time! 😊

Now over to you.

Fancy sharing some of your favourite books about growth and self-development with me?

As always, I would love to know!

 

 

 

 

Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Week 2 – Nonfiction Book Pairing

Welcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find it here.

Today’s topic is fiction/nonfiction book pairings and is hosted at Sarah’s Book Shelves blog.

For my nonfiction picks, I decided to stick to memoirs and mythology as these particular nonfiction genres tend to relate to fiction really well, are full of wonderful stories. They can be a great introduction to nonfiction for those, who are reluctant to read this genre.

Let’s take a look at my picks:

1. Stories about Survival

“We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.” ~ Isabel Allende

Kristin Hannah’s Great Alone is quite a well-known fiction (my review here). It is a beautiful haunting coming-of-age story, which takes us to hostile Alaska during the 70’s. It’s a story about survival – not just the environmental one, but the domestic one as well.

If you have enjoyed it or think you could enjoy it, then I highly recommend The Educated by Tara Westhover (my review here). It’s a powerful memoir, which covers coming-of-age story, features survival and openly talks about mental health issues, whilst drawing us in and keeping us engaged via a compelling story-telling.

2. Stories about Self-Discovery

“The longest journey is the journey inward.” ~ Dag Hannarskjold

I’m sure some of you heard of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Some of you may have seen its movie version featuring Reese Witherspoon. Wild is a memoir that deals with loss but also is a journey of discovering one’s identity. It takes us to the challenging Pacific Crest Trail, where Strayed not only started her trail, but also her journey inward.

I would pair Wild with Katherine Center’s Happiness for Beginners. Center‘s story pulled me in as the main character’s search for meaning as well as her discovering of who she was and what she stood for, really appealed to me. Plus the setting was in the mountain wilderness of Wyoming, something I found highly alluring.

3. Stories about Mythical Creatures

My last pairing is hopefully appropriate for the upcoming time of year. I am a winter person and can not tell you how excited I am about this approaching season. Winter’s coming my friends!

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein

If you enjoy J.R.R Tolkien‘s stories, especially The Lord of the Rings, I really recommend Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology (my review here).

Gaiman‘s retelling of Norse myths takes us to the land of Frost Giants, lets us be crossed with the manipulate and always speculating Locki, and delivers not only the seasonal frost but also the beautiful land of fjords and northern lights.

Tolkien was highly influenced by these myths. For example Gandalf was Tolkien‘s version of Odin, he even referred to him as an “Odinic wanderer“. Tolkien‘s references to elves, Middle Earth, Balrog and much more are all his tributes to those powerfully raw and dark myths.

Both of these books are highly atmospheric reads and could be great companions in the upcoming festive period.


Now over to you.

What would be your nonfiction with fiction pairing?

Non Fiction

My Year in Non Fiction

I found out recently via Kristin’s post that there is such a thing as Non Fiction November, which is being hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Julie at JulzReads, Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves, Katie at Doing Dewey, and Rennie at What’s Nonfiction.

As I love reading nonfiction , I’ve decided to take part in this celebration.i heart nonfictionWeek 1 – My Year in Nonfiction – hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness

In this post, I would like to look back at my year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions:

  • What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

My picks are two books as both of them really touched me and left me with many thoughts that lingered for months after I finished reading those:

Educated by Tara Westover (my review here) for its testament of how we can choose not to be defined by our past and circumstances.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (review is currently being written) for Noah’s witty and extremely well articulated essays set in post-Apartheid South Africa, which cover feminism, racism and much more.

  • Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

This year, I have been drawn towards topics of feminism and racism. I really enjoyed reading We Should All Be Feminist by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (review here) and want to learn more about it in the upcoming months.

As a life coach in training, I have also been attracted towards topics that explore what makes us tick. I thoroughly enjoyed Jon Ronson’s So You Have Been Publicly Shamed (review here) and currently loving Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead as well as Seth Godin’s Linchpin.

  • What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Daring greatlyBrené Brown’ Daring Greatly because:

  • it’s not a boring factual book
  • it’s full of real stories of struggle
  • it gives me hope
  • it teaches me how to be brave
  • and because it shows me that I am not alone.

This book really speaks to my heart. Every time I hear Theodore Roosevelt’s quote below, which goes hand in hand with the book, I have tears in my eyes:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

  • What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I am hoping to discover more nonfiction as well as to connect with alike minded blogging community and to perhaps inspire some of my readers to give nonfiction a go.

There is still a common misconception out there that nonfiction is dry and… boring.

There are many nonfiction books that are full of stories of epic battles that feature both heroes and anti-heroes and I am hoping that by writing about them may pique some of your interest… yes, I do have a cunning plan!


What about you? Do you enjoy nonfiction?

If so, what nonfiction book have you recommended the most? 

Non Fiction

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

you have been shamed

My boyfriend James likes to say rather sarcastically: “Good luck having Vera read something from one of your recommended authors”. Why? Well, I tend to possess the gift of ‘a zero attention span’. I get super excited about an author’s recommendation, and five seconds later, I forget all about it. Despite how much I would like to read something from that author and the fact that their books are added to my TBR list (which I tend to ignore completely these days).

Why am I telling you this?

About 6 years ago, James recommended Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test to me, telling me how brilliant Jon Ronson was and how much he enjoyed that book. I listened, got super excited … and still haven’t read that book to this day….

A few weeks ago, I happened to find out Jon Ronson wrote this book about shame. Shame is one of those topics I always want to know more of. My curiosity was immediately sparked, I had to read that book!

Well, I did. And I loved it and I promptly told James off for not telling me sooner how brilliant Jon Ronson was… true story. 😉

For those of you, who have recommended me authors or books so far: there is still hope that I may read them one day… it may be a convoluted and a long-winded process, but I may get there. Do not despair! 😉 And I do appreciate all of your recommendations, I promise. ❤️


Let’s have a look at what Goodreads’ says about this book first:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world’s most overlooked forces.

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has been immersing himself in the world of modern-day public shaming—meeting famous shamees, shamers, and bystanders who have been impacted.  This is the perfect time for a modern-day Scarlet Letter—a radically empathetic book about public shaming, and about shaming as a form of social control. It has become such a big part of our lives it has begun to feel weird and empty when there isn’t anyone to be furious about. Whole careers are being ruined by one mistake. A transgression is revealed. Our collective outrage at it has the force of a hurricane. Then we all quickly forget about it and move on to the next one, and it doesn’t cross our minds to wonder if the shamed person is okay or in ruins. What’s it doing to them? What’s it doing to us?

Ronson’s book is a powerful, funny, unique, and very humane dispatch from the frontline, in the escalating war on human nature and its flaws.


I listened to this book as an audiobook. It is narrated by the author himself. I enjoyed both Ronson’s musical Welsh accent as well as his narrative. If you enjoy listening to non-fiction podcasts, the audio version of this book may be a way to go.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed investigates, as the title suggests, public shaming. Shame is this corrosive feeling we may experience when we think we may just not be good enough. And we are worried that ‘they’ will find out one day. Public shaming is turning that fear of being found out, into a nightmare scenario of a roaring and upset crowd shouting at us ‘shame on you, what a terrible person you are’.

“We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside it.” 

Ronson’s book seriously played with my emotions. His curious and funny approach got him to meet people who, according to his words: ‘didn’t do that much wrong’. I could not stomach how torn apart those people got. Hearing about it was both chilling and utterly terrifying. Sadly, it was all believable as well. And I think that is what got me.

“There is nothing I dislike more in the world than people who care more about ideology than they do about people.” 

I personally enjoyed the first half of the book a little bit more than its latter part. That could have been me getting confused with names though. I do have a poor memory and perhaps reading this as a book, rather than listening to it,  would have helped me as I would have been able to reference names a bit better that way.

What I did enjoy was Ronson’s sharp writing style, his diverse spectre of cases as well as the thought provoking topic itself. I also appreciated Ronson sharing some of his own stories. And his use of humour sometimes helped, especially when thinking about such heavy topic as shame.

What’s Ronson’s answer to public shaming? I’ll let you read the book to find it. 😊

Recommended? Yes! It’s not a collection of boring facts but rather a vivid portrait of incidents that could have potentially happened to many of us.