Amy's Book Club : Ubuhle

Ubuhle and I met in a past life where we used to do PR and communications for corporate heavy hitters. Ubuhle is one of those women that is always striving: to be her best self emotionally and intellectually, and to have a positive impact on others. While she sees herself as quiet, I think she's a bit of a rebel, and is never one to follow the herd. As can be expected, her reading list is diverse, mindful and inspiring. I know you guys are going to love it! 

1. Tell us a bit about yourself? 

Uh... I’m a very reserved, shy and keep-to-myself person. Simple girl who grew up on a farm and never liked the city, yet here we are.

I don’t like it when strangers try to make conversation on a plane – about anything – and I’m hectically OCD about grammar. I’m also quite sensitive – it took a lot of maturity to own this but I’ve come to realise that it’s not a bad thing – it just requires you to be aware of the energies and people you surround yourself with. I love reading, I love tea, I LOVE HIP HOP, and I love stories – especially people’s stories and the chapters in their lives so far that get them most excited. I absolutely love it – just not on a plane ;) 

2. You're one of the most driven, inspired people I know. What books do you recommend to keep motivated? 

Thank you!! :) I recommend reading books that not so much focus on self-improvement, but more on finding, owning and living out your authentic self. Oprah talks about Living Your Best Life, and I’ve discovered, that the main component of that is discovering your authentic self and making brave, honest decisions. These are points that you discover through books about journeys and spiritual growth. I’d recommend are Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, and lots and lots of Maya Angelou. Any piece of fiction that invites you to join the characters in their journey towards self-discovery, is a good bet because it invites you to begin your own journey and dissect and reassess the comfort zones in your own life.

There is also a book called The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. It’s an autobiography and memoir of the author, James McBride. It’s also a tribute to his mother. It addresses issues of race, identity, personal conviction and that painful beginnings don’t have to be that way for our endings. Also, it’s about a mother’s sacrifices to see her children have the best – which is something I’ve come to appreciate with my own mother.

3. We both share a love for finance, economics and current affairs. Tell us about your media diet?

I love publications that cover current affairs and business in Africa – not just the correspondent stuff from the international stations. I say this because independent coverage from Africa by Africans is interesting and offers a new perspective. There’s really more to this continent than South Africa being the gateway into the continent, or Nigeria’s oil, and it’s encouraging to see that other countries are working through their problems too. I’ve always loved The Economist – really great visuals for their lead stories, and Time magazine too. I recently discovered Harvard Business Review, and have been following a lot of the Nieman Fellowship Lab series on Twitter – it’s got interesting pieces on making journalism relevant in an age where everyone is a “breaking news” reporter. Locally, I’d say Sunday Independent, City Press, and Sowetan. Business Day and Business Report are standard, as is the Rand Daily Mail. I’m not big on radio – all those people calling in…

4. What type of books do you read to escape?

My parents were teachers and there were all kinds of books in our house. It was and still is the norm. In one sitting we could read encyclopaedias, dictionaries, magazines, comic books, novels and even find text books interesting. So I read anything really, as long as it’s not about sports or music – especially jazz. It mostly depends on my mood – I can move from Malcolm Gladwell to T.D. Jakes with equal ease, then to Ayi Kwei Armah and a Steve Biko biography. I raid my sister’s bookshelf and she’s a history, sociology and law fanatic. I used to have a strictly fiction diet – it’s fanciful and imaginative – but in the last few years I’ve met people who’ve encouraged me to expand my horizons a bit – which is why I’m now experimenting with the non-fiction, oratory and historical categories.

5. What was your favourite book you read last year?

The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People, by David Niven. The reason why is because they really are so simple and they mostly have to do with perspective and purpose, and gratitude. Also, we could do with a lot more happiness and smiling so anything that uses science to back this up, is a good bet.

Another book I enjoyed was All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin. Initially it was part of my reading for an assignment, but I loved it so much I read it again.

6.  I know you're pretty much constantly studying. How do you make the time to read?

Deliberately setting time aside to read. Especially because when you’re studying, not a lot of reading is done for the enjoyment. Yes, learning is gratifying but you can only take so much repeat definition of a term in one go. I’ve now sworn off the word “positioning” following a course I did about a year ago. But seriously, I dedicate time to read and I’m very precious about my book-and-tea time. The ones closest to me know it, and my house (this was a lucky find) is designed for quiet moments of solitude, so the Universe definitely knows it. And my phone is always on silent because of it. Reading is a beautiful hobby that my mother initiatied and encouraged when I was just a toddler – with a Christopher Robin and Winnie The Pooh box set she got me as a gift – and I’m very sentimental about, and grateful for it. Which is why the talking-to-me-on-the-plane thing is such a NO-NO.

7. We at Bookish love books with strong female characters. Do you have any books to recommend that star gender-busting, powerful women? 

Olanna Ozobia from Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. There’s a strength in her vulnerability, her hopefulness, her peacefulness and her love for the ones that she loves. I imagine her to be an alarmingly beautiful, and striking woman, whose resourcefulness transcends beyond only her benefits. Her femininity and fragility is beautifully married with her feistiness, and her character is wonderfully surmises that you don’t have to be like a man to be powerful, being a woman is all there is to it and all it takes. I also enjoy Kainene, who’s Olanna’s twin sister – she’s headstrong, rational, direct and forthright, and she’s bold.  Fatima from Coelho’s The Alchemist is also amazing – there’s a part where she gets that love is about selflessly letting people grow into themselves – and she lets the main character continue his journey – even though he thinks she’s the home he’s been looking for. It’s a refreshing perspective because most female characters are portrayed to be these women who are dying to redeem, and change their men all in the name of love.  

8. Which book has had the greatest impact on you spiritually?

Two years ago on my birthday, my boss bought me Oprah’s “What I Know For Sure”. It was enlightening. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker really made an impression on me and made me understand just how multi-faceted and layered the women who came before us were. That we only see the highlights, not understanding how they arrived into those crucial moments that changed their lives and the lives of the ones who came after them. And the Bible – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it – there are some great stories in there about some really good people doing good things. LOL!

9. What's next on your reading list?

Robert Ludlum’s Icarus Agenda, and a repeat of one of my favourites, Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel. Ngozi Adichie’s Amerykanah is on the list, and Coelho’s By The River Piedra I Wept. There’s a Malcolm Gladwell book that I’m pretty sure I stole from someone because it’s got notes and scribbles, and there’s a tonne of magazines that I need to get through including a feature that on notable and exquisite places to visit across the world.

10. Who's your author to watch in 2016?

 I honestly don’t know… It’s a terrible thing to say for a bookworm, but I don’t follow the author space or really read book reviews. I think that’s why I gravitate towards the classics, but also why I prefer word-of-mouth references from trusted sources such as yours. If you say you like it, and that it’s good, and I know I trust your opinion, I’m gonna put it on the list to buy.