The Books that make us what we are

There are books we read for entertainment, or for instruction or to pass a few hours but there are some rare books that can change our lives or change the course of history. The book that changed the way I see the world is the well thumbed volume above.

The author, Alan Paton was a friend of my mother’s school teacher and I remember my mother telling of the day her teacher walked into the classroom in South Africa and wrote, “Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton” on the board. He turned to the class and said, “Read this book, it will change history.” It did.

Its a book I urge you to read if you get the opportunity. It is beautifully written, evoking the hot African land and the musical voices and language of my childhood. The tale of an African pastor striving to be a good man caring for his people in a warped and twisted world; events take some tragic turns but humanity with its threads of pathos and strength and evil and redemption are woven together. We see good and evil, greed, weakness, tragedy and love and forgiveness. It will make you cry and leave you a better person.

I read it and never saw my world in the same way again. I suppose it led to my falling foul of the apartheid era South African government. It taught me to hate racism and brutality. It led me to this country where I arrived as a young, lone, political refugee; a country I love deeply and where I have lived, raised three children and worked for my community in an attempt to show gratitude for the welcome I received.

We read from it as my parents’ ashes were committed to the ocean.

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