Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

“We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them…If we could see one another’s pain and empathize with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 322 pages.
Read January 5, 2021 to January 7, 2021.

I don’t think I’ve really talked about this awesome new book club I’m apart of. It’s a meet-in-person club with people who actually read the book, all while drinking copious amounts of alcohol with engaging and amazing discussions. Every. Single. Month. I chose The Vegetarian for my read in May and it was epic.


It’s a book lover’s dream and I’m so happy I found it. Born a Crime was another book club read and unlike the last one this book was an unexpected pleasure.

Confession: I have never watched The Daily Show and only knew about Trevor Noah in passing. It wasn’t until I came across this book that I even knew he was from South Africa.

Born a Crime is Trevor Noah’s memoir and testament to his childhood and his country, South Africa, and especially his mother. Trevor Noah is ‘coloured’ and was born during the time of apartheid meaning that he was actually born a crime. He legally wasn’t allowed to exist. His mother is black and his father is white and relations between the two were not allowed, among many of the rules that oppressed the black population of South Africa at the time. The story describes how Noah grew up, how his mom raised him alone, and how he learned and worked within the regimented system that existed in South Africa. Trevor’s story is highly entertaining and engaging while also drawing attention to the intense racial issues that still plague South Africa today. Trevor’s story is also a testament to his mother and everything that she did for him in raising him. If you’ve read the first chapter of this book you also know it involves being thrown out of a moving vehicle to save him. Just one example of how funny, interesting, and captivating Trevor’s story is.

“My mom did what school didn’t. She taught me how to think.”

Trevor’s story isn’t about his miraculous rise to fame, it’s about his country, his mother, and is a coming of age story for a kid growing up in a difficult situation. Trevor is humble and while he gives some details about his rise to fame he takes a reflective stance about what his new situation means to him and others.

“The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money.”

Considering I didn’t even know much about Trevor Noah prior to reading this book I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book and just how humorous it is. A good comedian can make light of serious situations and issues while drawing your attention to these sensitive topics without offensive, Trevor has mastered this.

“If you’re Native American and you pray to the wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that’s just common sense.”

Whether you love memoirs or not, I feel that there is something in this book for everyone while also providing a unique insight into difficult part of South African history.

A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

“We moved from being a part of nature to being apart from nature.”

I’m baaaaaccccck! I passed my program with flying colours and can now relax with my books again.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 274 pages.
Read from December 9, 2020 to December 15, 2020.

Outside of my obsession with cats, if you know anything about me, it’s how much I love nature documentaries. I don’t care for TV or movies but a good nature documentary I am always in for. This brings me to Sir David Attenborough, the narrator KING of nature documentaries. I will watch anything with this man in it. His voice is soothing, entertaining, and captivating. It will be a sad day for this planet when this man passes.

This book is a testament to Attenborough’s life and work, it is his “witness statement” as he refers to it. The book is part autobiographical as it discusses the beginnings of Attenborough’s interest in nature and our world when he was just a child, to how he got involved with the BBC and became the figure that we know today. However, this is to give credence to the message and statement that Attenborough wants to leave you with. Attenborough wants to bring to your attention to the rapid decline of biodiversity and changes in our world that he has personally witnessed throughout his life in exploring our world and all of its inhabitants. Attenborough discusses how we got to this place of decline with solutions that we can take now to prevent and heal the current damage. His tone is intensely urgent but non-judgemental and still very hopeful. At 93 years old he wants you to know what change has happened in his lifetime alone and putting into words a lasting statement of what he dedicated his life to. Attenborough hopes that future generations can take action and reap the benefits of a healthy and sustainable planet and future.

“We have come as far as we have because we are the cleverest creatures to have ever lived on Earth. But if we are to continue to exist, we will require more than intelligence. We will require wisdom.”

This book is meant to alarm you and make you feel uncomfortable but it also talks about people and businesses that are doing their part and how you have the power to as well. Attenborough’s writing is as cohesive and soothing as his voice making for a pleasurable read.

“We often talk of saving the planet, but the truth is that we must do these things to save ourselves. With or without us, the wild will return.”

Is Attenborough doing enough? Many vegans would argue that no, he is not. Attenborough is not a strict vegan or vegetarian though, he has, in recent years, substantially reduced his meat intake. Attenborough may not be vegan or vegetarian but he has a voice that he is using and that people will listen to. As a vegetarian myself, I believe that this a deeply personal choice that you cannot force it upon people and that real change comes with informed choices. With work like Attenborough’s and with him lending his voice to such an essential and necessary cause, it helps people make more scientifically backed, ethical, and informed choices in their own time. One of the reasons that Attenborough is so successful is that he is palatable and reaches people from all walks of life. He also has a firm belief in humanity to make good choices that will improve the life of everything on this planet. This delicate balance in advocacy that creates urgency and not fear, choice and not threats, is why his work is so valued and why he has reached so many.

“Everything is set for us to win this future. We have a plan. We know what to do. There is a path to sustainability. It is a path that could lead to a better future for all life on Earth. We must let our politicians and business leaders know that we understand this, that this vision for the future is not just something we need, it is something, above all, that we want.”

If I could recommend one wholesome and thought-provoking book to help you realise the state of our planet and how it’s not too late to make a difference, it would be this one.

“All we require is the will. The next few decades represent a final opportunity to build a stable home for ourselves and restore the rich, healthy and wonderful world that we inherited from our distant ancestors. Our future on the planet, the only place as far as we know where life of any kind exists, is at stake.”

Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung

“The General will now enter the room.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 368 pages.
Read from December 12, 2017 to December 15, 2017.

Who isn’t curious about North Korea? It is a strange and secretive country with an eccentric, peculiar, and potentially very dangerous leader that shuts out the world. How much of the North Korean propaganda is true? Are the people there truly sheltered and do they suffer? If you believe this defector and author of this memoir it will only make you hungry for more information on this fascinating country.

Jang Jin-Sung, a pseudonym for a North Korean man who was a famous and well-respected poet and government official. His life was much easier than many of his other friends and family due to his high ranking status. He was special as he was allowed into the small inner circle of people who got to meet their “Dear Leader” in person due to how well received his poetry was. Jin-Sung worked within The United Front Department (UFD) which is “responsible for inter-Korean espionage, policy-making and diplomacy” and in Jin-Sung’s job he was responsible for writing poetry and praise for North Korea under the facade of the praise coming from other countries, like South Korea. In order to do that, he was allowed to read South Korean newspapers and writings in order to keep with the style and approach of the writers there. The work was dangerous and highly controlled as with new ideas comes the idea that the North Korean regime is lesser. However, Jin-Sung began to question his “Dear Leader” after meeting him in person and after following a trail of dangerous thoughts and actions it eventually made him realise that he needed to defect or risk his life and potentially his whole family’s.

“I was restless with yearning to write realist poetry based on what I saw, and not loyalist poetry based on what we were all told to see.”

The harrowing description that Jin-Sung leaves an impoverished stifled and scared nation of people is hard to read. His escape is tragic and reads like a terrifying thriller that you are too afraid to look away from. I was completely engrossed in the story and was left hungry for more by the end. Books like this and others like them have come under scrutiny for their authenticity or have left many wondering how much was embellished for the sake of publications. It is almost easier to NOT believe that North Korea is a terrible as this book makes it sound as it is hard to fathom that so many people are living in such an oppressed and psychologically inhumane way. If this novel is as true as the author claims, it makes me thankful that my life is my own, that I have food in my belly, and that I express myself how I see fit.

“One reason why North Korea is unable to pursue reform and open itself more to the world is that this would risk exposing core dogmas of the state as mere fabrications.”

Whether you want to believe all, some or none of what is in this book you can’t deny the books high readability and enjoyability. In fact, this book made my top five favourite non-fiction reads of 2017 I enjoyed it so much. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, espionage, North Korea or memoirs. I can assure you that Jin-Sung’s story is not one you are likely to forget.