Everyone Wants to Share their Top 26 Books

Alex Smith’s Top 26 Books

Blank. On Sunday afternoon, I left the book fair briefly to do an interview at SAfm with Karebo Kgoleng. I’ve never done a live radio interview before. Karabo was great, all went fine (I hope, although I’ll never actually hear it to know for sure), except when I went blank over the most elementary question. What books have influenced you? Karabo asked. I knew there were many, but in my mind the walls, normally filled with pictures of what I’m thinking, they went completely white (actually a shade of mellange gray). I looked up in my head and could find nothing. Somehow I managed to cobble together an answer. Then as if the god of books was trying to make a point, this morning on facebook I found a message in my Inbox – Amanda’s Book Club wanted to know: What 26 books have influenced you most? Your all time 26 books? People had listed their favourites in an A-Z.

I’m really going to have to get this down, in case anyone asks again. If I go to another interview, I’m taking this A-Z in my pocket (it’s a few more than 26, but I’m only party cheating). These are the books that have made me:

Aesop’s Fables (Aesop), The Art of War (Lao Tzu); Agamemnon (Aeschylus); Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne)

The Bible (Religion aside, it has some very dramatic tales filled with murder, miracles and wonders. I went to a church school, so I grew up listening to Bible stories — one every morning for twelve years is bound to have an influence).

City and the Pillar (Gore Vidal); A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)

Disgrace (JM Coetzee); The Death of Artemio Cruz (Carlos Fuentes)

Electra (Euripides); The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand); The BFG and everything else by Roald Dahl

Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift) ; Great Expectations (Charles Dickens); Grimm’s Fairytales

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams); Hamlet (Shakespeare)

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (Laurie Lee); Indaba My Children (Credo Mutwa)

The Jitterbug Perfume (Tom Robbins)

To Kill a Mocking Bird (Harper Lee)

Lust for Life (Irving Stone); Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez);

Macbeth (Shakespeare); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare)

Neuromancer (William Gibson); Nineteen Eighty Four (George Orwell)

The Outsider/The Stranger (Albert Camus)

Perfume (Patrick Susskind); Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen); Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw); The Periodic Table (Primo Levi)

Queen Mab (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Romeo & Juliette (Shakespeare)

Silk (Alessandro Baricco); Straight is the Gate (Andre Gide); The Shipping News (Annie Proulx)

Alex Smith Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu); The Thousand Nights and One Nights (Annonymous – Persia)

Under the Net (Iris Murdoch)

Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare)

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (C.S.Lewis)

Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantzakis)

Alex Smith

Nqobile Nxumalo’s 26 All Time Top Books

To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee

Shackled Continent – Robert Guest

I write what I like – Steve Biko

Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

Fit to Govern – Thabo Mbeki

Miss Kwa –Kwa – Steven Simms

What if everything you knew about Aids was a lie – David Ike

The Da Vinci code – Dan Brown

Romeo & Juliet – Shakespeare

Othello – Shakespeare

Macbeth – Shakespeare

Merchant of Venice – Shakespeare

Tales of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

Cry the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Things fall apart – Chinua Achebe

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

The Promise – Daniele Steel

The Bush Dynasty


Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn – Mark Twain

Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austin

Marketing in the Dust – Mdau

The God of small things – Arundhati Roy

Conversations with God – Inyala Vanzant

In the Meantime – Inyala Vanzant

Nqobile NxumaloNqobile Nxumalo’s is 23 years old, very ambitious and excited to be alive, I read anything I can put my hands and I always have a dictionary next to me, the first adult books I ever read were, Long walk to freedom at the age of seven and there after almost all of Daniel Steel books. Reading has always given me comfort in the hard world that I am living in. That is why currently I am writing my own book