The online book store One Grand Books has an interesting question for celebrities: if you were stranded on a desert island but could bring along any ten books, which would you bring?
TV personality and comedian Trevor Noah has brought a fresh new perspective to American comedy with his humorous, sincere accounts about growing up in apartheid South Africa. He has recently shared a list of books he can’t live without, with entries ranging from nostalgic childhood classics, books about South African history and apartheid, and books about people he admires, from humorists to South African philanthropist Nelson Mandela. Without further ado, here are some of Trevor Noah’s picks:
1. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl
This is the first of two childhood classics that Trevor Noah chose, a short story collection by beloved children’s writer Roald Dahl. It’s a collection of fantastical tales of childhood and magic interspersed with autobiographical stories from Roald Dahl’s life.
2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This beloved French novella is well-known for its sincerity and warmth, tackling issues that both children and adults can appreciate. It’s an allegory for the loss of childhood idealism and innocence with themes like love and the invisible bond that connects all humans.
3. My Traitor’s Heart by Rian Malan
This is one of a few of Noah’s picks that deal with apartheid, a discriminatory law against native South Africans by white Afrikaners, largely the descendants of Dutch settlers. This autobiography is told from the perspective of an Afrikaner who must confront the violence wrought by apartheid and who must come to terms with intergenerational shame.
4. To Quote Myself: A Memoir by Khaya Dlanga
Like Trevor Noah, Khaya Dlanga is a South African comedian who reflects on his life in South Africa through comedy. Today, Kyaha Dlanga is one of the most influential figures in South African social media, but he came from humble roots and in his memoir, he reflects on life’s hardships with an unwavering sense of humor and an underlying message of hope.
5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This New York Times best-seller is an unflinching examination of slavery and its legacy in both Africa and the United States. It’s a reminder of the connection between Africa and the United States and the shameful history that must be overcome through acceptance and unity. Check out our review, here!
6. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Trevor Noah moves from comedy in Africa to comedy in America with Steve Martin’s memoir about his life in stand-up before he walked away from that world forever. With humor and sincerity, Martin tells the story about his life growing up in California and his romance with comedy from start to abrupt finish.
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Honestly, who doesn’t love Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Trevor Noah shows a bit of his nostalgia and how he’s never outgrown his childhood imagination and love of fantastical adventures with this pick.
8. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Trevor Noah punctuates the list of books by people he admires, switching from stand-up to comedians, to South African writer, philanthropist, and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela. Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiographical account reflecting on Mandela’s life, his imprisonment, and his eventual triumph as President of South Africa from 1994-1999. His novel was also a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and is a voice for equality for all South Africans.
9. But What if We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman
This semi-philosophical book makes readers reflect on the things they assume to be true by reminding us that we can be wrong about anything. Nothing is sacred: the book challenges assumptions made about science, pop culture, and politics and turns them on their head. Trevor Noah points out that if the architects of apartheid had stopped and considered whether they were wrong, things may have gone differently, and he himself uses the book as a guide for his own morality.
10. Native Life In South Africa by Sol Plaatje
If you want to know more about Trevor Noah and his life growing up in apartheid South Africa, be sure to check out his new memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.
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Featured image via One Grand Books