5 places to go and books to read during National Book Week

Posted on 5 September 2019

In celebration of National Book Week, travel writer Chelsey Hale had a look at some page-turners perfect for satisfying your wanderlust or accompanying you on the road.

There’s nothing quite as enjoyable about reading the story of an epic journey while you travel, and with National Book Week running from 2 – 8 September, there’s no better time to pick out a new page-turner, pack your suitcase and hit the road.

If you’re in need of a new recommendation, here are a few favourites, along with some local destinations perfectly suited to read them in.

1. Adventures of a Young Naturalist by David Attenborough (2017)

This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to understand how far we’ve come in developing a protective attitude to wildlife. This second volume follows on the 1980 book, which chronicles the year David Attenborough (then, a young television presenter), was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to travel the world finding rare and elusive animals for the London Zoo’s collection, and to film the expeditions for the BBC.

Where to read it: Mjejane Bush Camp, Mpumalanga

If you love wildlife as much as Sir David does, Mjejane Game Reserve is just the place to see them. Fall asleep to the sound of hippos snuffling in the grass, and wake to the ‘dawn patrol’ of elephant families plodding through the surrounding bushveld. Set on the lip of the Crocodile River, this is just the place to sneak off to on a safari holiday for two, or three…or more.

Cost: from R2,900, per self-catering unit per night.*

2. The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh (2012)

Already a bestseller in the UK, this page-turner is for those wanting to be swept away by a period drama, with all the beauty, discovery and romance to go along with it. It’s the tale of a girl forced to abandon her fortune and her life of luxury in London, and move to the Cape. The Fever Tree offers insight into colonial-era South Africa, and what drew European explorers to this part of the world. It proves a fine read for South African history buffs travelling through the Western Cape.

Where to read it: Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort, Western Cape

Take the drive from Cape Town up to Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort and you’ll get to witness the Cape landscape in all of its finest glory. Not only will you get to discover the scenery described in the book, but you’ll find this holiday gem complete with a heated indoor and outdoor pool, buffet dinners and breakfast included in your stay.

Cost: from R1,514 per room per midweek night including breakfast.*

Also see: Win 1 of 2 copies of ‘Death on the Limpopo’ by Sally Andrew

3. The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence (2009)

The late South African author and conservationist Lawrence Anthony devoted his life to protecting the world’s most endangered species. The Elephant Whisperer depicts his time bonding with a herd of ‘rogue’ elephants, which he saved from being killed by taking them in as his family. Set against the backdrop of Zululand, the book makes for a riveting and at times heartbreaking read that is sure to inspire animal lovers – and will make you book your next safari trip straight away.

Where to read it: Royal Thonga Safari Lodge, KwaZulu Natal

This four-star establishment is the crown jewel of ‘the garden province’, located within the perimeter of the game-rich Tembe Elephant Park. The trip there is a scenic one, taking three hours by road from Durban’s King Shaka International Airport. Be sure to add in time for pitstops if you would like to visit the areas mentioned in the book.

Cost: from R3,316 per room per night including dinner and breakfast*

4. Jaws by Peter Benchley (1974)

Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws quickly became a cultural phenomenon, but the iconic story is actually based on the fictional 1974 novel by American writer, Peter Benchley. It tells the original tale of the great white shark and the voyage of three men trying to stop it from terrorising a seaside community on the southern coast of Long Island in the USA. It’s easy to read, filled with added metaphors, and focuses less on portraying the shark as just an evil killing machine but rather a creature to be respected and feared.

Where to read it: The Blue Marlin Hotel, KwaZulu Natal

For more than 60 years this iconic hotel overlooking Scottburgh main beach has long been an affordable favourite. Just an hour’s drive from Durban, it stands as the gateway to the South Coast. Easy to reach and hard to leave, it’s just the place to switch off and hang up the car keys. It sets the scene for this gripping novel, but with shark nets and lifeguards (and a pool on-site), there’s no need to let your imagination get the better of you.

Cost: from R1,820 per room per night including breakfast.*

5. Into Thin Air by John Krakauer (1997)

Into Thin Air is a 1997 bestselling non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer. It details Krakauer’s personal experience in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers were killed and several others were left stranded by a storm. This book was also used as the basis for the 2015 film Everest, staring Jake Gyllenhaal and Keira Knightley.

Where to read it: Little Switzerland Resort, KwaZulu Natal

Overlooking the iconic Amphitheatre in the Northern Drakensberg, Little Switzerland sets the scene for a holiday amongst the mountains. There are plenty of opportunities for avid hikers to lace up their Solomans, but those who prefer to kick back and enjoy the scenery from afar, can find their thrill between the pages, complete with crackling fireplace and hot beverage.

Cost: from R2,660 per room per night including breakfast.*

*T’s & C’s apply. Costs valid until 30 September 2019.

Wanting to encourage others to read during National Book Week?

The national #buyabook campaign will also be supported nationally by Exclusive Books and Bargain Books where all South Africans are encouraged to #buyabook to donate at the till and dropped in the book bins prominently displayed at the stores.

The campaign will run until 8 September.

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