President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched a virtual book club in an effort to boost reading across the country.
The President’s Reading Circle allows readers to share their views on the books with the president through the chat service on the site.
“The President’s Reading Circle is a home for passionate, veteran readers and those who are in the first thralls of their exploration with words and ideas,” said the National Reading Coalition (NRC).
“This is where we share current and past reads; where we compliment and critique writers and their readers, and where we engage with seriousness and fun for the sake of building a community around reading and all it inspires,” said the NRC.
In his state of the nation address in June, Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of cultivating a reading nation to unlock opportunities that flow from a broadened understanding of the country and the world.
In 2016, South Africa was ranked last out of 50 countries in the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study which tested reading comprehension of Grade 4 learners.
The study found that 78% of South African pupils at this level could not read for meaning. Additionally, in South Africa 5,000 book sales make a bestseller cementing the poor levels of reading.
The reading circle seeks to address this poor culture of reading, the NRC said.
“We are witnessing the emergence of a new generation of writers who are narrating the story of a 21st century South Africa through diverse storylines that reflect a rapidly transforming society.
“Through increased access to education, new generations of readers are emerging as well, presenting new audiences and markets but, more importantly, broadened insights and the openness and tolerance that flows from turning page after page.”
What’s on the list?
At the time of writing, there are 14 books on the official book club list.
The books cover a range of genres including children’s books, fiction, history, jazz and self-help.
You can find the full list of books below:
Little me wants to be – Michelle Lockett
The uncertainty of hope – Valerie Tagwira
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Little suns – Zakes Mda
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I write what I like – Steve Biko