"You speak to me about books. I have always loved books. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that they were windows on a world that existed beyond mine. Books are portals trough which you can escape for a while. You can travel forward or backward in time. You can be an actor in the drama portrayed, or simply a spectator. You can make new friends and lose them and if it becomes too overwhelming you can always close the book and return to the real world again. Of course, there are occasions when the world of the book becomes so powerful that part of it returns with you. And then it lingers for a while before fading. Sometimes its shadows touch your life forever." - Extract from a letter of mine to a friend, 2013.

Other boys bought toys and chewing gum with their allowances. I bought books. And when I could not buy them, I traded them or borrowed them. In the town library, there were a selection of books that the librarian lady literally kept renewing for me without me asking. One of them was the encyclopaedic Medicinal and Poisonous Plans of Southern and Eastern Africa by Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk. All 1,457 pages of it. I was 12 years old when I began devouring that book. And it remained my friend until I left home for good.

I seldom read easy books. The only comic books I really enjoyed were the old Classic and Comet comic books from when my dad was still a boy. I liked Superman and the other fantasy heroes, but my biggest favourite was still Buffalo Bill. I was taught to read in Afrikaans only, and by the time I 8 or 9 I had read most of what would interest a boy in the house. My dad suggested that I might enjoy his hunting books - of which he had quite a collection. He handed me a thick green volume. It was Harry Wolhuter's famous Memories of a Game Ranger. The book was intimidatingly thick, and written in an old-fashioned style that was hard to read. But it contained the true account of how Wolhuter had killed a lion with his hunting knife. And once upon, long-long ago, my spinster great aunt had been his sweetheart. It was just the book for me. It was hard in the beginning, but somehow the words just made sense, and I read through it in no time.

Today my life is still surrounded by books. My reading taste is eclectic, but some of my favourite book topics include Africana, history, Anglo-Boer War, general military history, poetry, classical literature, business, autobiographies and world affairs - plus others.


Some of my favourite books of all time:

Religious books

  • The Bible
  • The Mystery of the Ages
  • The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong
  • The Book of Josephus
  • David the King


  • Dune (and its sequels) by Frank Herbert
  • Starwars (and its sequels)
  • Clan of the Cave Bear (and sequels)


  • Oorlogsavonture van Generaal Wynand Malan
  • Slegtkamp van Spioenkop by Dirk Mostert
  • So Ry die Boere by Roland Schikkerling
  • The Art of War - Sun Zo
  • On War - Carl Von Clausewitz
  • Winds of War - Herman Wouk
  • War and Remembrance - Herman Wouk
  • All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
  • Beau Geste - P.C. Wren

Real life drama

  • Papilon and its sequel - Banco, by Henri Chariere
  • The Long Walk
  • Death in the Long Grass by Peter Capstick
  • The Tunnel by Andre Lecaz
  • Out of Africa by Karen Blixen
  • West with the Night by Isak Dinesen


  • The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monserrat
  • HMS Ulysses by Allister McClain
  • Sea Wolf and Martin Eden by Jack London
  • Uhuru by Robert Ruark
  • Wilbur Smith's books
  • Treasure of Kings, being the discovery of the "Big Fish" - Major Charles Gilson
  • Treasure of the Incas by GA Henty
  • King Solomon's Mines by Rider Haggard

Youth Books

  • Tom's Midnight Garden
  • Fanie se Veldskooldae, Fanie se Vuurdoop and Uitspring Kerels by PJ Schoeman
  • The Prisoner of Zenda
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • Drietoon van die Vrystaat
  • Twee vir 'n Stuiwer

Classic Afrikaans

  • Geknelde Land, Offerland, Beloofde Land, Bedoelde Land en Gelofteland by FA Venter
  • Kringe in 'n Bos by Daleen Matthee
  • Pieternella van die Kaap by Dan Sleigh


  • The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
  • Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


  • Who Moved by Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard
  • The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason