Unwrap the joy of reading this holiday season: book recommendations from the Pan Macmillan team

We asked the Pan Macmillan SA team to share the books that they have recently read and are sure you’ll love. The list caters for all ages and includes most genres, from crime thrillers, fantasy, historical fiction to contemporary romance. There is a book for everyone. Scroll to find what to read next this summer.

Wind down and relax with these titles:

Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend, recommended by Magdaleen Snyman, Marketing and PR Coordinator
I recommend the third book in the Nevermoor series, Hollowpox: the hunt for Morrigan Crow: The Nevermoor series is perfect for holiday reading because it offers escapism, adventure and magic. Opening a new book in this series feels like Christmas morning to me. Diving into the world of the magical Hotel Deucalion, riding the Brolly Rail and meeting Wunimals is exciting and enchanting. But there is also suspense and darkness in this story which sparks my curiosity and keeps me reading long after my bedtime. This is the third book in the series and features Morrigan battling a new evil as a strange, frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor. These books are fast-paced yet excellently constructed and filled with twists and turns. Morrigan is a complex and strong character and I can't wait for her next adventure.


Book cover for Hollowpox

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku, recommended by Marianne Van Loggerenberg, Sales Representative & Product Manager: Macmillan Children's Books and Walker Books
Also, from Marianne
The Girl with the Lost Smile by Miranda Hart
Oi, Dog, Oi Cat, Oi Frog, Oi Book, which one shall I choose next? By Kes Gray, Jim Field.
I'm currently reading The Happiest Man on Earth - The Beautiful life of an Auschwitz Survivor, written by Eddie Jaku. And how happy can one be to celebrate 100 living years on this earth. His life story is an inspiration of the gift of life that can change in an instant and then, what do you choose, how will you live the rest of your life even when you are uncertain of what might or might not happen. And then of course next to this one stands another one, The Girl with the Lost Smile, written by Miranda Hart. These two books go hand in hand. One takes you on a real-life journey of hardship and darkness, moving towards the light. The other one takes you on a little girl’s imaginary journey, finding back the smile she thought was lost forever. Both books are flying together on a magic carpet. 😊

The Happiest Man on Earth

Book cover for The Happiest Man on Earth

The Girl with the Lost Smile

Book cover for The Girl with the Lost Smile

Oi Cat!

Book cover for Oi Cat!

Oi Dog!

Book cover for Oi Dog!

Oi Frog!

Book cover for Oi Frog!

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence, Naomi Clark, recommended by Liesbet Gelderblom, School Sales Representative
I'm finally reading The Elephant Whisperer. I've always been fascinated by elephants. Reading Anthony Lawrence's heart-warming story, I'm even more intrigued by these intelligent, emotionally complex, sentient beings. Remarkable, sad, magical - a great read.

The Elephant Whisperer

by Lawrence Anthony

Book cover for The Elephant Whisperer

A moving account of one man's race to save a herd of elephants – with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, The Elephant Whisperer is an enthralling book that will appeal to animal lovers and adventurous souls everywhere.

When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival – dangerous and unpredictable, they would be killed if Anthony wouldn't take them in.

As Anthony risked his life to create a bond with the troubled elephants and persuade them to stay on his reserve, he came to realize what a special family they were, from the wise matriarch Nana, who guided the herd, to her warrior sister Frankie, always ready to see off any threat, and their children who fought so hard to survive.

The Four Winds (coming February 2021) by Kristin Hannah, recommended by Gadija Gordon, Sales Consultant
A heart-breaking novel and so beautifully written. The depiction of the characters really enthralled me.  Desolation, devastation, heartache, heartbreak, and loss. The Four Winds is a novel that encompasses all of those words and yet it is also about survival. The ability to survive during the absolute worst of times. Family, friendship, and love are also prevalent themes in this book and Kristin Hannah showcases them all beautifully. What resonated with me was this book’s underlying message which is that a human being can survive anything - which I think is especially true for all of us to remember right now.
**The Four Winds cover on the blog image is not the final cover.

The Four Winds

Book cover for The Four Winds

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, recommended by Veronica Napier, Senior Publicist
This beautifully crafted novel begins at the end and moves between breathtaking locations and complex characters to unravel the story. There is an underlying mystery and unease throughout the book. An imploding Ponzi scheme, terrible betrayal and the fallibility of the characters make this a very compelling read. In his book, he shares with you people’s stories. People who face a problem and think, ‘hmm, I can’t be the only one who faces this challenge - I should do something to solve this problem.’

The Glass Hotel

Book cover for The Glass Hotel

Royal by Danielle Steel, recommended by Rhulani Netshivhera, Children's Product Assistant
I was engrossed in this story from the first page. All the elements that make the reader engaged. There is love, royalty, history, family ties, and much more. At what length would you go to protect someone? If you are a fan of historical fiction then you will enjoy this story. The war time setting adds a layer as well.


Book cover for Royal

Also, from Rhulani
Critical But, Stable by Angela Makholwa
I really enjoyed reading this book and I was also checking if I could relate to some characters in the book but they are too glamorous. It is about love, challenges couples encounter in a marriage or a long-term relationship. Makholwa gives us a glimpse of what it really costs to maintain a lavish lifestyle and a perfect marriage appearance by letting us snoop into the lives of three glamorous couples. We get to follow the Jiyas, Manamelas, and Msibis, who belong to an elite social club, called Khula Society. We witness how they use success, wealth, luxury, extravagant parties, glitz and glamour to sugar-coat some of the truths behind their high walls and affluent lifestyles.

Critical But, Stable

Book cover for Critical But, Stable

How I Built This by Guy Raz, recommended by Sherry Neville, Commercial Manager
I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t normally read ‘business’ books but I’m a fan of the Guy Raz podcast where he interviews entrepreneurs.

How I Built This

Book cover for How I Built This

Three Bodies by N.R. Brodie, recommended by Precious Legoabe, Key Customer Supervisor
A thrilling suspense story based on JHB inner city with Alex, sangomas and police working together to catch a famous cash in transit heist gangs destroying the economy of SA known for using body parts as muthi to be strong and invisible or not caught in the act. Innocent unsuspecting lives are at risk and lost during the process. This is a book that has kept me on the edge of my bed for two days and opened my mind and understanding of our country, a country united amid to solve crime.

Three Bodies

by N.R. Brodie

Book cover for Three Bodies

Reshma Patel and Ian Jack are back

The first body was found in the Hartbeespoort Dam. An unidentified woman, presumably drowned, washed up on the banks of an exclusive golf estate. Next came the discovery of a grisly crime scene deep underground in Johannesburg, somehow connected to a second woman found dead in the Jukskei River where it ran through Alexandra.

When the body of a third woman is pulled out of the Vaal River, south of Joburg, Captain Reshma Patel starts to wonder if a serial killer is at work – or if the mutilated corpses have anything to do with the spate of cash-in-transit heists she’s busy investigating.

When a fourth woman goes missing Reshma and her partner, former police officer Ian Jack, have to figure out who is behind the killings – and to stop them, before they can strike again.

Also, from Precious
Two Months by Gail Schimmel
A Psychological crime book of mind, body and soul. The past will always catch up with you. When a teacher is framed by her former classmate for inappropriately touching a young boy at school her life gets turned upside down in this effect, she ends up not trusting her husband who has assured her all things will be back to normal. Two Months has many twists and turns, it is mind-opening and forces one to really apply one’s mind when on social media and the kind of friendships we keep.

Two Months

by Gail Schimmel

Book cover for Two Months

From the bestselling author of The Park and The Accident comes a new domestic thriller that will keep you turning the pages until the very end.

When Erica wakes up to discover that she can't remember two months of her life, she wants to know what she’s missed. She soon realises that she’s lost more than two months. She’s lost her job and her friends. And her husband won’t tell her why.

As Erica starts to put together the clues and pieces, a picture emerges of what has happened.

A picture that is fatally flawed.

Currently reading Find Them Dead by Peter James. Still not far in the book but as Peter James is one of my favourite crime authors, I have a good feeling that this will be another roller coaster ride with mysteries, facts and good detective work by Roy Grace. I have goosebumps just looking at the book.

Find Them Dead

Book cover for Find Them Dead

Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter, recommended by Frances Thorndike, Cape Sales Representative
An underrated, life-affirming read that I thoroughly enjoyed despite the title, namely: "Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up" which is a charming and insightful look at female friendship and the unrealistic expectations we have on achieving our life goals.

Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up

Book cover for Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up

More Myself by Alicia Keys, recommended by Dee Miloa, Digital Communications Coordinator
Affirming and beautifully written with so much soul and authenticity, Alicia Keys’ More Myself is one of the best memoirs I’ve read recently. When Alicia Keys’ first album was released in 2001, I was in my pre-teen years. In the age of owning a music book and writing lyrics of popular songs. I was a huge fan, loved her look and music (influenced by my big sisters). Somewhere along my teen years, I stopped following through her music career. But I’ve always admired her. In every interview, she’s shown so much depth, raw presence and a peaceful spirit. Over the years, she’s successfully carved a unique style of music and built a strong brand. She’s managed to stay relevant and from my observations, she’s always been someone I’ve seen as true to herself, work and position in the industry and as an influencer.
Alicia writes, "truth in its rawest form is what resonates most powerfully", and in the book, she opens up about her past, music, family and experiences in the rawest and most truthful way. With every chapter, she takes us on her journey growing up in Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem, her phenomenal music career and shares about her complex relationship with her father, romantic relationships and personal struggles with conforming to modern-day beauty standards. She also talks about using her voice and platform to advocate for social justice and equality, and the various movements she’s co-founded and supports. If you are a fan of her music, you’ll appreciate the stories behind some of her greatest hits, her come up and encounters with her biggest musical influences and mentors.

One of the chapter’s I enjoyed reading, was on writing the smash-hit and one of my all-time favourites, Empire State of Mind with Jay-Z - a song they collaborated on in tribute to their hometown, New York. So, whether you are a fan of Alicia or looking for your next non-fiction read, you will enjoy the book and get a sense of who Alicia is, what inspires and fuels her passions." 

More Myself

Book cover for More Myself

Also, from Dee
We are One by Refiloe Moahloli
A beautifully illustrated book that every child should own. The book touches on kindness, love and the importance of recognizing that We are One. Simple yet so captivating.
I loved, loved reading Simunye, the isiZulu version with my nieces and nephew, and celebrating diversity. It’s important for my nieces and nephew to see themselves in books, but what I also appreciate about this book is the diverse representation. It’s also important for children to see other characters different from them so they can expand their worldview. Refiloe’s stories are beautiful, they’ve helped me teach the little ones about kindness and empathy.

We are One

by Refiloe Moahloli

Book cover for We are One

We may look different you and I,

sound different,

act different,

eat different food,

and live in different places

but when I look into your eyes, I see myself.

A comforting and lyrical book about friendship and ubuntu that celebrates both our and differences and similarities.

Also available in isiZulu and Afrikaans.

A Family Affair by Sue Nyathi, recommended by Tazmin Morgan, Sales & Marketing Coordinator
Sue Nyathi’s A Family Affair is the perfect book to keep you company over this holiday period. This book is packed with drama from chapter to chapter, that even when you are not reading – you will be wondering what a character will be doing next.
This book looks at the structure of the family and the picture-perfect façade that a family sometimes creates while under the surface there are tails of deceit. Even though the Mafu’s appear to be a tight-knit family, there are many conversations that need to be had and eventually bubble over in often sad and traumatic ways. I found myself giggling with mischief in some parts of the book, and in some cases, reading through paragraphs with tear-filled eyes.
This is a story of sisters trying to find the love they deserve, keep their family together while battling their internal and societal issues. We all know versions of Zandile, Xoliswa and Yandisa, and the Mafu family as a whole. Sue Nyathi crafted extremely relatable characters that will stick with you long after you have read the last sentence.
**Trigger Warning: There is domestic abuse that is discussed in A Family Affair

Also recommended by the Pan team:

  • Summerwater by Sarah Moss

From the acclaimed author of Ghost WallSummerwater is a devastating story told over twenty-four hours in the Scottish highlands, and a searing exploration of our capacity for both kinship and cruelty in these divided times. HERE, Sarah and her editor Kishani Widyaratna discuss how she approaches her writing, collective anxieties and how history has shaped us all.


by Sarah Moss

Book cover for Summerwater

The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller, longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.

From the acclaimed author of Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss' Summerwater is a devastating story told over twenty-four hours in the Scottish highlands . . .

'Superb' - The Times
'Sharp, searching . . . utterly of the moment' - Hilary Mantel
'So accomplished' - Guardian

It is the summer solstice, but in a faded Scottish cabin park the rain is unrelenting. Twelve people on holiday with their families look on as the skies remain resolutely grey. A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a teenage boy chances the dark waters of the loch in his kayak; a retired couple head out despite the downpour, driving too fast on the familiar bends.

But there are newcomers too, and one particular family, a mother and daughter with the wrong clothes and the wrong manners, start to draw the attention of the others. Who are they? Where are they from? Should they be here at all? As darkness finally falls, something is unravelling . . .

'A masterpiece' - Jessie Burton
'One of her best' - Irish Times
'Beautifully written, intense, powerful' - David Nicholls

  • These are not gentle people by Andrew Harding

These are not gentle people is the story of that night, and of what happened next. It’s a courtroom drama, a profound exploration of collective guilt and individual justice, and a fast-paced literary thriller. When a whole community is on trial, who pays the price? Read an extract HERE.

These are not gentle people

by Andrew Harding

Book cover for These are not gentle people

At dusk, on a warm evening in 2016, a group of forty men gathered in the corner of a dusty field on a farm outside Parys in the Free State. Some were in a fury. Others treated the whole thing as a joke – a game. The events of the next two hours would come to haunt them all. They would rip families apart, prompted an attempted suicide, breakdowns, divorce, bankruptcy, threats of violent revenge and acts of unforgivable treachery.

These are not gentle people is the story of that night, and of what happened next. It’s a courtroom drama, a profound exploration of collective guilt and individual justice, and a fast-paced literary thriller.

Award-winning foreign correspondent and author Andrew Harding traces the impact of one moment of collective barbarism on a fragile community – exposing lies, cover-ups, political meddling and betrayals, and revealing the inner lives of those involved with extraordinary clarity.

The book is also a mesmerising examination of a small town trying to cope with a trauma that threatens to tear it in two – as such, it is as much a journey into the heart of modern South Africa as it is a gripping tale of crime, punishment and redemption. When a whole community is on trial, who pays the price?

ANDREW HARDING is the author of the internationally acclaimed The Mayor of Mogadishu and a foreign correspondent for BBC News. He left Britain in 1991 and has since lived and worked in the former Soviet Union, Asia, Kenya, and – for the past decade – in South Africa. His radio and television reports have won him international recognition, including an Emmy. He currently lives in Johannesburg with his family.

  • Sermons of Soul by Iman Rappetti

Sermons of Soul brings you the best-loved opening segments from Iman Rappetti’s award-winning radio show, POWER Talk. With each daily sermon, Iman sought to reach out to her listeners and give them something special before the day’s tough subjects unfolded on the programme. She wanted to create a moment for them to feel appreciated, thought of, challenged or cared for. Watch Iman introducing her inspirational book HERE.

Sermons of Soul

by Iman Rappetti

Book cover for Sermons of Soul

Sermons of Soul brings you the best-loved opening segments from Iman Rappetti’s award-winning radio show, POWER Talk. With each daily sermon, Iman sought to reach out to her listeners and give them something special before the day’s tough subjects unfolded on the programme. She wanted to create a moment for them to feel appreciated, thought of, challenged or cared for.

Some days the sermon was a motivational letter, encouraging listeners to stay strong and confident, to have hope for themselves and the country. On other days it was different – a call to action, a sociopolitical critique, a powerfully moving assessment of how we were doing as a society.

These few minutes became one of the most-listened-to segments in radio, so popular that people frequently called in to comment on the impact of the messages or stopped Iman in the street to talk about them. More than once, the sermons have been called life changing.

Reading Iman’s labour of love will remind you of important issues at the same time as it will encourage and inspire you.

  • The 130-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

There are lots of laughs at every level in The 130-Storey Treehouse, the tenth book in the number one bestselling Treehouse series from Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Watch Andy introducing The 130-Storey Treehouse as well as answering questions from fans HERE.

The 130-Storey Treehouse

Book cover for The 130-Storey Treehouse

Blog compiled by Khanyisile Zondo
Intern and Wits University Honours student (African Languages and Literature)