Book Buzz: Born a Crime

Book Buzz: Born a CrimeOne of our Thanksgiving traditions is to go around the table and share our blessings. For me it is always a variation of being grateful for family, friends, our pets, our health, etc. This year, though, my expression of gratitude will be tinged with anxiety about a future that is hard to fathom, at least for the next four years.

Since the election I have tried to stay away from TV and radio news. I just can’t listen to it.

This erstwhile news junkie has gone cold turkey.

That works out well except when I’m in the car. I need a distraction when I’m driving. Music is great, but there are times when I need an alternative. As luck would have it, I have discovered Audible, and the timing could not be better.

Audible is a division of Amazon, and purchases are easy either on the website or the app, which I downloaded on my iPhone. Browsing through the selections, I discovered a ton of audiobooks that piqued my interest.

Born a Crime

I was totally caught up in one of Audible’s new releases, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. You may know Noah as the successor to Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. In this memoir he reveals a background light years away from the celebrity life he enjoys now. Noah grew up biracial in South Africa’s apartheid.

Noah, the son of a devoutly religious Xhosa mother and a white Swiss-German father, was “born a crime” since it was against the law during apartheid for whites and blacks to be together, let alone have a child. The fine could have been imprisonment for either parent up to five years. Nonetheless, Noah’s mother would take that risk because she wanted a child so badly.

Noah says, “… my mother started her little project, me, at a time when she could not have known that apartheid would end. There was no reason to think it would end; it had seen generations come and go. I was nearly six when Mandela was released, ten before democracy finally came, yet she was preparing me to live a life of freedom long before we knew freedom would exist.”

Noah’s upbringing took place in the last years of apartheid, in the 80s and 90s, in a world of poverty and intense racism. His remarkable mother was determined her son would rise above it. Strong-willed and no nonsense, Noah’s mother taught him the values of education and freedom as she struggled with the restrictions in her own life.

With humor, Noah describes his mother as a woman deeply tied to her religion. She dragged her son to church four days a week and three different church services on Sundays, in three different towns.

In these essays, Noah shares personal stories and also the broader landscape of apartheid society: segregated housing, limited employment opportunities except for menial work, and curfews not imposed on the white population.

I was drawn in by Noah’s mellifluous voice as he swept me into his world. Learning about a life so different from mine, filled with obstacles that I have been fortunate never to face, was a lesson worth learning.

And another reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving.

If you would like to hear Born a Crime or any other selection on Audible, you’re in luck. Use this code for a 30-day free trial.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

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37 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: Born a Crime

  1. I recently listened to Noah being interviewed and I was captivated by his story and the story of his mother. This book must be so fascinating.

    I used to subscribe to They provide a wonderful service and like you I enjoy listening in the car. Now that I’m also on a news fast (mostly) Audible is even more wonderful!

  2. I’ve been wondering about this book ever since we added it to the collection at the library where I work. Thanks for a terrific review. I’m not quite ready to listen to books instead of reading them –I’m a dinosaur. But when I do (and it’s only a matter of time, right?) , I’ll start with Audible.

    • hbludman on November 25, 2016 at 7:27 am said:

      I would recommend this to read as well, Roz. The advantage of the audio version is that his lovely voice brings you directly into his world.

  3. I am Thankful for my husband and all he does for us. This book looks very adventurous. Thats my kind of read.

  4. I wanted to read this book and also share it with my kid. Seems like a great read indeed.

  5. Such a great story and a true reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving. Sometimes it is hard to remember, even our bad days, are not as bad as some peoples good days. Thanks for sharing, I will have to take the time for this.

  6. This would be interesting. I love to read so I imagine I’d like this. It sounds like he has an amazing story to tell.

  7. Elizabeth O. on November 23, 2016 at 9:22 pm said:

    I would love to read this book or get a copy of the audio book, that would be amazing. I look forward to reading about his life story especially since it is set at such a trying time. I’m sure it’s a wonderful read.

  8. That’s a wonderful tradition to count one’s blessings. This seems like a great read or listen.

  9. I might need to get back to my Audible account. I let it lapse a few months ago.

  10. We’re a family of avid readers and there are a few people in my family that would like this book.

  11. I’m going to have to read this one, It sounds really good and would love to learn more about his life, very interesting and can’t imagine what it would be like to live in South Africa under those conditions!

  12. I had no idea about his childhood. So interesting. My husband is a huge Audible fan. He has a long commute and enjoys listening on the drive. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  13. I’m a bit like Roz – my experience with audio books hasn’t been great – one I listened to nearly killed the characters in my mind! Noah’s story sounds really interesting though so I’ll keep an eye out for the ‘real’ book.

  14. I’ve heard Trevor Noah talk about this story and it’s incredible to listen to! This should be a great book to read!

  15. I have gone back and forth about using Audible. Although, I did buy my first ebook with narration from Amazon last week and it is really nice to go back and forth between the ebook and the narration. Audiobooks are so nice and are great for storytelling in my opinion. I can’t grasp as much when it’s more textbook style as I’m always wanting to take notes and stuff.

    • hbludman on November 25, 2016 at 7:33 am said:

      I could never give up reading, but audio comes in handy when you can’t look at a book.

  16. I’ve been a Trevor Noah fan and follower for quite a while. Was privileged to catch his standup act — also called “Born A Crime” — in New York a couple of years ago. Not only is he a comedic talent and praiseworthy follow-on host of The Daily Show, he is incredibly intelligent, well-read, and fluent in four or five languages — a remarkable young man. Unfortunately, I’m still of the old-school genre that loves the feel of turning pages in books and placing little slips of paper in spots I know I’ll want to return to before the end, so I won’t be listening on Audible. I’ll be turning the pages of Trevor’s book and sticking Post-it Notes on my favorite passages.

    • hbludman on November 25, 2016 at 7:34 am said:

      He is quite an amazing person, Debs, I agree. I’m glad I got to know him better through this book.

  17. I’ve tried audible but found it hard to stick with.

  18. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Wow, I hadn’t realized Trevor Noah had such an interesting background story. I’m inspired to read his book. Thanks for the discount code.

  20. This is sounds like a great book. I missing reading. I plan to read more hopefully next year.

  21. I’m curious about Noah’s story now. And you’re right there are so many things to be thankful for and so many things that trigger reasons why.

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