Tag Archives: Born a Crime

Book Club Reflection: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

18 Jun

My book club met up last week and we talked about a book I loved, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. No one in the club disliked the book. It would be hard to, I think. Trevor is such a likable guy!

I was surprised to hear that there will be a movie adaptation of this book in the works! The role of Patricia has gone to Lupita Nyong’o and Noah is on as a producer. Noah is also working on a second book, Place of Gold. It’s set to release in June 2020. This one covers his early adulthood, from late teenage years to his stardom.

We all learned a lot about South Africa, its’ history, and apartheid from this book. Many of us knew next to nothing about this difficult history. Many of us had the misconception that after Mandela was released from jail, things got better but that was clearly not the case. It seems like things got worse before they got better. It was crazy for us to see how divided people were. The white minority had divided the oppressed blacks into ethnic groups and encouraged separatism between the groups, so they wouldn’t unite and rise. It just seems so crazy to us that it worked for so long!

One member read along to the audiobook and noticed that a few names were different. We wondered which ones were ‘real’ or if Trevor was protecting his friends! The audiobook won the Earphones Award for the awesome narration. Trevor talks about how language is used to unite people and the audiobook was even more powerful hearing him speak all the languages that he learned to be a chameleon. His way of speaking is wonderful. A few of our readers had seen him live and said he was wonderful. Another had heard that he was popular back in South Africa as well and I was glad to hear that.

Many of us were a little thrown off by the non-linear storytelling at first. I had trouble figuring out when Andrew was born and when apartheid ended because of it. Trevor’s decision to group his stories by theme did help explain what appeared to be a very complex culture. He was able to address the culture he lived in better this way.

We were surprised at how differently Trevor was treated in his mothers’ village. Not being punished the same way, being an honored guest at events, all these things because of his skin color was so strange. We wondered if there was a risk of him being spoiled because of this treatment, but it sounds like his mother wasn’t about to let that happen.

Patricia was an amazing character in this book. She was very strong and well equipped to raise a son as outspoken and naughty as Trevor. She’s portrayed so favorably that it’s hard to imagine her making a mistake and marrying Able. She fought so hard to keep that marriage and family afloat that she almost ‘settled’ into the misfortune that came to her. She believed in making mistakes and she made some of her own. But she did stop Trevor from making the biggest mistake he could have and ending up in jail!

Trevor’s criminal enterprises didn’t sound quite so criminal from the way he described them. They sounded like smart hustles, almost cheating the system. We did like his insight into the ‘teach a man to fish’ metaphor. Yes, you can teach someone to do something. But if they don’t have to tools to do that new skill, they’re no better of than they were before. Getting the CD writer changed his life. He had the tools to use his skills and become successful when he hadn’t been able to before because of supplies, not ability.

The other insight we all loved was how Hitler was more or less unknown to black South Africans. When they had to name the worst person in history, he wasn’t on their radar. They would choose someone who directly affected their own misfortune, not a group of people in a place they’d never heard of or been to. It led to some rather amusing situations, to be sure!

That’s the last meeting of this group until the fall. It’s nice having one that takes the summer off so I can pick some summer reads for myself. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 12-June-2019

12 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made a point of reading Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min during two lunches last week. I think I’m finally past the halfway point! Only a few more months to go…
I passed disk 20 of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. It’s great and I’m adoring it, but it feels like such an uphill battle with how long it is.
Nothing with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, still on hold.
I made good progress with Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray because of my runs this past week. I had to renew it, but there won’t be a need for a second renewal to be sure.
I have to return Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy today or tomorrow. I’m racing to finish it. Wish me luck!

Recently finished: Second week in a row of nothing. I hope I can break the streak soon!

I did post my review of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime so there’s that at least! This break in finishing books has finally let me catch up on reviews.

Reading Next: I’m a bit nervous that I won’t start Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens soon. I need to have it finished by the end of the month and I’ve been really slow with physical books lately. I’m hoping it sweeps me away and I finish it in no time!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

10 Jun

I’m a huge fan of Noah. I like him on The Daily Show and I watched a documentary about him that covered some of the same things in this book. I loved how resilient he is and how he shares the struggles he had as a child in a way that is informative and comedic. I was so excited to read this book for my book club.

Cover image via Goodreads

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Summary from Goodreads:

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

More than anything, I want to meet Trevor’s mother after reading this book. She’s almost as major a character as he is in his own memoir. Noah faced a lot growing up in South Africa, but his mother faced it for herself and for Trevor. Any problems he had, she dealt with as well. Any changes to try and help Trevor were hardships for Patricia. Their relationship was beautifully depicted and was a great way for Noah to say ‘thank you’ to his amazing mother.

I could so easily picture Trevor as the mischevious young boy he describes. He’s always trying to get just a little something more than he’s given, be it a book or a few extra rand. He was open about things in life that would have been difficult or embarrassing and I appreciated that honesty. When he talked about his mom and brother, it was clear it was hard for him at times. I appreciated how he told us about the hard times he endured. Apartheid is something American education doesn’t dwell on very much and I feel like I know a little bit more about it now.

I loved hearing about Trevor growing from a shy small boy to an out-going and ambitious teenager and 20-something. Nothing in between felt rushed and I could see how his childhood influenced him as a young adult and shaped him into who he is today. He tells stories similar to these on clips from his show and it’s very eye-opening to hear about political oppression from someone who now reports on it.

One of the most eye-opening things for me was how much I related to Trevor’s stories of high school romance but how different they were as well. Prom was a disaster for me my Junior year but nothing like Trevor’s and my date at least spoke the same language as me. I had a middle school heartbreak and Trevor’s story brought back memories. It was a very relatable childhood but the lense of apartheid and race made his stories give me pause and make me think about them more.

Trevor Noah
Image via the Comedy Central Press

I laughed the hardest when Noah talked about his friend, Hitler. What an unusual name. But, Noah explains why Hitler isn’t uncommon in South Africa and it seems a bit far-fetched, but I’ll believe it. Hitler performing at a Jewish school, though, is hilarious. I’m surprised it didn’t end more violently, to be honest. You’d think someone named Hitler would know about the man his name came from and understand why it might upset children.

Hearing about Trevor’s step-father was hard for me. His mother had been such a strong woman and great presence in his life and it made it hard for me to understand why such a bad man could be part of their lives. Trevor explains how it happened slowly and over time, but 20-20 makes it very clear that he was never going to help Trevor or Patricia.

Having Noah narrate the audiobook was an amazing idea. He talks about the power of languages in South Africa and how he was able to use mastery of languages to fit in with many different groups and communicate with people. Having him use those language skills to quote people in their own language and read passages in Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans was wonderful. I don’t think anyone else reading it would have worked.

Since Noah is such a big name in America, I think it’s wonderful that he’s shared his childhood and how different it was from an American childhood. He talks a lot about American politics so understanding his background helps us understand why he feels the way he does. I loved the humor he used, but his message about assimilation and racism were very strong and impactful to me.

Writer’s Takeaway: Any writer wants to use some form of comedy to lighten the mood in certain parts of a book. Not many can make racism and apartheid funny. Noah has a great gift in this and really shines in this book. We all know he’s a funny guy but it’s different to see him laugh through the hard times.

I enjoyed the book a lot, especially the audiobook version. Four out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah | Book Addiction
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah | Court Reads
“Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah | Zezee with Books
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | The Rogue Storyteller
Trevor Noah, “Born a Crime” | Don’t Need a Diagram

Challenge Update, May 2019

3 Jun

I’m feeling pleased as punch about my reading this year! I know most of it is audiobooks because of training time, but I’m still happy about it! You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in May:

Hawkes Harbor // S.E. Hinton (2/5)
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing // Mira Jacob (4/5)
Exit West // Mohsin Hamid (4/5)
Survival in Auschwitz // Primo Levi (4/5)
Born a Crime // Trevor Noah (4/5)

I’m happy to have two physical books on this list (Hawkes and Auschwitz) and still be killing it with audiobooks. I’m making great progress toward my challenges for the year, too!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/12
Nothing new this month. I’ll probably have to start being strategic soon. I’ll see what book club picks will hit for me and then start filling in the rest. I don’t want to be rushed in December with this one!

Goodreads Challenge

28/52
Over 50% done! Feeling good about this one for sure. I don’t think I’ll be sweating when it comes to the end of the year. I think I’ll be sailing through to the end.

Cover image via Goodreads

Book of the Month

It could be a recency bias. Or it could be a ‘cute TV host’ bias, but I’m going to pick Born a Crime by Trevor Noah as my book of the month. I learned a lot about apartheid from this book but I also laughed at it because Noah has a great sense of humor. He had a very effective way of telling his story.

Added to my TBR

It hurts to see this list up, even if it’s just by two to 74. I added my book club picks for the rest of the year so it took a bit of a jump.

  • Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols. I saw this on an ‘upcoming SciFi’ list and it sounded so good that I added it to the TBR.
  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Here’s the beginning of the book club list. I hadn’t heard of this one before but I’ll be reading it soon.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. This one I had heard of and I’ve read another book by Jones, Silver Sparrow, a few years ago.
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. I hadn’t heard of this one but our sponsoring librarian was pushing it. I think another group is ordering it, which means we sometimes get roped into books we didn’t ask for. We’ll see what comes of it.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck. We’re trying to read more classics so here’s the first attempt!
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. After so much good press surrounding this one, I’m excited! I wish it wasn’t a year out, though!
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I was excited to see this on the list because I have an autographed copy after meeting Lee at the Midwest Literary Walk a few months ago. I’m excited to have people to discuss it with!

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: I’ve been able to ride outside a few times so I’m feeling better about this. I’ve got a big charity ride coming up so my bike seat muscles are about to get a crash course!
  • Attend six weddings: Feeling good about this. Two in June so I’ll be sure to let you all know shortly!
  • Finish a weather blanket: I’m no more than a week behind at any point so it feels great. I need to start some more baby blanket projects soon to keep up with those.
  • Write: I finished my editing, just making a few adjustments as I gather a list of agents. This doesn’t feel real but I’m so excited at the same time.
  • See my friends more: I am terrible at this. Does seeing my tri club count? If not, then I failed. I see my training partners, but that’s about it right now. I’ll argue I’m becoming closer friends with them.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2019, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-May-2019

29 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made an effort to keep moving through Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min again. Eventually, this will pay off and I’ll have it finished. But I’m enjoying the ride as I go. It’s not a bad book, just a slow read for me.
I’m on my final renewal of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. There’s no way I’ll finish it in time, but I’ll make a grand effort. I’m hoping I can go in and show them I still have it and get it renewed again a few more times before I have to give it up.
I was really enjoying A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers but I’m going to have to put it aside for a bit. I’ve got some books with deadlines that are pressing on my time and I know I’ll come back to this one when I can.
My new audiobook is Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, the second installment of the Diviners series. I read the first in this series a while back so it’s a bit of a struggle to remember what happened and keep up. It’s a fun story, though, and I’m enjoying it.
I picked up Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson on Friday and decided to jump in so I can finish well before the due date. There’s no renewal on this one since it’s part of the Interlibrary Loan system. So far, it’s a nice review but I haven’t picked up on anything that’s going to make me stop and fix my own novel. I guess that’s a good thing?

Recently finished: I finished the audiobook for Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and absolutely loved it. I learned a lot about growing up in South Africa and how people interact there. It’s not a country I’d ever given much thought to outside of Mandela so I’m really glad I read this. Not to mention Noah’s amazing narration and humor shine through.

I did get one review posted (yes, I’m very behind on them). I posted my review of Exit West by Mohsin Hamid on Thursday. Please check it out when you can. I enjoyed the book a lot and my book club has since met to discuss it so I’m excited to continue the conversation.

Reading Next: My next book club selection is Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens. I was sad to be unable to find this one on audio so it will be my next physical read and means I’m keeping Genius on the backburner for just a bit longer.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 22-May-2019

22 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I struggled to read some of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min this week. It’s not uninteresting, it’s just my lunch book and slow going because of that. I’ll get through it, no worries.
I’m about a third of the way through A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. With the show now over, I’m getting ravenous to get more out of the world. I want to be caught up when Martin finally releases the next book. I guess I’m hoping for a different ending.
I got through a chunk of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers on a flight this past weekend. Yes, I’m traveling again. I’m going to use it to my advantage and get through as many books as possible!
I’m making good progress on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. He’s a great storyteller and I’m loving all the stories of his childhood and growing up in South Africa. I guess my education is seriously lacking when it comes to apartheid so I’m learning a lot.

Recently finished: Nothing new finished this week. It was a slow week of progress, I guess. I’m optimistic Noah will be here next week.

I had two reviews go up this week! The first was for Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton. It wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed if I’m being honest. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn’t. I gave it Two out of Five Stars.
The second was The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob. This one was really fun and I enjoyed the story a lot more than I thought I would. The story was sufficiently complicated to keep me going and I liked the dual timelines. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m still waiting on Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson to come in from the library. I’m sure it will be here just when I’m not ready for it. Life always happens that way, doesn’t it? I should expect it by now.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 15-May-2019

15 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made a point to read more of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min during my lunches this week. I got through another chapter and then some so I’m happy with the progress. I knew this would be slow going so I’m not worried about it.
I’m taking small bites out of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’m not yet a third done, but I’ll keep going steadily. I don’t mind drives right now and I’m taking the time to enjoy it as it comes.
I started on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and I’m hoping I can finish fast. I have a trip out of town next weekend and I don’t like to take signed books out of the house. I might just have to power through, though. I don’t think it will be much of a chore.
I’ve just started Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I adore Noah on The Daily Show and I’ve liked the stand-up I’ve seen from him. I even watched his documentary on getting started in comedy in South Africa and enjoyed that. I’m really excited about this, to say the least!

Recently finished: I wrapped up Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi this week. It was a short book but it hit me hard! I thought after reading several other accounts of survival in concentration camps, I knew what I was getting into. But Levi kept shocking me. He was in the camp for a long time and his memory is very vivid. I’m glad he wrote this haunting book, the world needs to remember the atrocities we are capable of.
I also finished Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. I should have guessed that I’d finish it in a week but it still came as a surprise to me. I liked this one a lot and the bit of magical realism didn’t bother me too much. I usually hate it, but this wasn’t too overwhelming. My book club meets in a few weeks to discuss so expect a few more posts on this going forward.

I only got one review up this week which means I’m slipping seriously behind. I posted my review of The Power by Naomi Alderman last Thursday. It was very OK to me, nothing that blew me away. My book club met earlier this week to discuss so I’ll be sharing some more thoughts soon.

Reading Next: It seems too early to pick another book to read. I guess I’ll have to pick. I’m working through books that will need an Interlibrary Loan when I can so I’ve put in a request for Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson. I’ve yet to be let down by the ‘Dummies’ series and it seems like a good time for this one. With my manuscript being wrapped up, I need to start another and I’m a bit lost on how to go about it this time. I’m hoping for a bit of inspiration.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!