Guide to my 2019 reading list, includes some great stocking fillers

By Alec Hogg

Life is too short to read bad books. So it’s worth paying attention to the annual Books of the Year feature in The Economist, the latest of which was published on Friday, featuring 49 well-considered options for bookworms. As ever, my eye was drawn first to the biographies, of which all seven would make wonderful Xmas stocking fillers.

This list is led by fresh takes on old favourites Napoleon (by Adam Zamoyski); Churchill (by Andrew Roberts); and Gandhi (by Ramachandra Guha). Of the other biographies, the one that appeals to me most is about KGB turncoat Oleg Gordievsky called The Spy and the Traitor (by Ben Macintyre).

Scanning these candidates for 2019 was a reminder of my favourite of the past year – a 10 year old tour de force on Cyril Ramaphosa by Anthony Butler. Given CR’s crucial role, it’s a must-read for every South African. The transcript of my interview with the author is a useful executive summary for Biznews Premium members.