My Drug of Choice

The Last Thing To Burn

My Drug of Choice – You know that feeling when you can’t bear to put a book down, you have to read it in one sitting, one big gulp as it were? I had that feeling this week with what is one of my best reads so far for 2021. It is called The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean.

It’s about human trafficking, and it is so beautifully and sensitively told plus the suspense in it is OUT OF THIS WORLD and the dialogue – you all know how I feel about dialogue – the dialogue is exquisite. I adored it. I even dreamed about it after I finished it.

Okay, it wasn’t a very pleasant dream, and it involved teeth, but still…

Do you remember the first book you ever read?

Secret Seven - Drug of Choice

I can’t remember which one it was but the first book I read on my own was a Secret Seven Book and it felt like I had entered this marvellous world of make believe, it really was like finding Narnia at the back of a cupboard.

It makes me quite sad that my kids don’t love reading as much as I do, but I’ve realized that they just consume their stories in different forms – the son loves computer games and they both love TV and movies. And not only the big Hollywood blockbusters, they love arthouse films, and can sit and debate the cinematography and the direction and the music and the costumes and the performances literally for hours.

Both reading and writing are compulsions for me. I have to read every night before I go to bed and I am a complete book slut who generally has several books on the go at once. And that is because some books need to be gobbled up and some you need to dip in and out of slowly and some are so fucking boring or incomprehensible they need to be abandoned ASAP.

Yes, it is fine not to finish a book. We cannot all love the same books and THAT IS OKAY.

If reading is my escape, writing is how I make sense of the world. I write in a journal nearly every day, it’s kept me sane(ish) during lockdown and probably prevented me from inflicting bodily harm on *one or two people in the neighbourhood and **one or two people in my own household. No really. This has been the most stressful, utterly shitty year on so many levels and if I hadn’t been able to write about it, I would’ve lost the few marbles I possess.

If you do keep a journal, I suggest you keep it under lock and key so that you can be completely honest in it. It kind of defeats the purpose if you’re having to constantly self-censor because you’re worried about who might read it. Your journal is a place where you can ugly cry and show off your worst self. Mine is honestly just me whining about how crap everything is with bits of the weather, which plant is flowering in my garden and the level of the Vaal dam thrown in for good measure (it’s currently at 105.2% which I was most surprised about, I thought it would’ve dropped to below 100% by now).

My Latest Notebook - Drug of Choice
My Latest Notebook
At the Franschhoek Literary Festival in 2018
At the Franschhoek Literary Festival in 2018

In those halcyon days when we all got to skip off to the Kingsmead and Franschhoek Festivals, the sponsors – the utterly fab Porcupine Ridge asked us to give quotes that they would then put up all around Kingsmead and Franschhoek (when I was asked to send in a few quotes, I honestly felt like I had ARRIVED.) One of my quotes said “Books are my drug of choice” but I suspect it should have been “Stories are my drug of choice” because I feel pretty much the same about a good movie or limited drama series as I do about a good book.

I was very torn this week because I was trying to finish The Last Thing to Burn whilst watching the Harry and Meghan interview on TV waiting to see what royal tea would be spilled. Luckily, there were seven billion ad breaks so I could read in between.

I was slightly puzzled by the people on social media who INSISTED over and over again how NOT INTERESTED they were in the interview whilst discussing everything IN the interview which suggested that they had in fact watched it MORE THAN ONCE. It’s almost as if they were expecting some kind of award for their lack of interest. Spoiler alert: there is no award for not being interested.

Personally, I think anything that highlights mental health issues and racism is important. But perhaps that’s just me.

Grown Ups

What I enjoyed about the interview is that it pointed out that we do not have to put up with people trashing us – both in real life and on social media. I saw a brilliant example of this when our fave, Marian Keyes called out someone on Twitter for being ugly to her. She literally said to this person, “Why would you want to say something so mean to me? What have I ever done to you?” and it shut them up.

It was quite brilliant and an excellent example to us all not to accept that kind of crappola.

There is this belief that famous people have no feelings and that if you are in the public eye, you should be prepared to put up with abuse. Um…no…everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity and if not, the block button is your friend.


Obvs, if you’re going to dish it out and start attacking other people IRL or on the socials, then you’d better be prepared to reap what you sow/if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen/a rolling stone spoils the broth (feel free to throw in any other clichés/mixed metaphors at this point.) But you get my drift.

Do not say anything on social media that you wouldn’t be prepared to say to someone’s face. I suspect I stole that from Emma Sadleir and Lizzie Harrison’s book Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones which is somewhat foolish as Emma is a high-powered lawyer. Ahem. Read the book, it’s very informative and go to one of Emma’s workshops.

The Witch Hunter

Book recommendations for the week: Marian Keyes’ Grown Ups is out in paperback, if you haven’t read it, it is quite divine and you should. I also recommend Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger. I so enjoy Lisa’s books, they are suspenseful but also contain many truths; I loved what this one had to say about our online presence. I’ve also started reading some Nordic Noir: The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck. It’s mostly set in Finland which is completely alien to me and I’m loving learning about it.

Confessions on the 745

In bookish news, apparently the Kingsmead Book Fair will be taking place online this year. I am sad we won’t be able to gather in person, but am MASSIVELY excited it’s going ahead anyway as it is quite one of my favourite events. I see that the longlist is out for the Women’s Fiction Prize, I kind of lost interest once I saw Kololo Hill wasn’t on it. Once I’ve got over my sulk, I’ll have a look at it.

In TV/movie news, both Moffie and My Octopus Teacher have bagged BAFTA noms so that is pretty cool.

TV Recommendations

Covid-wise, I still have a weird rash on my forehead, sort of teenage acne vibes, anyone else had this?? Otherwise, I’m fortunate in that I feel fine and have no long-term effects to report. The good news is that three of my family members (in the UK) have been vaccinated so far which I’m HUGELY relieved about. May we all be vaccinated SOON so we can put this whole shitshow behind us and get back to book launches and literary festivals and our lives.

Have a good week everyone and happy reading! xxx

 * The person who let their dog poo IN THE MIDDLE of our driveway by our gate springs to mind.

**The ones who last changed the loo roll pre-Covid.