I wish someone had told me that one day I’d own 5000+ books

Carel in his den with three of his favourite things – a book, a glass of wine and one of his dogs on his lap

“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by​ chief señor, Carel.​

I love reading. And I am not too fussed about what I read. In fact, one of my mother’s favourite stories was that I read the Bible one year on the beach in Uvongo when I ran out of books. These days I do have a preference for non-religious books and focus on biographies, histories, travel, trashy novels and politics.

I learnt English by reading Enid Blyton books. I obtained a cum laude in English by devouring Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter’s screenplays. I get tremendous joy from reading books recommended by friends. I find it hard to be prejudiced if you are challenged by differing views in books. I love the smell of books, and how they feel. So I shun Kindle. Sitting in my library is one of the most special things I do. I have over 5 000 books and know where I bought each one and what mood I was in. Shakespeare is my hero. Authors make me weak at the knees and I am a bit of a groupie when it comes to many of them. One day I may write a book.

With all of these feelings and thoughts, it is no wonder that I wish to pay forward the absolute necessity – and pleasure – of reading. Make time to read and find the genres that move you. To get you started, here a few of my recommendations:

  • Anything by Shakespeare – try a few of his sonnets and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Remember that in his day he was the common man’s entertainer – and be sure to find modern day reworks of his masterpieces. Baz Lurhman’s filmed version of Romeo and Juliet is still one my best movies, ever.
  • Harold Pinter’s plays and screenplays – got me my Masters degree after all!
  • African favourites remain Bessie Head, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi Wa Thiong O. I read my first African novel when I was 17 – don’t wait that long if you can help it
  • Trashy heroes are Jilly Cooper, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer
  • Anything on the TED book list or written by a TED speaker
  • The Economist and Time are my go-to news magazines. Vanity Fair and Monocle for more high brow luxury J
  • Poems by Mary Oliver, John O’Donohue, David Whyte
  • I have various version of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – the line about how fate writes our lines and we can’t erase any of it, still speaks to me
  • Classics by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens still make me happy
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s books, especially The Tipping Point
  • Any of the books in my library – they all have stories and you are welcome to borrow them at any time – as long as you return them 🙂
  • Anything that takes your fancy in a bookshop!

I look forward to hearing your recommendations 🙂

Happy reading!


Carel is an investor in people and businesses, believing that 1+1 = (at least) 22. Working with a few basic concepts – best encapsulated in his believe that unless we are dead, anything is possible – Carel aims to build long-term sustainable value with like-minded individuals and companies, while having (a lot of!) fun.