Sunday, 27 January 2008


Last year, Ivan Vladislavić became the only South African writer to have won both the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction writing. He received the inaugural Fiction Prize in 2002 for his novel, The Restless Supermarket, and the 2007 Alan Paton Award for his latest book, Portrait with Keys: Joburg and What-What.
Long established in the annals of South African letters, this book further consolidates Vladislavić's rightful place there. A painterly example of the kind of exploration quietly taking place in local literature, it is neither memoir, novel, nor a collection of short stories, but all at the same time.
Portrait with Keys is an interlaced series of reflections on Vladislavić’s life in Johannesburg, where he has lived since the 1970's. This broad sweep takes in memories of different times in the author's life, but focuses mainly on the years just preceding and following the new millennium, and so finds us looking both outwards at the evolving city he describes, as well as inwards at our own evolving selves.
What so appeals to me about this book is how its structure reflects the fluid processes of individual thought in a way that truthfully depicts the manner in which we consider our lives and what is happening around us. This is mercifully no stream-of-consciousness Ulysses, though, which many consider to have been the book of the twentieth century. I confess quite freely that I've never read this latter dense piece of self-conscious prose through to the end because, for me, it is neither an accurate depiction of how we think nor an earnest sharing of the human experience (I fully expect to be lynched for this statement!).
Suffice it to say that I found Vladislavić’s form more human in scale and intent, and so, more accessible. And, in the end, this is the litmus test of all enduring literature - the fact that it can be read and assimilated equally on different levels.
Perhaps this is born of the fact that the author balks at nothing - his own vulnerability, the "unnatural beauty" he perceived in the streets of Johannesburg as a child and which brought him to the city from his hometown of Pretoria, the contrasting sense of always living on the edge that is represented by the leitmotif of the keys Joburgers have to keep in order to secure themselves and their property, the sadly poignant accounts of lives lived on the fringe of this wealthy metropolis and, equally, the textured humour of everyday existence against this backdrop.
His telling of the classic Max the Gorilla story, for instance, is so understated that laughter catches one unawares, followed rapidly by the deep sense of unease that is such familiar territory. This especially as it is counterpoised by the author's descriptions of his many adventures with the ubiquitous Gorilla steering wheel lock.
In Johannesburg, we live like birds on branches (or rather, on razor wire), always alert for danger and never quite at rest. The ordinary becomes life-threatening in an instant, and it is the almost unimaginable contrast between the two that Vladislavić achieves so flawlessly. For therein lies our reality; we live restlessly between the threat of death and the music of life:
"A guard is waiting for us at the end of a row of parked cars, semaphoring with his torch ... His uniform is black, almost military, with a leather bandolier over his shoulder, combat boots, regimental flashes on his sleeve ... He unlocks the wrought iron gate, ushers us through, locks the gate again behind us ... There is music on the air, laughter, talk. The path is a string of slate islands in a glistening sea of lawn. We go along it, hand in hand, towards the murmur of hidden voices."

For more about this book, or to order a copy, click here:

Portrait with Keys

Editors and Webmasters: Interested in using this review in one of your publications or on your web site? Mail with any queries.


Exciting news for South African writers!
Radio 2000 has announced the launch of a new short story and poetry competition, Express Yourself. The station is calling for entries that focus on the important national topics of democracy, crime, corruption, the Bill of Rights and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
But they're not looking for a litany of whinges - they're looking for creative writing that expresses the depth and complexity of these issues in an original way. They want work that says the pen is mightier than the sword, that gets to the heart of the matter, and that expresses the hope of a better tomorrow.
The closing date for entries is Friday, 22 February, and the top seven entries in each category will be recorded for broadcast. Listeners will then vote for the top five.
Short stories should be no longer than 500 words, and poems no longer than 300. And the following substantial cash prizes will be awarded in each of the two categories:
  • First Prize: R10 000
  • Second Prize: R5 000
  • Third Prize: R4 000
  • Fourth Prize: R3 000
  • Fifth Prize: R 2 000
So get out those pens and paper (or switch on the computer, as the case may be). Our country is rich in stories just waiting to be told.

For more information, click through to

Thursday, 24 January 2008


I'm delighted to see that contemporary literary classics are now much more accessible and affordable.
Penguin Books has launched a new range of books called Penguin Celebrations, a collection of thirty-six titles that have been bestsellers ever since they were first published. Jacketed in the easily-recognisable Penguin Classics livery, they're nevertheless cleverly colour-coded for browsing convenience - orange for fiction, green for crime and mystery, pink for travel and adventure, dark blue for biography, light blue for science and non-fiction, and purple for essays.
My personal favourite is Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. This cult classic, first released in April 2005, examines such taxing questions as "Which is more dangerous: a gun or a swimming pool?", "What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?", "Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?", and "How much do parents really matter?".
In this book, University of Chicago economist Levitt and co-author Dubner reveal that economics (and in my opinion, that illusive inconstant, "human nature") is about nothing more or less than incentives; about how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. It'll give you new insight into so many behaviours and phenomenon that we simply take for granted as part of the contemporary landscape.
The best thing about the Penguin Celebrations range, of course, is that the recommended selling price for these titles is R95 each (R85.50 at!), way more affordable than the usual average price of between R120 and R160.
To find out more about Freakonomics, to buy a copy, or to browse the Penguin Celebrations range, click here (to browse once you've clicked through, just enter the keywords Penguin Celebrations in the search box):
Celebrate contemporary classics

Sunday, 20 January 2008


I have to say that I was disappointed in Postcards from Soweto by Mokone Molete. Its vibrant and energetic cover has been calling me for weeks, promising equally vibrant and energetic short stories. I was looking forward not only to reading about Molete's childhood and adolescent years in Soweto but, more so, to sharing his experience of everyday lives lived.
For all the author's use of local idiom and the vernacular, however, these "postcards" of three to four pages in length lack strong internal narrative structure, and the prose is often somewhat disconnected. The net effect is that I frequently found myself struggling through clusters of words with seemingly no inherent form, and unable to follow the storyline as a result.
The "postcard" format is an intriguing one, offering an almost voyeuristic glimpse into private lives we would otherwise never see, and this was the appeal of the book for me. The format's very briefness demands structure, though, and without this it loses its power.
Writing a very short story is almost like painting a miniature - the secret is in focusing in on something specific, and rendering it with great detail and intensity. It also requires small, precise brushstrokes; this is not the domain of the large, lazy splash. To throw fragments of several large splashes into a small space does not a post-modern narrative make.
So, for instance, in the story Cousy, a vignette of a fellow youth club member who later turned out to be gay, trying to cover the detail of such things as Cousy's fashion sense as well as a span of years in just over two pages is ultimately unsatisfying. I feel Molete would have done better to have painted a more intense picture of Cousy, and then to have left the final deduction to the reader.
These stories nevertheless give the reader a sense of the deep fault lines that still divide our society. Sometimes these are painful, but sometimes they humorously highlight how different things can be when seen from separate viewpoints. In Hit the Skakava, for instance, Molete describes a scene in a bank which captures the very real issue of how the same language can mean different things to different speakers, very pertinent in a country that has eleven official languages:
"And then there is the problem of not knowing what is slang and what proper English. I was behind a client in a bank queue when I heard him tell the clerk: 'This card is fucked up.' Poor girl, she reddened with either anger or embarrassment. I intervened and explained that where we came from, 'fucked up' is a normal expression for 'damaged'."
The bridges that lie between the past Molete describes and our future are still numerous, but at least there are light moments along the way ...

Unfortunately not available at, check out your local bookstore.
Editors and Webmasters: Interested in using this review in one of your publications or on your web site? Mail with any queries.

Friday, 18 January 2008


Regular SAbookworm readers will recall that, in December, I published a feature on the Greenpeace Book Campaign, and also introduced Mr Splashy Pants (yes, I still fall about laughing every time I see that name!).
By way of background, Greenpeace International held a competition late last year asking earth-loving friends to suggest names for a whale pod in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The Japanese whaling fleet, in direct contravention of the International Whaling Commission's moratorium on whaling in the sanctuary, had just set sail for its annual "scientific" whale hunt there. The competition was part of Greenpeace's campaign to draw attention to this, and to stop the illegal hunting of endangered whale species.
Well, 11 000 people suggested names, and 150 000 voted for their favourite name on the shortlist. Mr Splashy Pants won hands down, garnering 78% of the vote!
The good news is that, almost immediately after that, the Japanese government agreed to stop hunting highly endangered humpback whales, which they had decided to target on this year's hunt. Unfortunately, fin and minke whales weren't spared, and Greenpeace activists are currently trying to disrupt the hunt for these species in the southern ocean.
So, don't forget about Mr Splashy Pants and his buddies out there dodging exploding harpoons. Read more at, and add your voice to the protest against Japan's plans to build a new whaling vessel.

Photograph of two humpback whales breaching courtesy of Greenpeace International (


Co-incidentally, while on leave in December, I watched an excellent National Geographic documentary on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (Naked Science, SABC 2, 30 December 2007).
I was amazed to discover that the SETI Institute in the USA ( had conducted an extensive study on language structure, using information theory developed in the 1950's, as part of this on-going initiative. The reasoning being that, if we were to make contact with any form of extraterrestrial intelligence, a more complicated language/communications structure would indicate a more advanced level of intelligence.
By analysing human languages and animal communications mathematically, scientists at the institute discovered a universal constant in the structure of all forms of communication, and were able to rate these on general scale of 1 - 10. English featured at level 8 (and, as anyone who has ever tried to learn it as a foreign language will testify, that's no surprise!). Only one other form of terrestrial communication was more complex in structure, featuring at around 9 on the scale - the language of humpback whales.
Aboriginal peoples in Australia and New Zealand have long believed that whales carry with them ancient memories; memories of how the world came into being, and of human and animal history. Even more interesting, then, is the fact that SETI scientists found that whales can imitate the sounds made by other animals, even those they couldn't ever have come into contact with, like lions:
"We have recorded humpbacks making sounds like the trumpeting of elephants, roars like lions, whistles like dolphins, clicks like the sperm whale, mooing like cows, chattering like monkeys, and several very human-like vocalizations – some even sounding like an unusual language, with exclamations like “whoops!”. Although we are just beginning to document and classify all the diverse sounds of the humpback whale, we already expect its repertoire to exceed that of any other animal we have studied to date."
Humpbacks even seem to compose their own pop songs, and to have a seasonal hit parade:
"The humpbacks of southeast Alaska are known to migrate thousands of miles to Hawaii to mate, where they sing long and complex songs. Several variations of these songs are started at the beginning of the season, then eventually all humpbacks are singing the same song for that year."
And now scientists have discovered that humpback whales have brains cells also found in humans, indicating an evolutionary connection that may reveal many secrets of our ancient past.
The moral of the story? As the Bard said, "There are more things in heaven and earth ... than are dreamed of in our philosophy", so we need to be very careful indeed of what we set out to destroy.

For further interesting reading, click through to these online features:
Talking With Your Mouth Full: The Feeding Calls of the Humpback Whale:
Dr Lawrence Doyle:
Humpback Whales Have Brain Cells Also Found in Humans: and,,3-2474227,00.html (the latter shows and extraordinary photograph of a humpback whale breaching in Kwa-Zulu Natal waters.)
Pictures courtesy of National Geographic. To use these as wallpaper on your computer, go to:
Editors and Webmasters: Interested in using this feature in one of your publications or on your web site? Mail with any queries.

Thursday, 17 January 2008


The CBA (Commonwealth Broadcasting Association), which administers the annual Commonwealth Short Story Competition, has announced the winner for 2007. Top honours have gone to Zambian writer, Ellen Banda-Aaku for her story "Sozi's Box", which was selected from over two thousand entries.
Twenty-five other writers also received prizes for their stories, which have been recorded on a CD available online from the CBA web site.
To order a copy and to see a full list of the 2007 winners, click through to:


Entries are now invited for the 2008 Commonwealth Short Stoty Competition, which offers a top prize of £2,000.

The competition, which aims to recognise new writers from Commonwealth countries, is open to all Commonwealth citizens (that includes us!).
There's no entry fee, and writers may submit their work either by post or by e-mail. Stories may cover any theme or subject, but entrants are encouraged to write about themselves and the socities in which they live.
The deadline for submissions is 1 May 2008.

For more information, click through to:

Monday, 14 January 2008


Here's a great way for book lovers to test their wits and make a real contribution to the alleviation of world hunger at the same time.
Visit Free Rice, a fabulous new web site that tests your knowledge of words and their meanings. For every word you get right, this non-profit organisation will donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme. This might not sound like a lot, but it adds up! Since it's inception four months ago, Free Rice has donated over 14 billion grains of rice to the UN - that's a whole lot of food!
Warning: this game could become addictive, but you'll be flexing your brain power, improving your vocabulary, and feeding people in need while you're playing it, so what's not to like? By the way, when you visit the Free Rice web site for the first time, click on the "Options" tab at the top of the page and set your computer to remember your vocabulary level and donation total.
United Nations World Food Programme:
P.S. I've written to the World Food Programme to find out more-or-less how many grains of rice there are in a kilogram, so that we can know in concrete terms exactly how much rice has been donated to the UNWFP. I'll keep you informed.
UPDATE, 14 January 2008, 16:30: OK, this isn't scientific at all and I'm soooo open to correction, but I couldn't resist weighing a few grains of rice and doing some sums. It seems there are approximately 200 grains of rice to one gram, so you need about 200,000 grains to make up a kilogram. This means that 14 billion grains of rice translates into about 70,000 kilos of rice. As I said, it adds up!

Sunday, 13 January 2008


Writer Bill Bryson's recently-released memoir, The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid is both really funny and very scary; funny because it's written with Bryson's trademark dry humour, and scary because it provides an unblinking insight into the birth of a superpower that today dominates the world.

As Bryson put it in his first book, "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to". And older South Africans will recognise in his story of growing up in the United States during the boom years of the 1950's and 1960's not only a time now long gone, but the strange innocence of looking at the truly menacing through the eyes of a child.

In this book, Bryson deftly paints a picture of the blossoming of middle class America and the nuclear age, liberally spicing it up with off-hand and often hilarious accounts of his juvenile view of this world.

This was the era of the appliance, when television and refrigerators took over the home, when spray-on mayonnaise and frozen dinners invaded supermarkets shelves, when the flat-top haircut made its appearance (perhaps in cultural opposition to the evil that was Elvis), and absolutely everything was good for you (or, at least, innocuous). Magazine ads, for instance authoritatively proclaimed that more doctors smoked Camel than any other cigarette brand(!), kids were left to play in the colourful spray of the municipal insecticide truck, and atom bombs were set off like fireworks. And all of this took place in a climate of unerring optimism that today seems nothing less than naive.

Yet that was the spirit of the times; the war was over, the US had suffered little damage on home soil, it boasted scores of new factories that had been built as part of the war effort, and had coffers full of cash from war bonds. It was, in Shakespeare's words, a brave new world, and everything held promise, even that legendary haircut:

"In 1955, my father and brother went to the barber and came back with every hair on their heads standing to attention and sheared off in a perfect horizontal plane. This arresting style was known as a flat-top. They spent most of the rest of the decade looking as if they were prepared in emergencies to provide landing spots for some very small experimental aircraft, or perhaps special delivery messages sent by miniature missile. Never have people looked so ridiculous and so happy at the same time."

But the money and the power and the optimism bred something chilling too. Amongst other things, it bred McCarthyism, the Cold War and the nuclear arms race which, in retrospect, was undertaken with a nonchalance that seems almost impossible to believe.

As Bryson puts it:

"What was scary about the bomb (the first hydrogen bomb, detonated by the US in 1952), wasn't so much the growth of the bomb as the people in charge of the growth of the bomb ... Edward Teller, the semi-crazed Hungarian-born physicist who was one of the presiding geniuses behind the development of the H-bomb, was dreaming up exciting peacetime uses for nuclear devices ... to alter the course of rivers in our favour (ensuring that the Danube, for instance, served only capitalist countries), (and) to blow away irksome impediments to commerce and shipping like the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

"In short, the creators of the hydrogen bomb wished to wrap the world in unpredictable levels of radiation, obliterate whole ecosystems, despoil the face of the planet, and provoke and antagonize our enemies at every opportunity - and those were their peacetime dreams."

We need look little further than this to see the road that lead to 9/11, and need not wonder why the World Trade Center, that great bastion of trade before all else, was a primary target.

But the threat of annihilation didn't stop Bryson from just being a kid, from learning to read from outdated Dick and Jane books, racking up 26 ¼ absences from school in one semester alone, stirring up havoc in the movie theatre on Saturday afternoons, being enthralled by the advent of colour TV, and enduring surreal visits to the Riverview Amusement Park.

In the face of all that's extraordinary, that's how life is. As Bryson so lightly and skilfully shows, the truth of living is ultimately in the ordinary.

For more about this book, or to order a copy, click here:
Bolt off to buy this book
Editors and Webmasters: Interested in using this review in one of your publications or on your web site? Mail with any queries.

Friday, 11 January 2008


Words are powerful as they define both our ideas and our experiences, and no-one knows this better than the media, politicians and marketers. That's why the Bush spin doctors refer to the fiasco in Iraq as The War on Terror and not The Illegal Invasion of a Sovereign Country, why anti-abortion campaigners refer to their movement as Pro-Life, and why Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its brand name to KFC, effectively downplaying the health risks associated with fried food.
In South Africa, we're sensitised to the power that words have to perpetuate racism and division, and guard against using racially offensive language. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for language that perpetuates sexism and prejudice against women.
As SAbookworm is a book-related site, I feel it's important to highlight one language issue in particular, namely the widespread use of the terms "chick lit" and "chick flicks" to designate books and movies that are of interest to or about women.
This may come as a surprise to some, but the use of the word "chick" in this context is either overtly or covertly dismissive, as it directly associates women with something that is small, vulnerable, cute, compliant, dim-witted, non-threatening and controllable. Simply put, to use this term to describe women, and things related to and of interest to them, is offensive and denigrating.
I'm struck, for instance, by how etv uses the term Chick Flick Thursdays to refer to the movies of interest to women that the station flights on Thursday nights, but refers to Friday nights, when movies of interest to men are flighted, as Friday Action Nights. What an outcry there'd be if, in the interests of marketing synergy, these were to be re-dubbed Dick Flick Fridays.
C'mon editors, journalists, producers, publishers and presenters, start paying attention to this kind of thing. Especially as South Africans, you know better. And to women everywhere, don't accept the use of language like this. Demand a new lexicon - you can do it! You owe it to yourselves, to your fellow women, and to the women of the future.

Sunday, 6 January 2008


Statistically speaking, a population "at risk" has a far greater chance than average of suffering some form of disaster, misfortune, illness or loss. AIDS sufferers, for instance, are at risk of contracting TB in a way that the general population is not. And this is not a risk taken knowingly or after consideration, one that has the potential for a positive outcome; it is one imposed by circumstance, whatever that might be. There is a subtle difference between being "at risk" and "taking a risk".
Unfortunately, this is a subtlety neither fully identified nor explored by the editors of a recently-published selection of essays, At Risk: Writing On and Over the Edge in South Africa, and both the collection itself and the analysis of its context could have been richer for it.
That said, this is a superb collection of work, an arresting view into the hearts and minds of ordinary people living in an extraordinary place; people living at risk.
Published by Jonathan Ball Publishers under the auspices of editors associated with the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), this work is in the very best Wits tradition of postulation, exploration and extrapolation. But don't let that put you off. This isn't a weighty academic tome, it's an immediate and poignant record of the everyday lived experience of people in a country on the edge.
As the individual experience is inevitably and inextricably the political as well, these essays give us an insight into our contemporary history that journalism can't, bringing to the reader the emotion of experience purposely not included in newspaper, television and internet reports. Here, a cross-section of writers, from journalists set free of professional constraints to researchers, historians, writers, NGO workers and immigrants, explore what it means to be living in South Africa right now. They explore what it means to be united, separated, hopeful and in despair all at the same time; they explore what the fruits of freedom have turned out to be and, as the editors put it, what it means to be intrinsically "primed for major loss" just by being.
Sarah Nuttell's tender account of the loss of her infant daughter, either caused or complicated by what can only be described as systemic medical negligence, shows us exactly what it means to have this kind of loss imposed on us by circumstances beyond our control:
"Several months after her death, I discovered that 7 pm is shift-change time in South African hospitals. As we lay in that corridor (waiting for an emergency Caesarian that was carelessly delayed), it was really like lying on a street, as staff prepared to drive to their Sandton homes or to catch taxis to Alexandra and Soweto, and others arrived for another night on duty at the hospital. Certainly our nurse had been keen to leave. And no-one had appeared in her place. As the traffic on the hospital street grew, a small girl whom we had created and nurtured for nine months lost her chance at life, slowly fading like a light bulb, or quick as a flash."
Equally moving and disturbing is journalist and political commentator Justice Malala's description of the sudden onset of the sense of insanity that so many South Africans live with every day, an insanity made more acute by the veneer of normality and economic prosperity consistently propagated by government and big business. Describing the effects that personal and collective experiences of crime have had on him, we are struck by how, as one wag put it, we are all suffering from Present Traumatic Stress Disorder here.
We are also struck by something equally as dangerous, but far less acknowledged, the anger that is born of being powerless, "absolutely, truly powerless". This, on the off-chance the political and economic leaders of our country are listening, is the kind of anger that inevitably boils over into dissent and open conflict. We only need to look at the two world wars, 9/11, and the conflicts in places such as the Balkans, Rwanda, Iraq and, as we speak, Kenya, to know what the consequences of long-simmering anger that finally explodes can be. And, as an aside (if an important one), no matter how sophisticated our constitution is or how putatively fair our election processes may be, we simply do not have a democracy if the citizens of the country are chronically overcome by this level of fear, anger and exclusion.
And make no mistake, exclusion is there, as is the fear and anger bred of it, and we all need to be alert to how subtle its mechanisms can be.
This is graphically portrayed in its frightening ordinariness by Makhosazana Xaba's chronicle of buying a new home, and of the racist, passive-aggressive behaviour of the seller's sister (also the next door neighbour), something we are all familiar with but, as Malala puts it, feel utterly powerless to change:
"After the 'SOLD' sign saga, we moved onto the driveway drama and stayed there for the longest time. Elna used to park her car in front of my garage in such a manner that I could not drive out. If she arrived first in the afternoon she would park in such a way that meant there was no room for me to get to the garage. At first when this happened, I just let it be ... (b)ut when she parked me in I would knock on her door to tell her I needed to drive out. She would tell me not to disturb her. I would (have to) buzz and shout until she came out to move her car."
These are all tales of our very own heart of darkness, from the great to the mundane, and this is a book everyone should read. Unfortunately, I don't subscribe to the editors' comment in the introduction: "We are living free, but with doubt - and also generally without demoralisation, writers seem to suggest". I don't believe the writers whose work is collected in this volume suggest the absence of demoralisation at all. I believe they express the profound despair that is creeping inexorably through out nation's psyche.
For more about this book, or to order a copy, click here:
Risk it ...
UPDATE, 11 January 2008: I think it worth mentioning that At Risk was published in August 2007, before recent political changes and the effects they have had on the national zeitgeist.
Editors and Webmasters: Interested in using this review in one of your publications or on your web site? Mail with any queries.

Saturday, 5 January 2008


SAbookworm would like to wish all its readers everything of the very best for 2008 - peace, joy, abundance and good health. And, if it comes your way, spread it around. There're lots of people out there who could do with a smile, a kind word, a square meal, some practical help, a little financial support, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to share a laugh with. Good will is the best kind of virus there is - let's start an epidemic this year!
After a much-needed break, the bookworm is looking forward to publishing regular posts again. There's lots to share with you.
This weekend I'll be reviewing At Risk, a collection of essays by South African writers edited by Liz Mc Gregor and Sarah Nuttall. It's an arresting look into the hearts and minds of ordinary people living in extraordinary times - don't miss it.
I'll also be posting some ideas for an initiative that came to mind while I was reading this book, and would be interested in receiving your feedback on it.
Then, just some site housekeeping.
If you're anything like me, reading posts arranged from the most recent to the least recent can be a bit confusing, even though this is a worldwide blogging convention. By the same token, if posts are arranged sequentially, it means you have to go to the last page of the site to read the latest posts, which is a bit of a pain.
In an attempt to get around these issues, and to make posts generally easier to read and to follow, I think I've come up with a workable compromise. This will enable SAbookworm readers to access the most recently published posts at the top of the first page, but also to read those published each day sequentially instead of in reverse order.
Here's how it works: I'll still be publishing in reverse date order (i.e. showing posts with the most recent date first). However, when there's more than one post a day, I'll be publishing these sequentially, so you can read them from the top one to the bottom one in logical order. I hope this'll make your visits to the site more enjoyable - let me know.
And have a great year!