100 books like At Home with Apartheid

By Rebecca Ginsburg,

Here are 100 books that At Home with Apartheid fans have personally recommended if you like At Home with Apartheid. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Patina of Place: The Cultural Weathering of a New England Industrial Landscape

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Author Of Company Suburbs: Architecture, Power, and the Transformation of Michigan's Mining Frontier

From my list on architecture and social identity in industrial America.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid I would cut out graph paper to design my ideal house. When I was in college, I walked into a class called American Material Life and had my eureka moment: “This is how I want to learn about people in the past!” I realized. I’ve been doing that ever since, first as a museum curator and now as a history professor. Houses, furnishings, and the way people interact with the built environment can reveal the complexity, diversity, and beauty of human lives.

Sarah's book list on architecture and social identity in industrial America

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Why did Sarah love this book?

Kingston Heath’s captivating book Patina of Place investigates human relationships with working-class living spaces so powerfully. Sometimes I think parts of my book would have been better as a film for capturing what it feels like to move through a neighborhood and into a house. But Heath has managed to do it on static printed paper by combining historic photographs, first-hand accounts, childhood memories, and—most importantly, his gorgeous drawings!—to convey everyday experiences in New England’s three-decker housing units. What sets this book apart are Heath’s textured stories of women rearranging their furniture to make room for another family member; a child’s-eye view of his grandmother’s upholstered sofa; and one couple’s reflections on demographic change around their apartment of 50 years. 

By Kingston Wm Heath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Patina of Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the booming textile industry turned many New England towns into industrialized urban centers. This rapid urbanization transformed the built environment of communities such as New Bedford, Massachusetts, as new housing styles emerged to accommodate the largely immigrant workforce. In particular, the wood-frame "three-decker" became the region's multifamily housing design of choice and is widely acknowledged as a unique architectural form that is characteristic of New England. In The Patina of Place, Heath offers the first book-length analysis of the three-decker and its cultural significance, revealing New Bedford's evolving regional identity within New…


Book cover of On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Author Of Company Suburbs: Architecture, Power, and the Transformation of Michigan's Mining Frontier

From my list on architecture and social identity in industrial America.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid I would cut out graph paper to design my ideal house. When I was in college, I walked into a class called American Material Life and had my eureka moment: “This is how I want to learn about people in the past!” I realized. I’ve been doing that ever since, first as a museum curator and now as a history professor. Houses, furnishings, and the way people interact with the built environment can reveal the complexity, diversity, and beauty of human lives.

Sarah's book list on architecture and social identity in industrial America

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Why did Sarah love this book?

Geographer Tim Cresswell’s work has helped me convince architectural historians that examining how we move through spaces is vital to understanding the full range of the built environment’s cultural meanings. He states the obvious: we all live in physical bodies. And yet historians emphasize the written word and architects emphasize visualization. What about the other senses? Cresswell argues that mobility is a socially-constructed movement much like place is a socially-constructed space. We can learn so much by paying attention to the ways society controls movement: Who is allowed to occupy which spaces? When? With whom? And how has that changed over time? Cresswell’s ideas helped me analyze the lived experiences of multiple people in the same domestic spaces, and ultimately connect the manipulation of architecture and landscape to modernity’s regulation of bodies and ideas. 

By Timothy Cresswell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Move as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the Move presents a rich history of one of the key concepts of modern life: mobility. Increasing mobility has been a constant throughout the modern era, evident in mass car ownership, plane travel, and the rise of the Internet. Typically, people have equated increasing mobility with increasing freedom. However, as Cresswell shows, while mobility has certainly increased in modern times, attempts to control and restrict mobility are just as characteristic of modernity. Through a series of fascinating historical episodes Cresswell shows how mobility and its regulation have been central to the experience of modernity.


Book cover of Another City: Urban Life and Urban Spaces in the New American Republic

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Author Of Company Suburbs: Architecture, Power, and the Transformation of Michigan's Mining Frontier

From my list on architecture and social identity in industrial America.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid I would cut out graph paper to design my ideal house. When I was in college, I walked into a class called American Material Life and had my eureka moment: “This is how I want to learn about people in the past!” I realized. I’ve been doing that ever since, first as a museum curator and now as a history professor. Houses, furnishings, and the way people interact with the built environment can reveal the complexity, diversity, and beauty of human lives.

Sarah's book list on architecture and social identity in industrial America

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Why did Sarah love this book?

No one writes more compellingly about the multi-sensory experiences of living in America’s past environments than Dell Upton. His book Another City deals with the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century city—a century before the time period in my book—but he weaves together narratives of urban experience from America’s first decades as a republic to offer surprisingly contemporary commentary on city politics today. His chapter called “Smell of Danger,” to offer just one example, demonstrates that America’s urban elite mobilized their belief that disease was caused by “miasmas” rising up from foul-smelling waste to justify segregation along with class and racial lines. In the era of yellow fever and cholera, Upton argues that “the physical geography of disease became a human geography of fear.” 

By Dell Upton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Another City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exploration of the beliefs, perceptions, and theories that shaped the architecture and organization of America's earliest cities

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, burgeoning American cities like New Orleans and Philadelphia seemed increasingly chaotic. Noise, odors, and a feverish level of activity on the streets threatened to overwhelm the senses. Growing populations placed new demands on every aspect of the urban landscape-streets, parks, schools, asylums, cemeteries, markets, waterfronts, and more. In this unique exploration of the early history of urban architecture and design, leading architectural historian Dell Upton reveals the fascinating confluence of sociological, cultural, and psychological…


Book cover of Women and the Everyday City: Public Space in San Francisco, 1890-1915

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Author Of Company Suburbs: Architecture, Power, and the Transformation of Michigan's Mining Frontier

From my list on architecture and social identity in industrial America.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid I would cut out graph paper to design my ideal house. When I was in college, I walked into a class called American Material Life and had my eureka moment: “This is how I want to learn about people in the past!” I realized. I’ve been doing that ever since, first as a museum curator and now as a history professor. Houses, furnishings, and the way people interact with the built environment can reveal the complexity, diversity, and beauty of human lives.

Sarah's book list on architecture and social identity in industrial America

Sarah Fayen Scarlett Why did Sarah love this book?

Jessica Sewell’s book Women and the Everyday City makes us feel like we’re walking the streets of turn-of-the-century San Francisco. She combines traditional architectural history sources like floor plans, maps, and historic photographs with diaries written by women from varied class and ethnic backgrounds to piece together their experiences of the city. My favorite section uses advertisements and published memoirs to demonstrate that women without the economic means and cultural capital to be welcomed in downtown department stores or even some of the local grocery stores had much more complicated choices to make as they navigated everyday needs like finding transportation, buying food, and creating community. She compares the urban public imagination with how the city was actually built and experienced—just like theorist Henri Lefebvre suggests!

By Jessica Ellen Sewell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women and the Everyday City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Women and the Everyday City, Jessica Ellen Sewell explores the lives of women in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. A period of transformation of both gender roles and American cities, she shows how changes in the city affected women's ability to negotiate shifting gender norms as well as how women's increasing use of the city played a critical role in the campaign for women's suffrage.
Focusing on women's everyday use of streetcars, shops, restaurants, and theaters, Sewell reveals the impact of women on these public places-what women did there, which women went there, and how these places were changed in response…


Book cover of Muriel at Metropolitan

Joel Cabrita Author Of Written Out: The Silencing of Regina Gelana Twala

From my list on literary women you’ve never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of Southern Africa who is fascinated by questions of visibility and invisibility. I love probing beneath the surface of the past. For example, why is this person famous and renowned, but that person isn’t? To me, recognition and reputation are interesting to scrutinize as social categories in their own right, rather than as factual statements. I’ve written two books focusing on the history of religious expression in Southern Africa, and my most recent book is a biography of the forgotten South African writer and politician Regina Gelana Twala. 

Joel's book list on literary women you’ve never heard of

Joel Cabrita Why did Joel love this book?

I find the notion of the “unknown” writer quite problematic.

Most of the time, at least somebody has, in fact, heard of the writer. So by whom is this writer unknown, and for what reasons has their reputation been erased?

The South African writer Miriam Tlali – the first South African woman writer to publish a book in English - is a case in point.

Tlali’s novel Muriel at Metropolitan (about an office worker in apartheid Johannesburg) was banned when it was published in 1975 for its critical portrayal of white South Africans.

Tlali was subsequently ignored by her literary (almost entirely male) peers, dismissed as offering “reportage” rather than “art”. Yet since 2017, Tlali’s work has been celebrated.

The question of whether a writer is “known” or “unknown” is complex with many layers to consider, including the prejudices of racism and sexism. 

By Miriam Tlali,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Muriel at Metropolitan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Banned when it was first published in South Africa in 1979, "Muriel at Metropolitan" is set in a bustling furniture and electronics store catering for poor whites and blacks and describes the daily experiences of Muriel, the accounts typist. Her relationship with her colleagues and her feelings about the stream of customers who come into the shop are depicted and illustrate life on the fringes of white society. Miriam Tlali draws on her own experience of working in Johannesburg to write this novel. She lives in Soweto and is now a professional writer. She has published a collection of short…


Book cover of If You Want to Make God Laugh

Jeni McFarland Author Of The House of Deep Water

From my list on secrecy and denial.

Why am I passionate about this?

I come from worlds that look much like the worlds in these books: raised in poverty, absent father, generational trauma, and mental illness running strong in my genes. I’ve always been interested in the ways our opportunities shape us, and the coping mechanisms we wield—secrecy, denial, anger, violence, even love—as we try to survive. 

Jeni's book list on secrecy and denial

Jeni McFarland Why did Jeni love this book?

Marais does an excellent job of moving among these three point-of-view characters: a Black woman and two white sisters, all brought together by a child and the question of parentage. At the heart of the story is life in apartheid-era South Africa. A must-read for anyone who loves messy families and complex characters.

By Bianca Marais,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If You Want to Make God Laugh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the beloved Hum If You Don't Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.

In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.

Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it's…


Book cover of Cry, the Beloved Country

Shenaaz Nanji Author Of Child of Dandelions

From my list on stories every teen must read before they turn 18.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer with multiple cultures and heritage. I believe stories are magical, they touch our hearts and change the way we think and behave. Having lived in different continents around the world, my book list reflects stories with diversity of cultures and story settings around the world, and how the impact of these stories reverberated with me for a long time after reading them.

Shenaaz's book list on stories every teen must read before they turn 18

Shenaaz Nanji Why did Shenaaz love this book?

I studied this great work of literature in the 1960s in Secondary School in Mombasa and the injustice of humanity in this tragic story is still indelibly etched in my heart. The story is set in Ndotsheni, a poor, agricultural village in South Africa but with a strong sense of community and in the city of Johannesburg a corrupt, big city where it's every man for himself. It is about a Zulu pastor, Stephen Kumalo, who receives a letter that his sister in Johannesburg has fallen sick. Kumalo undertakes the difficult journey travelling from his village to the city in the hopes of aiding his sister and of finding his son, Absalom, who left to go to the city and never returned. What really moved me is the estranged relationship of two fathers and their sons that evoke anguish in the fathers. Upon reading this book the message that resonated…

By Alan Paton,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Cry, the Beloved Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel depicting the racial ferment in the beautiful country of South Africa in 1948.


Book cover of The Zebra Affaire: An Apartheid Saga

Wanda DeHaven Pyle Author Of The Stone House Legacy

From my list on narrative historical social injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of several works of historical fiction. My writing explores the untold stories of past generations and the impact of their actions and choices on those who follow. All across the country, the landscape is dotted with abandoned farmsteads and buildings whose walls are filled with stories of heartache and happiness. As each generation struggles with the unequal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society, they pave the way for succeeding generations. These are the stories I tell and the ones I love to read. 

Wanda's book list on narrative historical social injustice

Wanda DeHaven Pyle Why did Wanda love this book?

As an indie author myself, I am committed to supporting other independent authors and Mark Fine is one of the best. Fine has created an epic love story set against the backdrop of South Africa’s apartheid in the 1970s. When a beautiful white model falls in love with a black man, they become prey in a deadly manhunt that stretches from the golden city of Johannesburg to the dangerous wilds of the African bushveld. The author’s compelling characters and vivid descriptions shine a light on the effects of tribalism and social injustice during a dark period in this nation’s history. This story will keep you riveted until the last page is turned.

By Mark Fine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Zebra Affaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When affairs of State battle affairs of the heart, ordinary people become heroes! The critically acclaimed novel set in 1976 apartheid South Africa. It tells of the courage of love across the color divide – especially in the face of an unyielding racist police state, and the extreme lengths a man and a woman must go to remain together.
When Stanwell Marunda, a proud descendant of the Zulu, meets the beautiful Elsa, the daughter of a white farmer, he is certain his bad luck has just begun. She has just rescued him, bloodied and hurt, from a car wreck.

As…


Book cover of The Night Trains: Moving Mozambican Miners to and from the Witwatersrand Mines, 1902-1955

Gail Nattrass Author Of A Short History of South Africa

From my list on modern South Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gail Nattrass was born in Northern Rhodesia. She was educated at Mufulira High School and the universities of Natal, Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and UNISA. She relocated to South Africa with her husband in 1967, and subsequently lectured in the history department at the School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand for 20 years. She has written materials for students and presented papers on various aspects of South African and international history at four universities in South Africa. She is also the author of The Rooiberg Story, the co-editor with S B Spies of Jan Smuts: Memoirs of the Boer War, and a contributor to They Shaped Our Century and Leaders of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902.

Gail's book list on modern South Africa

Gail Nattrass Why did Gail love this book?

This book by South Africa’s most eminent historian, Charles van Onselen, tells the story of the night trains which brought poverty-stricken Mozambican men from Rossania Garcia on the Mozambique border to work as migrant labourers on the gold mines in Johannesburg between 1902 and 1955.

The men travelled in appalling conditions and were preyed on by petty criminals, con men, and corrupt officials. The night trains were a transport system run in partnership between the mining houses and the railways and designed to maximise profit at the expense of the health, well-being, and even the lives of the men it conveyed. 

At the end of their time in the mines, the trains sent the men back to Mozambique, often ill and broken and even insane after their experiences in the mines and in the trains. The story reflects South Africa’s evolving system of segregation and apartheid and the brutal logic…

By Charles Van Onselen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Night Trains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This seminal book reveals how black labour was exploited in twentieth-century South Africa, the human costs of which are still largely hidden from history. It was the people of southern Mozambique, bent double beneath the historical loads of forced labour and slavery, then sold off en masse as contracted labourers, who paid the highest price for South African gold. An iniquitous intercolonial agreement for the exploitation of ultra-cheap black labour was only made possible through nightly use of the steam locomotive on the transnational railway linking Johannesburg and Lourenco Marques. These night trains left deep scars in the urban and…


Book cover of Helen Suzman: Bright Star in a Dark Chamber

Norman Baker Author Of ...And What Do You Do?: What the Royal Family Don't Want You to Know

From my list on how the world works.

Why am I passionate about this?

We all need to understand more about how the world ticks, who is in control, and why they act as they do. And we need to salute those of courage who refuse to go along with the flow in a craven or unthinking way. I was an MP for 18 years and a government minister at the Department for Transport with a portfolio that included rail, bus, active travel, and then at the Home Office as Crime Prevention minister. After leaving Parliament, I became managing director of The Big Lemon, an environmentally friendly bus and coach company in Brighton. I now act as an advisor to the Campaign for Better Transport, am a regular columnist and broadcaster, and undertake consultancy and lecturing work.

Norman's book list on how the world works

Norman Baker Why did Norman love this book?

This is a heart-warming true story of the courage of one woman you have probably never heard of but you need to. A woman of great courage and integrity who took on the South African apartheid regime and for a while as a liberal was the only opposition member (and I think the only woman) in the racist all-white parliament. Some are naturally courageous, some have courage thrust upon them. Nelson Mandela and the ANC took on the racist regime from outside, Helen Suzman almost single-handedly took it on from within parliament. A real hero.

By Robin Renwick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Helen Suzman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The task of all who believe in multiracialism in this country is to survive. Quite inevitably time is on our side...' Helen Suzman was the voice of South Africa's conscience during the darkest days of apartheid. She stood alone in parliament, confronted by a legion of highly chauvinist male politicians. Armed with the relentless determination and biting wit for which she became renowned, Suzman battled the racist regime and earned her reputation as a legendary anti-apartheid campaigner. Despite constant antagonism and the threat of violence, she forced into the global spotlight the injustices of the country's minority rule. Access to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in apartheid, Johannesburg, and South Africa?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about apartheid, Johannesburg, and South Africa.

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South Africa Explore 119 books about South Africa