Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Week 4 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our fourth and final discussion of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I hope you all enjoyed reading this book this month! I know I did. Be sure to come back Monday for our March readalong of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

But before that happens, let's wrap up Born a Crime!

  1. Did you like the book? What were some of your favorite passages or chapters?
  2. In Part III, the book's chapters get longer, and darker, as Noah goes from being a teenager to a young man. What struck you most about these chapters? Would you call the book a coming of age story?
  3. In Chapter 16, "The Cheese Boys," Noah writes,

    ...crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn't do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn't discriminate.

    What do you think Noah meant by this and do you agree?
  4. In "My Mother's Life," Noah says children have to learn how to love their parents unconditionally and that it's not automatic or instinctive. Do you agree with this statement?
  5. Do you watch The Daily Show? If you do, has reading the book changed how you see Noah in any way?
  6. Are you left with any unanswered questions you're wondering about?
  7. Anything else that caught your attention or you want to discuss?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 3 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our third discussion for our Born a Crime readalong. This week we'll be discussing Part II. To check out our previous discussions, please see our week 1 and week 2 discussion posts.

  1. This past week was Valentine's Day, and appropriately Part II features not one, not two, but three stories from Noah's tragic misadventures in romance. Which one of these was your favorite? Which the saddest? Did they remind you of any of your own teenage heartbreaks? Juicy details pls!
  2. In Chapter 9, "The Mulberry Tree," Noah says that's it's easier to be an outsider trying to fit in than an insider who doesn't. Do you think this is true? How do you think that experience shaped how Noah related to the world going forward? How did you react to the actions of Abel?
  3. Trevor Noah: entrepreneur or hustler?
  4. One of the most tragi-comic stories in the section, I think, is Chapter 13, "Colorblind." What were some of your reactions to the story? Noah never tells us what happens to his friend–why do you think that is?
  5. Anything else you found interesting or want to discuss?

Thanks for participating in the readalong so far! If you posted about this section on your blog or anywhere else on the internets, be sure to link back to it here so we don't miss it. Otherwise, feel free to discuss the book in the comments section.

Next week Tuesday, the last day of February, we'll be closing our readalong with a discussion of Part III. See you then!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 2 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our second discussion of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Today we'll be finishing up Part I of the book. To check out our first week's discussion, go here.

  1. What do you think were the themes in Part I of the book? How were the essays tied together? Asking for a friend.
  2. In Chapter 4, Noah talks about the power of language and how it can overcome–or at the very least confuse–racism. He says if people speak the same language, they recognize one another as members of the same "tribe," even if they look completely different. "Maybe I didn't look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you." Do you think this is true?
  3. What would you do if you came home and found out your kid had burned down someone's house?
  4. In Chapter 7, Noah talks about his dog Fufi and how she basically formed his entire philosophy regarding relationships. What do you think of this philosophy, and does this simile really work after you start thinking about it?
  5. Which chapter made you cry more, the one where Noah meets his father as an adult or the first chapter?
  6. Anything else that surprised you or you want to discuss?

Thanks for joining our discussion! If you posted about Born a Crime on your blog, please link back to it here so we don't miss it. Or feel free to post your responses in the comments.

Don't miss our next discussion on Monday, February 20th, where we'll cover all of Part II. See you then!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 1 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our first discussion of Trevor Noah's memoir, Born a Crime. This discussion covers chapters 1-3. It's a short segment, only about an hour's worth of reading, so if you're just joining us now you have plenty of time to catch up for our next discussion next Monday!

Here are a few questions to get the discussion started. Feel free to respond to any or all of them, or pose your own discussion points here in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. If you do write a blog post for this week's discussion, be sure to post a link back so we don't miss it!

  1. Easy peasy question: are you enjoying the book so far? What do you think of Noah's writing style?
  2. What did you know about South Africa and apartheid before going into this book? Is there anything that's surprised you so far or that you've learned?
  3. How have you responded to each chapter? 
  4. Do you have any favorite quotes from the book you'd like to share?
  5. What's your initial impression of Noah's mother? What about Noah himself?
  6. Noah says that everything that's gone wrong in his life has been because of a secondhand car. Have you ever felt like that about anything?

We hope you're enjoying Born a Crime so far, and look forward to seeing what you think of it! Be sure to stop by next Monday for our discussion of the second half of Part I.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Introducing BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime trevor noah

The second book in our year of 12 Months 12 Readalongs is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. You might recognize Noah as the host of The Daily Show, but way before that he was a kid growing up in South Africa as "a crime": his very existence was illegal under Apartheid because his mom was black and his father was white. Born a Crime tells the story of his childhood.

Here's the blurb from the publisher:

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.

The memoir is quite short, so this should be a low-pressure readlong. If you read 10 pages a day (or listen to 20 minutes of the audiobook every day), you'll be able to easily keep up! Here's the schedule:

  • Monday, February 6th: Chapters 1-3 Discussion
  • Monday, February 13th: Chapters 4-8 (End of Part I) Discussion
  • Monday, February 20th: Chapters 9-14 (Part II) Discussion
  • Tuesday, February 28th: Chapters 15-18 (Part III) Discussion and Wrap-Up

Feel free to join in the discussion on your own blog, here in the discussion post comments, or even tag us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #12mos12rals.

See you back here in a few days for our first discussion!