Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah writes brilliantly, balancing his wisdom and insight with humor and a lighthearted tone that belies the seriousness of the content. I would put this book in my top 5 books of the year.
I really enjoyed the format of this memoir. Noah intersperses facts and stories about life in South Africa with more personal stories and anecdotes. But he doesn’t just share his own stories, he shares the wisdom he’s gained from his experiences. When he talks about how he was able to start a small business with a CD writer, it was only because a friend gave it to him. This translates to his insightful observation about opportunity: “People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”
There are a number of shorter chapters in this book I’d love to share with my seniors. Whether they were the chapters about learning to talk to girls or learning to be authentic or how much his mother taught him about having optimism in life, I found the writing to be relatable. On the other hand, I felt like I learned a lot about what it was like to live in post-apartheid South Africa. It was like reading an engaging history lesson by an insider. And yet, Noah made the point that as the son of a black mother and a white father, he was basically always an outsider. This balance throughout the book, of content, humor, wisdom, and insight made it a fascinating read.
If you got a book gift card for the holidays, consider buying a copy of this book. I polished it off in less than 24 hours, and I’m excited to share about it with my students.