Reading Around the Globe: DB in South Africa

(Last Updated On: June 19, 2019)

“Weโ€™re more of a sport town. But if I think about South Africa as a whole, thereโ€™s a lot of focus on South African authors โ€“ mostly in the childrenโ€™s genre and in the general fiction/non-fiction genre. Which I think is great, that we do need that type of writing, but I would like more.”


Welcome to Reading Around the Globe, a series here on Reader Voracious Blog geared at fostering a culture of understanding in the bookish community about access to books in various countries around the world. Each post in the series highlights a full interview with one international reader. You can read more about this series and catch up on previous interviews on the master post.

    1. What is your name? DB
    2. Where do you blog? DB’s Guide to the Galaxy
    3. Twitter handle? @guidetogalaxy13
    4. Where do you live? South Africa (about an hourโ€™s drive from Cape Town).
    5. Do you find that there is a culture of reading where you live? If not, tell us a bit how you came to be one!ย In my town, not really. Weโ€™re more of a sport town. But if I think about South Africa as a whole, thereโ€™s a lot of focus on South African authors โ€“ mostly in the childrenโ€™s genre and in the general fiction/non-fiction genre. Which I think is great, that we do need that type of writing, but I would like more.
    6. What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I mostly read young adult fiction, but I love a really good fantasy novel, the more world-building and magic aspects you can throw into it the better. Sci-fi has always been one of my other favourites to read.
    7. Have you always been a reader?ย Yes. Ever since I can remember. If not books, then signs, instructions and ingredients on the back of products, anything that required reading.
    8. Do you also read books published in your native language/published locally to you? If so, tell us a bit about what kinds of books are published in your country!ย My native language is English, but Iโ€™m close to Afrikaans (having grown up in an Afrikaans town and having Afrikaans friends), though I rarely read Afrikaans books โ€“ as it takes me a long time to read it. Most of the books published in Afrikaans are either a famous South African author (Deon Meyer or Antjie Krog, etc) or a non-fiction novel.
    9. Are there libraries where you live? If so, what kinds of books can you find there? Are you able to get the books that you want?ย I am lucky to have a library in my town. Unfortunately it is small, and since Iโ€™m busy most of the time and canโ€™t really walk the distance all the time โ€“ I donโ€™t really see whatโ€™s in there and only pick books up now and then. But Iโ€™m vowing to go in more and try to loan more books (from other libraries and such).
    10. How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.)ย I think it depends on what youโ€™re looking for. With South Africaโ€™s books, a lot of it is either published firstly in Afrikaans and then translated into English (as is with Deon Meyer). Some are first published in English and then Afrikaans.
    11. Do you use NetGalley or Edelweiss to request electronic galleys for review? If so, what kind of success rate would you estimate for you personally? ย I use both Netgalley and Edelweiss. Itโ€™s a 50/50, 60/40 split (I guess) between being approved and not being approved. I normally request books I know Iโ€™d get approved for, or I read books from the Download/Read Now โ€“ as you do get good reads from there now and then.
    12. Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so.ย Most of the hyped books I hear about and do have an interest in reading are available at the bookstores โ€“ if not the one in my town, then in another one; or we could order it. But then again that always costs money, which means Iโ€™ll either have to wait for it to be available at my library (or try to order it), or Iโ€™ll just not read it.
    13. If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Remember that there are more countries than the ones that you send the usual arcs to. Find the smaller and diverse bloggers and give the arcs to them.
    14. Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read?ย Netgalley and Edelweiss, for the most part. I also use A Novel Take PR, which is a promotional and marketing company (for books). Now and then Iโ€™ll use the library and even sometimes (I need to get back into this), Iโ€™m a beta reader so Iโ€™ll receive books from the author. I also use book sale sites which allow me to see some books that are free on Kindle!
    15. Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share?ย Itโ€™s good to learn another language and then read in that language. Somehow, and I donโ€™t know how or why, but the story sounds different in the other language. Or you pick up different things in another language.

Please note that all experiences reflected in the interviews are personal and are not meant to generalize what reading access is like in each country.ย If you are interested in participating please DM me on Twitter.

๐Ÿ’– If you like the work that I do here at Reader Voracious, consider fueling my pumpkin spice latte and black tie addiction by buying me a ko-fi! โ˜•

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!



  1. Stephanie

    April 28, 2019 at 8:54 PM

    I absolutely agree about reading in another language! I picked up some things I originally missed when I read the first Harry Potter in French (and reading 50 Shades in French confirmed just how poorly written the English original was, and I’m honestly not hating on the series here, the translation just highlighted a LOT of the problems). Reading in another language opens up new worlds of untranslated literature (even if it’s slower than in your native language, because it definitely is for me, but I really enjoy the challenge). Nice to meet you, DB!

    1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

      May 1, 2019 at 3:49 PM

      Hi, Stephanie! Nice to meet you too! I actually want to do a reread of the Harry Potter series, but in my second language, as I know some names change in the translation. I remember I read an English translation of a popular Afrikaans author’s book and then quickly skimmed through the Afrikaans edition to see if there was a difference (with how the book felt, if you get me), and it definitely felt better in Afrikaans. And reading in other languages totally helps you to further in that language.

    2. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:15 PM

      Oh my gosh, I think it would be really amusing to read 50 Shades in translation! I now want to pick it up in Spanish for some giggles, haha.

  2. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    April 29, 2019 at 8:47 AM

    Nice to meet you, DB! Although I only speak English, I think reading a book in another language would be such a fun, and new experience! <3

    1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

      May 1, 2019 at 3:57 PM

      You too, Kelly! That’s what I love about languages – there’s always something new to learn!

    2. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:28 PM

      If you ever take a foreign language, it is actually SO HELPFUL to read something that you are familiar with to help! I’ve read Harry Potter in Spanish a couple of times to brush up because I don’t use it enough, and I remember during AP Spanish I had to watch like an hour of Spanish tv a week and write like book reports about what I watched. Which was a lot of telenovelas and the news.

  3. TheCaffeinatedReader

    April 30, 2019 at 1:56 AM

    Well, wrote a comment on this, forgot to hit enter, and here I am again lol. Anyway, I definitely agree about reading in another language, I try to read more books in Spanish now, and I always think that we should be really pushing for multi-lingual publications rather than just selling English written novels. I know that we have some great books written in English but it would be great if other authors from other countries were able to have their works read in their original language, especially in countries where English and other languages cohabitate!

    Hopefully, publishing will realize that it needs a better reach to other countries and people from South Africa, and other countries can get their hands on ARCs and their books read! <3 Loved reading about your experiences DB, thanks for sharing!

    1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

      May 1, 2019 at 4:00 PM

      Thanks! My amount of reading books in Afrikaans has definitely gone down since high school and is now limited to the news and newspapers, but I completely agree with multilingual publications. More books for more people is always a good cause!

    2. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:53 PM

      LOL Hailey I am sorry but also glad I am not the only dingus to lose a comment! I also enjoy reading in Spanish (I have Harry Potter that I picked up in Ecuador) and have been thinking about getting another book I am familiar with in translation.

  4. Jennifer Pletcher

    April 30, 2019 at 10:52 AM

    I would love to read a book in another language. I am taking German classes here in Switzerland, but I still can only read beginner children’s books!

    Thanks again for sharing – I love reading about different experiences around the globe.

    1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

      May 1, 2019 at 4:09 PM

      Glad to share, Jennifer! German’s a good language to have.

    2. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:52 PM

      There’s nothing wrong with only being able to read children’s books now! I remember when I was taking Hindi they were so helpful for me! Thanks so much for your constant support of the series, Jennifer!

  5. Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites

    May 1, 2019 at 2:52 PM

    hey DB! ๐Ÿ‘‹ I can absolutely relate to the multilingual struggle – my Chinese and Spanish are both pretty rusty from lack of recent use … and the best way to get back into it is probably just to do it, come to think about it ๐Ÿค” YA fantasy is a favorite of mine too, though I can’t tell if I’m pickier about sci-fi or I just don’t pay enough attention to recs in that genre. hm.

    thank you for sharing!

    1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

      May 1, 2019 at 4:14 PM

      Isabelle!! What’s really interesting is that if I spend some time with my friends (mostly Afrikaans speaking), I come back home thinking in Afrikaans – which is just the weirdest. Sci-fi, to me, is a lot of hit and miss. I think it’s because I’m so used to reading fast that I don’t sit down and focus on the words?

      1. Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites

        May 1, 2019 at 5:12 PM

        code-switching is actually one of the coolest things ever! I used to trade off writing journal entries in different languages just for practice, since I’ve always found it more effective to think in a language rather than translate from my native English ๐Ÿค”

        yknow, I’m not sure what it is with sci-fi for me, but that makes sense! for me it might just be that I’m not used to the conventions of the genre since I don’t read as much of it? hm.

  6. dbsguidetothegalaxy

    May 1, 2019 at 4:14 PM

    Kal!! Thanks so much for posting this, you are great and I love all your work.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 9:25 PM

      Absolutely DB, thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences!!! You are wonderful!

      (Also I legit think in Spanish after being around my Spanish speaking friends or listening to Reggaeton haha.)

  7. Reading Around the Globe – Reader Voracious Blog

    May 18, 2019 at 9:10 AM

    […] South Africa DB @ DB’s Guide to the Galaxy […]

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