Book Reviews: The Love Languages Of Stoffel, Or Contempt For Second Life

November 14, 2016



The 5 Love Languages Of Your Family by Gary Chapman             6

Stoffel: Die Beste Stories by Christiaan Bakkes                              6

Love In The Time Of Contempt by Joanne Fedler                          7

Second Life by SJ Watson                                                                 6


Self-help books never allow readers to solve all the problems tackled within their pages. They can’t when every reader comes from a different context, carrying different baggage. But Gary Chapman’s best-selling Love Language books continue to work because he (and Ross Campbell, who co-authored The 5 Love Languages of Children, which makes up half of this volume, along with Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers) groups different sets of advice and philosophies under tried and tested headings that specify general behaviours rather than strict, single-line instructions. Combining these two titles means having a single reference point for all this counsel, which includes explanations of both what makes kids of all ages tick and how to use that knowledge to keep all parties involved happy and effective in their roles. The further you read, the more suspicious you’ll become – not of your children, now that you understand them better – but of Chapman and Campbell. How could they know your family so well without having lived in your house and spied on you? – BD


The Stoffel character has appeared in a number of short story collections, now compiled in a single volume, Stoffel: Die Beste Stories. Stoffel is the fictitious storyteller of true happenings in the bush in South Africa, Namibia and elsewhere in Africa. Reading this book is as close as you can get to the bush without leaving your armchair. Bakkes lives his life in the veld, having had his arm detached by a crocodile in the Kruger National Park and is now working as a game ranger and safari leader. With good writing skill and a huge repertoire, he treats his readers to tales of adventure. All you ever wanted to know about game ranging, bushveld lore, survival and narrow escapes and safari realities are here. What shines through in all these stories is Bakkes’ love for the bush and all its creatures, the camaraderie of the people he works with, a will to preserve and knowledge of animal  behaviour. All these make this book a good read for nature lovers as well as inspiring respect for people who spend their lives doing the kind of work that is essential to help readers to improve their knowledge and stimulate interest in the wonderful natural assets that we have in South Africa. – DB


Love In The Time Of Contempt is a “teach yourself” book.  The first lesson may be that “parental guidance ain’t what it used to be.” Kids are smarter, know better, and do not need your protection or advice, even as they pocket their weekly allowance. This book made me realise more than anything else I have read that life is made up in phases from birth to adulthood. Anatomical and biological features are great drivers in this developmental process, but Fedler made me aware of the psychological phases both children and parents go through. With a healthy dose of humour, honesty, love, emotion and scientifically credible observations, it’s possible to understand the difficult teenage phase of growing up. For parents and children the gap, even in a close family, is always there and this book helps you understand why that is and how to manage that gap. Relationships are hugely important and one area where parents have little to contribute. Peers and bullies, sexual attraction, fads and fancies – all are big motivators in friendships and casual connections.  Teaching one’s child values they can live by, gives them material that will surface later after the wild years of teen life have passed. Fedler tells you to keep moving, listen when the opportunities are offered, relate to your kids and their friends and pray that the teenage years will pass sooner than later…  – DB


Second Life by SJ Watson is important for the message it conveys about internet flings. There’s a veil of sadness over this book. A woman’s sister is killed and she tries to hunt the killer – whom she suspects is an internet acquaintance of her dead sister’s. Behind it all, a deadly addiction that has been suppressed begins to surface: the woman meets a suspicious contact and begins the fling. Small talk, personal facts, intimacy and sex talk – then they end up meeting. Watson uses fictional reality brilliantly, showing how a clever combination of smart phones, Skype and computer communication can be used to snare a woman, step by step. What starts as a serious investigation becomes a dangerous and destructive mission. Read this book and enter the shadowy underworld of criminal manipulation after details are is naïvely passed on to a stranger.  – DB