Monday, November 29, 2010

Between then and now

It's been a (fairly) long time since I posted, well, relative to the average time I update. But, I've been busy (staying in Malaysia) and now, with the JC law programme. I didn't have much time to read in Malaysia, despite the fact that I have more books there than I realise. But this is probably because I spent my time reading my daddy's Master's "Business Economics" textbook. Even though I didn't understand half of it (my brain turns itself off once it sees math), it was useful in reminding me how little I know about the subject. And if I'm not wrong, I read a book about Princess Diana, and one other about Masako-Hime.

And the Very Good News is that I finished the three Sarah Dessen books I bought, Catching the Moon, Lock and Key and uh, and Someone like you. They were all so good, and really really moving. In particular, Someone like you, which I haven't read before, is about friendship, and got me to appreciate my best friends even more.

But with JLPT coming up, and the Law programme, I haven't had much time to read, except the one on collecting books (I'm too lazy to try and recall the name) and The Man Within, which is for my EE. And un-surprisingly, since I have to take the MRT to and fro Chinatown, I've been reading on the train. It's actually quite conducive for reading, and I managed to go through the JLPT N5 textbook (*roundofapplause*). And today, I was asked to read through past cases ^_^, it was really informative and really really fun (for me, at least). But due to the non-disclosure form I had to sign, I can't say anything here.):

 My "Library" at Malaysia

 What I actually managed to read in the few days I stayed there(:

Monday, November 22, 2010

There are pictures~ (The first ever here)

I have the nagging feeling I can't remember all the books I read over the weekend, I guess that's what comes when you're lazy (although I did just pack/repack all my books). The only two I can remember is The Pemberley Chronicles, which is a continuation of Pride and Prejudice and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (aka Huck Finn, aka HF).

The Pemberly Chronicles is a "fanfiction" which happened to get published. This is a really good thing because I can't imagine reading it as a fanfic, the chapters would be too long. Too bad not more fanfictions get published, because some of them are as good as this. This book is (most importantly) believable, and I think the characterisations are true to the original, but when it says "the saga begins" it means saga. It's really a saga/chronicle of what happens, so while things are more or less happy, there are unhappy moments/deaths that occur ):

Huck Finn on the other hand, is one of the English books that I have to read, and it's not one of my favourites. For one thing, it bores me. And the more I know about Mark Twain, the less I like him (Who can hate Jane Austen? Or say that any library with her books suck? >.<), and even Wen Xi think's he's disturbed.  But still, it is what I have to study.

But on the bright side, I'm going into Malaysia tomorrow, and I'll have lots of time to read books there. And before I forget, here are pictures of the Sarah Dessen Set I bought on Saturday (You can see it's sooo pretty).

                                            (Pretty right?)

                                          (And the view from the other side)

                                           (This is without the paper cover-thing)

                                          (What you see when you open it, look at the pendant)

                                           (Everything opened out, all the covers are so pretty)

                                     (And last but not least, the かわいい(kawaii) camera holder)

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Oriental" Reads

Today was a very "oriental"/Japanese day. For starters, I went to the embassy of Japan, at first, we wanted to talk to the student counsellor about studying in Japan, but she wasn't there (left early =.=) so we just read the material available, which was really informative, since they had info on the majors available.

But I managed to finish 2 books today: In the Footsteps of the 10 lost tribes (something like that), and Shinjuku Shark, which is suppose to be a very famous/popular series of detective novels from Japan.

In the footsteps of the 10 lost tribes attempts to explain the mystery of the disappearance of the 10 tribes of Israel and is written by a Jew. It's a fascinating, engaging read, although too much of it rests on conjecture (which is to be expected since there's not a lot of information, or rather, there's no definite information available). Apparently, the lost tribes had great influence on Afghanistan, China, India and more notably, Japan. According to the author, the Japanese are descendants of the exiled Israelites. It sounds plausible, although sometimes it seems a bit far fetched. And another issue is that he refers a lot to Jewish Folklore, such as using Lilith to support the Japanese mythology. (I had to look up what Lilith was, and I've been in Sunday School my whole life). The last thing is that he seems to cast the authority of the Bible in doubt, suggesting that certain things have been omitted or edited in the Bible. If you ask me, a better book is The Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japanese People by Joseph Eidelberg; although it only focuses on the Japanese and not other countries.

The next book I finished was Shinjuku Shark, which is apparently a popular mystery series. However, it seems to be more of an American-style detective novel than a British-style detective novel. According to my understanding, American-style refers to the "tough guy", beat everyone in your way up style, while British-style has more deductive reasoning involved, like Agatha Christie's Poiret, Miss Marple or Conan's Shylock Holme's (I only remember Conan because of Detective Conan).

But I suppose, to each his (or her) own.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fact and Fiction

So far, I managed to finish three very long books, two today and one over the period of a few weeks. The non-fiction book is A Proper Education by Karl D. Coke, PhD. It's basically a call to return to a Hebraic centered model of education, rather than the Humanistic model currently in vogue. Again, it's America-centric, but what makes this book so good (to me), is that in dealing with such a touchy subject, it made all the right calls, unlike The Way Home.

While A Proper Education does have lot's of emotion sometimes, it manages to steer away from excessive emotion-based appeal (at least to me), and when quoting, the whole quote, plus context was given, which is a definite plus. And I think the best part of it, is that it managed to steer clear of politics, instead of demonising a particular party, it was neutral (except for the blame in Secular Humanists). Which made this book an enjoyable read, unlike The Way Home.

The book that I finally finished is The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear: A novel by Walter Moers. While it sounds kiddy, it definitely is not, looking at the size of the book, it is very very very long. Eugenia and I are both reading it, and while it's possible to read it in one go, I decided that this time, I was going to read it slowly. As I remembered, it's really funny, very enjoyable; and to top it off, it got Eugenia to want to read. Even thought she gave up, she did restart, before giving up again (the book is really long).

The other book that I managed to finish is State of Fear by Michael Crichton, who apparently wrote Jurassic Park (which I never realised was a book). It's one of the books on the read-before-you-die booklist, and the fact is that my friends have incredible tastes in books. The book is about whether Global Warming is a real cause for threat or over-hyped by the media, and with so many detailed sources and footnotes, it provided food for thought. I guess this is the type of book we say "Art imitates life", and it shows how fiction can be used to approach controversial issues.

A different kind of education

I'm really glad it's the hols now, because I get so much more time to read (: And with the kind of books that Aunty Evonne is lending me, I'm learning really interesting stuff, kinda like being homeschooled I guess (since there's not fixed curriculum.

Well, since it's the hols, and I've been giving myself a break since DL, I managed to finish 3 books yesterday, Amsterdam, Assumptions that affect our lives and The read aloud handbook, all really good books. ^_^

Amsterdam is the only fiction book of the three, and is by Ian McEwan, while it's supposed to be the most readable of his books (according to the book), I found it harder to understand. It wasn't til I finished the book that I realised what it was about. And it took me even longer to realise that in the end, the two characters (both protagonists) went to Amsterdam to die by euthanasia. The story is set over a really short time span, but is fairly easy to follow, except the part about the pact.

The next book, Assumptions that affect our lives by Dr Christian Overman looks at the difference between the Hebraic (Eastern) and Greek (Western) worldview, in the context of America. It's really interesting, because even in Singapore, the Greek worldview dominates, perhaps because of our colonial past. But I didn't know that Hebrew/Israel was considered Oriental. A lot of food for thought in this book.

The last book I managed to finish was The read~aloud handbook by Jim Trelease. It's a really weird book for me to be reading, but it was recommended. And it did explain why I really love to read, because when I was really really little, (the England year), my parents used to read to me a lot. And now, I'm reading to my brother (I'm trying to get another bookworm in the family).

And also, I realised why I limit the number of times I visit a bookshop. Yesterday, my daddy took us to Ion, Orchard to do some shopping (he had to meet some clients at Hilton), so my mum and lil' sisters spent the first one/two hours shopping. But then, I decided to go to Borders. And I found this Sarah Dessen set, 3 books in one, and the packaging was really cute. So, in the end, I decided to buy it, rather than not buy, and regret it. I am probably the only person who spends all her money on books. (:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hit's and Misses

Today, I finished the third Graham Greene book, Monsignor Quixote, which is apparently a re-working of the classic Don Quixote. While I haven't read that yet, I do know a little about it, thanks to Huck Finn. The book itself is entertaining, but I suppose some people will find the discussions about communism and Catholicism boring, but if you want to look on the bright side, you could see this as an entertaining way to learn/read a discussion. Because the book is set in Spain, which if I remember correctly was fascist (in the past) and had struggles with communism (Hitler even testing out his new fighter planes there to defeat communism), I suppose that's why the book discussed communism, even though it's "outdated" nowadays (although China is communist, it's more totalitarian with a free economy, since communism requires the abolishment of the class system, maybe it's more socialist?). But still, it's a really fun book, but the ending is really moving.

Reading Monsignor Quixote was a really good stress reliever after reading The Way Home by Mary Pride. Again, it's not a book that I would read if I had a choice, but my aunt did ask me to read it. The premise of the book is basically against feminism and pro-"home-working" (Author's word).There are good points in the book, but sadly, they all appear in the later part of the book, although one good point is that it is very thought provoking, such that I had to take notes on everything that was logically unsound/made her argument weak (in my opinion). The bad point's are so many, and so glaring, that they eclipse the good points, which is an encouragement of staying-at-home.

The first thing I take issue with is her tone, she uses a lot of sarcasm and blanket statements. And reading the comments about her book, there's a lot about hypocrisy, which I have to concur with. One striking example is when she says that she is "timid", but her whole book has an aggressive tone. Another related issue is her way of quoting, where she doesn't give the context of the passage. I once heard a preacher say "A text without a context is just a pretext for what you want it to say", smart words, which I've taken to heart.

Another big problem is that she's not neutral. I'm not saying that she has to be completely neutral, you have to take a stand, against feminism or for it. The "non-neutrality" that I don't like is her inclusion of politics, which I feel is a red herring. She is obviously a republican, and reminds me of the Tea Party. Her constant referring to America as "Socialist" or "Communist" when it's so obviously not (look at USSR/China) does her no favours. And if you look at the UN and such, you'll see that even as America looks out for it's own interest, it doesn't display socialist tendencies (at least not to me), but from how she rights, you'll think that America is a Totalitarian, Communist Country.

There's a lot to say, but I'm stopping here, at her use of examples (I suppose it's related to quoting, but for me, it warrant's a paragraph of its own). Her examples seem to be very twisted, and her argument based on one passage. For most of the book, I was wondering, where is Proverbs 31? And it was way way way behind, in Chapter 12. And the example, that Proverbs 31 did not show the Godly Women as a "merchant"/having a career, is because she supplies merchant's not that she is a merchant. It may be because she didn't define anything at all, but to me (taking a really basic level of business), this implies that the women mentioned is a merchant, albeit, one in the earlier channels of distribution.

It's really sad, because this book could have been so good. A more effective method, I think, is that she tells her own experience, rather than launching into a tirade. In my family, my mom went back to work (but she has 4 kids, which contradicts her assumption that working -gasp- takes away the chance for women to have kids), and there are stay at home mom's in my family, but a lot of them also work. And all my cousin's and I are the same (kind of normal).

I suppose, action really does speak louder than words.

Food for thought

I got home rather late yesterday, so I didn't have the time to review the (many) books I managed to read. Because I went to the library on Saturday, and my aunt's house yesterday, I now face the happy problem of too much to read. Yesterday at Aunty Evonne's house was really fun (: Esther, and Lydia were really cute, especially Lydia, it was fun playing with a baby yesterday. And Moses and Daniel were really really cute, all three older siblings were really engrossed in my ds, and I'm glad I decided to bring it. But it was really cool, that Aunty Evonne would tell her kids that I came here to borrow books, so I had time to read (while helping them with the super mario game); too bad their pastor was in the hospital and cancelled the group meeting. I hope he gets well soon. But I'll have to go next week, because I left my library book there yesterday (oops).

Anyway, before I went there, I managed to read Atonement by Ian McEwan and The Heart of the matter by Graham Greene, both library books. The Ian McEwan books were hard to find because I expected them to be shelved under MCE but weirdly, they were labelled and shelved under MAC. The book however, was unexpectedly engaging. When I got into the plot (which had a lot of misunderstandings), the book was an easy read. I have to thank Julian for reccommending the book (which was one of the books in my read-before-you-die list). The only "downside" so to speak, is that I didn't like the two characters that I think I was supposed to sympathised with, the guy who went to jail even though he was innocent and the sister. I think it's because of the grudges they held against the little (11 year old) girl who mis-interpreted everything. But then again, if they didn't, the book wouldn't be called Atonement.

The other book was much shorter, but harder to enjoy. Because my EE book/topic has a weak link, I have to switch my english book (Fahrenheit 451). And my supervisor suggested that since Shusaku Endo is called the Japanese Graham Greene, I pick a Graham Greene book. The Heart Of The Matter is supposed to be about a guy who falls in love and betrays something important (according to the back cover), but I really didn't see that. It took me quite a while to understand who the characters were and what was going on, and even longer to identify with the characters, so I suppose I won't be doing this book for my EE. But I suppose when you finally start to lose yourself in this book, you actually do learn things, mostly about human nature, but it's too easy to give up.

On the way to Aunty Evonne's house, I managed to finish The Man Within, also by Graham Greene (it was a long mrt ride). Although I didn't understand this book straightaway (possibly because Graham Greene has a tendency to jump straight into the plot without much introduction), this book was much easier to read and understand, and I really enjoyed it. It has a lot of 'betrayels' by a main character that calls himself a 'coward' but finds peace in the end, which is more like silence, so I suppose this might be the EE book I'm doing. But I'm going to reserve judgement until I read the third Graham Greene book I borrowed.

At Aunty Evonne's house, apart from playing with her adorable kids, I also had the time to finish two books. I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl, both by Joshua Harris. They aren't the type of books I normally read, but Aunty Evonne asked me to read them. What I found was that a lot is what my parent's have been telling me. On the bright side, IB is making me so busy I don't really think about dating. :P

Lastly, and most importantly, (can I change the font size?), I read Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris (oh yes, I can). It's a book for teens, written, surprisingly, by teens. At first, the conversational style was a little too much, but then, it toned down as the book went along. The book, even though it's Christian in nature, does have things for the non-Christian, like what one amazon reviewer said. But I feel that without the religious nature, it loses a lot. But I'm still recommending this book to my friends, Christian and non-Christian alike. (Too bad my sisters don't want to read this, they have no idea what they're missing). This book is basically a road-map (that's the closest word I can think of to describe the book), to challenge teens to go way beyond the low expectations that society sets on us. I mean, these twins were interns in the Alabama supreme court at 16! And they are the founders on of the popular website (in America? cause I haven't heard of it, sadly), so I suppose if you don't know whether you want to buy the book, you can go to their blog first and read.

But what they say does make sense, that if you stretch yourself, you'll find that you can go way beyond what others think. And I think that this year does show this, for example, I made it into IB (by appeal). And even though I wasn't a stellar student in MGS, I somehow made it into deans list in IB (where the syllabus is harder); and it does explain why my school can acheive such a high IB mean score, because it pushes the students to do well. And another example I can think of is in MUN. In my first MUN, SMUN (Singapore MUN), I really didn't venture out of my comfort zone, I just kept quiet and let Collin talk. However, for the next MUN, WEMUN (which was even harder, in that it was in China and was an international MUN), I told myself that since I came all the way here (against my parent's objections, because they thought it was too expensive), I should just speak up, which I did, and to everyone's surprise (especially the teacher), I won Best Delegate. I just regret giving my spot on the YI Camp Committee, because I thought I couldn't handle it, after reading this book, I think I could've done it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld

For some reason, I haven't been able to make much progress in reading, but I was able to read finish the Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, which is a collection of the pithiest (is this the right word) quotes from the Discworld series (by Sir Terry Pratchet) so far. I guess I took a long time reading it because this is a book which is meant to be slowly savoured read.

This book is hilarious, with lots of quotes from the Discworld series. I've not read all the books yet, and some of the book that I have read, I would have included some other quotes, and left out others. But as the author said in the preface, this is his personal favourite and is by no means exhaustive.

There's not much to say about this book, since it's aimed more at fantasy/Terry Pratchet lovers. However, I think it's an infectious book, that can amuse all those wanting a laugh. Case in point, my friend borrowed this book almost as soon as I finished it. I guess the quotes really do speak to people. Either that, or there are Terry Pratchet fans everywhere.

Before I forget, here's the amazon link:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pride and Prejudice~

One of my favourite books. But I didn't buy this book til last Friday cause of one reason. That reason, is that I used to own a copy of Pride and Prejudice, which I bought in Borders KL during a family vacation. And like the character in Inkheart says "Books hold memories" (or something like that), but unfortunately I lost it on the way to school (somewhere between home and the carpark) last year. And since then, I've been searching for the exact same green cover puffin copy, which I found at long last. (:

The story is as great as I remember it, and I wish I could see the movie again (unfortunately, the copy is in Malaysia). The story is funny and absorbing, and it makes me wish I could be there in person. I think the characterisation is very well-down, and is completely believable. I think, that when a book/movie is either really good, or has an open ending, (most of the time both), then there will be many fanfictions written about it.

And it holds true in this case (the book being so well written). Apart from all the fanfics at, there are also lots of spin-offs in book form. From sequels to prequels and even from Mr Darcy's point of view. I guess no matter what Mark Twain said about Jane Austen (i.e. "Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.", but then again I can barely stand Huck Finn, his "greatest work"), she's just so good she's well loved.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Essays In Idleness

This book is one where the title is deceptive, it has nothing to do with being idle. But, it's still a really cool book. The Japanese title of this is つれずれ草(つれぐれぐさ), the romaji being Tsureguregusa, which even my Japanese class finds hard to pronounce. And sensei took one look at this book and told me to return it because it is "too hard",  although I think he's thinking of the Japanese version.

The book is really random (which fits my thought patterns), but this makes it easy to read a few books at a time (I brought this book to read in school because The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear is way too heavy). And although there are buddhist themes inside, it's not very prominent.

It does have, however, really penetrating insight into human nature, with his many ancedotes about the lives of his circle of peers. And it provides a good explanation of the Japanese culture, explaining why they love the cherry blossoms (because of their impermeance). And I think he articulates it in a really poetic manner, although that could be cause of Keene's translation.

The amazon link is here.

And my favourite quote in the book? "The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known" from Chapter 13. ^_^

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Used and Rare: Travels in the book world.

Today, I started on the second book that I bought (: It was, I figured, appropraite since all the books I've been collecting, and I used to toy with investing in books (although the only book I can have that is remotely antique is Five at Finnestone farm, but doesn't seem to be first or second edition), and it would be interesting (that sentence made no sense whatsoever, and has way too many paranthesis's ). And I was right, it was.

Before I bought it, I spent a fairly long time on Amazon reading the reviews and debating whether to buy it. One negative review was that it was "boring". And at first, that review came back subconciously to haunt me, when for some reason, the font felt jarring. But it soon went away, and I suppose the initial awkardness was becaue I started it straight after another book (How to read literature like a professor).

The book is very interesting, since it chronicle's the author's journey into book collecting, from just antiques to first editions. And since it's in narrative form, is much more interesting than a dry discourse. And it's not entirely useless, there's useful information such as how to identify bookclub editions and the difference. And I was honestly shocked at the value of some of the books. (:

Amazon link:
But, since Singapore doesn't seem to have a culture of collecting books (or maybe I'm not rich enough?), finding antique books seem to be hard. Unless I go back to Bras Basah. Which from last experience, was uh.... was, well, just used books that were either outdated or in bad condition. But still, from the internet, I've heard about finds. And after that expensive book buying spree, I suppose I'll have to stick to buying (mostly) second hand books for now. Or from Littered with books (I seriously cannot tear myself from that place). And who knows? I may find something valuable someday XD.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An almost perfect day~ Book shopping.

Today I spent the whole day (well, morning plus lunch, but whole day sounds better), with Eugenia, shopping for books! Even though Eugenia isn't the most enthusiastic of readers, she came along because she had a Border's card which she wanted to use.

Our first stop was Borders, where (in the both 'mainstream' bookstores, I once again cannot find all the books I want to buy.) But I managed to get Essays in Idleness, Find Pride and Prejudice (I've been looking for a particular cover since I lost it. I'm OCD that way) and How to read Literature like a professor, which I finished during didi's Chinese tuition. I've got to admit, that book is very useful, and it's a good introduction into literary theory and how to analyse a text (seen and unseen I guess). And the best part is that the author is really entertaining (for me, but I'm an English geek so....) which makes it a really enjoyable read.

Next, we wandered around Orchard looking for Kinokuniya. Good thing someone installed a "locality map". Which means, although we probably went in circles, we got there in the end. Kinokuniya was ok, but I once again couldn't find a book, (actually two), but somehow, managed to use up all the kinovouchers I got for my Birthday. Sadly, Eugenia only bought 2 manga from both bookstores, instead of the books I was hoping she bought. And even sadder, we couldn't find the magazines I was going to buy for Euphemia.

But things turned around when we got to Littered with books. First though, we stopped at Flor to have lunch (which was, as usual really delicious). I asked one of the ladies working there to help Eugenia pick out some books and then went to get the two I had my eye on. Then I saw Kazuo Ishigiro's When we were orphans and Never let me go. I almost bought them, but I didn't have enough. On the bright side, Eugenia actually couldn't decide which books to choose, and she plans to come back. Progress was made!

And even funnier was, some people from Time out Singapore (which I checked on the internet is a travel guide and travel magazine). And when we were paying, they wanted to take some shots of us browsing the books (although they did tell us to put the kino bags aside). Quite an interesting experience.

And now, the people at Littered with books are officially the best booksellers/salespeople ever~ Apart from recommending books for me and Eugenia, they were really nice, as they allowed Eugenia to put her Slurpee on a table while she was browsing on a book (at first, I was afraid they'd make her throw it away). Which makes the best part of the day when they introduced me as a 'Regular'. ^_^

Anna Karenin(a)

I spent a little of the day before and the whole of yesterday (reading til 11plus) reading Anna Karenina. I always thought it was Karenina, but apparently that's the feminine form. Karenin is what's on my book title. But I still like Karenina more because... I guess because it's feels nicer to say.

The story, like War and Peace, doesn't have much of a plot. Actually, it has more of a plot than War and Peace, but the main point is that the story follows the lives of the characters rather than just making the characters follow the plot. And that's kinda like the taiwanese dramas, the really long winded, last-three-or-four years kind. Like Ai or Yi Nang Wang.

The novel is, in my opinion, misleadingly titled. That's because Anna (and her husband, and her lover) aren't the only main characters; there's also Kitty and Levin's romance. At first, I heard them referred to as a "subplot", but they're so much more than that. They're story takes up half the book, and provides the sense of hope; most likely to counterbalance the tradgedy and despair of Anna's life. All characters are well crafted (which means believable), although it took me some time before I could differentiate between characters (bad at names, and Russian names have 3 names, which make it worse).

For some reason, this book reminds me of Esther. It's not a very save-the-Jews story, or with any heavy moral overtones (and the only character that 'comes to Christ', so to speak, is Levin, and that is only in the last part - i.e. part 8 of the book). But the common characteristics are that God is not shown, but in a way, you can feel him. Ok, bad explanation, but its the best I can do. And you do know that Tolstoy was Christian right?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Madalen (without the 'e')

This book was so hard to find on amazon (cause I didn't want to go all the way to the bookshelf to get the title), but in the end, still had to. And then I found out it's not Magdalene, which is the conventional way of spelling, but Magaden =.=

This isn't the usual type of book I read, but it's quite interesting. It's basically about an unmarried mom in the life of a Magadalene shelter, which is a shelter for unmarried mothers, but treats them like slaves in the washing room.

What's interesting about this book are the characters. The protagonist is really predictable, but her family and friend's aren't. Well, one brother is, but the rest are different. The most unpredictable character would be the mother, because her actions were very unexpected. It actually borders on the edge of unbelievable, because the personality is a complete opposite. But I suppose that when you take time and the society into context, her actions make sense.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the priest. At first, he came across as a whiny character, the typical hypocritical priest. While this book does criticise nuns (especially in the Magdalene house) and priests (in Dublin), the author's hometown priest is surprisingly .... compasionate. He actually refused to marry the guy who ditched the girl (because the other lady is richer). I was shocked; but since this was done quite naturally, it was believable.

The nice thing about this book is that it has a mix of characters, no one order (or religion) is seen as wholly good or wholly bad. And that, I think, makes the difference in a novel. The only "fault" I find with the book (if it can be called a fault) is that the Esther (the protagonist) didn't get together with Jim at the end (Jim's some nice guy). There were hints, but nothing. Still, it's not a big issue, since it doesn't affect the main theme at all. Still, I wish that one lose end gets tied up, it reminds me of Studio Ghibli fims, where I always wait for a sequel (that never comes) because the main characters never get together (like Spirited away, Howl's Moving Castle - in which we never find out what happens between Sophie, Prince Justin and Howl, etc)

Ah, I rambled and digressed so much I completely forgot to paste the Amazon link. So, here it is:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bird by Bird

Today, I finished Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It's one of those great books that is so hard to classify. Ostensibly, it's a guide on writing, but since art imitates life (or is it the other way round?) a lot of what she says are actually observations on life. And one of the things she said, (and was stuck in my head), was that the first draft is always, in her words "shitty". And that it's fine.

The weird thing, is that this applies to a lot more than writing. One example I could think of was piano. Lots of times (all the time), the first time I try to play the piano, what comes out has no resemblence to the song. But after lots of practicing and refining, what I get is closer to what the songwriter intended; in other words, the 'better' second draft. And in the case of my exam pieces, I hope the "second draft" is good enough to get me to pass (I habour no illusions about my music/creative abilities).

Another time(s) I could see this first/second draft example would be, most obviously, in writing. In secondary school (sec 3, sec 4), Ms Tan always made us write first and second draft for our essays. And the difference is remarkable, sometimes, the difference in marks is as much as five to seven (out of thirty). And today, was Chinese exam, and one of the papers was an essay. Normally, I just write out of my head, and then score really low. But since it's the IB exam, I was naturally very very nervous. So after I wrote my essay (actually, it was near the end of the essay), I started editing (adding sentences and such). And I decided to re-write the essay after I realised I needed to swap the order of two paragraphs. During the second re-write, I managed (I hope) to make the sentences sound a lot smoother. It's not perfect, but I'm happier with the second attempt. And of course, I spent the rest of the time worrying that I'd accidentally hand in the first version. (:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meant to be read.

The last two days (yesterday and today), I managed to finish two books, two very different books. One of them is called Practical Marketing; and asian perspective and the other is called When teens Pray.

I spent Sunday really happily, (you can say satisfactorily, like those Dickens books). After service, I realised that the Sunday school was making cookies, in ovens~ The third floor never smelt more yummy. And of course, I took a few. And the recipe, to make with didi tan. And that's all because I had choir practice (which was why I was at the English service). Choir was really fun, but for some reason, I can no longer hit the high F note. ):

After Choir, I met Nic, and we went for lunch at Flor (really nice pudding), and then, to my new favourite bookstore: Littered with books. Nic, found out where all the Sunny bookstore people went ^_^ (And then punched me cause I didn't tell her, and made her worry that one of the salespeople was her ex-lecturer). And even though it was only my second visit, they remembered me~~ So, I bought a puffin copy of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (awesome writer), for only $4.50 (: Can't wait to read it.

And during the whole of Sunday (including Japanese class), I was reading Practical marketing. Even though the final year exams are over, it is kinda interesting. Although a little bit outdated. It's written by the same guy who wrote Sun Tsu's Art of War and Business management; and has loads of relevant examples.

And today, I meant to read Sex and the City, but then, the book was not to my taste (too crude and didn't make sense), so I gave it away and found.... When teens Pray, which was a birthday present from Fong. And it was just what I needed!! It gave me the encouragement I needed for the Chinese paper tomorrow. Praise God. (: