Wednesday, December 28, 2016

SEA Reading Challenge + 2016 Roundup!

So I've been thinking about the kind of reading challenge that I want to do in 2017. I looked at a few, but couldn't decide on one. Then I realised... there's something that I want to do. I want to read more books from South East Asian (SEA) authors. This year, I managed to read a few Chinese and Japanese authors and I'm glad I did, but I would really like to read more from SEA. Not just stories set in SEA, but stories by people from SEA.

Which is why I decided to create my own challenge, the SEA Reading Challenge. 

If you didn't know, SEA is an area that consists of:
- Vietnam
- Laos
- Cambodia
- Thailand
- Myanmar
- Malaysia
- Indonesia
- Philippines
- Brunei
- Singapore
- East Timor

The challenge: To read books from SEA authors, not just books set in South East Asia. The purpose for this is because I want to read what the authors of these countries have to say, rather than read how other people see these countries. Books can be fiction or non-fiction

And I have no idea if anyone else apart from me will be doing this, but I set up levels because I have no idea how many books that I can find and read. The levels go like this:

- Domestic: 1-2 books
- Weekend Traveller: 3-4 books
- Exchange Student: 5-6 books
- Scholar: 7-8 Books
- ASEAN: 9 or more books

If you have recommendations or would like to join, please comment below!

2016 Reading Challenge Update

Non-fiction Reading Challenge 2016

Hosted by the Introverted Reader, I aimed for the master level and suceeded! To be honest, I lost track after a while, but I read at least 31 books. Here's a partial list:

Targeted and Trolled by Rosayln Warren
Of Sugar and Snow by Jeri Quinzo
The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin
Lawyer Games by Dep Kirkland
Monsters by David Gilmore
The Shift by Lynda Gratton
The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan
How to be a Brit by George Mikes
The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter
An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabinga
Elegant Entrepreneur by Danielle Tate 
The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter 
Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World by Tristan Donovan
Candyfreak by Steve Almond
Tea: The Drink that Changed the World by Laura C. Martin
The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely
Ctrl+Z by Meg Leta Jones
The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
Blur by Bill Kovach
Women Talk More Than Men by Abby Kaplan
Sushi & Beyond by Michael Booth
The Road to Character by David Brooks
The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale
Natural Curiosity by Lisa Carne
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Forgiving my Daughter's Killer by Kate Grosmaire 
The Tank Man's Son by Mark Bouman
Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman
Linked by Albert Lazlo Babarasi

Once Upon a Time X

Another impulse challenge, I'm really glad that I managed to do this. All in all, I finished three quests: Quest the First, Quest the Second, and Quest on Screen

The Complete Alice in Wonderland by C.S. Lewis, adapted by Leah Moore, John Reppion, Erica Awano (Fairytale)
Memories of Ash by Instisar Khanani (Fantasy)
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (Mythology)
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (Fairytale)
Sabriel by Garth Nix (Fantasy)
The Folklore of Discworld (Folklore)

Best Books of 2016

There are only 7 books on the list this year, and out of the seven, only 2 are fiction! I think it's because I like most stories, but for it to become a 'top' book, it has to really, really stand out. By comparison, it's easier for nonfiction to stand out because it's their content that matters most.

In no particular order, we have:

The Shift by Lynda Gratton

A friend recommended this to me, and now I'll recommend it to all of you. It's on the future of work and all the predictions are based on macro-trends happening now. Of course, things change (2016 has been a huge year of change), but quite a lot of the changes she mentioned are permanent, at least in my opinion.

And while I disagree with a few things, I really like that this book is very global in outlook, and that it uses case studies to illustrate her points. It makes it a lot easier to understand what the author wants to say.

This was one of my top books because of how thought provoking it was, and because it's something that will concern all of us.

Full review

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina

I think quite a few people would have seen the film Hotel Rwanda, or have heard of the Rwandan genocide. At least, I learnt about it and watched the movie during secondary school.

Even if you have, and even if you haven't, you should read this autobiography. Paul Rusesabagina is an extraordinary man who put his life at risk to save 1268 Tutsi and moderate Hutus. And the even more amazing thing is that he thinks that this is the normal thing to do.

Mr. Rusesabagina has come under some criticism, and he admits that he had to be friendly to some evil people at times in order to call in favours, but I think that he has done great work.

His story is powerful and inspiring, and we should all learn from his example.

Full Review

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This is one of the two fiction novels on the list and looking back, I want to read it again!

It's the biography of a very talented author named Miss Vida Winters (I want her talent) as she tells it to the protagonist. The story is told piece by piece, and in extremely beautiful language.

It does seem to inspire either great love or loathing, so while I recommend it, I understand that it's a risky recommendation.

Full Review

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Loved loved loved this book because how often do you see Chinese-inspired steampunk? (Although it feels a lot more like Epic Fantasy to me) If you're familiar with Chinese history, then a lot of things will resonate with you. I mean, quite a lot resonated with me and I only know the basics.

I also managed to read the sequel, The Wall of Storms this year and while I found that captivating as well, it totally broke my heart and I'm not sure if I can continue the series.

But yeah, read The Grace of Kings. Totally worth it.

Full Review

The Road to Character by David Brooks

How do people live full, contented lives?

While people in the past didn't live perfect lives, it's possible to look at some notable figures and learn from them. So through 8 biographies of people like Augustine, Frances Perkins, Philip Randolph and many more, David Brooks considers the elements that make up a contented life and how we can balance two contradicting aspects of our personalities.

Full Review

Peak by Anders Ericsson

From the guy that brought us the 10,000 hour rule comes Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise.

Anders Ericsson explains what is purposeful practice is and how that can make us 'experts'. It's useful if there's a particular skill that you want to become good at.

I borrowed this from the library but I totally intend to buy my own copy some day.

Full Review

Grit by Angela Duckworth

I think this should be read with Peak. It's basically on grit - what it is, why it's important and how you can cultivate it.

While the focus is very narrow, I think it's worth reading because this is something that we will use (or not use) in almost everything we do. And if we intend to stick with something, then it makes sense to learn as much as possible so that you can follow through.

Full Review


  1. The SEA challenge sounds like a good one--and a great idea. I am not participating in challenges this year, but it's definitely tempting.

    Congratulations on completing your other challenges. You did amazing with the Nonfiction challenge! I read one, which is pretty pathetic. My first audio will be nonfiction this year, albeit a celebrity memoir.

    Thank you for sharing your favorites list! I really enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale when I read it too. I will be posting mine tonight/tomorrow.

    I hope you have a great reading year in 2017! Happy New Year, Eustacia!

    1. Can't wait to read your favourites list! I agree that the 13th tale is really good!

      Haha, I guess I was on a non-fiction kick last year :p (almost wrote "this year" out of habit!)


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