Friday, June 26, 2015

100 BOOKS | 100 Books to Read 2015

This is the list in progress for my readings in 2015.

  1. My Fight/Your Fight • RoRonda Rousey
    [ 27/06/2015 ~
  2. The Argonauts • Maggie Nelson
    [ 28/05/2015 ~
  3. H is for Hawk • Helen Macdonald
    [ 18/05/2015 ~
  4. I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen • Sylvie Simmons
    [ 25/04/2015 ~
  5. The Empathy Exams • Leslie Jamison
    [ 22/04/2015 ~
  6. Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis • Alice Kaplan
    [ 08/04/2015 ~
  7. The Buried Giant • Kazuo Ishiguro
    [ 07/03/2015 ~
  8. The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal • Hubert Wolf
    [Translated by Ruth Martin]
    [ 16/03/2015 ~
  9. Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace • Anne Lamott
    [ 04/12/2014 ~
  10. What Days Are For: A Memoir • Robert Dessaix
    [ 20/11/2014 ~
  11. Barcelona the Great Enchantress • Robert Hughes
    [ 04/02/2015 ~
  12. A History of the World in Twelve Maps • Jerry Brotton
  13. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence • Rick Hanson
  14. Running and Being • Dr George Sheehan
  15. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom • Rick Hanson
  16. The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living • Stephen Cope
  17. The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology • Chogyam Trungpa
  18. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism • Chogyam Trungpa
  19. Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery • Chogyam Trungpa
  20. The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them • Richard J. Davidson & Sharon Begley
  21. Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers • David Perlmutter & Kristin Loberg
  22. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West • Dee Brown
  23. Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites • Kate Christensen
  24. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals • Michael Pollan
  25. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto • Michael Pollan
  26. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation • Michael Pollan
  27. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History • S. C. Gwynne
  28. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child • Bob Spitz
  29. Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier • Sharon Salzberg
  30. Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste • Luke Barr
  31. Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team • Chris Lear
  32. The Round House: A Novel Paperback • Louise Erdrich
  33. The Road of Lost Innocence • Somaly Mam
  34. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present • Eric Kandel
  35. The Source of All Things: A Memoir • Tracy Ross
  36. No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva •  Pema Chodron
  37. Give and Take • Adam Grant
  38. Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them • Joshua Greene
  39. The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom • Louis Cozolino
  40. Quiet: The Power of Introverts • Susan Cain
  41. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot • Robert MacFarlane
  42. A Tale for the Time Being • Ruth Ozeki
  43. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants • Malcolm Gladwell
  44. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice • Terry Tempest Williams
  45. Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation • Sharon Salzberg
  46. Hild • Nicola Griffith
  47. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind • Shunryu Suzuki
  48. Lady Audley's Secret • Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  49. The Names of the Rose • Umberto Eco
  50. Dune • Frank Herbert
  51. The Stars My Destination • Alfred Bester
  52. Jane Eyre • Charlotte Bronte
  53. The Windup Girl • Paolo Bacigalupi
  54. Regenesis • C.J. Cherryh
  55. Among Others • Jo Walton
  56. Ready Player One • Ernest Cline
  57. The City & The City • China Miéville
  58. Baghdad Sketches (1932) • Freya Stark
  59. The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels (1934) [On Mazandaran, Iran]• Freya Stark
  60. The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (1936)• 
  61. A Winter in Arabia (1940) [On Hadhramaut] • 
  62. Perseus in the Wind (1948). [Essays on philosophy and literature] • 
  63. Ionia, A Quest (1954) • Freya Stark
  64. The Lycian Shore (1956) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  65. Alexander's Path: From Caria to Cilicia (1958) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  66. The Zodiac Arch (1968) [Miscellaneous essays] • Freya Stark
  67. The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion into Afghanistan (1970) • Freya Stark
  68. Where the Stress Falls • Susan Sontag
  69. On Photography • Susan Sontag
  70. Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 • Susan Sontag
  71. Against Interpretation: And Other Essays • Susan Sontag
  72. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 • Susan Sontag
  73. The Histories • Herodotus
  74. Shantaram • Gregory David Roberts
  75. The Magicians • Lev Grossman
  76. The Magician King • Lev Grossman
  77. The Magician's Land • Lev Grossman
  78. Their Eyes Were Watching God • Zora Neale Hurston
  79. A Fine Balance • Rohinton Mistry
  80. Ancillary Justice • Ann Leckie
  81. Ancillary Sword • Ann Leckie
  82. Annihilation • Jeff Vandermeer
  83. Authority • Jeff Vandermeer
  84. Acceptance • Jeff Vandermeer
  85. Carthage Must Be Destroyed • Richard Miles
  86. The Little Stranger • Sarah Waters
  87. The Paying Guests • Sarah Waters
  88. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption • Laura Hillenbrand
    [ 23/11/2014 ~ 
  89. The Trauma of Everyday Life • Mark Epstein
    [ 15/09/2014 ~
  90. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage • Haruki Murakami
    Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel
    [ 12/08/2014 ~
  91. The Devil's Star • Jo Nesbø
    Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett
    [ 28/07/2014 ~
  92. The Ice Museum: To Shetland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, Greenland and Svalbard in Search of the Lost Land of Thule • Joanna Kavenna
    [ ~
  93. Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness • Rebecca Solnit
    [ 26/11/2014 ~ 18/01/2015 ]
  94. The Outsider • Albert Camus
    Translated from the French by Sandra Smith
    [ 01/10/2014 ~ 19/01/2015 ]
  95. The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere • Pico Iyer
    [ 19/01/2015 ~ 25/01/2015 ]
  96. Station Eleven: A Novel • Emily St. John Mandel
    [ 23/11/2014 ~ 04/02/2015 ]
  97. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith • Anne Lamott
    [ 15/10/2013 ~ 09/02/2015 ]
  98. Travels with Herodotus • Ryszard Kapuscinski
    translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska
    [ 05/02/2015 ~ 15/02/2015 ]
  99. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found • Cheryl Strayed
    [ 25/01/2015 ~ 14/03/2015 ]
  100. Bluets • Maggie Nelson
    [ 09/06/2015 ~ 17/06/2015 ]

Monday, June 22, 2015

Looking forward to the Brownstein Memoir

Looking forward to Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl - Carrie Brownstein's memoir. Coming out Oct 2015.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thoughts about Orange is the New Black Season 3

I binged watched season 3 of Orange is the New Black over the weekend. (This is going to be somewhat spoilery, so don't say I didn't warn you) It wasn't as fun as season 2, but there were a few surprises in character development that I look forward to. Not everyone is a fan of Piper Chapman, and neither was I - but I do like the twist towards the end. In many ways, her character development was always there - it's ironical to say she is fulfilling her potential. Prison has this way of stripping away all the lies we adorn ourselves with normal life. The real Piper Chapman is not an innocent. She's a stone cold bitch, and it's actually interesting.

But the most surprising character development for me this season would be Black Cindy's religious conversion. Black Cindy was fun as a character - carefree, irresponsible and unapologetically self-centred. Then the show took a left turn and she ends up with one of the most profound character evolution towards the end, when she had to explain to a rabbi why she wanted to be a Jew (and it's not just for the broccoli for meal times). This is where I continue to respect the writing team and the actresses on Orange is the New Black - they continue to shine light on how human beings are multi-faceted and oh, so complicated in our strengths, our cruelties and our capacity for something better. They gave depth to shallowness and it was beautiful.

I could just keep re-watching the scene where Black Cindy - now Tova, explained to the rabbi just why she wanted to convert to Judaism:

"Honestly … I think I found my people. I was raised in a church, where I was told to believe and pray. If I was bad, I go to Hell. If I was good, I go to Heaven. If I asked Jesus, he would forgive me - and that was that. And here y’all say there ain’t no Hell, ain’t sure about Heaven. And if you do something wrong you got to figure it out yourself. And as far as God is concerned, it’s your job to keep asking questions and to keep learning and to keep arguing. It’s like a verb. It’s like - you do God. And it’s a lot of work. But I think I’m in it. At least as far as I can see it. Maybe I’ll learn more. It’s a fuck whole thing. And I want to learn more. And I think I got to be in it - to do that. Does that make sense? Shit, did I just tell myself out of it?"

It was a genuinely beautiful speech. it says something about faith - although I would argue that real faith work regardless of religion, is about how you DO God. It's a verb. The writers got this part writer, and it gave this powerful understanding to this character, and this is why I can't quit this show. It's just really good writing.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

SEA Games Swimming 2015: 'Gold' for the SG Singing Crowd



Our national anthem was playing as the winners of the 4 x200m Freestyle relay stood on the podium. Suddenly the speakers broken down - the hum of static, then silence. Then, from the silence, a growing chorus of our people singing the Majulah Singapura, our national anthem with gusto. Smiles broke across the faces of our gold medallists. At the end of the song, we cheered, and one of the swimmers, exclaimed, "Awesome!"

So it was. This is what it means to feels Singaporean. This is what sport is supposed to do - to unite us as one people, as Singaporeans. Money cannot buy this.

I've watched this clip many times over, and I have never felt more pride in my heart for my countrymen.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Emily Dickinson | Go Above Your Nerve

If your Nerve, deny you—
Go above your Nerve—
He can lean against the Grave,
If he fear to swerve—

That's a steady posture—
Never any bend
Held of those Brass arms—
Best Giant made—

If your Soul seesaw—
Lift the Flesh door—
The Poltroon wants Oxygen—
Nothing more –

F329 (1862) 292
Emily Dickinson

Friday, May 01, 2015

Why Can't We Read Anymore?

I admit it - I have been having problems reading the last few years. I've been reading less - my attention span seems to shrink. I keep trying though, but there's always something to distract me.

Books, in ways that are different to visual art, to music, to radio, to love even, force us to walk through another’s thoughts, one word at a time, over hours and days. We share our minds for that time with the writer’s. There is a slowness, a forced reflection required by the medium that is unique. Books recreate someone else’s thoughts inside our own minds, and maybe it is this one-to-one mapping of someone else’s words, on their own, without external stimuli, that give books their power. Books force us to let someone else’s thoughts inhabit our minds completely.

Books are not just transferrers of knowledge and emotion, but a special kind of tool that flattens one self into another, that enable the trying-on of foreign ideas and emotions.

This suppressing of the self is a kind of meditation too — and while books have always been important to me on their own (pre-digital) merits, it started to occur to me that “learning how to read books again,” might also be a way to start weaning my mind away from this dopamine-soaked digital detritus, this meaningless wash of digital information, which would have a double benefit: I would be reading books again, and I would get my mind back.

- [full article]

Monday, March 30, 2015

Story of Lee Kuan Yew, from his Photographer

There has been many stories published about the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. This one, is among my favourite. It's from his former photographer, George Gascon.

As they were preparing for the shoot, Mr Gascon caught a glimpse of Mrs Lee combing Mr Lee's hair.

It was a moment that Mr Gascon dearly wished to capture. So he took out his Leica, knowing the quiet shutter would not intrude into the tenderness.

Yet, even with her back to Mr Gascon, Mrs Lee heard the clicking of the camera.

She said: "George, I heard that."