Sunday, September 06, 2020

Books to Look out For

The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Turton, Stuart

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success 

Jeff Olson

Saturday, September 05, 2020

First Blog Post in 2020

It's been a while since I last blogged. Not sure if anyone is still following this dead blog.

Well, an update - I was dealing with some health and personal issues the last few years. A couple of years back, they found a brain tumour, and I had to undergo surgery to take care of that. I'm still doing hospital follow-ups on my condition. A few more MRIs, and if everything is clear, hopefully, the doctor will finally be able to declare me tumour-free.

I really haven't been able to focus long enough to read much these days, but I want to. Basically I just want my life back. The life that I used to have when I was happy and more at peace with myself, if I was ever at peace.

Lots of changes in my life the last couple of years, some good, some not so good. But one thing I would like to come back to, is to read and write again.I don't care if I don't do anymore marathons. I have gained weight since the time spent in the hospital. I don't do marathons or yoga or any real fitness activities anymore. I guess in a way, I am just really pissed off with life and I don't give a damn anymore.

But, something is still calling me. I still want to read, even if my concentration is terrible these days. Maybe blogging about what I read and do for fun again will help. I don't know. Maybe. Or maybe not. But I thought I will just try to blog again.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

I'm Back

It took me a while to log on to this blog. I forgot the password and even how to post a blog for a while. I'm finding my way back after a long absence. Will see how things goes. Just a quick catch-up, in case anyone is still reading this blog and interested in my life: I had a roller coaster couple of years. Last year I was in hospital for brain surgery. During a visit to the dentist in 2016, they took a scan of my teeth, and the scan was so powerful it caught a tumour in the region of my brain, and they had to take it out. A few months after I was discharged, my mother passed away, so we had to prepare for her funeral. I haven't found much time or mood to read these couple of years, but I am coming back. I am also hoping to do more journalling. The type of journaling with a physical pen in hand and a notebook with real paper. We'll see how that goes.

Books Read 2018

Empty. Surprised?

Monday, June 04, 2018

Books Read 2016

  1. The Pirate King • Laurie R. King
  2. Garment of Shadows • Laurie R. King
  3. Brave Enough • Cheryl Strayed
  4. Wonder Woman: The Circle • Gail Simone et al
  5. Wonder Woman: Ends of the Earth • Gail Simone et al
  6. Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian • Gail Simone et al
  7. My Life on the Road • Gloria Steinem
  8. Dreaming Spies • Laurie R. King
  9. The Argonauts • Maggie Nelson
  10. When Breath Becomes Air • Paul Kalanithi
  11. Lazarus Volume 4: Poison • Greg Rucka et al
  12. H is for Hawk • Helen Macdonald
  13. Girl Waits with Gun • Amy Stewart
  14. In Other Words • Jhumpa Lahiri
    translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
  15. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation • Michael Pollan
  16. The Murder of Mary Russell • Laurie R. King
  17. Birds of Prey II, Vol. 1: End Run • Gail Simone et al
  18. To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface • Olivia Laing
  19. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone • Olivia Laing
  20. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts • Joshua Hammer
  21. Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot • Sarah Marquis
  22. White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World • Geoff Dyer
  23. Gratitude • Oliver Sacks
  24. Just Kids • Patti Smith
  25. The Fifth Season • N. K. Jemisin
  26. The Obelisk Gate • N. K. Jemisin

Saturday, September 24, 2016

BOOKS | 100 Books To Read 2016

  1. Emotional Agility • Susan David
    [ 23/09/2016 ~
  2. On the Move: A Life • Oliver Sacks
    [ 31/08/2016 ~
  3. Running & Being: The Total Experience • Dr George Sheehan
    [ 28/08/2016 ~
  4. The Power and the Glory • Graham Greene
  5. Orlando • Virginia Woolf
  6. My Brilliant Friend • Elena Ferrante
    translated by Ann Goldstein
  7. Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind • Dan Charnas
  8. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance • Angela Duckworth
  9. Americanah • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. The Bone People • Keri Hulme
    [ 30/7/2016 ~
  11. Your Song Changed My Life • Bob Boilen
    [ 05/06/2016 ~
  12. Dig Me Out • Jovana Babovic
    [ 16/07/2016 ~
  13. The Wretched: A New Translation of Les Misérables • Victor Hugo [ translated from the French by Christine Donougher]
    [03/07/2016 ~
  14. The Folded Clock: A Diary • Heidi Julavits
    [ 05/03/2016 ~
  15. At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails • Sarah Bakewell
    [ 07/03/2016 ~
  16. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals • Michael Pollan
    [ 12/03/2016 ~
  17. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto • Michael Pollan
  18. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World • Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
  19. Their Eyes Were Watching God • Zora Neale Hurston
  20. Dune • Frank Herbert
  21. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome • Mary Beard
    [ 04/01/2016 ~
  22. If the Oceans Were Ink • Carla Power
    [ 15/08/2015 ~
  23. Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese • Patrick Leigh Fermor
  24. Go Tell It On the Mountain • James Baldwin
    [ 11/12/2015 ~
  25. Baghdad Sketches (1932) • Freya Stark
  26. The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels (1934) [On Mazandaran, Iran]• Freya Stark
  27. The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (1936)• 
  28. A Winter in Arabia (1940) [On Hadhramaut] • 
  29. Perseus in the Wind (1948). [Essays on philosophy and literature] • 
  30. Ionia, A Quest (1954) • Freya Stark
  31. The Lycian Shore (1956) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  32. Alexander's Path: From Caria to Cilicia (1958) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  33. The Zodiac Arch (1968) [Miscellaneous essays] • Freya Stark
  34. The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion into Afghanistan (1970) • Freya Stark
  35. Where the Stress Falls • Susan Sontag
  36. On Photography • Susan Sontag
  37. Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 • Susan Sontag
  38. Against Interpretation: And Other Essays • Susan Sontag
  39. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 • Susan Sontag
  40. The Book of Disquiet • Fernando Pessoa
  41. Jane Eyre • Charlotte Bronte
  42. Venice • Jan Morris
  43. Bleak House • Charles Dickens
  44. The Age of Innocence • Edith Wharton
  45. A Time of Gifts (1977) • Patrick Leigh Fermor
  46. Between the Woods and the Water • Patrick Leigh Fermor
  47. The Broken Road • Patrick Leigh Fermor
  48. The Magician • W. Somerset Maugham
  49. River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West • Rebecca Solnit
  50. A Writer's Diary • Virginia Woolf
  51. The Violet Hour • Katie Roiphe
  52. The Handmaid's Tale • Margaret Atwood
  53. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek • Annie Dillard
  54. The Abundance • Annie Dillard
  55. I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen • Sylvie Simmons
    [ 25/04/2015 ~
  56. On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes • Alexandra Horowitz
  57. The Design of Everyday Things • Donald A. Norman
  58. The Heart of the Matter • Graham Greene
  59. Of Human Bondage • W. Somerset Maugham
  60. No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva •  Pema Chodron
  61. Quiet: The Power of Introverts • Susan Cain
  62. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot • Robert MacFarlane
  63. Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark • Janet Fletcher Geniesse
  64. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks • Rebecca Skloot
  65. Felicity: Poems • Mary Oliver
  66. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  67. Real Happiness: The Power of • Sharon Salzberg
  68. The Seven Storey Mountain • Thomas Merton
  69. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind • Shunryu Suzuki
  70. Collection of Sand • Italo Calvino
  71. Landmarks • Robert Macfarlane
  72. A Book of Silence • Sara Maitland
  73. Acedia & me • Kathleen Norris
  74. The Red Parts • Maggie Nelson
  75. Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered • E.F. Schumacher
  76. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness • Jon Kabat-Zinn
  77. 2666 • Roberto Bolaño
  78. A Philosophy of Walking • Frederic Gros
  79. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity • Katherine Boo
  80. The Pirate King • Laurie R. King
    [ 23/12/2015 ~ 09/01/2016 ]
  81. Garment of Shadows • Laurie R. King
    [ 09/01/2016 ~ 10/01/2016 ]
  82. My Life on the Road • Gloria Steinem
    [ 09/01/2016 ~ 23/01/2016 ]
  83. Dreaming Spies • Laurie R. King
    [ 11/01/1016 ~ 26/01/2016 ]
  84. The Argonauts • Maggie Nelson
    [ 28/05/2015 ~ 29/01/2016 ]
  85. When Breath Becomes Air • Paul Kalanithi
    [ 23/01/2016 ~ 30/01/2016 ]
  86. H is for Hawk • Helen Macdonald
    [ 18/05/2015 ~ 08/02/2016 ]
  87. Girl Waits with Gun • Amy Stewart
    [ 01/02/2016 ~ 14/02/2016 ]
  88. In Other Words • Jhumpa Lahiri
    translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
    [ 27/02/2016 ~ 05/03/2016 ]
  89. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation • Michael Pollan
    [ 28/02/2016 ~ 12/03/2016 ]
  90. The Murder of Mary Russell • Laurie R. King
    [ 09/04/2016 ~ 10/04/2016 ]
  91. To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface • Olivia Laing
    [ 08/02/2016 ~ 14/04/2016 ]
  92. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone • Olivia Laing
    [ 14/04/2016 ~ 26/04/2016 ]
  93. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts • Joshua Hammer
    [ 30 April 2016 ~ 5 June 2016 ]
  94. Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot • Sarah Marquis
    [ 16/06/2016 ~ 03/07/2016 ]
  95. White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World • Geoff Dyer
    [ 03/07/2016 ~ 15/08/2016 ]
  96. Gratitude • Oliver Sacks
    [ 16/08/2016 ~ 18/08/2016 ]
  97. Just Kids • Patti Smith
    [ 15/08/2016 ~ 23/08/2016 ]
  98. The Fifth Season • N. K. Jemisin
    [ 23/08/2016 ~ 28/08/2016 ]
  99. The Obelisk Gate • N. K. Jemisin
    [ 28/08/2016 ~ 12/09/2016 ]

Sunday, September 18, 2016

BOOKS | The End of Your Life Book Club, for the Waiting Room

After The Obelisk Gate, I was at a temporary loss at which book to read next. I eventually started on The End of Your Life Book Club, and continued On the Move, the Oliver Sacks memoir that I picked up from the library a while ago.

Will Schwalbe, the author of The End of Your Life Book Club, started writing this when his mother was being treated for cancer. They spent many hours sitting in the hospital waiting together, and to pass the time, they started talking about books. They got around to exchanging books, and Will told his mom that this will be a bookclub of two.

It was the state of my mind then, which led me to pick up The End of Your Life Book Club. I am following up on some medical issues right now, and it has led me to some reconsideration of my life and my priorities. I have also been spending too much time in the hospital waiting room this year, and on days when I forgot to bring something to read, the waiting just feels harder. Which is perhaps why The End of Your Life Book Club rang true to me; I have always believed a person's brings their own experience and state of mind into the books they read. We are meaning-makers, and if someone is made conscious of their own mortality, how will this likely influence their reading?

I was reading this book last week while waiting in the hospital waiting room. So far, it feels interesting, and the conversations between the family and their dying mother were touching. They obviously love their mother. Sadly, it reminded me of my own damaged relationship with my mother. I thought about how it was all those weekly Saturday trips to the library with my mother, that probably turned me into the reader that I am now. Yet ironically, I have never discussed books with my mother.

I'm barely a quarter into the book, but it has already made a recommendation for a title to check out: Susan Halpern's Etiquette of Illness. The book was supposed to be able how to talk to people with illness. It's something that I feel I should pass to friends and acquaintances. To offer as a guide on how to approach this.

Some tips from the book on how to approach the people with illness:

1. Ask: "Do you want to talk about how you're feeling?"
2. Don't ask if there's anything you can do. Suggest things, or if it's not intrusive, just do them.
3. You don't have to talk all the time. Sometimes just being there is enough.

I felt there could also be a fourth tip - depending on the person, it is also important to know when to give space, and respect their need for privacy. Most of all, don't always assume you know better - because you don't.

The Ghostbusters, and Why It Represents What I Want to See in Books and Movies

I'm an unabashedly loud fan of the all-female remake of the Ghostbusters movie. I have the toys to prove it - including the Lego set with Ecto-1.

This article from Bust magazine was listing out the reasons why it's so important for women. The writer did have a very important quote from Kate McKinnon, who played the kooky and charismatic Holtzmann in the movie, and I think it also captured why I loved the movie so much:

In short, maybe McKinnon put it best when she said, “But his [director Paul Feig] most revolutionary act has not been in casting women as scientists and badasses. We’ve seen that before. Ish.

“No, his true subversion lies in creating female protagonists who are striving for the universal goals of friendship, connectedness, justice, and personal growth. These golden fleeces have always been the sole province of male protagonists. They don’t call it an Everyman for nothing. By building stories around female protagonists who are striving not for romance, but simply to become their best selves, he has permanently changed the game for us all.”

I would like to see more good movies made, where the women characters are not there to be the wives, the girlfriends, the desperate single female pining for a man to love her. This is also one of my pet peeves about some of the Young Adult novels I read recently - why does it seem like the romance is the most important part of the story? Can we just have female characters that are interested in friendship, in personal growth, and of course, occasionally, in saving the world? The Hunger Games would be so much better without the love triangle. Take out the romance, and The Hunger Games would be about a brave young teenager who would sacrifice herself to save her sister, and end up becoming a symbol of something larger than her, and overthrowing a flawed government in the process. Well, it still is that, but the love triangle part of the story dragged it down for me.

As a woman, I would like to see more stories where women help lift each other up, instead of backstabbing and jealous in-fighting - especially over another male. I want to see more stories of women being themselves, unabashedly, confidently, but with compassion and good-humour.

Monday, September 12, 2016