(The Last Remnants of) 2018 Reads: Not My Favorites

Hi, Nerdies!

I must be the last person in the blog-world who is still talking about her 2018 reads. But well, I am a slow reader and even a slower blogger, so please bear with me. And, Thank You.

These were books I didn’t enjoy for several reasons, a chunk of them were because something about the stories just didn’t click with me, some because the writing-styles weren’t to my liking, and some because I was obviously not a part of the age-group targeted! Yet I stubbornly read it.

I categorized them based on those reasons I just mentioned! And this recap is not ranking-ordered.

Storyline

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Too Much Hype.

As you’ve probably guessed, this is a trilogy telling about how crazily rich asians live their lives.

First glance, the backstory is so very interesting. As an Asian myself, I know exactly how these rich-richie-super-duper-rich Asians live a strikingly contrasting lives compared to people who belong to a different social status or race. Supposedly, these people are extremely,extremely,EX.TREME.LY extravagant and pretentious.

So I thought these books should be fun and entertaining. (They even made a movie based on this trilogy!)

But, no. I read the first book, and decided to put them down. I rarely, rarely dnfed any book or series, so at least I finished the first book I was already reading.

Honestly I found the narrative unnecessarily prolonged. It was lack of progress and dull. I felt like the story would be much more engaging if it were to be cramped into just one book instead of being extended to fit into three books. Throughout the first book, setting and character-wise, the plot kept switching back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, And. Back. And. Forth., it exhausted me. So I was done.    

The Summer I Turned Pretty; We’ll All Have Summer by Jenny Han

Heavy Romance.

This is weird. It’s a trilogy, yet I only read two out of three.

This was how. I read the first book, and as I said, I rarely dnfed any series, so I continued to the next book. And because I was so smart, I jumped into the third book haphazardly instead of picking up the second one orderly. Intentional or not, I skipped it hence I missed it.

Anyway.

I loved loved loved another trilogy by Jenny Han: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. So I figured I would probably love this one too. Especially because this was Han’s older trilogy.

Well, it didn’t suit my taste. I loved the other trilogy because it was sweet, light and refreshing. This one however was too sad, too dramatic, too tragic for my liking.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Too unfair.

This book is about a black marriage in America which has to face racial injustice, be victimized because of it, and to either thrive or crack under its pressure.

Well, I am fully aware that in many stories with persecution theme, it’s hard if not impossible for the victim to get vindicated in any way. But, it’s just way too too painful to read how hard and how futile our main couple’s struggle to collect and mend any pieces left of their shattered marriage, and because of what? Some-external-unjust-reason that shouldn’t even have happened in the first place?

I felt like I should be peacefully shipping them, not devastatingly un-shipping them! Like the way I did Roy and Celestial’s relationship.

But now that I’ve come to think about it again, maybe that was what the writer wanted to evoke from the readers all along! Maybe this book shouldn’t be here at all. #sorry 

Writing-style

Underground Railroad

Terrific Story, A Bit Slow Though.

This is a story of a courageous slave who wages her best attempt to escape from a ruthless cotton plantation. Great story!

Unfortunately.

Something I couldn’t put my fingers on held me back from savouring this book. My best guess was the writing-style. The writer has this sort of slow to unravel, a bit on the arcane side, and hard to read story-telling style. But at least I admired the heroine! 

Thanks a Thousand by A.J. Jacobs

Intriguing Idea, Monotonous Execution.

This one is a record of Jacobs’s journal on him invoking gratitude feeling by thanking people who contribute in making his cups of coffee. The list runs from a barista to a steel producer.

The message is well delivered. We should be grateful, and gratitude is not an innate thing. In contrast, it can be intentionally cultured and invoked. Yada yada.

As important as the message was, I found this book highly redundant. I kept losing my focus while listening to the writer telling the story of when he was personally thanking various people. I thought there were not enough discerning events in every chapter to separate one version of thanking this person from another account of thanking that person.

Lastly

Age

I am an old lady now.

These were honestly good books, but I was already too old when I read them. The scare didn’t frighten me, the ruses didn’t fascinate me. But I could imagine that I would have enjoyed it ten years back.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The story takes set in a fantasy world, where rats have ways to communicate, do business, and even emphatize with fellow rats. A girl interestingly named Lady Door would lead you through her search adventure to find out the murderer of her family members and to finally take her revenge.

It by Stephen King

Yes, that IT movie you know is based on this book.

It’s about a haunted city where children keep missing. Some of these children’s bodies are later found dead and horridly incomplete while the rest of the bodies mysteriously disappear. Ironically, adults don’t even bother to question what’s been happening and instead, they let it pass like it is just another daily stuff. Not the living kids though, they have their own suspicion, and eventually some of them are brave enough to prove their hunch.  

I’ve covered this in another post, you can check that out if you want: IT -Book Review.

That’s it for now. As always, don’t forget to press like, follow, or kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll see you guys next week!

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(2019) January Hits and Misses

Hi, Nerdies!

Hope everything is going well with you! Today I am summing up my January reads. There are some hits, one that I have mixed feelings about, and the rest are unfortunately misses!

Hits :

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Remarkable.

Not only this book is a good book, it’s also a must-have-must-read book. It’s a theory which predicts what kind of future that we’ve been making for ourselves as a species, written by a history genius. If you’re interested in knowing more about this book, you can go here:  Homo Deus: Are We God?

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Intriguing.

This one is another and highly political book. It’s laden with partial political views and opinion. This book covers 100-first days of Trump’s presidency, it includes narratives on his governing-style, his political and racial disposition, his family and most importantly his fury. Putting aside its provocative propensity, I must say that this book is very well-written.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Fine by Gail Honeyman

Great Story. Great Characters.

If you’re in a mood of a good, somber and grim story with a bit of bitter and saucy humor on top of it, then this novel will definitely satisfy your thirst!

I’ve put out a full-on post on this book, and you can check that out here: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely NOT Fine!

Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm

Perfect Guide.

It’s an abridged version of a meditation handbook. It’s surprisingly very easy to digest and very very well-structured. This book would be a perfect guide for any complete newbie who knows absolutely nothing of meditation and is not sure where to start.

(For the full version, check out: Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm)

However, a tiny caveat, if you’re only interested in meditation practices, and not in being a Buddhist, the full version is probably not for you.

Mixed-Feelings:

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

A Quasi-Poem.

As clear as in the title, this small book recounts a writer’s life, through a somewhat poetic narrative. Not that this book is a bad book, because it’s obviously not! But the thing with anything poetic is I am too dumb to understand it most of the time. And that’s where the mixed feelings came from I guess.

Misses:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Moms would relate the best to this book!

I read this book because of all the rage on the Instagram. People seemed to like it so much, so probably I would too. I didn’t.

I guess the fact that I am not yet a mom myself has made this book a full-of-questions pool for me. I questioned every turning point of the story, I had mixed feelings about almost each character, and I didn’t fully understand which part of the narrative should have intrigued or hooked me.

But since many people enjoyed it, maybe you will too!

One Day In December by Josie Silver

Not for me.

To me, this novel would otherwise be an engaging story if not for its terribly drawn-out love at the first sight. Personally and primarily, I am not a fan of awfully cheesy romance and most importantly, I don’t believe in love at the first sight. Besides, I also couldn’t accept the irony of what was painted as such a deep and sure love took the longest time to materialize.

Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead

Too short of a book, too important of a subject.

This one is a brief record of a debate on humankind’s future. I read this book in the event of trying to balance out Harari’s opinion (see Homo Deus: Are We God? to understand what I am talking about), and I ended up not liking it simply because it was too short to be substantial on such a complex matter. But it was short, so it didn’t take up much time to read anyway.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to press like, follow or kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll see you guys next week!

(Still From) 2018 Reads: Fun Reads

Hi, Nerdies! and Happy Chinese New Year!!

It’s another list from my 2018 reads, and this time it’s a list of pastime kind of books. Hope you enjoy it.

My fun reads from 2018 fall in to four unorthodox categories: Memoir Slash Comedy, War-Themed Fiction, Romance, and Mystery.  

 

Comedy Slash Memoir Slash Comedy

This category is really muddy, I know.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

And the reason for the muddiness is because of this witty memoir of Amy Poehler, the comedian who stars the SNL. This book is essentially a comedy slash memoir slash comedy.

If you are not an American though, I’m just going to warn you there’s loads of names that you probably have never heard of in the book. Otherwise, you’ll know whom those fellas Poehler‘s talking about.   

The Funny Thing Is … by Ellen Degeneres

This small book is downright comedy, it contains a compilation of Ellen’s old monologues. If you’ve watched all of her stand-ups, you probably won’t want to read this, because the book contains the exact same stuff.

 

Becoming by Michele Obama

And just to be clear, this one is a memoir and there’s absolutely nothing comedic about it. I’ve got this one covered already, you can go here Michelle Obama as a Friend: Becoming, if you want.  

 

 

 

War-Themed Books

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

It’s a unique novel written with a quirky writing style. I’ve seen people hating Foer’s writing style, and I must say I get why they hate it. I guess it’s a love it or hate it kind of thing. But in my case, I found Foer’s storytelling style as a quite interesting way to tell a weirdly interesting story!

 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This one is good, like, really good. It’s a story of extremely brutal racial disparity that has been going on for so long in Afghanistan. If you’re interested in my thoughts of the book, you can go to The Kite Runner Review.

 

 

Romance

Trilogy: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before; P.S. I Still Love You; Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (YA)

If you haven’t read this already, know this: you’re missing out. I even wrote a letter to you not long ago telling you about this sweet sweet trilogy. If you also haven’t read that, please read it now, will you? A Sweet Love Letter: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (YA)

A light french-y romance. Sliiiiightly too cheesy for me, but overall it’s a fun read.

 

 

 

The Winner’s Crime and The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

A feminine romance tale painted on a warfare backstory. These two books are the middle and the last part of a trilogy respectively, but to be honest I think the first book is the best part of the three. —and as for why I didn’t include the first book here, it’s because I read it a long time ago, and not in 2018, and I just wanted to stay committed to my post title. Ha!–  But still, I was the kind of person who never dnf, thereby I finished it anyway. (Btw, I am still preparing a complete commentary on this trilogy)

Mystery

Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie

I don’t think I need to advertise for an Agatha Christie’s novel. Everybody knows that her mysteries are invariably intriguing, this one is of course no exemption. And even though Miss Marple is my favorite sleuth in Christie’s universe, a Hercule Poirot’s investigation is never less fascinating!

 

 

You: Obsessive Chilling and Thrilling by Caroline Kepnes

This one is a documentation of a psychopath’s doings from his own perspective. I’ve also covered this one, you can read A Comment on You: Obsessive and Chilling if you like. 

 

 

The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

I was a little bit not sure what genre should I have categorized this book in, but decided that the story was basically a mystery, but just to be precise, it also had romance in it. Or to better put it, it’s typical of Sidney Sheldon. Adult revengeful romance. One thing that Sheldon’s stories have in common is the never-ending twist. And this one is just exactly like any other of his books, it’s fast-paced, its plot keeps turning the way you don’t expect to, and it has no rigid rule as for the ending. If you’re a fan of twists, you probably will like this book too!

Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

I read a lot of bad reviews of this novel, I saw people complained that it’s too predictable, and how they’d known the kidnapper very very early on. –Oh yeah, almost forgot, it’s a story about twins kidnapping–  Call me stupid, but I didn’t see anything coming at all, so for me it’s honestly unpredictable, and thank God the book was a super quick read so I didn’t spend so much time anxiously wondering who’d done what.

I also saw among the reviews that for some people a book being a quick read was a bad thing, and I honestly didn’t know why because hell, I loved it more for that very reason. LOL. I totally sound like I just want to oppose all people for no good reason. But really, that’s not what I am trying to do here. All I want to say is that this book is a great thriller. That’s all.

And don’t you think that children abduction is such a relatable topic? After all, most of us are parents or uncles or aunts, aren’t us? And oh my, I have been dragging, haven’t I? I need to stop talking now.    

But just one more thing.

Bonus: One Re-read

I also read a re-read on Christmas last year, only because the title rhymed. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (by Agatha Christie) on my Christmas. Done! I hope you enjoyed this list, and I’ll see you in my next post! Which will be uploaded on Wednesday next week! I upload on Wednesday. Jeez, I really need to stop blabbering. NOW!

2018 Reads: Exceptional Books

Hi, Nerdies! And Happy New Year!

Before I say anything, there is one thing that you should know about me. It is that I am a complete control freak, thus I categorize, categorize and categorize. Categorizing is basically what I do for living. So beware of highly incessant categorizing ahead! #lol

I read 39 books last year, 12 of them were exceptional, 10 of them were less exceptional, and the rest of them (17, to be precise) were downright fun. And for obvious reasons, I wanted to blog about the 12 exceptional books first.

For the fun reads you can go here: (Still from) 2018 Reads: Fun Reads

And one more thing,  please pardon me for this interminable commentary.

I divided my recommendation into three sections: Must-read which is pretty much self-explanatory; Recommended books which are the books that I think will provide meaningful reads; and Personal Favorites which are my own favorites from 2018 reads.

I intentionally added Classics as the fourth category only because I had this one classic book that I think absolutely deserved a shout out to the world. Which one, you say? Keep on reading and you’ll find out. #winkwink

In lieu of me rambling on and on, let’s just jump right in!

Must Read

These are the books which either have changed the trajectory of my life completely, or the books that hold invaluable information – the kind of books that are so important they might as well be textbooks (in my opinion). 

I’m afraid I would be doing a disservice to these books if I were to disclose too much of my opinion regarding them, thus I only provided a glimpse of what the books are about. Therefore you can decide whether you want to read them or not based on the topic. But I say you should read them, because!, these are must read books after all!

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is about general history of Homo Sapiens, or if you prefer the generic word, Humankind. Looking back to history, human as a species should have been merely one of various animals existing on the earth. But rather, we currently hold overwhelming power on the earth and its inhabitants, the power that we should not have had let alone used. In short, Harari brilliantly summarizes how human race gets from the middle of the food chain to the very top of it.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

In her book, Duckworth asserts that Grit is the one thing that successful people have in common.  Ensuring the accountability of the conclusion, her argument is built on a basis of endless psychological researches.

A little tip: This is my life-changing book.  Now I know that Grit is not merely hard work. It is hard work and MUCH MORE. 

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This one is a memoir of a young man from Appalachian Mountain area. He is a part of so called hillbilly society. If you already decided that memoirs bore you, all I can say is if you give this one a chance, you’re not going to regret it. This book is such an exemplary memoir.   

And,

Muhammad: The Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong

I highly suggest everyone who loathe or outright hate Islam in any way to read this book. As we all know, all this hate-for-Islam runs from the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001 as the outset to the fact that now we all are jumbled in the danger of ISIS threats wherever we live. Armstrong however, never ceased to refute some of the most distorted opinion about Islam.

Even the term for a criminal suspect in a court is defendant. And it’s requisite that a defendant is accompanied by a defendant attorney during a litigation process. Because all people including the bad ones deserve to defend for themselves.

There is a little bit of truth in every lie, and there is a little bit of lie in every truth.

So I entreat you to hear out the side of Islam written by a person who genuinely intends to defend for Islam’s unfairly judged disposition. Cause you know, you can always go on and hold your opinion of hating it after reading the book. Eventually, it’s entirely your decision to hate or love anything in the world.

And for what it’s worth, Armstrong herself is not a Muslim.

Recommended Books

Three recommendations: two memoirs broaching the subject of inequity and one worthwhile self-help book.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.


said by every black person in USA

This very sentiment is affirmed that it is (still) real and deeply instilled in black society vulnerable daily lives through such a poetic memoir written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

In Order To Live by Yeon-Mi Park

A North Korean girl telling her story of how she managed to escape the renowned tyrannical North Korea passing its impervious borders and to elude extremely suffocating poverty In Order To Live.

Btw, the way the title perfectly sums up the gist of the book in one sentence is simply impressive.

Lastly,

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

I think all people might have read this book as of today because this one is such a popular book. But if you haven’t, better read it asap.

Favorites

This section will come across as highly biased because it’ll totally look like I dedicate this section to Michael Meyer.

Michael Meyer is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh who spent his young adulthood in China volunteering with the Peace Corps. He spent time teaching there, and he recorded some of what he perceived as China’s condition after Mao’s government in his books.

I am not gonna smooth-talk you into reading his books, because I admit that his books are a bit dragging reads if you’re not so into architectural stuff. In his books, Meyer pivots his narration on historical buildings, ruins and landmarks.

But I still love Meyer anyway, because he is such a funny  writer and his writing feels very personal. He is that kind of writer which makes you feel like you’ve known him personally for a long time.

Also: I even emailed him to ask a silly question. And yes, I like him that much. #lol

And these are two of his books that I read in 2018: In Manchuria and Last Days of Old Beijing.

Classics

I finished perusing three classics last year: Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I am particularly far from thrilled to discuss any classic, because I feel like I am only going to give a distorted opinion of them. The thing is, I always think that classic stories are old as in its complexity is obviously nothing compared to contemporaries’, and the English is very very old in some of them. And to be frank, I think you need to at least have interest in linguistic history in order to completely appreciate classic materials. And as for now, I am not that kind of person. Yet. (I hope)

But I still put this section out because one classic struck me as beyond an astounding piece, and even if you are not a huge fan of classics like me, I assure you that you still will absolutely love To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

If you want to know why I deem very high of To Kill A Mockingbird, see you in my next post! h

But I need to mention this.

To Harper Lee: Thank you for writing this masterpiece.  

And to you Nerdies, Thank You for reading.