At this time in the year I always wonder how my fellow editor Roy is doing on his Goodreads Challenge. I recall he started out rather modestly in 2012 at 12 books. He quickly completed that, and upped the number to … 15 in 2013. For me, I’ve always stuck with a rather high (to some) number of 100 . To put this number in perspectives – I have to read one book every 3 days consistently for a year. Given my speed, this is not difficult to attain, provided I set aside time to read. Given that I spend about 10 hours a day at work, 7 hours asleep, I have some 7 hours left. These 7 hours are usually spent commuting, playing Candy Crush, watching TV, playing Candy Crush AND watching TV at the same time… as you can see I don’t really prioritise reading in a day. I know, being a librarian and all, I should be ashamed of myself. Nonetheless I found the tenacity to complete my 100-book Goodreads Challenge, and 7 days ahead of the deadline at that.
This year I started reading poetry at the influence of a friend, and let’s just say I became hungry for poetry. My personal favourite collection is Love and Other Misadventures by debut poet Lang Leav. I also had the opportunity to catch a session at the Singapore Writers’ Festival where premier Singapore poet Professor Edwin Thumboo read alongside UK Poet Laureate Dr Carol Ann Duffy. The atmosphere in that tent was positively electrifying. For those starting out like me, I recommend Dr Carol Ann Duffy’s Rapture.
Apart from poetry I hit up my standard set of general literary fiction and genre fiction, the bulk of what I read. This year I discovered the writings of Will Self- that sort of irreverent British humour and satirical writing style made me read almost all of his books. My favourite of all that I read is Dorian, a retelling of Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Grey set in contemporary London. Apart from Will Self I started on Jefferson Bass’ Body Farm series (start with Carved In Bone). Fans of Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell will certainly enjoy this series, which touches on forensic anthropology and murders. I read some short stories and one collection that absolutely enthralled me is The Last Girlfriend on Earth: and other love stories by Simon Rich, who is Saturday Night Live’s youngest writer. Be prepared to laugh and cry along to this collection of stories.
As for Non-fiction, I tend to go for the interesting oddball reads that catch my eye on the New Arrivals shelf. One of them is Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found by Sophie Blackall. The hopeless romantic in me was sold when I read that the book is based on love at first sight rediscovered on Craigslist. Check out Brain Picking’s in-depth review of this book.
As a public librarian I also do children’s storytelling (surprise!), and I’ve picked up several interesting children’s books this year, such as Jon Klassen’s award-winning picture book I Want My Hat Back and Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. There’s a certain wry humour in both that appeal to me.
Books I Gave Up On
I’m the kind of reader who tries to finish every book I start, but sometimes, I just lose patience and desert them. One of them is The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. I think I still found the book too positive (for me), or something along those lines. What an irony.
Now that I have completed my 100-book challenge, for the next seven days I shall kick back, relax and play more Candy Crush. Or Plants VS Zombies. Or Temple Run. You get the drift.
And here’s wishing everyone a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year in advance!
Contributed by Lo Wan Ni, Central Public Library