One of the good things that came out of 2020 is me being reunited to my childhood hobby: reading. I love books ever since I was young. I gotten that from my mother who always has a pocketbook in her hands as she lie down in the her bed during the early evening lull or during afternoons when she would make us take naps. She told us that reading is her escape, her outlet when she is stressed or when she wants to relax. When we were growing, we found ourselves loving reading and books as well. I guess, it shows that kids definitely pick from the habits of the adults that they see growing up. (I should take note of that for my kids.) I remember when I was in elementary school and up to high school, I would be that girl who always has her nose in a book, figuratively speaking. I would even try to write stories of my own too. When I was in high school, I remember that my best friend and I would spend our recess time, sitting out the library floor, silently reading a book. I feel giddy when I found rent-a-book shops in our city. I get excited to borrow a book there once a week. The books I used to read were Nancy Drew series, the Sweet Valley series, Sweet Dreams, The Babysitters’ Club then as I mature, I went on to read Sidney Sheldon, Victoria Holt, Paulo Coelho, Audrey Niffeneger and some random books recommendations. I discovered Sophie Kinsella and Jodi Piccoult in Singapore which helped me a lot during my adjustment stage of my move. But as my responsibilities increases, motherhood and more adulting stuff, I find myself reading less (except it is productivity or self-help books) and I didn’t have much time to sit down & finish a book. I would even prefer to just listen to audiobooks and watch a movie. I didn’t have the patience to read a non-fiction books.
But last year, I managed to find time to start reading again and the bookworm in me is delighted. Since we didn’t want to accumulate things (as we have learned in Singapore), I read ebooks instead (though nothing beats reading an actual book, holding it, highlighting passages you like, putting notes on the margin). I realised that reading is much more of an activity that require all your faculties as compared to watch a movie (another hobby that I enjoy) which is more passive. You became a part of the storytelling process because your imagination is being utilised and you are transported into a place even if you are just silently sitting in your bed. You become a director, cinematographer and the cast director of the story. Unlike a movie, the interpretation of the story was solely based on the point of view of the director and you take in how they showed the narrative. In a book, you get inside the thoughts of the characters of the novel and you would learn their motives and their real emotions. That is why I prefer to read the book first before the movie adaptation. Reading gives you so much more mental exercise than just watching movies. I am just so happy to be reading again.
Here are 5 non-fictions books I have read and love last year which I highly recommend for fellow bookworms:
- The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children’s lives.
Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they’ve never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in — and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.
Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.
What I think about the book:
It is a story about family – a dysfunctional, imperfect family trying to make sense of life and making peace of the past & how it affected all of them. It painted an in-depth look on the subject of a hoarding disorder which is fascinating and sad at the same time. The storytelling was beautifully done by the author.
2. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Synopsis from GoodReads:
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.
The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.
What I think of the book:
I love a book with an ensemble – different characters with different stories. I was taken into a journey of four siblings when they were young when they were told by a fortuneteller the age when they will die. The story continued in 4 parts up to their adulthood and how that prophecy affected their life. It is like 4 novels in one. When I though the 1st one can’t get anymore shocking and I expected the rest would be ho-hum but all of the stories were exactly marvellous and almost mystical. There was an air of magic in the novel because it is based centrally on a mystically art of fortunetelling. I was spellbound upon reading this book. There was some critics saying about the novel that the research was clumsy and ‘overly-researched’, it comes off like the author was a school girl showing off at a class presentation. But even with those little shortcomings, this is a gem of a book.
3. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Synopsis by GoodReads:
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.
But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life’s lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.
In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures.
What I think about the book:
When I started to read the book, I wasn’t sure where the author is taking me. I was initially not interesting in reading about a story of marsh (wetland that is dominated by herbaceous rather than woody plant species) life and the story’s timeline confused me. But please read on, it is worth it. If I would recommend only one book among the five I listed, this would be it. This a story of Kya, the Marsh Girl from when she was young until she gets older. You will find the book giving you a detailed picture of life in the marsh- the animals, the plants, the ecosystem. The reason for that is because the author is a award-winning nature writer and zoologist with a Ph.D in Animal Behavior. The book is a story of survival with a love story & a murder trial as well a book of nature, science & poetry. The characters I love in the book is Tate, his father and Jumpin’. I love the poems scattered throughout the book. The ending was perfection. This book is selected in Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club in September 2018 and it is set to be made into a movie under Reese’s production company. Daisy Edgar-Jones from Normal People has been slated to play Kya. I can’t wait for the movie to come out.
4. Eleanor Elephant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.
Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
What I think of the book:
This ebook sample has been sitting in my Kindle app for roughly two years, more or less, when I was still in Singapore but I never go around to reading the limited chapters the ebook sample has to offer. But I was so glad I gotten around to read it. It is a fantastic entertaining book. It is a lighter read as compared to the first three book. It is funny and touching with a little of darkness to spice things a bit. It is more of a dark comedy. It set in Glasgow, Scotland and I love the protagonist, Eleanor Oliphant. I have a thing for eccentric people. My sister could attest to that that I love making friends with getting to know ‘weird’ (her word), unique (my word) people. I love discovering the layers in the person’s personality. There is always a reason for their eccentricities which makes them special. I would definitely love being friends with Eleanor even if I think she will find me too silly. Eleanor is a very different lady than most ladies you know, that some readers wonder if she has autistic spectrum. The author, Gail Honeyman corrected that Eleanor is not autistic and added that Eleanor is just a peculiar character because of how she grew up. I love that the book’s theme is anchored towards mental health which is something I am so passionate about. I love the friendship between Eleanor and Raymond. There is a bit of twist in the ending. Watch out for it. There are talks of a movie too for this novel with Reese Witherspoon again to produce.
5. The Jetsetter by Amanda Eyre Ward
Synopsis from GoodReads:
When seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits a sexy essay to the “Become a Jetsetter” contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children: Lee, an almost-famous actress; Cord, a handsome Manhattan venture capitalist who can’t seem to find a bride; and Regan, a harried mother who took it all wrong when Charlotte bought her a Weight Watchers gift certificate for her birthday.
Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young and she was a single mother who meant everything to them. When she wins the cruise, the family packs all their baggage—literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from sun-drenched Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso.
As lovers new and old join the adventure, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the Perkins family is forced to confront the defining choices in their lives. Can four lost adults find the peace they’ve been seeking by reconciling their childhood aches and coming back to each other?
In the vein of The Nest and The Vacationers, Ward has created a delicious and intelligent novel about the courage it takes to reveal our true selves, the pleasures and perils of family, and how we navigate the seas of adulthood to cruise—we can only hope—toward joy.
What I think of the book:
This is another fun book with bits of drama and sadness. It is a book about family with different struggles in life going on a cruise ship, roaming around Europe. It makes me want to go onboard a cruise ship. It sounds so fun! The 70 years old protagonist, Charlotte Perkins (which I can imagine to be played by Jane Fonda) is so delightful and so full of hope. It is a relief to realised when I am reading a book that life offers wonderful surprises even as we age, that things can still be experienced as new, second chances are possible, old wounds can be healed and it is never too late to be courageous. I love the ending because each character has their own happy ending.
The Tattooist of Auschitwz by Heather Morris
Synopsis from GoodRead:
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
I didn’t include this in my list of 5 books because it is not exactly a non-fiction novel. It is a recount of the beautiful enduring love story of Late and Gita that takes place during the Holocaust. I was mesmerised by the story. I finished the book so fast.
Try to get a hold of some or all of the books I suggested. Message me once you finish it and let me know what you think of it. I would love to hear your points of view when you read the book. Let me know too if you have other suggested books for me to include in my reading list.
If you are a book- lover or who have lots of friends who love reading too, check out this Singapore online shop Kayithj Craft. They have cute book-themed items like book sleeves, tote bags, enamel pins and even masks for bookworms like us!
It is such a wonderful gift idea that would tickle the fancy of your book-lover friends. If you are in Singapore, you get a free delivery for purchase above $80 sgd. They also ship internationally and get a free shipment for orders above $200 sgd. Do check them out!
I am definitely continuing my reading for this year as well. It brings solace and comfort in these time of uncertainty. I am currently reading the book, 7 Death of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I am still reading the book but it is such a unique and mind-boggling novel. It is an breathlessly addicting mystery novel full of suspense and puzzles to solve. I reminds me a bit of Black Mirror tv series and Agatha Christie books. I can’t wait to see how the story unfold. Bye now, need to finish off the book…