Coming home

March 21, 2015 § 3 Comments

I started writing this blog when I started borrowing books from the local library. That time, I was still studying in uni, and had enough spare time on my hands to read more than I do today. Then, I simply wanted a place to record some of the thoughts I had of the books I read, a place to pen down my feelings, so that I could at least recall some of the emotions I went through when I read any particular book.

In essence, I simply wanted to remember what books I’ve read, and why I liked, or disliked, any of them.

It’s been six months, at least, since my last post on this blog. Again, like many times before, it’s not as if I haven’t read anything since. Nor does it mean I’ve not read anything that tickled my fancy.

I’ve read some, and I’ve always made a mental note to blog about them, but the urgency was just never there. I’d put it off till after I finished writing something else, or until I finished a certain job, or until I had enough time, or until after I cleaned up the house. There was always something else I had to do first, and by the time I finished that, I’d have something else to do.

There was always this endless stream of “other things to do”, and after a while, the book would just slip my mind. I’d pick another book to read, and the same thing would happen once I finished it. I’d think of blogging, but that would always be as far as I ever got.

Six months doesn’t seem like a long time, but it is. It’s half of a year, and how much we can all do with half a year. How many things we could have achieved, how many places we could have travelled, how many books we could have read.

Today, I came back here, because I had no where else to go. It’s almost like coming home, this blog. I come here to read some of my older thoughts on books I’ve almost nearly forgotten. I come here to find a little of myself, little pieces of me that I’ve left behind. I come here and realise that I miss this space, and I miss that part of me that found such solace in typing out the thoughts in my head.

I really do think I’d like to come home more often. I hope I will.

Fiction

April 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

I had about a half hour worth of time to spare yesterday, so I spent it browsing through some other book blogs. I was looking through the list of books they’ve read for the year so far, and I suddenly remembered that I, too, list the books I’ve read by year.

The past few years have been crappy, in terms of how many books I’ve managed to read. This year looks set to be crappy too. I mean, it’s end of April, and I’ve only managed to read two books? That’s one every two months! That can’t be right.

I used to read up to 80 books a year back then. But then again, that was because I just was still studying, or I just graduated, and not yet working. I had expected to be reading much less once I joined the workforce, especially because I wouldn’t have as much access to good books anymore (I was moving back to Malaysia from New Zealand). But I hadn’t expected this.

It’s painful, actually, to see that I don’t even read 10 books a year.

I now work in the publishing industry. It’s great for me, because I’ve always wondered what it would be like. And it’s ironic that even though I work so closely to producing books, I actually have no time to read them. Well, I read the stuff we publish, of course, but because of the nature of this publishing house, we really don’t do that much fiction, if any at all.

My first love has always been for fiction. And I think I’m starting to die a little, metaphorically speaking, because I’m reading so little of it.

I read somewhere once that fiction keeps people humane. Fiction makes its readers that much more compassionate. We read fiction, and we see the world through the narrator’s eyes. We see a different world from what we’re used to. And it makes us more understanding people.

Non-fiction is great. But it’s cold and unfeeling most of the time. It’s fun to read, it’s informative, and it’s great for increasing your knowledge about a given subject. But it hardly moves you. It rarely gives you goosebumps.

This is turning out into a useless rant. I started writing this in the morning, and it’s now nearing dinner time. I can’t even set aside time to write a blog post? Am I really that busy? can I stop making excuses?

Bye 2013

December 30, 2013 § 3 Comments

I’ve been very bad at updating this blog this year. It’s not like I’ve not been reading. Well, not very much, but I’ve been reading some good books this year. I just never got around to writing about them.

I want to say that my new year resolution for 2014 is to update this blog more often, but let’s face it, I’ve had this resolution for so many years now, it’s not funny.

So back to 2013.

I’ve read Vikas Swarup’s Six Suspects, which I really enjoyed. It wasn’t the type of book I would normally pick up from the bookshelves, but I was convinced to try it, not least because my partner had read the Chinese translated version, and got really excited about wanting to discuss it with me.

It was funny. Really. Not what I had expected at all.

I read Nadia Khan’s Kelabu. My first Malay-language book in a long while. The author’s a personal friend I recently got to know, which is also why I decided to give her book a try. Again, another good find. The ending wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but the build up was good, the style was very approachable, and I’ve just gotten her newest novel! Definitely going to try that one out in the coming months.

I read Yukio Mishima’s Madame de Sade. Very thin book written in the form of a play, which is yet another type of book I don’t usually read. (Wow, am I on a roll or what?) It took a little getting used to, because I had to constantly remind myself to see who is doing the talking. But once I got into the flow, I found the story very compelling. Now I feel like wanting to read the biography on Marquis de Sade.

I read Bonjour Tristesse, by Françoise Sagan. Another short book, new author. I remember finding it quite remarkable that the author was so young when she wrote this. Of course, there was a certain youth to the book and the style, which is, again, quite different from the types of books I usually read.

I don’t know what to say about the content, really. It all felt a little odd. Did I hate it? No. Did I love it? Not quite either. Perhaps I’m just not at a level where I can decipher it properly yet.

I’ve started reading some of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. Now, these, are the types of writing I’ve grown to love. It’s edgy, there’s a kind of simplicity to the style that just adds to the overall atmosphere of the stories. I especially loved The Black Cat, funny and chilly at the same time. Definitely my kind of author.

I’ve also started reading Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke. It was my bedside book for a long while – the letters reached that deep place in my heart during those quiet hours of the night. I don’t dare read it in the mornings, or when I’m less than fully immersed in the silence – it just feels like I’m not mentally and emotionally ready for it.

I’ve put it aside for now, because it’s just that time in my life now when things are so hectic, I don’t have “me” time anymore. Really, what’s the point in doing all this work if we can’t get a little peace and quiet, some time to just sit and stare at the ceiling and do nothing? Better yet, read?

It’s the end of the year in a couple of days. I feel like I need to say something that resembles a “goodbye” to the bad stuff this year, and “hello” to all the good things that will be coming in the next.

But.

Things have actually been kind of great this year, despite all the complaints I may have. I’m starting to put my mark in an industry I could only dream of entering before this, and it looks like I’m moving forward in strides in the following year. I’m finally moving upwards, instead of sideways like the past three years. Instead of industry-hopping, I’m actually climbing up in one.

That’s got to mean something.

It’s the beginning of a new year in a couple of days. I’ve got some stuff up my sleeve, stuff that involves work and earning money, of course, but also stuff that involves my creative juices and not earning money.

I want to cook more. Read more. Write (not for work) more.

I want to be me, more.

Happy New Year.

New books 2013

March 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

image

Good books come in all shapes and sizes. Some of these authors, I’ve never read before, but I thought this was as good a chance as any to try out new writers. After all, the books were cheap. They only cost RM5 each! How’s that for a bargain?

Lovely stuff, really.

Of course, when I saw Saramago in the maze of books, I simply had to pick it up to go home with me. I’ve read Blindness before, and had also found it in the Big Bad Wolf Sale last December. Had regretted my decision to return it to the pile ever since, so imagine the utter joy of finding not one, but two Saramago books!

The others, I’ve either read about them via good bloggers out there, or I’ve just picked them on a whim, and because they intrigue me so.

I don’t imagine I’ll be reading them any time soon – I’ve simply gotten too many books in the past couple of months or so.

But still, which book do you reckon should be sped up my pile of books to read?

Christmas

December 25, 2012 § 4 Comments

image

It’s Christmas.

Last weekend, I allowed myself one final visit to the greatest book sale in Malaysia, and got myself these books!

I’ve read (and loved) Sarah Waters’s The Night Watch. Atwood is fast becoming a favourite, and Carter has been on my list of “authors to read all their books”.

I had wanted to take this chance to get to know some new authors, so that’s where Julian Barnes and Hanif comes in.

Of course, before this I had also gotten my hands on Zadie Smith, Anthony Burgess,Peter Carey and a couple of very promising non-fiction.

It’s been a great December of book-buying. Not such a great reading year, but still good, considering that most of the books I read were good, if not exceptional.

So 2012 is coming to a close soon.

How has your year been?

New babies

December 18, 2012 § 7 Comments

image

image

These are the newest members of my to-be library. Got them all at the greatest book sale in the world!

I’m still thinking if I should go a third time. The sale ends on the 23rd, so I’ve still got some time left.

So far, I’ve only gotten books by familiar authors. I’m thinking if I should also get some new authors in, for the sake of variety and new discovery.

What do you guys think of my new babies?

Currently reading: Carver

August 24, 2012 § 10 Comments

I have my first Raymond Carver book in my bag, and it goes wherever I go. I had picked What We Talk About When We Talk About Love from the shelves at the bookstore (quite some time ago now), because (1) I had heard good things about Carver and his short stories, (2) I’m starting to really appreciate short stories these days, and (3) Murakami’s sort-of autobiography is titled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

The first story I jumped straight into was the title story. I didn’t quite get it, the meaning and all that, but I really loved the tone of it, for some reason. I just couldn’t pinpoint the exact something that I found so enticing.

So I left the book in my bag for a few days, just to let it smolder for a little while.

Then yesterday, I picked it up, and read the first few stories in the collection, starting from the first page.

I don’t think I’ve read short stories as stripped down as Carver’s. His stories feel like there are absolutely no frills – everything that’s in it is essential to bring the mood and tone of the story out.

And I don’t think I’ve read anything so sad and lonely. There’s just this feeling of emptiness that resonates from his writing.

It’s like looking at a square table, with one chair, at the corner of a cafe. You can’t see the cafe, but you can hear the sounds, and smell the smells. There’s a little notebook sitting on the table, its pages open. A pen lies with its cover off, just right next to the notebook. And the chair is angled in such a way that it looks like someone had just stood up and left.

And you look at the table, and feel all the loneliness and emptiness of this stranger’s life, no matter that you did not even get a glimpse of the person. You can just feel the sadness emanating from that abandoned seat.

There’s nothing you can leave out of the picture that wouldn’t change the story. The notebook and uncovered pen, though seemingly useless, are indispensable.

That is what Carver reads like. For me.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Digression category at su[shu].