Looking for some good books to read? Check out our reviews by EL editors and readers.
Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers: Love, Loathing & Our Epic Drive Around the World
Paige Parker Epigram Books | 240 pages
If you’re a traveller like me, this book about a Guinness World Record-setting road trip across six continents will leave you green with envy. Unlike many of us who just see the big sites and hang by the pool, Parker really got to know places, experiencing things most of us only dream of doing, and meeting people who truly touched her soul.
But this is more than a story about a 1,101-day trip in a bright yellow coupe with matching trailer: it’s a love story, too. Parker, a well-known figure who lives here in Singapore, opens up about falling in love and ultimately planning a wedding while travelling with Jim Parker, an American billionaire tycoon almost 30 years her senior. It’s an easy read that left me dreaming about a road trip of my own.
– Melinda Murphy
Can You Hear Me Now?
Vivien Yap | 72 pages
Don’t miss this if you’re into local poetry. The brainchild of local writer and musician Vivien Yap, Can You Hear Me Now? is an autobiographical collection of poems revisiting the author’s memories living in Singapore and abroad. Themes of silence and suppression, family and relationships, and self-worth and mental health are brilliantly explored through four key chapters, each artfully revealing the 24-year-old’s emotions.
Vivien’s works dare to bare. Loaded with vivid imagery and clever metaphors, her writing is matched with thought-provoking illustrations by Pete Tong that separate each chapter. “Domesticate” is my favourite poem from the first chapter. It alludes to femininity as sweet honey, with each line repeatedly beginning with “Girls are jars of honey”, up until the fifth stanza: “I am a girl and I am almost empty. Still, take me, I know you are greedy”. Easy to read and simple to understand, this poem is a heartbreaking projection of use and abuse – a recurring theme across the book.
As you get through the chapters, Vivien’s open struggle with her suppressed childhood, her self-worth and, finally, her clinically diagnosed depression are laid bare. It’s heart-wrenching, yet strangely beautiful in its own right. There’s something about her raw self-talk and constant self-reassuring in “Tides of Men” that perfectly rounds up the journey. Recovery may be in progress, but it’s never final.
It takes a high level of courage and skill to communicate deep, personal pain while presenting it with finesse, and I believe Vivien has done just that.
– Anthia Chng
Min Jin Lee Grand Central Publishing | 485 pages
Pachinko is the saga of three generations of a Korean family in Japan, beginning with the matriarch who gets pregnant by a lover who deserts her and moves to Japan to marry a man who will give the baby a name, and thus a chance. It’s a tale of the sacrifice that parents make to give their children a chance for a life better than their own, of the sorrow that goes along with leaving your own family behind and moving to another country, of watching your own children struggle to make their own way in the world. In this story of love and family sacrifice, Min Jin Lee also addresses what it means to be a foreign national versus being born and raised in a country. This book takes time to read but compels you to read “just a little bit more” before putting it down. Once you’ve finished, the story will stick with you long after. A fantastic read!
– Carol DeMaio
Princess Incognito: A Royal Pain in the Class
NJ Humphreys Marshall Cavendish | 176 pages
Princess Incognito: A Real Pain in the Class gave me the experience of knowing what it would be like to start a whole new life again, but under pressure as a royal being. The book gave me a sense of curiosity and of suspense every now and then, which hooked my interest in it. It definitely took a realistic perspective of one who would have to do exactly what a princess would have to. Not only that, but it also has a sense of humour when coming to certain characters and their personalities.
Because of that, it kept me eager to read instead of stopping and focusing on another book. Overall, I thought that the book was very interesting and kept my interest throughout, and I recommend you read it too! It was written by Neil Humphreys, one of Singapore’s best-selling authors, and it’s the first book in a new series by him geared to children aged eight to 12 years.
– Rachel Chae (11 )
What are you reading?
Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated, 2015) By Deepak Chopra
Veena Bajaj, Singaporean
Genre? Mind-body medicine.
How did you get hold of it? It was lent to me by a friend but it’s readily available online.
What’s it about? It provides a scientific explanation for the manner in which deep transformations in consciousness can produce extraordinary forms of healing in the body. After a number of years of traditional medical practice, Chopra became dissatisfied with Western medicine and its reliance on prescription drugs and turned to other avenues for answers.
The book combines principles of mind-body medicine with ideas from quantum physics, Transcendental Meditation and Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine that views health as a balance of mind, body, and spirit. Chopra reveals how we can activate profound healing of the mind and body by consciously accessing the quantum level of our being.
How far have you got? Halfway through!
What do you think of it so far? It’s not exactly the easiest read for a newbie in the quantum arena but it definitely gets more interesting as I keep going. The book has made me relook at my understanding of the body and DNA completely, and the best takeaway so far is identifying the connections between mind and body to attain better states of wellbeing anytime, anywhere.
A Song of Ice and Fire (series) By George RR Martin
Jason Keys, Australian
Genre? Adult Fantasy.
How did you get hold of it? Airport bookshop.
What’s it about? Based in fictional medieval times, a collection of families, or Houses, struggle to claim the Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, while in the icy far north a common enemy dwells and is gathering strength to conquer all.
How far have you got? I’m halfway through the fifth book.
What do you think of it so far? Excellent – if you like this kind of fantastical fiction. With the final season of Game of Thrones premiering in April this year, what better time to brush up on the whole saga, from the moment that bright red comet lit up the skies of Westeros and transfixed us all? George RR Martin has released five (of a planned seven) novels in this series, which of course is the inspiration for Game of Thrones, and you won’t regret diving into the books to reacquaint yourself with the story thus far.
Apart from a few different twists, the TV series is quite true to the books. Still, the way in which Martin captures this fantasy world with all its brutality, lust, greed and power struggles is exceptional. His writing makes you feel like you’re there, on the ground with the characters as they go about their lives to survive, plot and scheme. It’s no wonder some critical reviews have called him the American Tolkien.
While this isn’t light reading, Martin has structured the novels in such a way that you have stories within stories, and you’ll be entranced as you wind your way toward the point where all the characters come together. To what end? We’ll have to wait until April, or the release of the next two books, to find out!
Looking for guidance?
Here are three books that might help you to navigate the new year, your new home in Singapore if you’ve just arrived, or an entirely new destination if you’re on the move!
Your Fortune in 2019 | Clarice Chan
Is this Year of the Pig a good one for you if you’re a Tiger? What about Horse? Let this great little nugget be your crystal ball to the year ahead.
The Expats’ Guide to Singapore | Alison Ozawa Sanders, Jessica Duff
With nary a photo, this exhaustive guidebook is great for newbies learning to navigate life on the Little Red Dot.
A Great Move | Katia Vlachos
Contemplating moving to another expat assignment? Not every place is as easy as Singapore and that’s where this book comes in handy – perfect for helping you make the right decision for you and yours.
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.