Kick back with a glass of bubbly and enjoy a relaxing evening read. Good books can be hard to come by, so if you’re looking for something new or to add to your growing library, here are our thoughts on a selection of great recent releases.
The Honeymoon Handbook
Lonely Planet | 168 pages
I’ve already been on one honeymoon but, when I saw this book, I instantly thought it would be a great idea to plan a second. (Hello, Sean!) My simple reasoning was that it would be an excuse to rekindle the memory of carefree, relaxed days before kids, mortgages and school fees took over our every thought – and a really good chance to check out of the frantic Singapore lifestyle for at least a week.
Our first honeymoon was four weeks backpacking in Cambodia and Vietnam, which, in those days, were both fairly primitive in terms of infrastructure – few ATMs, modest mobile phone coverage (if any), not to mention the complete absence of Wi-Fi (it wasn’t invented yet). So, when I reviewed this book with my second honeymoon in mind, there were a few boxes to tick. The trip would follow in the tradition of adventure and self-organisation, but with a few additional requirements: it would need to be safe (I have no desire to relive the hair-raising boat ride across Cambodia’s Tonle Sap atop an old Russian tube boat), luxurious (no bed bugs) and planned well in advance (rather than choosing budget hotels on the fly).
The Honeymoon Handbook helped me accomplish this. It’s split into two sections. The first is “Planning”, which is packed with handy tips and hints, including a practical “art of compromise” section, how to figure out a honeymoon budget, and a helpful quiz if you really don’t know where to go. My quiz results confirmed my thinking that I really wanted to get back to nature; “For you, romance is about experiencing the peace, beauty and spontaneous joy of the world around you.”
With that in mind, I headed to the book’s list of “Top 5 off-the-beaten-track honeymoons” and felt like I’d hit the jackpot: Jordan, Taiwan, Panama, Raja Ampat in Indonesia, and the Balkans. All good suggestions, but for me, Central America it is! In Panama, Costa Rica and nearby Nicaragua, we can escape the crowds, find history and culture, and unspoiled beaches.
The second section, “Inspiration”, is a list of 25 destinations, with detailed country information plus helpful itineraries, a list of essential honeymoon experiences, hotel suggestions and the best times to travel.
There is a honeymoon to suit every couple in these pages, on every price point, and with every possible type of romance in mind. So, what’s your dream honeymoon?
– Katie Roberts
101 Ways to Live Well
Lonely Planet | 142 pages
When I picked this up, I thought, “Not another wellness book!” but as I began flicking through the pages, I realised it was actually quite useful. Each page contains some kind of handy wellness hack that can be incorporated into one’s everyday routine – from nutrition tips, handy recipes and hangover cures to yoga poses, jetlag remedies, and quick cures for aches, pains and motion sickness. No BS, just simple, useful lifestyle tips divided into five sections: “Home”, “Work”, “Play”, “Relationships” and “Travel”. With no intention of converting readers into die-hard yogis or master meditators, the book is aimed simply at offering valuable ideas and inspiration meant to help relieve stress, de-clutter the brain, be more productive and pretty much get through the day in one piece. It’s definitely worth keeping on the night table!
– Amy Greenburg
Epigram Books | 344 pages
East meets West in this funny page-turner about a Singaporean student, Annabelle Thong, and her adventures studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. The story centres on Annabelle’s Singaporean sensibilities being affronted by the freedoms of the French, as she embarks on a search for love. Written by a Singaporean author who spent time in France, it’s an interesting social commentary on these societies. The prejudices and arrogance Annabelle carries with her are also reflected in her French friends; their opposing views and how they shape and influence each other make for an interesting read.
There are poignant changes in the characters’ perspectives as Annabelle experiences life in Paris. The humour of this book will be apparent to readers who are familiar with the cultures of both Singapore and France; an understanding of both cultures certainly helps to more easily empathise with the heroine. There are some standout comedic moments, such as Annabelle’s foray into online dating and the disastrous results; her friendship with her “first gay friend” also offers some funny exchanges.
Fans of the Bridget Jones series will probably enjoy this story, as there are similarities with these characters as the socially awkward yet lovable “fish out of water”. While it is a light and easy read, the underlying themes make it worthwhile. One for the beach.
– Amanda Broad
What are you reading?
All Is Not Forgotten
Niki Vogel, American
How did you get hold of it? Bought it at Kinokuniya at Liang Court.
What’s it about? A rape survivor takes a memory-erasing PTSD drug leading to unexpected consequences.
How far have you got? Finished it.
What did you think of it? Great book, though a bit gritty. I love mystery-thrillers and this is a completely new concept so it wasn’t like anything I’d read before. The author also had an interesting writing style, which I liked.
To tell us what’s piled up on your bedside table, or what you’ve recently downloaded to your Kindle, dash off an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It won’t take long!
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