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Need a good read? Best books for April 2013


If I Could Tell You

Lee Jing Jing

Marshall Cavendish | 192 pages

Block 204 is about to be demolished to make way for a new development. Most of the residents have already been scattered to smaller flats in big new blocks.

Just a handful of the most vulnerable are left: an old woman who collects cardboard; a Bangladeshi cleaner; a taxi-driver and his illiterate wife; and coffee-shop assistant Ah Tee, alone and destitute after the death of his mother and the loss of his livelihood.

Block 204 is a microcosm of the “other Singapore”, one that the casual visitor or privileged expat is unlikely to see. No one protests against the eviction. But when one of them falls from the top floor to the courtyard below, his desperate act affects them all.

Author Lee Jing Jing is a poet, and it shows: not a word is wasted. I was touched and moved by this, her first novel.


The French in Singapore – An Illustrated History (1819 – today)

Maxime Pilon and Danièle Weiler

EDM | 240 pages

I find Singapore’s history fascinating, including the influence that diverse foreign tribes have had on its development. Though the French have never had more than a numerically modest presence here (they were more focused on Indochine), their contribution is both varied and interesting.

Even if you’re not especially Francophilic, this is a solid history of Singapore, into which the stories of French business, diplomatic, religious, artistic and welfare endeavours have been seamlessly woven. It’s a convenient size for reading – rather than displaying on your coffeetable – and with an olde-worlde design on its dust jacket, it’s is a great addition to any collection of books on Singapore.


The Adobo Road Cookbook

Marvin Gapultos

Tuttle Publishing | 144 pages

Food blogger turned gourmet food trucker, Marvin Gapultos brings the bold flavours of Filipino food – a cuisine unfamiliar to many – to the dinner tables of international households. He encourages all foodies to explore by trial and error as he fondly recalls his unexpected journey to creating popular blog, Burnt Lumpia, and the equally successful Manila Machine, Southern California’s first gourmet Filipino food truck.

Marvin begins with the basics: stocking the pantry and creating the perfect stocks, condiments and sawsawan concoctions (dipping sauces). Innearly 100 recipes, he integrates modern twists into classics and food stall favourites. Chapter 4, The Art of Adobo, is a realwinner, exploring a dish that epitomises the vast influences of the country’s various settlers, from the Chinese gift of soy sauce to Mexican techniques.

Ending on a sweet note, he stirs up a few party-pleasing cocktails and mouth-watering desserts for a true pinoy gathering.


The SoulKids Book of Self-Confidence – Book 3

Vikas Malkani, Sally Forrest and Randolf Rosenfeld

SoulCentre | soulshop.org

“Every child is unique and special, and is born with the infinite potential to be whatever he or she chooses.” That’s the basis of the SoulCentre’s SoulKids programme, which teaches children the life skills necessary for happiness and success.

Book 3 in the series contains a number of moral-based stories for children to read either alone or with their parents, and is illustrated with art created by children who have participated in the programme. Learn from the wise young boy, Dattatreya, who teaches leadership lessons to the king; decide whether you are a player in the game of life, or just a spectator who shouts the odds from the grandstand; observe the teamwork displayed by ants.

A chapter on the power of positive affirmations encourages healthy self-belief and confidence in our own abilities – a message that’s as true whether you’re a six-year-old facing the challenge of entering primary school or a sixty-something retiree confronted by what to do with the rest of your life. Nominally for kids, this little book is actually for us all.