Change Your Words, Change Your Life

The first book that I finished reading this year 2018 is Change Your Words, Change Your Life by Joyce Meyer. The reason I started reading this book was because I find that talk has become cheap, and words are being taken lightly nowadays. The book itself is not a difficult read, but not deep enough for me to say that it will be a life-changing book. Some of the expositions are actually common sense, but as what Joyce said in the book, it seems that common sense are not so common anymore nowadays. A simple example would be the chapter on Honoring Your Word – let your yes be yes, and your no be no. I have been on the receiving end of this problem many times, and it is comforting to have my belief affirmed.

Overall, this is a good for those who are starting out on studying the power of words but if you are looking for something deeper, then this might not be for you.


Worship Changes Everything

Darlene Zschech is an Australian Christian worship leader and singer-songwriter. Her book, Worship Changes Everything, is not a book about how to sing your favourite praise and worship songs to change your life. Neither is it a book on why you should attend church worship services every week. In this book, Darlene urges its readers to learn to live a life of worship — in our service, attitude, words, money, work, marriage, children and every other possible aspect of our lives. Worship is not to be treated superficially as just the 20-minute part of Sunday morning church service, but rather it is to be imbued in our daily lives.

Dear John

I thought that I am too old for romantic love stories of young adults until the day I started reading Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. I finished the first 120 pages in one sitting (while getting my hair cut) and read on right until the end within one week. Now, that is satisfying, considering that I had been going through a bout of book drought for the past four months.

I usually do not buy books by authors who have published a string of books, for example, Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele, Stephen King. I have nothing against them and the fact that they have written and published so many books must attest to their capability as a story-teller. It is just a personal preference when I choose not to buy these books. Anyway, Dear John is the first Nicholas Sparks book that I read and I got it from the local community book exchange programme. I am so glad that I picked it, because it rekindled my joy in reading.

As someone who has passed her prime in terms of falling head over heels in love and all the drama of having long-distance relationship, I found Dear John believable and readable. I didn’t smirk at Savannah’s naivety towards love. I didn’t roll my eyes in disbelief when I read about John’s feelings and thoughts towards Savannah. The only part I found a teeny weeny bit annoying is towards the end when John returned to look for the now-married Savannah. But then, it is just how the story develops, and it is just how people are not perfect and even the most perfect romantic love story should have some flaws.

If you are looking for a book to read, and are not at the stage to try something too heavy, try Dear John. Unless you are a skeptic about love, this book should be something to look forward to after a long day at work.

The Elusive Miniaturist

I haven’t been reading well (to be interpreted as not reading as much as I would like to) this year. I set a goal of reading 20 books this year, but as of today I only managed to finish a miserable amount of 2 books. It has been four months since I last posted, which means it has been four months since I last sat down and properly finish a book.

I started reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton quite a few months back, but I got distracted along the way. I was attracted to this book mainly because of my love for Amsterdam, a city which I visited six years ago during winter. The Miniaturist is set in seventeenth century Amsterdam and tells the story about seventeen-year-old Petronella from the countryside who was arranged to marry  the rich middle-age merchant Johannes Brandt in Amsterdam. Partly a mystery, partly a social commentary, this book revolves around the secrets that the Brandt household keeps and how Petronella grows from a naive helpless child-bride into a woman forced to be in charge of the household that she marries into.IMG_1486

Although highly-acclaimed, I find that there are not much depth to the characters although their stories appear to suggest otherwise. The main question is left unanswered (I shall not say more to avoid spoilers). There are plots and twists, but overall the read is bumpy. I do enjoy the book, otherwise I would not have been able to finish it at all. But I do not intend to keep the book; it shall go to the pile of books to be exchanged at the neighbourhood book exchange programme.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild two weeks ago. It’s been a long, long time since I am so into a book. Lying on my bedside table is a tall stack of unfinishables, but within a month’s time, amidst the frantic busyness, I read page after page of Wild.

The most incredible thing about reading Wild is that the prose brings me along on the journey that Cheryl¬†took, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (commonly known as the PCT) and discovering our own lost. Perhaps one of the reasons I took to this book is a shared sentiment with Cheryl – losing a piece of ourselves after losing someone very close to us. I didn’t take a drastic hiking journey, but I could relate to that feeling of the world closing in. Cheryl wrote incredibly well; the amount of detail is just right without being boring. The flow is intact as the story moves intermittently back and forth between her hike and her memories of the past.

After reading the book, I felt like I have also taken a journey of self-discovery. Initially Wild reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, but I feel that Wild is more matured and it brings a sense of closure whereas I couldn’t even bring myself to finish reading Eat Pray Love (for some reason).

Have you read Wild? Did you watch the movie? Did you enjoy it as much as I do?

Room, with a capital R

I have a feeling that I might not have enjoyed Room by Emma Donoghue so much if I am not a mother of a four-year-old boy. More often than not, I found myself wondering what is going on in the mind of my boy who laughs at a cartoon joke, cries when his defiant younger sister grabs his toy away and gets upset over a his own carelessness. The way he perceives the big bad world is obviously different from mine, and sometimes I wish that I could go back to the time when I still think like he does.

The main character in Room is a five-year-old boy Jack who has never gone out of the Room in which he was born in. The narration in Room is actually what goes inside Jack’s mind. What he sees, and how he perceives them. Everything in Room is the world to Jack. The only person whom he has contact with is his mother, whom he calls Ma. Ma was abducted and being involuntarily confined by her abductor Old Nick. Jack’s only access to the “outside world” is from what he sees on the television so he is not even very sure if this other world truly exists.

To me, Room could pass as a parenting book. Ma did her best to raise Jack up despite the circumstances. The description of their daily routine could seem to be mundane, but it was actually a portrayal of how Ma spent every moment to provide for Jack when they were held captive. It is not surprising, and a food for thought, that when they managed to escape, Jack found Ma to become distant and not being available for him as much as she used to.

There are critics who have written about the originality of the whole story line. When I started reading the book, I wasn’t aware of the cases which inspired Donoghue to write Room. I went into the reading without knowing what to expect, and found myself finishing the book within two weeks. A movie has been made but I am not too certain if it could capture the essence of the story — perception.


The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Wicked Witch.”

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis is a collection of letters from “a senior to a junior devil”. The letters are a total opposite of the Holy Bible with God being regarded as “The Enemy”. Whatever that is extolled in the book is actually the opposite of what the Bible commands. It is clever in the sense that it doesn’t go all preachy and “thou shall not”, but instead it challenges the readers with a view from “the other side”.

C. S. Lewis sharpness in his observations of humanity and his understanding of what being a Christian really means is reflected in these letters. It takes me as a Christian on a journey of self-discovery. It also reminds us on how easy it is to be used for works which are not of God’s, on what evil could actually be.

The wicked witch doesn’t have to be the old lady on a broom, laughing hysterically away. The wicked witch could be just the Christian who failed to help her neighbour in need. The wicked witch need not be the person who started the war. The wicked witch could manifest its work in those who lost sight of God in times of need.