My 2015 in Books, and What to Look Forward in 2016

Last year, I set a target of 18 books to read in year 2015. I was feeling very ambitious when I chose that particular number. I even wrote a pretty detailed reading plan for 2015, categorized by month, genre, book clubs and reading challenges. It started off well but quickly went downhill as life catches up. At one low point, I read (for pleasure) for about 2 months.

Same time, this year, I reviewed my year 2015 in books with my Goodreads account. Somehow I managed to hit the 18 books, thanks to my children’s bedtime stories. Needless to say, my detailed plan was chucked out of the window. I contemplated on doing the same for 2016, but decided against it because I do not want to spend the same amount of time and energy again on my over-ambitious (and greedy) intentions.

Photo 17-09-2012 12 30 52

Therefore, in 2016, there will be no crazy meticulous reading plans. Instead, there will be a commitment to read and write about it in this blog. There will be a motivation to be more active in the book clubs which I joined in Goodreads. Most importantly, there will be a determination to make reading a beneficial and enjoyable activity instead of a chore and another item on the to-do list.

What are your resolutions for your reading life in 2016? Are you taking up any of the reading challenges? Or do you just pick up what comes your way? Whichever way you choose to do it, let’s read!


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.


Reading the Pulitzer Winning Works

My upcoming project – reading the Pulitzer Prize winning works of fiction. The following is the action plan in order to accomplish this ambitious feat.

  1. List the books to be read (winners, followed by finalists). It will be in order of newest to oldest, and most probably it will be read in that order too so to ensure that I will be able to stay motivated. I’m going to be realistic here.
  2. Prepare a reading schedule. Even though I know that most likely I won’t be able to follow the schedule to the T, but hey, failing to plan is planning to fail, right?
  3. Source the book(s) and start reading! By the way, I already have some of them on my bookshelf. Perhaps I should start with them first?

I will be updating the progress of this project, so stay tuned!

Who I Am, Why I’m Here

I missed several first few days of Blogging 101. I was all exhausted fighting a high fever and swallowing painful gulps due to tonsillitis, and any form of reading or writing was the last thing on my mind. Now I am inching slowly back into blogosphere, and trying to catch up with some missed homework here. I searched for the first few posts of Blogging 101 January 2015, and found out that I was supposed to write about “Who I am, why I’m here”. So, yeah.

Who I Am

I am a postgrad student who loves to read and, to a lesser extent, write. I am a mother of two young children and I am still trying to make sense of all the parenting theories out there, while training my will power on not to yell at my toddlers’ tantrums. I am not a photographer, but I take photographs with a DSLR and hope to be better at it.

Why I’m Here

I have been blogging for the past ten years, at least. My first blog was titled “Walls and Bridges”. I picked that name because I hoped to connect, and at the same time tried to construct some appropriate boundaries wherever necessary. At that time, I naively wrote about everything under the sky; in retrospect my readers must have been bored to death. Ever read about a teenager’s rantings about the lunch she had, the traffic jam, the colour of lipstick she chose? Yep, I sounded almost like that. So I stopped for some time after realizing how horrid my writing was.

Then I found WordPress. I love the way they took blogging seriously, and I enjoy reading blogs of substance. I love blogs which build upon my own passion for reading and literature. I want to be inspired by good writing by “normal people”, not just published authors, so that I feel that perhaps I could do it too.

So I’m here because I want to improve my writing. I want to share about what I read, in my own words, and I hope to be better at it as days go by. I also want to keep some kind of a public record of the books which I encountered, because I believe that reading is a pleasure to be shared. These are why I’m here. I will be writing about books (of course!), thoughts or quotes which inspires, my academic pursuits (only occasionally), and some of my domestic pursuits.

What about you?

Happy New Year 2015

The new year came and it’s already the second day of 2015. Something unexpected happened, so my schedule was thrown off board. I intended to write a review on my year 2014 in reading, but I didn’t make it. I wanted to reflect on my year 2014, overall, as well as on my writing journey in particular, but I didn’t make it. The unexpected took priority, and it should.

Now that I found some time to write, I guess I’d better do it. My year 2014, in a nutshell:

1. On reading – I pledged to read 12 books on Goodreads, and I exceeded the target by 2 books. However, I must admit that some (almost half) were picture books that I read to my son as bedtime stories. Well, reading something is better than reading nothing, right? This year, I decided to up it by pledging to read 18 books. On top of that, I am being more intentional by having a reading calendar, taking up a reading challenge, participate more actively in Goodreads book clubs and not forgetting, writing about my reading journey here.

2. On writing – I always, always slacked here. It is easier to procrastinate than to really sit down, get my thoughts organized and put them up on the Internet. The result? An ongoing feeling of something being not accomplished (is there a word for this?). I started an editorial calendar a couple of weeks ago and it is working so far. I also signed up for the Blogging 101 course by WordPress. I intend to make this year, a year on which I write. Not just random writing, but intentional writing.

3. On photography – it’s time to take out my camera from the dry box. It’s been years. We have even entered the era of camera with wifi connection. Yet my photography skills was still at beginner’s level. To overcome this, I am starting my own Project 365.

It sounds like a lot of challenges in the pipeline. Will I be overwhelmed? Maybe, most probably. But I have to plan, and to start somewhere.

Here’s to year 2015!


Read: What I Know For Sure

I unwrapped What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey on a chair by the resort’s swimming pool on my birthday. We just checked in for the weekend. Hubby and the children were having fun with water play, so I know that I will have at least 15 minutes of pure reading bliss.


The book actually sounds very much like Oprah. I could actually hear her voice reading the words in my head as I read the corresponding text. The language, the style, the choice of words, the substance, it’s all undeniably Oprah Winfrey. Did I enjoy it? Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to finish it in 4 days. Am I inspired by it? Partly, not totally, because there are some points which I beg to differ due to my personal faith. What I do take away from it? A few things which I know for sure, on top of what I already know for sure prior to reading it.

I am going to re-iterate what I have posted before, and add on the new ones.

1. I believe in Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. In the book, the definition of spirituality is liberal. As a Christian, there are pillars of the faith which we should hold on to and there are other aspects which we can be more flexible. It is important for me to know what these pillars are and to ensure that they are not shaken.

2. I am driven by books. My productivity level actually increased when I started reading again. Whoever said that reading fiction is a waste of time, doesn’t really understand what reading is all about. And on books I totally, absolutely agree with Oprah Winfrey. I found out that there are a number of her critics amongst the circle of readers, but I choose not to stereotype. She loves books, and so do I.

3. My passion for what I do. Many people are puzzled by my choice on my field of specialization in university. Some even questioned if I am doing the right thing. But it was an intentional choice. I chose it not because my parents wanted me to, not because my friends were doing it, and certainly not because I don’t have any other option. I choose it because I want to.

4. The importance of love and connection. Love for our neighbours. Connecting to family, to friends, to everyone who is in our sphere of influence. Be present, because this moment is what I have for sure.

5. Living well is not synonymous with acquiring more. I am in the midst of clearing the clutter which is building up in my living space. Some of it is part and parcel of having young children, but I know that most of what is lying around where I live is my responsibility. I have to be sure of what I need, what makes me truly joyful and what is just simply sapping away my energy by having to dust them every now and then. The books which are overspilling from my bookshelf? They definitely make me joyful. The many bottles of perfume accumulated throughout the years? I don’t need them, a light spritzy spray and the Burberry Weekend are more than sufficient. The list goes on and on. It’s time to take an inventory and start a major spring cleaning.

What I know for sure is that as I continue to grow, my list will continue to evolve. I used to dislike that idea because I wanted the list to be THE list. But now I know it doesn’t have to be.

The photo to the right of the book is of the nearby beach where we had our lunch after we checked out from the resort. It’s called Lover’s Bridge.

Best Books 2014 and Super Mario

My first find on the best books round-up for this year on the Internet by the Guardian: Best Fiction of 2014. I skimmed through the article and shortlisted the following three books to be added to my want-to-read.

1. How to Be Both by Ali Smith

2. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

3. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – The Man Booker Prize Winner; did I tell you that I have a soft spot for prize winners?

Then I saw this 2015 Reading Challenge from

2015 Reading Challenge

I’ll sit down and go through this list properly when I have more time, i.e. all the kids are sleeping soundly and I have finished what I have to finish for my grad work.

I must say that I am falling in love with Pinterest. I was browsing when I found this “chores page”.

chores page

I’ve always been struggling with keeping an organized and good-looking schedule of my household chores. This one is simple and cute enough. By the way, I bought this cute Mariokart Mario by Tomica yesterday. I will be collecting some of these Tomica models, they are just too cute to resist!



And last but not least, this is exactly me!

So many good ones to choose from and so  many good ones to keep on buying :)

Happy Friday!