Hello, June :)

This is such a late hello! Has it been 6 months since my last post?! 

So much has happened in the last 179 days that I have no idea where to start. The boy and I became official owners to our place (after granting 2.5 months extension to the sellers), kick-started and wrapped up our home renovation and threw the biggest wedding party (just 5 days ago!) to celebrate the start of our journey as Mr and Mrs 

It has been a beautiful 2018 thus far and I can't wait for the rest of the year to unfold. 

Will be back to write about the home renovation and wedding journey! 

Meanwhile, please put up with the little hiatus while we get down to furnishing the place! 

Goodbye 2017 and Hello 2018!

*Wipes away cobweb* Wow it's been so so long since my last update here!

Since I lack creativity and originality, I've decided to stick with this title moving forward, similar to 2017's and 2016's.

So 2017...

was quite a year! It has been an immensely fulfilling year for me for both work and personal side of things. 2017 was much more fulfilling than 2016 in many ways but I found myself more whiny and less happy. I'm not too sure why! I guess it's one of those things where you get everything you want in life and you start to forget how to give thanks 

If 2016 was unfulfilling, 2017 would be the complete opposite! Work and learning opportunities was stagnating for me in the previous workplace - my bosses highlighted that I had reached a bottle neck and that they could no longer value add for my growth. It was quite a frustrating stage for me as I've had build quite a large network and credential in the firm and would have been extremely beneficial if I could progress further with that foundation. Office hours became quite a torture as work no longer becomes challenging and I was rather disheartened with the lack of opportunities despite very good appraisals. 

Yet, even at such moments, life surprises you in ways that one can never expect. While chatting with an ex colleague who had moved on to a new company, he shared that my expertise could be put to better use in his firm. A few conversations later, I resigned and joined him in his new office. With a much smaller team and a much more aggressive growth target than my previous company, I found myself thrown into various projects and having to spearhead different initiatives. It was and still is a refreshing change since I made the move 6 months ago. 

I remembered someone told me before that one should "be careful of what you wish for" and this is probably one of those times! In the last 6 months, I barely had time to read any books or even blog on this platform. I'm also less active on social media as I found I had better use of my time to study new things at work. 

It was and still is a good change and work challenge that I sorely needed. Extremely thankful for that! 

Have also been accepted into a professional association that I've been building my experience for the last 4 years for and nominated into Board of Directors in late 2017. In the professional aspect, it has been a tremendous year. 

I fared way better in the first half of the year - when I had a much less challenging work environment and had a co-worker who's a vegetarian. I also found more time to visit a Chinese sinseh in the first 9 months of the year until work got too overwhelming and I had to cut down on my trips to visit the sinseh. As cliched as it sounds, I do feel the difference that 9 months of TCM brings - I was more energetic and my limbs didn't feel as cold as they used to.

2017 is a year of big changes for me and I must say at certain points of the year I did not handle them very well. With the house, upcoming wedding and career switch, I feel stretched and overwhelmed for most parts of the year. While I had aimed to practise more mindfulness and keep my inner negativity in check, I would say I failed this year.

In terms of trips to the gym, it's still a lot lesser than I had target it to be. I am also in 2 minds if I should continue the gym membership that I've been utilizing since 2010 as the dwindling trips is making it quite unattractive financially.

I read even lesser books in 2017, clocking only 15! This is just embarrassing as it seems to be on a downward trend  This also means I missed my target of 30 for the 3rd consecutive year! 

2017 is a mixed bag year for my close friends as it was filled with both great and sad news. I attended 1 wedding per month in the last quarter of the year and saw the birth of 3 babies - Audrey, Charles and Issac. Christmas gatherings have become quite a crowd these days! 2017 also saw the departure of my friend's mother and another's grandmother. It is true that the sign of the 30s is when you start witnessing yourself or your similar-aged friends experience some form of loss.

On the family front, my uncle has unfortunately been diagnosed terminal brain cancer that spread to his bones and lungs. This came as such a big surprise for us as he was so hardy and takes very good care for his health. An ex-colleague of mine was diagnosed with NMO, a rare auto-immune disease which attacks the nervous system. All these remind me that life is so fragile and so short. Really does make a lot of things in life look so insignificant.

I'm still not on the best terms with my parents, especially my mum. Sometimes the clashes in wedding preparation expectation does make things a little awkward. I really should be a more sensible child given that my parents are really getting on in years.

Besides being a big year for career changes, 2017 is also a big year for me in other personal matters. After almost a year of house hunting, we finally found our dream place in June 2017! This was such a big relief for us. We got the keys in November 2017 and is currently finalizing our renovation plans. CANNOT WAIT TO GET THIS PLACE DONE UP! 

After the proposal in September 2016, we managed to finalize and confirm most of the big items and vendors required for our wedding in 2018. I thought we were being absolute kiasu in our wedding prep already but there are so many other couples who booked their vendors way before we did. Still amazes to no end. I'm very happy to say we manage to secure all our dream vendors and big kudos to the boy for being an absolute sweetheart in the many requests I have had so far for the prep.

It is not easy juggling both home renovation and wedding, not to mention the huge sum of money required  It is also 2 big projects that we undertake as a couple. We fought and made up many times through the last one year and it truly helps to build a stronger foundation for the relationship as we understand each other better through the process.

I also did not fulfill the goal to blog more on this platform. Yikes.

I did not get to invest as much as I want to in 2017 - mainly because I had no spare time to read through articles or conduct my own analysis. The bright side however was, despite purchasing the house and making payments to most of our wedding vendors, my savings stayed pretty intact for the year. That's just excellent news for me :)

I have had traveled twice in my new work role to places I have never been. once to India where I visited Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore and once to Chengdu. The office also gave me my first ever APEC card! Absolutely looking forward to more travels with the new co 

On personal trips, the boy brought me to Bangkok to celebrate my birthday and also to relieve some of the wedding prep and house renovation plans stress. It was an amazing 4 day trip filled with endless good food and excellent massages!

For 2018...

Similar to 2017, it is going to be a super exciting year - with the wedding FINALLY taking place and also kickstarting the renovation for our home 

After 5 years with the previous company, I finally made the decision of leaving the comfort zone. It was a wise choice as I sorely needed a more challenging environment.

With the more autonomy in my new work place, I look forward to growing my career and developing my professional skills this year.

I picked up the bad habit of having too much caffeine in 2017 (read: 3 times a day! ) so I aim to reduce that this year. Reducing to 1 or maximum 2 on challenging days would be the target for the year. Best if I can avoid them completely on weekends. It's not going to be easy but I will get there!

Trips to the gym was very sporadic in 2017 and I really need to up my game in 2018 (especially with the wedding omg!). I am quite satisfied with my diet except that I could really do with more fruits. Something to work on in the new year!

Keeping negativity in check is still challenging for me - especially when there seem to be a lot of items/issues to settle on many fronts. I do need to remind myself that these are all things that I've had wished for (an amazing partner, a dream house in the location we want and a mind stimulating work environment) and I should be counting my blessings that I'm facing happy problems :)

Sadly, I've missed my target for 3 consecutive years and I'm just really embarrassed. However, I do not wish to lower that target and aims to keep it to 30. Gotta keep trying!

Someone in my old work place once told me that as you get older, you are more concerned with the quality than the quantity of your friends. And that is so so true (am I aging so quickly already??). While I want quality for the friendships that I keep, I must also bear in mind that I want to be that quality friendship someone else wants to keep.

2018 will be another year of weddings (including my own) and probably more babies!

I hope my relationship with my parents improve in 2018, and that I learn to hold back my words if they are not going to come out nice.

2018 is going to be a big year for the boy and I - with the renovation of our new home and also our upcoming wedding. It really isn't easy juggling both, be it time, energy and money. But, I do want to remember all these as happy problems (as what ALL my married friends tell me) and to cherish the experience of having partner with the boy in 2 of the bigger projects of our lives together.

On the investment and personal savings front, I do hope to invest more and continue to grow my savings/liquidity. With my parents aging and increase in adult responsibilities like mortgage and taxes, personal financial management is definitely becoming increasing important to me.

I'm unable to tell if I will be able to have my honeymoon within the year itself (my brain has no more space for planning anymore things haha!) so I'll probably dedicate this area to my work travels. I hope to visit more properties now that my team is more firmed up in terms of structure.

And maybe, just maybe, a new place of adventure with the boy as well 

Pretty much like how I end all my new year post, here's the quote to drive 2018 - to be mindful of my own vibe and to be surrounded by my kind of tribe 

Read List 2017

As an attempt to ensure I keep to my reading goal I'm going to start documenting the books I read :) Will update this list whenever I finish a book!  

Just realized that I would highly recommend almost every book that I've included in this list - that's because if one book doesn't catch my attention, I would have stopped reading it before it made it to this list 

This was an incredibly easy read, much like his famous "Tuesdays with Morrie" (which still remains my favourite book from Mitch Albom). The book follows the journey of Eddie, after he passed away in an accident on his 83rd birthday - where he met 5 people in heaven to talk about his life. It's a little corny and maybe cliche, but what it drives home is the consequences of our actions and decisions, no matter how small or insignificant to us, have on others. While reading the book, you will astound yourself at how much your little action have sometimes large or maybe life changing impact/consequences on others. 

Pretty reflective book and I highly recommend a read :)

Tan Chade Meng is a Singaporean who landed a role in Google during its budding days. Singaporean and engineer are 2 keys words that's sufficient motivation for me to read his books  His school of thought is Buddhism centric and I find it an easier approach in understanding mindfulness and meditation. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that this book dramatically changed my life, it does make me view mindfulness and negativity in a different light. On the upside, he makes meditation so so much easier to understand!

I've just borrowed his first book "Search Inside Yourself" and can't wait to start on it :)

I chanced upon this book online when I was searching for career guidance online. The discovery of this book was timely - given that I was at a crossroad of career progression. It highlighted very fundamental and practical approaches in understanding what truly motivates a person and how that will eventually guide you in discovering the ideal career options. 

This will definitely be a book that I will find myself going back to every now and then!

4. Search Inside Yourself - Tan Chade Meng

This is the first book by Tan Chade Meng (see #2 above on his second book). After reading Joy on Demand, I found Search Inside Yourself somewhere repetitive. So if you have yet read any of his books, I would highly recommend to read "Search Inside Yourself" first before moving onto Joy on Demand. The first book offers more entry level explanation so reversing the order would render "Search Inside Yourself" a tad boring in comparison.

Nonetheless, if you have yet to read any books by Tan Chade Meng, I recommend you to read this first before Joy on Demand! :)

5. Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan

I was loitering around the fiction section while waiting for the librarian to find my book the other day and this neon pink colour book cover caught my eye. I didn't expect myself to pick it up since I'm not the biggest fan of fiction (except for Harry Potter) but there were news that this is going be made into  movie. So... why not? Hahaha

The plot isn't about crazy, rich asians, it's about crazy rich asians i.e really really rich asians. The author himself was born into old money (his great-grandfather is one of the founders of OCBC Bank) so this is loosely based on his childhood in Singapore. The main characters are Nicholas Young, a history professor in NYU and also sole heir to an exclusively rich and private Singaporean family and his girlfriend Rachel Chu, who comes from a middle class single-parent family in California. The pair made their way to Singapore to attend Nicholas' best friend's wedding - which also happens to the wedding of the year among the who's who of Asia.

Names were changed but I believe most of the incidents that happened are definitely true. It's a very easy read and Kwan is an entertaining writer. The only downside is there are so many characters! It's very important to keep the family tree mapping handy which is provided in the first few pages of the book.

Highly recommended if you want a fun easy read and have a good laugh (and trying to guess which billionaire he was referring to). I'm looking to loan book #2 of this trilogy (yes you read that right) - China Rich Girlfriend!

6. China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan

I'm so guilty of reading this so quickly when my proper non-fiction books are just sitting around waiting to be read 

Book #2 (refer to #5 above in the read list) continues the story line of Nicholas Young and Rachel Chu from Crazy Rich Asians. They are now happily married despite at the expense of Nick being estranged from his prestigious family. An opportunity for Rachel to meet her biological father in China brings them into the crazy world of Shanghai splendor where the folks are not crazy rich, but China rich.

This book brings a whole new level to Asian wealth and a definite whole new level of flaunting. I worked with the wealthy Chinese before in my earlier roles and I wouldn't say some of the things that Kevin Kwan wrote were far-fetched.

Highly recommended book and definitely do read book #1 - Crazy Rich Asians before reading this!

7. When breath becomes air - Paul Kalanithi

I waited very long for this book because it always in the "Reserve List" in the libraries. My sis lucked out and managed to borrow it!   So yup I stole a read before she had to return it.

It's a book based on Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon in his final year of residency before discovering he had Stage 4 lung cancer. At age 36 and never puffed a single cigarette before. It followed through his final months, where he contemplated many things from his role as a doctor, to being a patient and to being a new father who really doesn't have a lot of time left.

It's a small book, but it's impact is powerful. I find myself going back to some chapters he wrote, long after I finished it. This book is both an easy and hard read. Easy because the writings are beautiful and compelling to read, it was almost impossible to put down. Hard, because it explored so many questions about life, that you find yourself stopping mid-sentence to ponder about what he wrote.

The writer is a gifted man, and I would highly recommend a read. It's a stunning memoir by an inspiring and talented man, who's got some very important lessons about life worth listening and learning.

8. Spark Joy: An illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up - Marie Kondo

This is a book about cleaning and tidying up your house. It sounds very straightforward, I mean who hasn't done good tidying up on their own before?

What stood out about Marie Kondo's (or as she puts it "KonMari") method was it had a deeper meaning than just cleaning up corners in your house. She had a few key pointers which I thought was very useful and would definitely come in handy when I start packing up to move to my new place at the end of this year.

For instance, always tidy by category and not locations. This is something I'm very guilty of, which is to clean up study desk today and the book shelf tomorrow and so on. The KonMari way however, is to gather all items of similar category in the house first, discard items that doesn't spark joy before you decide where and how you wish to store the remaining items. For someone who hoards endless stuff under the pretext of "I will get to use this one day", this method resonates with me and I can't wait to put it real use. I mean... really sometimes the stuff I accumulate irritates me because of the clutter it brings, but yet I cannot bring myself to discard them 

The attraction of KonMari's method is that once you are done with tidying up your whole house, the experience of doing it her way will ensure you will never clutter your house the old way again. This is something I really need (god knows how time consuming those quarterly decluttering can be!) because I amaze myself with the stuff I can accumulate in a short period of time.

Towards the end of the book, I felt there was a more philosophical side to her method, which really can be applied to various aspects of our lives. Tidying your own things is really a conversation with yourself, through this you categorize the items first, clear out those that does not bring you much joy before providing a nice home/place for the remaining items. Putting that in life, it would also be like removing and detaching yourself from people and events that evidently does not bring you joy anymore and then surround yourself with those who does.

There are many articles online detailing people's experience and findings from adopting the KonMari method - this is one of them. You can search them up before deciding if you want to read the book. I found it a great read and would pick it up again if I had a chance to!

9. 诸般不美好,皆可温柔相待 - 吴淡如

Released last year, its the latest book from my favourite author from Taiwan. The title is loosely translated as "co-exist gently, with all the unpleasant events in life".

It's written in typical Wu Dan Ru style - clear straightforward sharing of life lessons but without the high and mighty tone. It's almost hard to crystallize the content of this book because of the various short stories that are scattered through the pages.

But if you are well versed in traditional Chinese characters, I do recommend a read and of course reading any one of her books! :)

10. It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) - Nora Mclnerny Purmort

Picked this up from the pile of library books on my sister's desk mainly because I was enticed by the title. This is a memoir of someone related to cancer - the author lost both her father and husband to cancer, just weeks apart from each other. In between which, she miscarried her second child, where she had no on to confide in because she had kept the pregnancy a secret given how much everyone in her family was going through.

I love the way she had penned this, it is as hilarious as it is sad. There are moments you burst out laughing and the next you feel a tug on your heartstrings because of what she had to go through.

My favourite quote from the book was that "the world will keep spinning, and your life will get a little bit better every time you give up on the shit that is taking your away from your one wild precious life". This is what the book is about and I highly recommend a read!

11. Supersurvivor: The surprising link between suffering and success - David B Feldman

The book is written by 2 psychologists, who explored the science of remarkable achievements in the face trauma - and why some not only bounce back but also forward after devastating happenings in life.

Their findings discovered that pure optimism or pessimism won't be able to get one through traumas, but something called grounded hope. It meant being a realist, which comes first with acceptance of whatever that has happened and is rational and optimistic enough to devise steps to live life forward. The most famous example mentioned was the study of survivors of Holocaust, where those who survived were definitely not the most optimistic ones. Contrary to popular belief, optimism didn't help these prisoners-of-war survive concentration camp. It was noted that the optimists were positive that the war would end soon and they would be freed. However, when that did not happen day after day, their hope eroded along with it. Most of them eventually end up killing themselves before the war ended. Those who survived, however, had lived on what the authors mentioned as grounded hope. They had acknowledged that they are now POWs and also that the war will end one day. However, they had a more realistic perspective, knowing that the war will not come to an end in the days or weeks or even months to come. They had in turn, survived on daily goals of keeping themselves alive in order to survive the war.

And THAT is what makes a supersurvivor - one who acknowledges the reality of what has happened to them, and is rational and positive enough to devise next steps for themselves.

I find the book emotionally compelling and hard to put down. It will really reset your thinking on challenges and how to overcome them!

12. In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes our Lives - Steven Levy

This was an unexpected pick from the library - it was on the new release rack and I thought why not? Did not regret this choice! 

There are numerous books written about the rise of Google, and I've read a few of them too. But none has written in this much detail and caught my attention the way this has. Similar to many books before, the book begin with the birth of Google. The writer was given access into the inner works of Google and numerous interviews with the founders and Googlers over a course of one year.

I have many favourite chapters in the book, the one about China where it delved into Google's foray into the Middle Kingdom and its eventual withdrawal 5 years later as it challenged their principles and mission as a company, the one about how they found a way to generate money from their formidable search engine (it wasn't making money in the early years) and how devoted the company and its founders were in innovation.

Some portions of the book was a wee bit technical but I found it mostly difficult to put down. Highly recommend it!

13. 32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line - Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers

Yup, took this book from my sister . She finished it way before it was due to return to the library and asked if I was keen to read it. It wasn't a thick book and seemed like a easy read so why not?

So glad I chose to read it! The book follows Eric Ripert's life, where the Michelin Star chef picked up his interest in food and how much hardship he had to endure in order to work his way up in the kitchen.

Why the title is 32 yolks you may wonder - it referred to the first "dish" that he was made to do when he landed his first job in a restaurant. Yep it was the hollandaise sauce.

The book was an easy read and I loved the self deprecating tone that the book took in illustrating the harsh training and environment he went through. And if you love food and cooking, you will really love this book! 

14. Rich People's Problems - Kevin Kwan

This is the last of the trilogy by Kevin Kwan (refer to book #5 and #6 above)! This was released in May 2017 and man... I waited so long for this book to be available in the library!

Definitely worth the wait. And do not attempt to read this book without reading the first two in the right sequence.

Did I like how the trilogy ended? Absolutely. Do I wish that it was more than a trilogy? OMG YES LAH. Why end on the 3rd book 

While the first 2 books had focused on the staggering level of wealth of asians, the 3rd book brings in the perspective that while these lucky 1% literally can have anything that they want, they also face alot of problems beyond our wildest imagination. Is the level of wealth worth all that trouble?

That's up to you to find out  Highly recommend all 3 books!

15. Neither Civil Nor Servant: The Philip Yeo Story - Peh Shing Huei

To be very honest, I had no idea who is Philip Yeo. Given all that he has done for the nation, I'm quite ashamed to say I know nothing about him. Neither do I know much of Goh Keng Swee, who is Yeo's first and probably best boss (in my opinion). The book covered a fair bit about Goh as a person, a boss and his leadership style.

My interest in him was piqued when Peak Magazine first published an article about this book back in February this year. The article covers an excerpt of the book.

Yeo is quite unlike the usual civil servant, if you bother to look up some of his video interviews. He isn't afraid to say things as it is. If it's bad, it's bad. Nothing gets sugar coated. Which I guess is a very refreshing change from the current societal environment where everyone seems to have an ego that's weaker than a piece of glass. The book is written in a fast-paced, no nonsense manner, which I reckon is a reflection of Yeo himself.

An easy read for me, finishing it in 1.5 day (probably the fastest one this year!) and offered a lot of history into the starting years of MINDEF (Ministry of Defence), ST Engineering, EDB and Jurong Island. Highly recommended read! 

The proposal

 I really should put this in writing so I will remember details of this day :)

As mentioned in a separate post, J and I shopped for the ring way before this proposal took place. TO be exact, it was almost a year before haha. While I know he will only propose after coming back from Shanghai for good, I had no inkling when he will do it. I was pretty sure he will do it on my birthday in November so I did not see it coming during the anniversary celebration in September!

The Setting
The boy did not specifically plan much that day, or at least that was how it was portrayed to me. I thought he had clean forgotten about it since he did not breathe a single word about how we were going to celebrate it. And since I'm always so good at spoiling my own surprise, I asked him a few days leading up to the day how we were going to spend it. He brushed me off lightly by suggesting he will plan the day and all I have to do is appear. Hahaha

He planned for us to have dinner at The Wine Company - Sentosa Boardwalk, the place we had our first official date  Upon entering the restaurant, I turned towards my right, as it seemed cozier. The boy grabbed me by my shoulders immediately and turned me leftwards. I wasn't suspicious at that point although I should have. The reason we couldn't sit on the right side of the restaurant was that his friends were all seated there armed with cameras 

Honestly, I did not suspect a single thing. On hindsight, if there was anything that was suspicious about the boy's behaviour was that he was constantly on his phone texting or waiting for messages. It is completely unlike him since he is rarely engaged with his phone whenever he's with me. I attributed the active use of his phone that night to busy workloads, a norm since he came back from Shanghai. Turned out, he was messaging his friends at the other end of the restaurant 

The Original Plan
J phoned the restaurant earlier in the week for his plan - which was we would have dinner as normal and he would insist on desserts. The cue for bringing out the proposal dessert was him ordering it. He had it planned with his friends as well that he would text them the moment he make the order, so they would discreetly surround us from behind me to take videos and present the bouquet. So the boy would then propose.

In reality
You know what they say not everything will go as planned? Yup, happened to the boy's proposal

Everything was going well until the ordering of dessert. I was very full and decided I didn't want any. J insisted we just order one to share. However, his signal to the waiter to bring the menu was misinterpreted as the cue to bring the proposal dessert. Hahaha. So this turned up at our table without even placing an order for it:

The boy kept quiet when the dessert came and all he did was looking diagonally across the restaurant! So many thoughts were going through my head - is this delivered to the wrong table? why isn't he saying anything? who/what is he looking at across the room!? 

Turned out, the boy was waiting for his friends to across the crowded restaurant to reach our table! Hahahahaha. Only when his friend reached the table and presented me with the bouquet, did he take out the ring box from his pocket and got down on his knees 

I found the whole situation so funny I only recall myself laughing throughout the proposal. Hahaha.

We ended up the night with desserts and drinks with his friends and it was such a joyful night to remember :)

Read List - 2016

As an attempt to ensure I keep to my reading goal I'm going start documenting the books I read on a monthly basis.  Will update this list whenever I finish a book!

Jan 2016

I've been a big fan of this series since college days and I'm glad they continue to introduce new books over the years. Similar to other books in the range, they brought up many cases/scenarios where your brain is hardwired to provide the most direct (or in some sense, biased) answers. As always, it offers very fresh perspectives on old problems and I found it a light and enjoyable read. 

This was actually originally an English book (that's what the overleaf of the book mentioned) and translated by a Taiwanese publisher. It explores human emotions and trigger points for people who have the shortest emotional fuse (that's me ) - and ended with feasible and practical solutions for emotions management. I guess I should put them into good use 

Feb 2016

This was a fairly random find in the library (I was looking for something light to borrow) and a surprisingly good and easy read. It's one of those books on self-mastery - it outlines 5 agreements to a good life, namely Be Impeccable with Your Words, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best and Be Skeptical But Learn to Listen.

It's a tiny book but packs a large amount of wisdom. Not a heavy read and would recommend it!

Mar 2016

4. The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor

As the book title suggests, it's an easy read with the basic lessons for anyone starting on investing and managing of personal finance. While most of the content and examples covered are more US based, the essence of most points highlighted is really applicable across age group and countries.

If you just started out on your journey of personal finance, this is a good read.

5. Reclaim your brain

Yet another random pick from the library. It was on the "New Arrivals" shelf and I decided to give it a go. The focal point of the book is on busy overstimulated brains - something we can all relate to in this information overload and fast paced era. The writer is a psychotherapist himself and he shared many solutions and dietary recommendations to heal a busy mind. Some portions got a bit technical but the writer managed to explain them in fairly layman terms. Highly recommend this read if you are keen to understand and manage a busy mind!

Apr 2016

This is a horrible month in terms of reading volume - I only read 1! I blame it on Descendants of the Sun

6. Phantom of the Opera

My first read was a really long time ago and it was a random pick from the school library. I deemed it a classic back then and it still think it is. I went into the whole POTO (Phantom of the Opera) musical craze again so I decided to re-read it. The book is penned by French writer Gaston Leroux in the 19th century, and is also what Andrew Lloyd Webber's famous musical is based on. The literature gave a lot more details on the Phantom's background story and it will make you appreciate ALW's musical even more.

When I first read the book, I didn't feel Raoul was a great character to fall in love since he was a fatuous twerp most of the time  Erik (the Phantom's real name) is supposedly old enough to be Christine's father and he is such a tortured soul! That aside, I like how he is a complex tragic character, someone you can't bring yourself to hate in straightforward way. His horrific past (mostly due to his deformed face, to which the book describes that he looks like a living corpse  - but of course ALW's version has sexualized the character a little more hurhur) and his brilliant mind makes him a sympathetic villain instead. All in all, I still find it a wonderful tale about loneliness, betrayal, unrequited love, forgiveness and redemption. Found it hard to put it down when I got on to the second half of it.

Interesting Fact: Gaston had based the book on a real life opera house in Paris, the Palais Garnier, and some fascinating stories that had surrounded the opera house back in late 18th century. The crashing chandelier was real, an accident that killed a construction worker. An underground body of water did exist as well, though it's been converted to a water tank thereafter when the construction workers could not pump it dry. Read more here!

Highly recommend to give it a shot, especially if you are a fan of ALW's version 

May 2016

2 months have passed since the last update!   May is quite a slow month for my readings, I honestly can't remember why  Might be due to the fact that it's a month of boring investing/finance readings!

7. The Warren Buffett Portfolio: Why and When he is investing in them

This was a random pick in the library (looking at earlier write-ups, I seem to do that alot). The book goes through a list of Buffett's notable investments, and basically why and when he invested in them. A lot of things in life makes perfect sense when viewed backwards, and investments are no different. While it is interesting to a certain extent to have a look into why he bought into those companies, it didn't feel very insightful to me. Why so? Because the book wasn't written by the man himself and the reasons listed were mostly conjectures by the writer in a bit of a "aha!" hindsight view. It is also a little repetitive after a while because the man's investing style has been very very consistent.

It's a fun read if you have not read about the man and his investing style. Quite a boring one if you are quite familiar with Mr Buffett.

8. The Intelligent Investor

The classic book for all believers/devotees of value investing. Written by Benjamin Graham (also Warren Buffett's lecturer in university), the father of value investing. The book offers no guarantees or make quick buck gimmicks - in fact most of the content offers very factual/logical train of thoughts. It's been 2 months and I'm not exactly done with the book yet because it is so thick. Not the most convenient size to bring around for a read on public transport.

I'm around half way through  Will update accordingly when I'm done!

June 2016

It's already the half way mark for the year and I'm not even close to half of my reading target!  I really should buck up for the next 6 months.

9. The Politics of Promotion: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead

I'm obviously not a high-achieving woman and that is why I needed to read this book  This was a misplaced book (i.e left on a shelf not in its category) and I chanced upon it. Good chance I say! A lot of the tips were very practical and it addressed many issues that women face in the work place - such as being as an ambitious male in office is a great trait but if that is being placed on a lady, it's deemed bitchy and bossy. Some of the tips are quite gender neutral so if you are a male and also hunting for a similar book, you can give this a try. It will also help you understand as well the challenges faced by women in the workplace, and hopefully as you rise up the ranks, you will know how to deal with female subordinates/superiors better!

10. Ways and Means of managing up: 50 strategies for helping you and your boss

This was an interesting read and it's one of those unintended borrows. I liked that the book was clear in its message of being the good employee (which will eventually help path your way to being the top brass of your company or career) but there is a caveat to it - and that is you must be serving someone whom you look up to and of course someone who is very much willing to groom you should you perform well. We all know such bosses are pretty rare to come by. If you already have a boss that you look up to, this book is perfect for you to help you be the perfect right-hand man and eventually be the main man.

If not, this book may not be so helpful.

July 2016

I did not read any new books in July! This is bad. I won't be able to hit my quota!

August 2016

11. How to think like Muhammad Ali: the paradox of greatness and power of mental toughness

This was a random pick while I was walking around the library trying to find something to loan. The book is small and light weight, which is one of my criterias for borrowing books that's not within my reading list. I had a hard time reading this book because it didn't capture my attention and I was constantly drifting in and out of the book. Can't review much about it because I can't remember most of it by now!

September 2016

12. The Energy Bus: 10 ways to fuel your life, work and team with positive energy

My colleague introduced me this book over lunch, which happened to be a ranting session about work . This book is a very easy read, almost finished it in one sitting. It follows the journey of George, the protagonist in the book who is pretty much like the rest of us at some point of our lives - defeated and boggled down by the overwhelming demands of work, family and also dreams. When his car broke down and needed to be sent to the workshop, he spent the next 2 weeks riding a public bus, where the driver, Joy, taught him some serious life lessons.

Although George's mental transformation within weeks is short of incredible, there are loads of lessons to learn: 1) You're the driver of your bus; 2) Desire, vision and focus move your bus in the right direction; 3) Fuel your ride with positive energy (negative energy is friction); 4) Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead; 5) Don't waste your energy on those who don't get on your bus; 6) Post a sign that says no energy vampires allowed on your bus (get rid of the malcontents); 7) Enthusiasm attracts you more passengers and energizes them for the ride; 8) Love your passengers by giving them your time, listening, recognition, service - work to bring out the best in them; 9) Drive with purpose and 10) Have fun and enjoy the ride.

It's a very easy read but I can assure you that you will be different after the read. The lessons not just apply to just work life, families can be part of your bus, your friends too.

Fantastic read and I would definitely re-read it another day. Highly recommended.

13. New Rules of the Game: 10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace

I can't remember why I picked this up but I'm very happy I did. This is one of the best books I've read on career advice, especially so for women. The gist of the book is that business is a sport, learn to play to win. The objective of this book was to accelerate personal growth and professional development, using gamemanship. The book is straightforward with each rule, its context in both sport and business setting. The author highlighted many challenges and advice she received as she moved up the corporate ladder and I could relate to a few of those.

One of the examples she cited was when she was a young sales person starting out at HBO. While she enjoyed the job, especially so on the hunting of the revenue and new businesses, she often viewed the position of the PR lady with much envy - because she gets to jet set all around the world, schmooze with the celebrities and generally seem to have the best job in the world. I think we've had all been there and I can relate to that very much given the industry I'm in. When the PR lady left and the position was vacant, Susan (the author) went into her boss's room and stated upfront she would like to take on the PR role. "Susan, do you want to run a company one day?" was the boss' first question for her. She was 27 years old then and didn't think that far yet, so she said yes.

"Then skip the PR role. That's a support job, it supports the sales function. Sales is a line job. If you want the corner office, always take the line job" was his advice to her. Line job are roles that drive the company top line, and support is everything else. This example and also that advice speaks to me a lot and it is a fairly factual statement. Highly recommended read!

October 2016

14. Drop the pink elephant: 15 ways to say what you mean and mean what you say

Found this book on my colleague's desk and decided to borrow it  Fascinating read and definitely offers some interesting insights to my own speech and specific usage of words. This is a very easy to read book that addresses communications. Most of us grew up with bad communications inherited from our parents and also from the surroundings - and most of the time we never notice them. The book uses very simple examples such as Bill Clinton's very own "I did not have sex with this woman" - pink elephant alert! It refers to specific denials and pitfalls in communications that we very often commit without realizing.

After reading this book, it becomes even more fascinating when you start observing the usage of pink elephants in other people's speeches. I'm still trying to watch mine and will definitely read one more time before returning it to my colleague!

November 2016

The year is coming to an end and I'm so far away from my quota! That's worrying 

15. 超从容时间管理 by 吴淡如

Wu Dan Ru has been my favourite Taiwanese author for the longest time -  at least a good 8 - 10 years! I own almost every single book she wrote, most of which at least have been read twice. Her books cover a wide range of topics from career advice to temper management. Basically, her writing are the lessons she's learned in life and business. I've always like her style and I feel her writing speaks to me the most.

This is her newest release and also her second book on time management. If there's anyone to write about time management it has to be her - at her busiest, she was hosting multiple TV shows, writing books, running businesses in both Taiwan and Japan, and still managed to find time to fall in love and raise a family!

My best take-away was really how little time we all have. If we assume that we live an average 80 years on this planet, that gives you around 700,000 hours on earth. Eliminate a third of it where we spent it sleeping/resting, that leaves us around 467,000 hours. Eliminate another a quarter of these remaining hours (which are hours assumed where you have no control over your time - i.e when you were an infant/toddler and the last days of your life where you might spend it bedridden), you are left with around only 350,000 hours  That really isn't a lot of time. She highlighted the importance of not wasting your own time (which in fact are minutes of your life you will never get back again) and also that of others.

In short, manage your focus and not your time. When you become clear with what you want to focus on, naturally you know where to assign your time accordingly.

This is certainly a book I will want to revisit again every year as a refresher!

December 2016

16. 不生气的技术 by 吴淡如

I've owned this book for a long time but never got down to reading it. Yet another relatable book from my favourite Taiwanese author. Similar to me, she's a quick-tempered and impatient lady. This book chronicles observations of herself and people around her on the impact of having terrible temper, and of course ways to manage your temper.

This is the PERFECT read for me - I have a stinky temper and I know it. It's still something I've been working on to improve as well.

If you have a terrible temper and wants to change it, I highly recommend this book.

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