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!

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.

Goodbye 2016 and hello 2017!

Amazing. I know we probably say this every single year - but damn this year really flew by! I am every bit the left-brainer so I'll just stick to the same title I have exactly one year ago 

So 2016...

was a bit of a mixed bag year for me - immensely blessed in personal relationships and financial planning but not that great in terms of work. I guess you could say I gained some, and lost some 

It's my 4th year in this company and it's my longest serving company since I joined the workforce! It's pretty incredible what one year can change - my bosses went from being the biggest supporter of my career growth to telling me that they have no more value-add to it. All within one year! Big sigh.

The bright spark was I got to assist the Finance department in a performance review and audit trip to Yangon. I learned so much in the 2 weeks stationed on the property. It certainly helped immensely that the 2 colleagues I tagged along with were extremely helpful and willing to share their findings and experience. 

On the whole, I felt stagnated in my current role as it offers very little challenges in my opinion. 

In terms of health, I think I fare pretty well! I caught a bout of flu somewhere mid-year after coming back from Shanghai and that was the only time I fell ill in the entire year. 

My diet has changed a fair bit this year, steering towards that of a vegetarian diet. Having a co-worker who has the same diet certainly helps and most of my lunches in 2016 were vegetarian - not the fried-gluten-mock-meat kind of vegetarian though! I have certainly found joy in this diet as I find myself consuming lesser meat even with my family and casual dinners. As cliched as it sounds, I do feel lighter. 

2016 was not as great a year for fitness as compared to 2015 I must admit. My gym schedule was going all well until that bout of flu (yup I'm blaming it on the flu hahaha) which saw me drop the gym for a straight 3 weeks as I wanted full recovery and steered clear from any form of exercise during that period. As with most things in life, once you stop, it requires herculean strength to kick start it all over again. Yes, 3 weeks was all it took to take away my drive. My gym sessions dropped from 3 times a week to 2 and sometimes once  In the name of laziness, I certainly did not bother to drive myself harder as well. Yikes. 

I missed my reading target in 2016, reading only 19 books instead of the targeted 30. This meant missing my goal for the 2nd consecutive year! On the bright side, I cleared 4 more books than 2015. Hahahaha. A dear friend of mine read 100 in a year - incredible! That is a number I will find it hard to hit. Might have to start with quitting the mobile games 

This is a year of proposals (myself included) and babies. My bestie announced her pregnancy after trying for almost 4 years - conceived naturally! So so happy for her! Different groups of friends saw the birth of their babies this year and wow conversations have definitely changed - from wedding planning previously to now diapers and childcare  A few friends finally proposed or got proposed to this year, looks like it will be another wave of weddings in the next 1 to 2 years! 

I wish I could say I am a better daughter and sister but I keep falling short of that. My tempers are still short, especially when it comes to my mum blasting the TV as her hearing deteriorates with age and her playing mobile games day in and out. 

I fared not too shabbily in terms of financial planning. But of course, there will ALWAYS be room for improvement in this area. I do wish I had bought more stocks this year as I held back as there was just too much volatility this year for me to venture into the market. Well can take that as a lesson I guess! 

In terms of my romantic relationship, I'm really really happy to have J back for good. No more long-distance! He brought our relationship to the next level when he popped the question after our anniversary dinner :) We have commenced our house hunting and booked the venue for our banquet. Exciting (and probably stressful as well) times ahead! 

I only traveled once for work this year and that was Yangon. It was a fruitful trip but I do wish that I had more opportunities to visit the overseas properties.

Similarly, I only had one personal trip in 2016 to Shanghai. It was to meet the boy and we had a fun time exploring Beijing (you can read about our visits to Temple of Heaven, Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Lama Temple and Prince Gong Mansion).

For 2017...

It will definitely be an exciting year of changes (hello mortgage and wedding planning!) and setting deadlines for some dreams :) And may it be a year where I surprise myself with what I am capable of.

2016 is a year I feel I truly plateaued in terms of professional growth  On a positive note, it does force me to reflect on what are the skillsets I should be focusing on in the next 3 to 5 years and how to find those opportunities either within the same company or elsewhere. 

It's a little hard to plan if the job-hop will happen this year so I will focus on learning as much as I can in my current place by exposing myself to more cross-department training and property audits if possible. This would really help to build my portfolio towards my goal of being an effective asset manager. 

With the pending wedding, I will have to start taking this more seriously. Hahaha. Especially so in terms of diet - while I'm happy I'm more into the whole vegetarian diet now, I do have to cut down on the junk food like cookies and chocolate, especially so at work. 

Fitness seems more important now as well, I need to look fit and lean in my wedding gown! #priorities  Will definitely to kick start the whole 3 times a week gym routine.

I've included one more WELLNESS category this year I do find it getting increasingly important as the age and responsibilities creep up. I have had negative thoughts running through my mind in 2016, especially so with the setbacks and growth plateau at work. I will want to practise more mindfulness in the coming year :) 

I'm going to be absolutely shameless and go for the same target I've set myself in the last 2 years. 30 books it shall be! 

It is indeed true that the older you get, you cherish the quality friends a lot more. I guess it has something to do with having lesser personal time and also more family responsibilities. You prioritize meaningful relationships more than focusing on collecting a large number of friends just for the sake of it. 2016 was a great year in terms of friendships for me (didn't lose any! Hahaha) and I hope 2017 remains the same. 

I will be a more tolerant child this year and will need to bear in mind that my parents are getting on in age. It is high time I disregard certain habits of my parents that will not change and that I should focus on cherishing my time with them. 

2017 should be a year that I will see a lot of capital outflow with the pending wedding and house hunting that is going on. We hope to get our house within the first half of the year and that should see a huge hole in our pockets! The good thing is we have saved up a fair bit so far but we will have to continue to be prudent with our funds and continue the saving habits that we have. 

On the investment front, I want to be less emotional about my money and stocks. 

This year will see a lot of changes in the dynamics of my relationship with J, with plans to own our first matrimonial home and also plan our ROM and wedding. I'm honestly really excited about building a future together with the boy :)

I will have to add one more item to this category - which is to blog more on this platform. I have had this space for a good 12 years and it has been a great depository of wonderful memories. For it to continue that way, I will definitely need to be more active in keeping this page updated! 

As I've put my hand up for more property audits next year (which hopefully materializes), I hope to be on more corporate travels! 

For personal travels, J and I will probably plan for a short trip or no overseas trip at all especially with the house hunting, pending renovation and wedding planning that will take up the bulk of 2017. 

Like good old tradition, I shall end this post with a quote for me to drive 2017: 

Our hunt for banquet venues!

So here comes the wedding planning!

Well technically, there isn't a real perfect wedding venue  but we try our best! 

It is not easy to hunt for the best venue when you are also looking for a new abode concurrently. Throw in budget considerations, table count requirements, unavailability of dates in shortlisted venues, I can assure you that the adventure of scouting for the ideal wedding venue can be both fun and frustrating! Hahaha. 

After the proposal on 30th September 2016, we decided that we needed to nail down some dates first. We made an appointment with Master Long before the proposal (funny I know hahaha) and our appointment with him was 2 days after the proposal. Pretty good timing I say! Hahaha. 

We were given 3 years worth of dates (2017 to 2019) and they were applicable for ROM, banquet, moving into the house, An Chuang, Guo Da Li et cetera. VERY USEFUL STUFF. Especially when it comes to checking out availability of certain popular wedding venues. 

Our initial hunt for wedding venues wasn't exactly fruitful because we weren't clear what we were looking for  We made appointments with banquet coordinators and some of them kind of headed nowhere because we didn't know what we needed, what was important to us that we wanted to negotiate for. 

So word of advice: Do try to shop around different venues and get a feel of the pricing of the market. If you already have a budget and know you will not deviate from it, it's much much easier. If you have a rubber budget (i.e a range) like us, it would be better to go online to search first before meeting the coordinators. 

We decided to go back to the drawing board once more and also clarify with parents on both sides on what is important. Once we settled a rough table count and budget, we (or rather, I) got down to some serious online shopping for rates and offer. We came to a few key things that are considered important to us:

• Within Budget - This is evidently very important. I don't wish to fork out additional money for a one-day event; 
Accessible - most of our relatives don't drive so a venue that is easily accessible by MRT is very much preferred;
Min. table count of 20 and below - We are looking to have 20-22 tables max so that eliminated quite a number of options for us. Most venues are either too big (25 or 35 minimum) or too small like YAN at National Gallery and the Straits Room at Fullerton Hotel (max 12 to 15 tables);
High Ceiling - Though I wouldn't call this a deal-breaker but it would be nice to have!; and
Natural Light - This is more like my criteria because we plan to do lunch and it would be nice to have natural light! 

1. Grand Hyatt Singapore

I was so convinced this is THE hotel. It is an absolutely stunning hotel and I've read so many glowing reviews about the food here. Because of our table count, we were offered the option of The Gallery or the Grand Residence. 

The Gallery stole my heart. Really. The area is very exclusive with only one escalator leading up to it. You can have the whole area to yourself, which includes a pre-function area, a bridal room for ease of change and touch up, the solemnization room and also the main banquet dining area: 

Image credit to honeybrides

The package listed online is fairly straightforward but it also meant they were a little rigid with their perks - which was affirmed when we went down for an appointment. Despite that, because I was so sold by the space (le sigh), we almost signed with them. Of course, they also had the date we want available in late 2017. However, when we changed our minds to have ROM in 2017 and our banquet in 2018 instead (as we still have potential house renovation to consider in 2017), we were given quite an unfavourable offer - We had to top up $100 more per table if we wanted to secure the date in 2018. And if they do come up with a better package for 2018 with no change in prices, we will have to stick with our old package at a higher price. It was quite a deal-breaker for us so we walked away from it. 

You can read some articles on this beautiful space here, here and here.  

Personal Pros & Cons:
 Good location, walkable from Orchard MRT
 Beautiful space and all activities can be contained into one area
 Rave reviews about food
 Upfront perks are decent
 Rigid with perks
 No natural daylight and ceiling is quite low for The Gallery. Grand Residence has a much higher ceiling but it has a huge pillar in the middle of the ballroom which may block the view of some tables when there are activites on stage. 

If we were doing our banquet in 2017, I would seriously consider it!

2. Hilton Singapore

We chanced upon this hotel because they were running a bridal show somewhere in October 2016 - though we didn't make it for both wedding shows as we were out of town both times. So we made an appointment with them separately as their package was extremely competitive. 

The hotel isn't at the most accessible location in Orchard and the photos online didn't encourage us much. Nonetheless, we still headed down to see it for ourselves. Due to our table count, we were given the option of Vista Room on the second floor (next to the largest ballroom) and the Panorama Room on 23rd floor. 

Both Vista Room and the Grand Ballroom were recently renovated and are very new and pretty. Unfortunately, I didn't like the Vista Room as much as I expected to. The deco and lighting are nice but I didn't like that the pre-function area was so close to that of the Grand Ballroom's. The boy liked the Panorama Room as it's on a higher floor next to the pool (which means poolside solemization - but not that we need it haha) and has full glass panels which meant natural daylight. However, I didn't like that it was L shaped and that 2 to 3 tables won't be able to see the march in until the couple reaches the stage. 

The coordinator was very friendly and professional, she was also very generous and flexible with the perks. I found it so hard to turn it down thereafter! But a venue that we both like is important for us - so this became a no go.

If you have larger table count than I do to qualify for the main ballroom, this is a good option. The coordinator is also very friendly and prompt - which is pretty important!

Personal Pros & Cons:
 Newly renovated main ballroom and Vista room
 Flexible perks 
 Extremely friendly and prompt coordinator (important as I've noted some coordinators needed multiple follow-up emails which is quite the red flag)
 New themes - they are launching new themes to match the newly renovated ballrooms!
 Pre function area for Vista Room is right next to the main ballroom - no exclusivity
 Panorama Room is L shape and some tables will not see the march in. Some tables are blocked from the LCD screens too

3. PARKROYAL on Pickering

Banquet venue hunting can be quite tiring - especially if you are as clueless as us haha. We don't really have a theme in mind yet though I'm more steered towards a garden theme (which only came along the way while venue hunting hahahaha) But given Singapore's weather, I wasn't that keen to take the event outdoor (either you melt or you get drenched ). So towards the last leg of venue hunting, we decided to give PARKROYAL on Pickering a try. 

Prior to the meetup, I emailed the coordinator multiple times for different queries and it was always promptly replied within 24 hours (except over weekends or when she's out of office). That gave me a pretty good impression already.

They only have one main ballroom in the hotel which takes 20 - 30 tables - perfect for us. Our tiny table count for other hotels meant we could take the main ballroom for this one! 

Image credit to PARKROYAL on Pickering

I love that it has natural light and it's almost like getting married in a garden but not quite. 

Personal Pros & Cons:
 Accessible location as it is walkable from Chinatown MRT - the boy remarked that he likes the convenience as it is near his workplace and he can pop over anytime to run errands if required;
 Within budget! 
 Accepts our 20-22 table count and qualifies us for the main ballroom;
 Friendly coordinator who's prompt with her replies;
 High ceiling at 6m
 Natural daylight and could definitely fit my garden theme (that is if I don't change my mind half way hahahaha)
 Limited reviews online about this venue (they are quite a hot choice for weddings - previously when we enquired for late 2017, they only had 31 Dec 2017 left! - which left me thinking why there are limited reviews online but if they are so popular...  should be okay!)
 Mixed and limited review about their food.

We are still in the midst of finalizing the perks and the chances of signing with this property is pretty high! I did raise the concern of food quality to the boy as our main focus was to also ensure our guests have a delicious meal while celebrating our matrimony. He countered it by citing we can opt to upgrade the menu if we wish to as he likes this venue the most out of the few we went (including those unfruitful ones earlier haha)

Shall see!  

UPDATE: We signed with PARKROYAL on Pickering! One big ticket item off the list 
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