Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

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! 

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.

Hello Warren

Happiness is when your books get delivered way before the stipulated date :) 

Didn't expect them to be so thick but I guess I will be occupied for a realllyyyy long time ;)

April's To-Read

I've been doing a lot of readings these days - especially after my sister introduced me "The Greatest Trade Ever", which follows various finance folks' ups and downs 2 years prior to the epic sub-prime meltdown in 2008. The book focused mainly on John Paulson, an obscure hedge fund manager who saw the bubble and bet against the crisis 2 years before it exploded. It ended with him making $15 billion solely out from that trade. It was extremely well-written and easy to follow. It surely has lit up my interest in finance again.

Just finished "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big" by Scotts Adam. If this name sounds familiar to you, then most probably you have read Dilbert before. Yes the guy who's been giving us corporate truths in 3 small squares for the longest time ever! I like the book doesn't focus on goals setting. It focuses on setting up systems that helps you achieve things. He focused a lot on never fearing failure as well - he highlighted the number of failed business ventures he went through (it was pretty extensive) and how those eventually shaped his successful ones.

The topics covered in his book was pretty extensive and if I could summarize the key ones:

1) Focus on yourself (good diet, good personal energy) - the world needs you at your best;
2) Once you optimize your personal energy, you are just one "luck" away from success;
3) Since you cannot control luck, you can give yourself better odds but mastering various skill sets (public speaking, psychology of persuasion, basic accounting, proper voice techniques good grammar and a basic understanding of technology;
4) Master the habit of simplifying;
5) Control your ego and once you stop fearing embarrassment, you compete against a smaller field;
6) Always remember that failure is your friend. It is the raw material for success. Invite it in and don't let it leave until you pick its pocket.

Because of "The Greatest Trade Ever", I went on to "Devil's Casino" - which follows the rise of Lehman Brothers, to its acquisition by American Express and how they managed to oust themselves back into the banking industry. How that rouge trader behaviour helped them rise against the big players in the investment banking world, and how it eventually also led to their downfall in 2008. The book highlighted a lot on how greed could change friendships, how it drove betrayal and how it formed the very core of Lehman. I'm enjoying it so far though I wish I could read it a little faster! Haha.

The last book which I hasn't read yet is Open: An Autobiography by Agassi Andre. One of the legendary players of all times - the shocker of it all? He really hated tennis - he started playing at the age of 3 and showed an aptitude for it by the age of 5. He eventually had to drop out of school as his father thought education was a hindrance to practices. The lack of education eventually bothered him the rest of his career. I'm not sure if I will like the book as I'm not a huge tennis fan but something about that painful look on the cover tells me I should read it. I will come back with reviews ;)

Meanwhile, have a great week ahead everyone! :) Promise I will blog more!  

Remembering Lichuan

The last few weeks has been nothing but work, work, trying to catch up on my Bahasa Indonesia reading materials (failed terribly at that), reading up more on asset management and catching up on all the new downloads on my Kindle.

I chanced upon the trailer of  "Remembering Lichuan"  on Youtube and recalled I read that internet novel many years ago. The trailer is a bit different from the what I've imagined the story and the characters to be.

Now I'm going to re-read the novel again to prep myself for the show! :)

Top Sellers (Fiction) for 2012

(according to NY Times)

(1) Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
(2) The Forgotten by David Baldacci
(3) The Last Man by Vince Flynn
(4) The Racketeer by John Grisham
(5) Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson
(6) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
(7) Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
(8) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
(9) Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James
(10) The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts
(11) Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
(12) Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

For the full list, read here.
For the other lists, read here.

Still not proud I spent 5 days finishing the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Hahahaha.

Currently re-reading Life of Pi (can't remember the story anymore). Can't wait to catch the movie! :)

Serious soft spots

I can resist splurging on most things in life. Except for stationery...and books. I have some serious soft spots for them, especially if the books are in Chinese and are all about self-improvement. I blame my dad for making me a geek.

The very reason why I should never be left alone in a book store. Either I'm going to bring home either some new (and in my opinion always cool) stationery or just a pile of books.

I'm already running out of space to store them.

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Fifty Shades Trilogy

You have no idea how relieved I am to finish the trilogy. No more reassurance of love every 2 sentences and really weird plot development. Oh wait, there isn't much of a plot in the first place. For the uninitiated about what's the plot (or the lack of) for the trilogy, do read it here.

If you want to spare yourself the pain of reading all three books but wants to know the quality of them, do read the reviews by this lady. I laughed so hard reading them, and sadly I have to agree with most of what she wrote:
For my part, Fifty Shades Freed managed to redeem itself in a VERY minor way towards the end when Christian Grey was more open about his background - covering Mrs Robinson (the cougar who introduced him to BDSM) and the foster home he stayed in briefly before adoption. That's it. Nothing else was really worth reading. I pretty much wasted a few hours of my life everyday just to read those portions. If there is one good thing about the books - Christian Grey (or E.L James for that matter) has really good taste in classical music, which explains my 50 Shades songlist on iTunes now. Hahaha. My favourites are Chopin Opus 28 No. 4 and Flower Duet from Lakme.

Other than that, I have no idea how this series outsold Harry Potter on Amazon UK. Maybe Grey is really sexy and attractive in many ways, I don't know. I thought the mood swings (hence the name 50 shades) were crazy and is likely to put a strain on any relationships no matter how rich he is. To a certain extent, only the bossiness is attractive at times (times when he had everything taken care off without being told). Besides that, I think most women might suffer a nervous breakdown with that much controlling no matter how Adonis-like he is with sculpted back muscles, smouldering grey eyes and how his pants always hang around his hip in a sexual way (I can't even imagine that).

I read that there are plans to make this into a movie. Hopefully, the screenwriters can make this book meatier in terms of storyline. If they are going to stay loyal to the book, they might as well just make it a pornographic film not meant for mass distribution. Hahaha. Maybe they should combine the three books into one movie. Or maybe they should just scrap the entire plan of even making it into a movie. I mean Twilight movies were shit (I'm sure the books are too but I didn't read them so..I ain't judging). Oh wait, I didn't watch Twilight movies too, because none managed to hold my attention for more than 5 minutes when they were on re-runs on HBO.

Anyhow, I'm so glad I'm done with the trilogy and I can move on to books with healthier contents and better writing. Damn, or at least a book that allows me to learn some new words or knowledge. No I'm not really keen on learning more about BDSM stuff, plus E.L James didn't write them in a detailed fashion anyway. 

Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed

So...I'm officially done with Book 2: Fifty Shades Darker. It's marginally better than Book 1: Fifty Shades of Grey since it focuses a lot more on Christian Grey's dark past and why he is into all this BDSM thingy. I think the whole series would do better if E.L James had bothered to develop this character a little more, with all that child abuse and being made Submissive by a cougar through most of his youth. Ana Steele is really quite a one-dimensional character, so there isn't much to develop for her.

Onto the 3rd book and this is really how I feel:
Fifty Shades Freed IS.SO.FREAKING.BORING. Look, I can talk in SHOUTY CAPS and staccato too. It's affecting me in a bad way I swear. Haha. If I have to read another "inner goddess", "murmur/s", "whisper/s", "jeez", "he is so beautiful, he's my god", "oh my", "desire blooming in my belly", I'll probably go crazy. Haha. It's becoming quite a drag trying to finish it but I don't want to leave it hanging so...I'll have to persevere. I'm just thankful I didn't have to pay for this ebook.

Here's a tip that's helping me get through these books: Try picturing your favourite hottest Hollywood male star as Grey. It really makes the reading slightly more palatable.

50 shades of confusion

This is how Quek look while reading certain portions of 50 Shades of Grey. HAHA. Okok I made him read some selected chapters just to have a good laugh at his expressions.

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Current Read: Fifty shades of Grey

Just started Book 1: Fifty Shades of Grey on Wednesday and I'm already 3/4 way through Book 2: Fifty Shades Darker. It's not a difficult book to read especially when it's so repetitive. HAHA. I have lost track of the number "moans/groans", "Oh, Ana", "Oh, Christian", "twitchy palms", "I love you", "my dreamy Greek god/Adonis" and oh my god, sex scenes like everywhere. Don't these people have daily duties to fulfill instead of having sex like every other moment of the day?? I think there's an average of 3 to 4 sexual portions in every chapter or something. Hahaha.

The only words that I can handle being repeatedly used are "laters, baby" and "I am fifty shades of fucked up". Period.

The description of sex scenes and the continuous confessions of love got a little dry after a while. I mean how many different ways can one describe sex? And how many alternatives are there to "I love you", "I need you" and "I can't live without you."? I've not read Twilight but I suspect Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is pretty much the adult and pornish version of it. And of course Christian Grey is really quite the epitome of testosterone perfection (in adult form, not the pale glittery version of a boyfriend in the form of Edward Cullen) - in terms of career, money, looks and intelligence. Sans the part about him being too much of a control freak, having contractual relationships with women into BDSM, and having that Red Room of Pain in his house.

I'm getting a little sian about the description of sex scenes so the only thing that is keeping me glued to this book is the PAINFULLY SLOW revelation of the deep dark secrets of Christian Grey. Oh and who wants him dead (bit of a Sidney Sheldon's way of writing here). It's so slow, that Book 1 and 2 covers only the 5 fucking weeks (don't mind the pun) of whirlwind sick-sweet (I can't decide between the two words) romance of Christian Grey and Anatasia Steele.

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Falling for me

I chanced upon this book as a "New Arrival" at the national library a week or two back. Since I was one book away from the maximum loan quote of 6, it was more of a might-as-well.

The author who is as well the focus of this book, Anna David, is an American journalist and television personality specializing in relationship as well as addiction and recovery (she was an alcoholic). Smart, successful and single, she decided to re-examine and recalibrate her life after chancing upon a classic written by Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan guru - she was editor-in-chief for 32 years) - "Sex & the Single Girl". Connecting immediately with Brown's message of self-empowerment combined with undeniable femininity, Anna ventured out of her comfort zone to meet men in new ways and date those she would have never considered before. Embarking on a journey that was intensely personal, she becomes adventurous and spontaneous - revising her wardrobe and apartment, learning how to cook and put on makeup, learning French, pottery and windsurfing, dashing off to Seville and tried speed dating.

No surprise, in the process, she ends up meeting the person really worth changing for: herself.

This book turned out to be quite a fun read - I guess part of the reason may be that I don't have much of an expectation in the first place. Haha. It's a funny and quirky fast read (finished it in 2 days) that focuses on her recovery from a heartbreaking romance with a married man and childhood insecurities.

Although I do have a question, how did this woman have trouble finding a guy?

Eat, Pray, Love

I'm finally done with the book - really took my own sweet time on this one. Hurhur.

For the uninitiated, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is a personal memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert. It chronicles her trip around the world after her divorce and the discoveries she made during her travels. You can read more about the story here. 

The book features 108 short stories, 36 for each country - it's easy to digest (although some parts about Italy's culture and history did bore me a little) since each short story didn't go beyond 4-5 pages max (I think). My favourite portions were the ones that she wrote about India, covering a lot about inner peace, meditations and yoga. 

Personally, I like the way she writes - heart wrenching at some points, philosophical at others - but overall, hilarious. I chuckled to myself so many times. 

I've always had a soft (wayy too soft) spot for meaningful quotes and it's littered all over the place for this book. I guess that's one of the reasons why I enjoyed the book a lot. 

"Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be." 

"This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something."

"When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your mind around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings."

"You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions."

"You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control."

"Eventually, everything goes away."

"As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you."

"God dwells within you, as you."

My favourite-est (if there's such a word) has to be the one the medicine man in Bali (I wished I had dropped by his place when I was in Ubud for work!) said:

"Why they always look so serious in Yoga? You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile your liver. Too serious, it makes you sick. You can call the good energy with a smile." 
It just mean one should create a practice of happiness so deep down, even your liver has a smile. 


I know there are plenty of bad reviews for the movie, but I think I'm just going to ask Quek to download and just give it a try. Hurhur.

The Alchemist

I've finally gotten down to finish The Alchemist. It's such a lovely read. A book of pure magic, it's about a simple shepherd boy venturing out into the world to fulfill his Personal Legend and to seek great treasures. I love how short and sweet the book is, but yet able to cover so much ground which addresses the struggles and fears one may face when pursuing his/her dreams.

I wish I could scribble and underline all the important quotes (which is almost every other line) and paste them like all over my room. Haha

"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." 

"There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth."

"But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here." 

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."

"One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving."

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself."

"Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart." 

"Your eyes show the strength of your soul" 

"You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say."

"Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears, that's where (your heart is) and that's where your treasure is." 

My favourite has to be:

I'm so adding this book to the list of books that I revisit at least once a year (including the likes of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Last Lecture.).

Yay time to start on Eat, Pray, Love.


Was cleaning out my bookshelf the other day and came across this really old book of mine. Wise words don't get old I must say.

不是顺心如意让人欢喜, 而是欢喜让人顺心如意.

你不能决定命运, 但你可以随缘自在.
你不能左右天气, 但你可以改变心情.
你不能改变容貌, 但你可以展现笑容.
你不能控制他人, 但你可以掌握自己.
你不能预知明天, 但你可以利用今天.
你不能样样顺利, 但你可以事事尽力.

Amazing stuff . I finished it in 2 days! Ok make that 1.5. Haha. I'm devouring books at amazing speeds these days since I'm just hanging out in my study (studying valuation bibles that is..), helping out in the kitchen or taking calls/meeting up with headhunters. Weirdly I finish Chinese books wayyy faster than English ones. I'm taking a really long time to finish Steve Jobs biography.

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Fuel for the soul

One of my favourite books of all times. Short and easy to digest. Always make me feel like I'm ready to conquer the world after reading it. Haha

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