2020’s favorite so far / Books edition

Time flies, it is coming so quickly, where has the month gone? March was such a strange month, it went on forever and ever since then time was just elapsed so quickly and now its already June, I don’t even know where June came from. I have been spending my time reading a lot since quarantine and especially in the last month, May. When I am all by myself, it’s either reading a book or spend whole day on social media. And i find that it really melts by the hours and makes time go by super fast for me. But I found out what the key is, you got to find the right book. So today, I am going to share some books I enjoyed reading since quarantine and that have really just made time zoom by for me.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

This was such a random find, I’d seen a few friends of mine reading it but it was also recommended  to me on Amazon for because it is kind of on the bestseller list at the moment. This one is kind of like I would say intergenerational family relationship based story. I was really hooked on this one from the first couple of pages. It revolves around the lives of the family who lived in a house in Pennsylvania and it’s a really kind of extraordinary architecture, wonder house that’s very different from everything else around it. It’s mainly focus on the two children but more so the boy who I think we start from 1945 when he’s about 12 and it goes on to modern day like today, early 2000s when he’s in his 40s and 50s. It was such an absorbing book, I do enjoy when a lot time elapsed throughout the story, I think it incredibly interesting to see how people change, how a story can really captivate you from the beginning to the end, it’s been such a long time between the two of those. I really like everything about this, maybe other than the narrator, may be it was just more so the male perspective or that he just was a little bit I guess petulant but you know, it’s still a really enjoyable character to read about, I think his sister in the story, who is actually the girl on the front cover is the most interesting but the whole is great, it really kind of captures that coming of age feeling having to decide what you are going to do with your life and how things really do change from childhood to adulthood and you know everything between. It was just a very interesting book, I found everything is so interesting particularly the actual Dutch house that they talk about, the lives of all the individual characters, how things unfold and the ending of this I really enjoyed, it’s not often that i read a book and i’m so satisfied by the end. It’s not so much a case of like everything being tied up in a nice little bow, but just that feeling of yes I really wanted this to happen, which I definitely got at the end of the book.

Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg

I have got this book from my cousin for a while now, I think she gave it to me at some point in 2019 but I just actually started in this April. I’m really interested in the book, I never picked it up for myself but to be quite honest with you, it didn’t appeal to me so much, I thought it would probably kind of the same old that i’ve always heard plus the cover just seemed very conservative and I didn’t resonate with me, I mean I didn’t relate to it. And i know that everyone says don’t judge the book by its cover, you know so cliche and obviously fitting right here but i kinda did, I just thought okay it’s just gonna be another one of these books you know i don’t really need, that it’s not really gonna tell me anything that’s awakening, eye opening or anything like that. I’m in university, have a lot of academic reading to do so I thought that did I really want to spend my time reading that book or did I want to read Blink or or The Tipping Point or something else by Malcolm Gladwell who i’m obsessed with. So I just kinda left it there on my bookshelf. And in this April, when I was going through my bookshelf, it was there and I thought that alright I’m gonna read this, gonna spend couple of days or weeks to start the book, which I am so glad later that I went ahead and read it. I was an easy read, took me like 4 or 5 days to finish it. I won’t go through every single detail of the book, i just want to show you some of my favorite chapters. The first chapter that i really resonated with me was Sit at the table, the next one was Success and Likability, Argue my mentor which is chapter number 5 and chapter 8 Make your partner a real partner. So if you have the book and want to read some chapters then you should probably check these ( 2,3,5,8). There are the chapters that were most impactful for me.  The book gives its readers a new awareness of the current position of women in society, eliminating barriers in thinking to rise up to contribute and contribute. Because we are gradually moving towards a society where every breakthrough is necessary. As a result, the book will be a powerful source of inspiration, inspiring not only women, but men as well to see what needs to be done to pursue their passions, to embark on difficult paths but to be The most valuable option. At the same time is a great plan for personal growth. Lean In changes the problem from “women can’t do anything” to “women can do everything “.

The Outsider by Stephen King

I should have heeded everyone’s warning that this was not the Stephen King novel to begin with. I did try and listen to it a few years ago but this is not a book to listen to. There is too much going on and it’s too long. This book is about a brutal crime in a small town. Head coach of the baseball team is called Terry Maitland, is very publicly arrested for the murder and basically like butchering of a young boy in town. Because the detectives have a lot of forensic evidences on him, they have eyewitnesses who put him at the scene covered in blood like it seems like a slam dunk basically. But it turns our Terry Maitland was in a different place and there is an evidence of him being there ( a pretty strong evidence of him being there). And they wonder how he can be at two places at the same time, so that’s the premise of the book. So, Stephen King clearly has a really confident solid style like he writes really well. The first half is really intriguing, all the suspense is there, the tension, he builds it really well and he’s clearly a master at that. However, this is where the bad stuffs come in so don’t read this part because i’m about to give you a little spoiler. So for someone who is familiar with S.K’s writing on goodreads wrote that this is part of his attempt to do a kind of more contemporary crime style book and indeed Harlan Coben himself turns up in this book (sort of). So he clearly try to do that thing so H.C always starts with like the most wacky thing like for example someone being at two places at once and how is that possible. Then he kind of resolves it towards the end in some sort of fashion, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a less good way.  But the problem is S.K’s kind of attempt is that the explanation turns out to be super natural which just like completely ruins the fun, i mean ruins the premise you want it to be something real, otherwise it just seems like an easy cop-out if you know what i mean. I was like is it gonna be an indictment of the complete and utter faith that we place in the forensic evidence even if it can be interpreted subjectively, is it gonna be about police work or is it gonna be a secret twin and it was none of these things. I was kind of disappointed with that, I thought there were also some like excessive brutality with the way the boy’s body keeps being described as well like it was just too much. I love Stephen Kind and his novels so much, even if this one was a little bit disappointment for me but it was still is an interesting read.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

It was written by a Vietnamese American author and this is about the Vietnam War. I actually just got this like 3 weeks ago from one of my uncle, to be honest, I am not a big fan of history and all the historical related stuffs, but my uncle, he was talking to so much about the book and how proud he is for the first time in Vietnamese literary history, a Vietnamese-American writer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, he talked about how interesting the author is and particularly for Vietnamese people, both inside and outside the country, there are also further questions about the difficulty and complexity of the language of a young (4 years old ) Vietnamese refugee who came to a complete different country since 1975, then has educated like an American. I found it really interesting just by the way my uncle talked about the author  and I find somehow would be related to me or other young Viet people who were born and raised or born in VN but raised in a total different country and culture. So I decided to give his book a try. This is quite a complex novel, it is told from an unnamed narrators point of view and he is a communist spy working in Saigon, he’s working in a general with strong CIA links. So he kind of works as a mole in the South Vietnamese/American side of the war. He claims from the very beginning he got this kind of double sided point of view so even though he is on the side of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, he very much kind of understands American culture and the South Vietnamese standpoint because he went to college in America. “I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds, . . . able to see any issue from both sides….” The novel starts with the narrator is sent with his kind of boss to America. He’s kinda forced to live in America. And the novel kind of takes a shift after he escaped Vietnam and it got this slightly more slow-paced section when he’s in America while he’s doing some of the “slightly” unbelievable work, some of it even quite absurdist and kafkaesque, particularly towards the end. But in the middle he ends up on a set of a Hollywood film that depicts the Vietnam War. He’s trying desperately to make the Vietnamese characters something more than just extra and he finds that that kind of job is a bit futile to be honest because the kind of American viewpoint of the war is so overwhelming and the director is not letting him make the Vietnamese characters anymore kind of important. So the whole narrative is actually told from like a retrospective and it’s told when he is imprisoned he’s been forced to write out his story basically. I’m trying so much not to ruin this for you guys but he is actually imprisoned by communist forces, who think he has too much sympathy for the other side and he kind of refused to give up that sympathy. Also that makes him unreliable, he’s in a pressurized situation when he’s telling this story. It’s kind of described as a thriller for this book which i’m not entirely sure I agree with because I think this is a really interesting story, a good yarn whilst at the same time being educational. The author, he is a professor of Asian American Studies or something like that and you know sometime that kind of professor’s real voice comes through, you can see some of the academic about the representation of non-white people in America. It’s educational and interesting to read. The novel does had its style, funny, can be dry, it does has its dark poignant, heart wrenching moments as well. It’s funny, enjoyable whilst still be thought provoking. I did read at the back of the book, there’s like an interview with the author and he talks about how that’s basically a load of rubbish because a lot of Vietnamese people have written their own novels about this but maybe this is the first one that gone mainstream. It is quite interesting that the narrative kind of going on in the novel and being expounded in the novel and take itself out into the review and the discussion around it as well. I certainly haven’t read anything before about the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese point of view. I do think it’s a really good and interesting novel, it really talks about the politics, I call it a kind of semi-detached way, it does really see things from both sides. It doesn’t condemn either side completely and i think it just becomes a hopeless situation. It can be a little bit overly satirical and dry. I would really highly recommend this book. I think it was enjoyable, educational and interesting to read, to learn a bit more about the Vietnam War, the history of it and it makes you think about the kind of American depiction of the Vietnam War.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

This book came out a long time ago, I actually read it when I was 17, I remember it completely blew my mind but then time flied, I kind of forget what the book is about then my cousin gave it to me not long ago and all these years passed by and I was thinking it’s time to read it again, let’s see, I read it and it blew up my mind again. So this book is about Outliers and Outliers are like the most successful, the most intelligent, most athletic, just like the best of the best in the world and that’s why they are like the Outliers. A lot of self made outliers, we look at them  and we are like “damn, you did a damn thing”. And that is the huge factor, they did put it so many hours. Malcolm Gladwell said that you need to put in roughly 10.000 hours to master a craft and that is a lot of hours, a lot of time, I can’t even compute how many years 10.000 hours is but it’s like a ton you know what i mean. But regardless, we look at people like The Beatles or Bill Gates and we are like “wow”, however Malcolm Gladwell, starts digging a little bit deeper and he starts to point out patterns and circumstances that have happened to have that elevated up to that level. So he defines an outliers as those have been given opportunities and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them. So, obviously putting in a 10.000 hours is a big one but there are other things to consider like when you were born, how long you’ve had a headstart on starting something like what your parents have, your ethnicity.. There is a string of fortunate incidents and circumstances that have happened that have attributed to their success. So he uses Bill Gates as an example, you know he’s wildly rich, wildly successful, incredibly smart however there are some things to consider. So, Bill Gates was born at a time where computers were just starting to get big, they were pretty rare and very expensive, like a computer was a size of a room. And his parents just happened to have a computer in their house. So Bill Gates kind of started to tinkle around with it, learn how to code slowly and when he turned 13, his parents funded a computer club. So he has like the unlimited access to these computers with all his computer friends and they just coded. Bill Gates then just got consumed into coding, learning and he started to put in his 10.000 hours a lot earlier than anybody else. So by the time that the computers started booming, he already has this incredible knowledge about this subject that a lot of people didn’t have access to. Like if his parents did not have the money to give him one of the first computer, he probably wouldnt be Bill Gates. And having a headstart is a huge thing to consider in every type of craft. If you look at all these early tech tycoons, they are all like born at the same year, there are absolutely a pattern here and this book just does an in depth review and analysis on that and i found it fascinating.

The Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Romantic novels aren’t really my type, but it was recommended to me by one of my close friend and I have read and seen the movie based on this novel. A feeling that always appears in my mind is the emptiness and coldness in the soul of the character, it covers and underlies all the psychological developments. It is not easy to see the movie or even read the novel if one does not have a deep enough empathy and experience to understand and like it. Throughout the story, the pain and sad memories cling to and torment the minds of the living. It appears as desolate, quiet as the dense forest where Naoko (one of the main character) hermits, having psychiatric treatment, it was cold and untouched like a reed field behind a mountain, it’s supernatural and fierce like a seaside cliff when Toru seeks peace after Naoko’s death..It’s all haunting and painful! As I kept reading, I kept wondering whether Toru loves Naoko or Midori? Toru’s love for Naoko is like the haunting regrets of his painful and hopeless past, and his love for Midori is a miracle that saves his painful desert soul. Whenever after visiting Naoko, his soul is more hurt and tormented which only Midori can help him be more calm and joyful. Midori and Naoko are like the two sides of life. A Midori full of life, confidence, positive, a Naoko immersed and suffered in the past, timid and rejecting the reality of life. One represents joy and happiness and the other represents sufferind and tragedy. It always accompanies, envelops and wraps around Toru (or envelops human life!). This novel is like from this funeral that nourishes the next one. Just one after another makes me feel devastated, astray right through the warm, fresh when they are in each other’s arms. Lust in the book is a very artistic tribute to the author’s thought. Haruki Murakami considered it a salvation for the soul, a bridge to warm people closer to each other. They were dissatisfied with the lifestyle, the behavior of the junk society at the moment in Japan. So they find love, let it go and immerse themselves in basic human desires then eventually they die or commit suicides. Naoko is the girl that is mentioned a lot in the novel but I don’t really impressed by her. Through the story, she appeared little by little as a nice and gentle girl. Not strong enough or deep enough to interest me, that’s what I think of Naoko, despite the fact that this girl is one of the main characters. Perhaps for someone else, when reading Norwegian Wood will have a new way of looking and thinking, have more impressions of Naoko, but for me she is just I might say a little bit boring. Moving on to Midori, I really like and impress this girl. I feel like Midori’s personality is different from Naoko (not total the opposite). She is candid, strong, bold, funny and “crazy” just enough. Midori is the character that pulls me to reality the most whilst the other characters are a little something “not real”. The things that she brings to Toru’s life are the things that he actually needed.  Midori character is quite are and interesting in her own way. Anyway, the novel is a sad but happy ending (I dont know if this makes sense) for all the characters. But for Toru and Midori, I still don’t really understand exactly what the end for them is, its kind of an open ending which the author has left there for us to wonder.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

A really interesting book that reflex on how different in a way of thinking between men and women. This is one of the book that I actually finish in 3 hours. It has 307 pages and I started it when I was at the airport then finished it in a 2 hours flight to Berlin in March. This book appeals with fresh ideas and a range of hands-on examples. All the rules in the book have been tested and vertifed, 90% of 25,000 individuals agree with the testimony. The ideas in the book also have the dedicated help of Bonnie (the author’s wife). My relationship with the opposite gender is not yet that complicated but it is unsafe because sometimes I don’t understand the intrinsic characteristics of Mars or the basic emotions of Venus, I can also cause discord when I cannot control my emotions. So when I finished this book, I feel like it is kinda helpful for me to know and understand the different mindset between women and men when I am still young. There are deep, intense feelings about the pressure of life, the difficult life that only adults have to face with, and knowing that really helps me prepare mentally for future. I also feel more sympathetic about my parents or all the parent in general.  I see them as “heroes” when I tried to see through their actions, words, gestures … with their life partners . Sometime, for them there isn’t much love anymore, but they still live together, share with each other and that is the next stage of affection between two people. It was an easy read, it goes into a lot of things as you have flagged a lot of pages about different aspect but I won’t go into here because i’m just trying to give an overview about this book because in depth of this one, I would probably step on to many toes bringing points up around here. This book really helped me rediscover myself and better understand the feelings of the people around me. From there, the way giving love and receiving love in your relationships will improve.

How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-founded a Million Dollar Company by Varun Agarwal

This a really funny and interesting book which makes me think about life as well. The author has a youth like many of us: Majoring in unwanted profession, under pressure from family and society, always feeling like life is going nowhere. However, he knows exactly what he wants to do and begins to resolve to fulfil those desires. A person who only succeeds while doing exactly what he/she wants, feeling happy and at the same time bringing value to others as well. Varun Agarwal has created his own path, although it is not easy but with enough perseverance, he could do what he cherished. This is not a romantic book full of love and cheese nor the scientific book, using many “advanced” intellectual languages, It is written with very simple words that are not elaborated, about the story seems to be very simple, always happens in our daily life but with witty, humorous sarcasm, so that the readers can easily visualize and approach. Maybe the title already somewhat speaks a bit carelessly, mixed with a bit of confidence and even a “little” of the his ego makes the stories more realistic than ever. This book not only discusses about how a young man started his start up, it also talks about Varun’s will when he dares to stand alone, not follow the social stereotypes, and dare to change it. His mother was the one who gave him determination to do everything. Although, she sometimes shaken by his aunts who always “injected” into her head the negative thoughts about entrepreneurship, his mother showed him that she trusted and she was proud of him. The story also teaches us many ways and golden keys that are the knowledge accumulated from the beginning of the career to the present. It is not a book to read for fun or entertainment, even though it is funny but also is an extremely useful book. I recognised some of my problems in Varun’s problems, and his success. And that success becomes the motivation for me to pursue my own ideas. The book is not a specific business formula for those who want to succeed quickly. It forces us to really think critically about our problem and how we want life to be. In addition to being young, having ideas, what factors do you need to add in order to pursue your dreams? I highly recommend this book for those who have been wondering and looking for a path for themselves. Above all, it is a warning, urging and inspiration so that you do not waste your youth anymore, but embark on creating your life right now.

And that’s it, it was the last book in my favorite list at the moment.

*shelving inspo and goal

My goal for 2020 is to read 60 books, don’t ask me why, I don’t know neither I just kind of wrote it down to to do list for 2020 in January and also this is my first time writing about books and this was really interesting for me to write about and I will keep reading and maybe I am gonna write about the books I am going to read in this month as well. I don’t plan on my writing because it all comes out from my mood always. Today i spent about an hour on social media writing, posting about stuffs and i kind of feel like writing something. As I said, it didn’t take me a lot of time to think what I want to write about because I was reading in my garden then I just took a little break go to social media and then you know, i got unfocused by all the news, the argument so I kind of stopped reading and venting to instagram instead. Venting to my instagram is kind of a therapy for me because I can’t afford a therapist ( not saying that i need one but you know what I mean). And after finishing with all of that, I continued to finish the book I was reading (which is Man’s search for meaning, it was a really good read as well, but I didn’t write about it because I just finished it this afternoon and it usually takes me a while to really think about a book, so maybe i am going to write about this in my next book review who knows). So yes, as soon as I finished the book, I felt like I want to write something and I was thinking like why not writing about books? So I went back in the house, cooked and had a quick dinner, socialized with my family a bit lol and  I went back to my room, went through all the books that I have read since quarantine and picked these books so now here we are. If you make your time until this point then I really hope you are doing well, stay safe, the pandemic is not over, and with all the really sad events are happening in the world, stay safe and stay positive.

About the unhappy event is happening, I will link down below what and how you can do to help and support the #blacklivesmatter. Please watch this video and check all the links that linked down below the description box of the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM





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