Feminist Book Club: a year of feminist reading

I’ve kind of fallen behind on recording the Feminist Book Club meets, but before I fall even further behind, I just want to note down here the books we read this year, along with who picked them, if anyone is interested!

(November) Roxane Gay Bad Feminist (My thoughts here)

(Feb) Azar Nafisi Reading Lolita in Tehran  (My thoughts here)

(March) Ayisha Malik Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (My thoughts here)

(April) Jami Attenberg All Grown Up  (My thoughts here)

(May) Caitlin Moran How to be a Woman (My thoughts here)

(July) Naomi Alderman The Power (My thoughts here)

(July) Arundhati Roy The Ministry of Utmost Happiness 

(Aug) Balli Kaur Jaswal Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women  (My thoughts here)

(Nov) Anne Helen Petersen Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman  (My thoughts here)

(If I’ve left out any books, I hope someone will correct me!)

Upcoming for 2017 so far, we have

(Jan) Gail Honeyman Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

(Feb) Margaret Atwood The Handmaid’s Tale

(May) Julia Alvarez In the time of the Butterflies

(July) ed. Nick Haramis Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to be Grateful for Michelle Obama

 

With other months to be filled in shortly!

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November Round Up – from Kyoto!

December 2017, here we are. I ended up reading 8 books in November, bringing my total count to 139 books for the year. I’m really hoping to still hit my 150 book goal, so 11 books in December it is!

Not really many noteworthy books in November after the mid-month round-up – I read a couple of thrillers, an anthology of ghost stories, but nothing very compelling. I made a move to Kyoto this week, and didn’t bring a lot of books with me – Imran Hashim’s Annabelle Thong, Frances Hardinge’s A Skinful of Shadows, Lynn Weingarten’s Bad Girls with Pretty Faces. I’m still Kindle-less since I lost mine a couple of months ago, but I’m trying to get a new one now.

Fun Fact: This will be my third Kindle in maybe 8 years? – I sat on my first and favourite one, cracking the screen and my heart; I think I left my second one on a plane earlier in the year. My eyes can’t take reading off my phone or a laptop for any length of time anymore, so an e-reader is pretty indispensable to me.

Fun Fact #2: I have a TBR folder on my Kindle of about 20 books, and roughly 1000 e-books overall. This is why I need to start tracking my book purchases.

Now that I’m settled in Kyoto, my goal is to get back to a regular reading schedule, not snatching bits and pieces of time here and there. Life was pretty mad in Brunei last month, but it was all good, good things, so no complaints. Nevertheless, my aim is always, as Gustave Flaubert said, to be regular and orderly in my life so that I may be violent and original where it counts. Shout out too to Junot Diaz, who was stern on the duties of writers to reading. We don’t need more writers, he said, firmly – what we need are more readers.

Here we go into the last month of the year – let’s finish strong.

Photo 30-11-2017, 09 55 58

Kyoto!

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Happy Birthday to My Book Blog! (and mid-month round-up)

…okay, sort of belated birthday, to be perfectly honest. I had noted down “Wow, one year since my first post” in my trusty black planner for 11 November last week, but I misplaced my planner (nightmare) and was in Singapore, so I missed it!

It has been one year of blogging (slash writing sporadically) about books I’ve read! Recently I also celebrated one year of Feminist Book Club, and one year of Netball Wednesdays – apparently in November 2016 I went on an Achieving Things binge which I’m reaping the rewards of now, a year later. I say it flippantly, but really this month of anniversaries has reminded me that good things take time, effort, investment, patience. Not everything is instant gratification, and it shouldn’t be. There is a sweet kind of joy in patient perseverance.

I started the book blog to share things I’ve read, to keep track of things I’ve read. To track patterns of my own reading behaviour and economics. In the year ahead I’d like to start seriously tracking how much I spend on books on a month to month basis (I know I’ve spent about BND400 this month alone), how much I spend on ebooks versus hard copies. I consider this expense both a personal and professional one, but it is still definitely an Expense.

(Also, despite the blog, I still have trouble remembering what the last title I read was off the top of my head when people ask.)

In the last month, my personal and professional commitments have amped up considerably (piano exam on Friday, out of the country two weekends in a row, last week of PT, EXAM SEASON AT UBD, two weeks from leaving for Kyoto, Miscellanous Other), I’ve struggled to find the time to read lengthily and quietly, but sometimes (most of the time) people are more important than paper so, no regrets. A book I pre-ordered was released today, I have an anthology of ghost stories next to me, and Alfian Sa’at’s Malay Sketches in my bag – and after piano class this evening, I have a free night. Face mask, glasses, bed, book.

Just about time, too – I’m shockingly behind on November goals. I’ve read exactly 3 books – all of which were great, but still. 3 books in 2 weeks? What am I doing with my life. They were:

  • Sylvia Townsend Warner Lolly Willowes (yes witches rural england deal with farmer devil)
  • Tash Aw Strangers on a Pier (looking one way, being looked at another, distorted mirrors and family legacies)
  • Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person (affirmative, confident, what saying yes to life means. this is pure abundance theory.)

Also, I just published a short story with Heartwrite Co. Here’s a picture! The illustrations are gorgeous and worth the price of admission, and the short story can be ordered from them on IG (@heartwrite.co).

Happy birthday katdakoo reads! I can’t wait to do up my end-of-year graphs next month.

 

 

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October Round Up and Deals with the Devil

I fell 2 books short of reaching my October goal!

At 9 books, it was a bit of a slow month, reading-wise. More interestingly, it is also the first month this year in which I have read more male than female authored novels (5-4). Perhaps this contributed to the slowness? I found myself thinking while reading Crazy Rich Asians that it was super male – I thought a little bit about the differences between male and female writing last year, and I might almost be ready to refine a little further on those thoughts.

Maybe after I’ve finished the book I’m on now; Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes (as recommended in 11 Books to Hex the Patriarchy hrhr). It’s pretty good so far, sort of a cross between E.M Delafield’s The Provincial Lady, something Evelyn Waugh-y, and if the blurb holds true, FAUSTUS haha. (I read Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus last week, and I’m intrigued to consider the differences between male and female pacts with the devil. Marlowe’s Faustus disappointed me a little – he got buyer’s remorse on the whole soul thing REAL fast, and he didn’t seem to have much imagination vis a vis HAVING A DEMON AND THE POWERS OF HELL AT YOUR DISPOSAL. I mean…there’s an extended scene where he just pranks a farmer by selling him a horse made of hay, and then pretends to lose his leg? What? You have 24 years and Mephistopheles at your command, and that’s what you choose to do?)

Last year I read 7 books in November, so I am DEFINITELY gunning to exceed that this year, jeez louise. I’m currently at 131 books for the year; to meet last year’s number I’d have to read 31 more, which would be about 15-16 books in November and December. I’d actually be happy with 150; with the Singapore Writers Festival and a move abroad coming up, I think that’s probably more feasible as well. Actually, I’ll set myself a goal of getting back to my 3 books a week habit – that would put me at a solid 155 for the year. But one month at a time!

Next week is the one-year anniversary of Feminist Book Club (as well as Bruhaha’s Movember shows and JIS’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Hello November!

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Imagined Brunei: Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians”

It makes sense that Brunei would make an appearance in a Southeast Asian novel – a few days ago it was Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado, today it’s Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.

 

Ref 1: pg 122 Key words: Sultan of Brunei, Gurkha soldiers

Ref 2: pg 272 Key words: Sultan of Brunei

Ref 3: pg 277 Key words: privacy, Bruneian princesses, Bruneian royalty, shopping

It makes sense that in a book about the “crazy rich” that the predominant focus on Bruneian-ness be royalty, disposable income, retail.

In other news, a friend commented to me that this book felt like it was written by a female, but I have to disagree. It felt very male to me – whatever that means. Haha, Sunday afternoon thoughts – never reaching a conclusion. What I liked about it was that there was a human story underneath the glitz and glamour – in that way it did feel quite Jackie Collins-esque. And now I’m looking forward to the movie, hope they don’t chintz out on the fabulous setting and detail!

Also, I definitely filed away some thoughts on my own personal home decor while reading this book. Heh.

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Mid (ish) October Round-Up (Epic Reading Slump)

19 days in to October and I’m definitely feeling a reading slump. I’ve gotten 5 books under my belt this month, and they’ve all been good, but last night I was rifling through my TBR book pile and thinking, why are all the books in this pile so depressing? I finally picked up Fay Weldon’s Worst Fears for some acerbic, biting, machine-gun paced prose, finished it, then started in on Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, but I think I need to add some lighter, faster things to my TBR pile. To that end, this is what I’ve put in my bookdepository cart:

Bookdepo1bookdepo2bookdepo3

The books I’ve gotten through so far this month have been the ones that have been lighter, easier.

Anne Helen Petersen Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman (So good! The chapters on Serena Williams and Nicki Minaj, in particular, I thought, were excellent. The Hillary Clinton chapter was also objectively good, but felt familiar – I’ve read too many thinkpieces on Clinton since the election for it to be otherwise.)

Robin Sloane Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore (Excellent, fast-paced quest through Google, bookstores, archival dives, told by a very likeable protagonist. If imagining bookstores as magical places full of promise and adventure is your thing, you will like this.)

Fay Weldon Worst Fears (Man dies, and his accomplished, beautiful wife finds out he’s been cheating on her. Worth reading for how well it captures the sheer, complex bitchery between women, and the utter trashness of men.)

I also reviewed Rozan Yunos’ Monsters, Dragons & Fairies: Myths and Legends from Borneo and Brunei, over at The Scoop. Thanks to everybody who’s reached out and given feedback and thoughts on the column, I’ve appreciated every comment.

12 days to the end of October. I’d need to be getting through a book every two days now to meet my October target of 11 books – doable? My schedule makes me doubt it, but we’ll see! I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of not-so-great stuff lately, and I do want to nourish my brain and soul with some quality nutrients, so am diving determinedly back in to TBR.

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Imagining Brunei: Miguel Syjuco’s “Ilustrado”

Just a quick post to flag up another mention of Brunei in fiction – this time in Miguel Syjuco’s Man Asian-winning Ilustrado. Throwaway references, as in David Mitchell’s Slade House.  

In the first reference, on pg 97, Brunei is referenced in the same sentence as Saudi, as a destination for domestic helpers from the Philippines. Interesting comparison here – small, oil-rich Muslim kingdoms.

In the 2nd reference, on pg 118, “the larger home of the Sultan of Brunei’s brother’s Filipina mistress” is part of the Makati setting, placed in the same area as the expatriate, affluent elite – the polo club, the American ambassador’s residence.

Imagined Brunei – the lookout continues!

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