Here are the books I finished in May-August 2021:
1. Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgerton Series, Book 4) by Julia Quinn
GENRE: Fiction/Regency-era Romance/Chic lit
ABOUT: Penelope Ferrington. She’s had a crush on Colin Bridgerton since they were kids. It’s a romance novel, so the ending is predictable… or is it?
THOUGHTS: This is Book 4 of the Bridgerton series. If you’ve been following me through my boring drawls about the books I’ve read, you’ll know that I’ve been following this series. I was looking forward to Book 4. It had all the makings of my favourite troupe — childhood crushes, the underdog, naughty-naughty in a horse carriage — but it was a little anti-climatic. I don’t know why. (Maybe it was my headspace. Maybe I’ll revisit it during another season of my life.)
2. A Rhythm of Prayer edited by Sarah Bessey
GENRE: Prayer book
ABOUT: A prayer for every mood.
THOUGHTS: I bought this book during the controversy. If you didn’t hear, there was a fit over one of the prayers, written by Dr Chanequa Walker-Barnes. The prayer opened with “Dear God, help me to hate white people.”
This opening line was enough to get a certain collective knickers into a twist. Of course, they neglected to read the other 99% of the prayer. Literally a few lines later, Dr Chanequa said, “I’m not talking about the White antiracist allies who have taken up this struggle against racism their whole lives…” so clearly, this was a siapa makan cili, dia yang rasa pedas type of situation.
At first, I only bought the book to support Sarah Bessey, whose writing was a light unto my feet during my turbulent deconstruction phase. But then, I started reading a prayer every night before bed. It became routine, and a comforting reminiscence of my once existent prayer life.
3. Tinhead City, KL by Stuart Danker
FORMAT: Hard Copy
ABOUT: A dystopian Kuala Lumpur, where the streets are ruled by cyborgs that issue capital punishment for the slightest offence.
THOUGHTS: I loved the pace. Action pack from the beginning. If you love action and supporting Malaysian writers, I recommend this book.
4. The Bible With and Without Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler
ABOUT: The Christians and Jews have much overlap in holy books. But both read the same book differently.
THOUGHTS: If the Christians listen to the Jews, there will be some rethinking. Our lens matters, so nobody can claim to read any book “objectively”. It simply is not possible.
5. Pandemic 1918 by Catharine Arnold
ABOUT: The Spanish flu.
THOUGHTS: This is how I manage the grief from the current pandemic. By visiting a past pandemic.
6. The Banks by Roxane Gay
GENRE: Fiction/Graphic Novel
ABOUT: Three generations of thieves.
THOUGHTS: Love it. I love anything with the theme of closing the wealth gap between hardworking down-on-their-luck folks and entitled rich brats.
7. What is God Like? by Rachel Held Evans & Matthew Paul Turner
GENRE: Children’s literature
ABOUT: What is God like. (It’s a really good question and this book has done a better job at answering it than many adult books out there.)
THOUGHTS: I wish I had this book when I was a kid, instead of the manipulative prose that reinforced power structures that groomed the gatekeepers we see today.
With gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive language, this book is a breath of fresh air from the usual children’s literature. Another excellent selling point? The pictures were illustrated by a Malaysian!!!
8. Religious Refugees by Mark Gregory Karris
ABOUT: Deconstruction. Healing from religious trauma.
THOUGHTS: Over the past few months, I read this book with my book club. There were a lot of discussions and vulnerable conversations. TBH, I felt quite sad finishing the book; like the end of an era.
9. Lore by Alexandra Bracken
GENRE: Fiction/Young Adult/Greek Mythology
ABOUT: Every seven years, the Agon begins and the Greek gods walk the Earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines. The warrior that kills a god gains their power and immortality.
The story centres around Lore from the house of Perseus. She hates the Argon and wants out, but there are complications, of course: her fate is bound to Athena’s.
THOUGHTS: Alexandra Bracken does not disappoint. Seriously, she is the goddess of writing tension.
10. Classical Mythology: The Greeks by Peter Meineck
GENRE: Non-fiction (wait, fiction?)/Greek mythology
ABOUT: A series of lectures on Greek mythology.
THOUGHTS: Prior to this, my knowledge on Greek mythology was mostly from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Very happy to say that I’m learning Greek mythology the adult way now.
11. Pure by Linda Kay Klein
ABOUT: The purity movement that fucked up an entire generation of women (including yours truly).
THOUGHTS: I had (and still have) some illogical fears and phobias — the effects of purity culture. Maybe one day I will find the strength to really talk about it.
12. Where Monsoons Meet by Musimgrafik
FORMAT: Hard Copy
ABOUT: A wordy comic book about Malaya’s colonial history. The information isn’t necessarily new; we learned it in school, but the angle is fresh.
THOUGHTS: I don’t usually rate the books I read, but I give this 10 stars out of 5 stars!
Firstly, it’s funny. The tongue-in-cheek is immensely entertaining. On top of that, the presentation of information is engaging and easy to digest.
But that said, I think it’s worth saying this — I now recognise that our Sejarah textbooks were pretty pro-British.
I shouldn’t spoil it for you, but I will spoil it for you anyway. The book ends like this:
On 31st August 1957, “MERDEKA” (independence) was officially proclaimed…
It marked a new stage of British control. At independence, 75% of all rubber plantation acreage were owned by Europeans (mostly British), along with 61% of all tin production and 75% of all services and trade.
In other words, Malaya has become a NEO-COLONY of Britain…
The STRUGGLE for GENUINE INDEPENDENCE continues…
13. Wanted: Botak Chin by Danny Lim and Michelle Lee
FORMAT: Hard Copy
ABOUT: The notorious Malaysian criminal, Botak Chin.
THOUGHTS: Sounds like another man just trying to survive.
14. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
ABOUT: Finding God beyond the walls of the church.
THOUGHTS: Working on it. The last chapter on prayer was my favourite. Turns out prayer doesn’t have to be stressful.
15. The Man Who Ate the World by Jay Rayner
GENRE: Non-fiction/Food writing
ABOUT: Jay Rayner, food-man extraordinaire, travelled the world to find the perfect meal.
THOUGHTS: Pretty much food porn all the way, with sprinkles of British humour.
16. Story of Monasticism by Greg Peters
ABOUT: Monasticism, from past to present.
THOUGHTS: I should join an order.