Here are the books I finished in November:
1. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
GENRE: Fiction/ Chic lit
ABOUT: Lucie Churchill is half-Chinese half-white rich girl whose Chinese-ness had earned her the distain of the white side of her family. The story starts with her on the beautiful island of Capri where she meets George Zao. They make some, um, poor choices. Drones with cameras filmed their, um, poor choices.
And then we fast-forward to the future when Lucie gets engaged to not-George-Zao. And the saga unfolds.
THOUGHTS: I know I listed the genre as “Chic lit,” but really, it’s more about female relationships. Relationship between female cousins, mother and daughter, female friendships, girl and odd-potential-mother-in-law…
The finale did not unfold the way chick lits usually do. But that’s okay as soon as you adjust your expectations. Like I said, emphasis: female relationships. Also a dominant theme is the subtle racism asians receive—a curious study into race and the perceptions of race.
As for the quality of this book, I read a lot of disappointed reviews online. Kewin Kwan’s previous prodigy Crazy Rich Asians was a tough act to follow. Because of that, people do not judge Sex and Vanity in a vacuum. I suspect that if they did not have Crazy Rich Asians as a benchmark, there will be a lot less 2 stars and 1 stars on Goodreads.
2. How to Read the Bible by Harvey Cox
GENRE: Non-fiction/ Religion/ Spirituality
ABOUT: How to not read the Bible like a self-absorbed prick.
THOUGHTS: You can never read too many progressive theologians. (You can read too many conservative theologians, but we have to read them nevertheless, lest we trap ourselves in an echo chamber)
3. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff
FORMAT: Kindle & Audiobook
GENRE: Non-fiction/ Drama/ Comedy (just kidding… actually, no, I’m not)
ABOUT: The first 9 months in the Trump White House.
THOUGHTS: When news about this book first surfaced, I thought, ahhh another book on Trump… meh! Then Trump sent his lawyers to stop the printing of the book. It seemed like the only thing he didn’t do to stop the publication was physically throw himself in front of a printer. That was when I threw myself into Amazon in search of my very own copy.
It’s been an entire term since that man got elected (and 2 months since he got de-elected,) and I’m still baffled that he ever got elected. From where I’m sitting (as a third-party observer in another country,) Trump’s presidency looked like intentional comedy, and this book confirms as much. Except it wasn’t so funny anymore when people started getting hurt—namely, the handling of Covid-19. I mean, a lot of other countries fucked up, mine included, but we at least acknowledge that the virus exist and is very dangerous. As terribly flawed as our nation’s leader is, he doesn’t march around without a mask and be proud about it.
4. How the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World by Joshua Kam
FORMAT: Hard Copy
GENRE: Fiction/ Fantasy
ABOUT: Sufi saints. Taoist and Hindu gods. The golden walkway from Melaka to Gunung Ledang that Puteri Gunung Ledang requested from the sultan in the legend. It’s real. It’s all real. And they all spring to life for Gabriel and Lydia in this exciting award-winning novel. But all is not pretty, because The Mouth threatens the peace of Malaysia.
THOUGHTS: Think Percy Jackson, Malaysian edition. Written by a progressive Malaysian christian, who might have written a thesis on syncretism. Joshua Kam won the 2020 Epigram Books Fiction Prize for this book. And it is well-deserved.
5. Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis
GENRE: Non-fiction/ Biography
ABOUT: Odette Samson, World War 2’s most decorated spy, and her thrilling spy career.
THOUGHTS: How does a human being survive all that? How??? Meanwhile, I pulled a muscle on my way to the fridge to get another can of beer.
6. China in World History by Paul S. Ropp
GENRE: Non-fiction/ History
ABOUT: From ancient China to China today.
THOUGHTS: Turns out that I descended from a collective psyche of rice-eating, Mongol-hating, steel-plowing, Confucius-obsessed, paper-money-pioneering… stock-selling (12th century. Serious shit).
7. Blue Ocean Strategy by Renee Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim
GENRE: Non-fiction/ Marketing
ABOUT: How to unlock new demand for your business and make the competition look irrelevant.
THOUGHTS: I’ve been told that the strategies in this book is outdated. Nonetheless, I like how they make it seem so easy to earn money.
8. Unqualified by Anna Faris
GENRE: Non-fiction/ Autobiography
ABOUT: Anna Faris’ relationship advice, childhood, Hollywood experience, sex life, pregnancy + motherhood journey, etc.
THOUGHTS: One of the best autobiography’s I’ve ever come across. And Buzz Aldrin’s compelled me to take a degree, so imagine the height of my bar.