All posts filed under: books

Book Notes: The Gifts of Imperfection

After much prodding by my friend Val to read this book, I finally got down to it. She recommended it so much that she almost shoved it into my bag until I promised that I would head to the nearest Kinokuniya to get a copy for myself and text her when I did. And I did. It’s not a difficult read, the language is simple and peppered with lots of personal stories, but it was still hard because at so many points I put it down and went, “Oh shit, that’s me.” She titled her book as “The Gifts of Imperfection – A Guide To a Wholehearted Life” and how to “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are”. I was skeptical. I can’t tell you how hard that is to do, particularly in a collective Asian society. Sometimes the expectations of family, friends, teachers and coworkers drown out your own voice. So much so that we turn to addiction, be it gambling, alcoholism, more bags, bigger houses, …

Book Notes: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

Marie Kondo is a polarizing figure. Like many, I binge-watched her series on Netflix and soon found myself folding shirts so that they could stand by themselves and wondered if the ripped pair of shorts I couldn’t bear to throw were still ‘sparking joy’ by collecting dust in my wardrobe. (Later on, I realised the real reason. I was hoping I would one day fit into them again). Her sweet Japanese demeanour, unusual way of ‘greeting houses’ by kneeling down to show gratitude and ‘waking up books’ by knocking them gently has left some skeptical about her ‘KonMarie’ method. It’s quite funny to see her American clients flash quizzical looks when she first asks them to thank their houses before they start tidying. My husband rolled his eyes a little too. I skipped some of these ‘unnecessary’ steps. But after watching her interview with Stephen Colbert, her response to why people love her philosophy convinced me to read her book! Stephen: “Why do Americans love your philosophy and your cleaning up so much?” Marie: “Of course we all have problems tidying up our homes, but …

Book Notes: The ones who walked away from Omelas

– A short story about a utopian city whose happiness depends on the suffering of a single child locked in a closet alone – Author wrote to deliberately reflect reality – We are all playing the game of life, living by the rules of a capitalist society – Can you accept the happiness of your life if you knew that your ‘happiness’ came at the expense of those who suffer? – The young ones often are enraged and disgusted, but they learn to accept and even rationalise the suffering of that one child for the happiness of their own – At times some of these children do not weep or go home in rage, but simply leave Omelas. – To where? Perhaps that place they are are walking to does not exist, but they seem to know where they are going – Or are we all the ones locked in the closet, too stupid to know what life could be like outside of these walls? – Her closing words are sad, yet truthful: “Omelas already …

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Rating: 10 / 10  – the best nonfiction book I’ve read in a while. I started this book last evening and it left me in tears. Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi writes about coming to terms with death and being diagnosed with lung cancer. His journey swings to and from extreme ends of a pendulum – from doctor to patient, from English major to neurosurgeon, from living a life so full of promise and potential to never knowing how much more time you have left to finish the work you were supposed to do or how many more nights you have to cuddle with your wife and newborn daughter. As a neurosurgeon, he knows better than to question, “Why me?”. In the 0.0012% chance of it happening to someone in their 30s and a non-smoker, he knew he was still part of the group of “Why not me?”. He faced death straight on, making plans for his wife and daughter’s future, trying to go back to surgery and helping as many patients as he could, writing this book as his final call …

Book Notes: Switch, the best book on change I’ve read so far

I’ve been feeling like i’m stuck in a rut and decided to read this book “Switch”. I like how it makes Daniel Kahneman’s analogies of Systems 1 & 2 more relatable and specific to the topic of Change. Highly recommended!   There are so many great chapters that I found myself screen-shooting so many pages of the book so I can keep a copy with me even when it’s overdue. The Heath brothers describe the necessary conditions for successful change to happen. Book Notes: There are basically 3 basic factors at play for change to happen successfully. A clear-headed Rider (your brain), a willing Elephant (your emotions) and a well-laid Path (your situation.)   RIDER The Rider is basically your brain. While it’s very useful for analyzing multiple options and situations, having too many options usually results leaving your brain in analysis paralysis. In situations where change is needed, too much analysis will doom the effect. Your Rider tends to focus on problems instead of solutions and will spin its wheels until you are given clear direction. That’s why to make progress on …

Welcome to November

Welcome to November. My plans to have read more this year have gone severely awry. But one of the things that have disappointed me the most is that I’ve failed to read more. I’ve been making it a point to read more fiction instead of the regular self-help books. I just finished Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In my head I kept picturing the voices as they were in the movie, but I realised that there were so many details left out from the wonderful book because of time. Jane Austen had such a clear, critical perspective of life in her days. In Mr. Darcy’s pride, you recognize that money can’t buy everything, particularly, Elizabeth’s respect at the start of the book. It’s only towards the end, when he started acting out of love to help her that they grew fond of each other and won her heart. For Elizabeth, her prejudice against him made her blind to the wrongs that Darcy had had to endure with Mr. Wickham, and in the end it was her own sister that …

Building BentoBooks #launchin30

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to announce that I’m going to build BentoBooks for my #launchin30 challenge, inspired by Mackenzie Child‘s 12 x 12 challenge. In thirty days, I will launch this new book exchange app. I’ve already completed OneMonthRails and built a small Pinterest clone – although the images are disabled because AWS is crazy expensive for hosting! Purpose of the app: To facilitate easy book exchanges between a book club community. Here are some of the features that I can foresee this app having: 1. User Authentication 2. Private Messaging 3. Image Uploads 4. Validations 5. Pagination If you’re starting just like me, some guides that have been really helpful so far (will be updating as I go along): Install Rails – For a step by step guide to installing Rails on your Mac or PC. Ruby Toolbox  and Ruby Gems – For DB of Ruby Gems Heroku Toolbelt – headache free way to deploy your apps I’ve really enjoyed building the Pinterest app, but have totally dropped the ball and this is a good chance to …

Book Notes: On Writing – Steven King

Reading is such luxury. Reading about how to write from someone like Steven King is a greater privilege. The first thing I thought about after reading the book was, why aren’t Singaporeans writing more? Fiction, non-fiction, whatever? Or are there people who write but have gone undiscovered? What happened to our generation of Russell Lees, our Teenage Textbooks, our Catherine Lims? On Writing should be made a textbook for all writers. Fiction or not – Steven King covers the nooks and crannies of writing with honesty and pragmatism. There’s lots of practical tips in his “toolbox” for beginners but it’s his emphasis on writing about the truth and sticking to what we know, said what was on everyone’s mind but hadn’t been said before. Here are my highlight / notes from the book: Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around. So you don’t need a big fancy desk to start writing under the perfect conditions. All you need is a closed door, a computer or notepad and grit. In fact, put …

Book Notes: Anything you want – Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers’ “Anything You Want” is a quick hour read that’s easy to understand. I love how he lives by his life’s philosophy and his very human approach to business. Here are some of the highlights I made of his book: You need to know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what’s worth doing Business is not about money, it’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself. Do business so that you can answer the calls for help. You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people – it’s really ok! The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy. Derek goes on to talk about how he started CD Baby as an accidental entrepreneur. His main goal was to help musicians and that was always the guiding principle behind CD Baby – before profits. Some people will tell you to outsource everything, but if learning to do it by yourself makes you happy, then do it. A tech startup that outsources …