(Down in the) Dumpster Books

I’m coming at you with some book reviews. Thought that it might be a good segue from the last post, before plunging into frivolous beauty talk.

I’ve always put off reading because I claimed that I had no time before. Hence, when I am presented with all the time in world, I don’t really have that excuse anymore. I kicked my ass into reading mode, because it is the one thing I do for fun that doesn’t feel like a waste of time and is enriching.

When I was younger, reading was a form of escapism. The lesser the association to real life, the better. Now, as an adult, I tend to appreciate books that are more “slice of life”. I tend to choose books that are borderline depressing because it’s a great way to commiserate, without dumping your negativity on someone else. Most people would turn to self-help books, or something light-hearted and motivational when they are dealing with any crises. Those books tend to have the opposite effect on me.

So, if you are going through a tough time and are looking to commiserate, wallow in self-pity for a bit, let me suggest three books to help you on your journey.






Start things off with…


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


Cannonball straight into the deep end of the pool with this one. Although it claims to be fictional, I can’t help but think that the author’s first novel is very much autobiographical. The narrative follows Esther Greenwood, a prize winning college student being invited for an amazing opportunity in New York. The future seems so bright, doors are opening left and right. Throughout the book, you are in her mind as she spirals from the top and descends into mental illness.

The pace is slow and laborious, so it’s for those days where you feel like wallowing all day. What strikes me most is the imagery she uses. It describes Esther’s feelings so aptly. Feeling as if she is trapped in a glass bell jar, watching the world go by. Sounds and sights are muted but outwardly, she seems so normal. The slow detachment and how each experience is dulled down. Plath makes powerful images that are unnervingly accurate.

The ending wasn’t satisfying to me. Although I have been told that I am very hard to please when it comes to endings. But this one is melancholic and open-ended, as these sort of books are.

We move on to a more thought-provoking title.








Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coehlo


Don’t be fooled by the depressing title. It isn’t a tearjerker as one would expect. This book is made for people who want to commiserate and slowly reel themselves out of that rut. It’s a pretty short and digestible novel. The story follows a depressed woman named Veronika, who at the start of the story decides to commit suicide. However, she fails and finds herself in a mental institution. Turns out she didn’t REALLY fail because the doctor tells her that she has one week to live as the doctors couldn’t get to her in time.

You think, “So what?” right? Just a few more days won’t make a difference. But then Veronica starts making connections with the people in the institution. They were people who truly understood her. All of a sudden, that shift in perspective is very powerful. The idea that life is mere banality that stretches on to uncertainty makes death seem like something you just want to get over. However, knowing exactly when the end will come fills each day with a sense of purpose. Knowing how short her time left was and the fact that people thought of her as mad anyways, Veronica felt liberation as she lived each day like she has nothing to lose.

And she really didn’t.

The book became a lot more uplifting than I expected it to be. Which is both good and bad. As much as there were poignant moments in the book. I kinda felt as if I was tricked into reading a very well-disguised self-help book of some sort. Hence, why I would recommend it for people looking for ways out of negativity.






Finally there’s…

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak.


God, this book is amazing. It’s an incredibly deep and thoughtful book for a young adult novel. You kind of have to suspend reality for a moment when reading this one because the fact that Ed Kennedy was somehow “chosen” to be a messenger and how he somehow accepts his tasks willingly seems unlikely in real life. Basically, Ed is an underage taxi driver, completely average guy, trying to make ends meet. Until one day, he was instantly turned into a hero when he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That was when the first Ace was delivered to him and he became a “messenger”.

This book is simple but incredibly well written. Ed meets a diverse variety of characters while he executes his tasks as a messenger and you see each and every character’s struggle. This book puts your own misery into perspective. There is a need to realise that everyone is struggling in some way or another. Though it is unhealthy to compare, it is good to be aware and realise that you are not alone.

Ed is a lovable protagonist, just in the fact that he is SO ordinary. Which is precisely his charm. You relate with him and realize that small acts make a hero too.




There you go, 3 books for when you are feeling depressed. I always felt that its good to acknowledge your feelings and really simmer in them. Sometimes, you don’t feel like talking to people about your problems.

Books are the best in those situations because not only do they provide escapism, they also provide commiseration without actual social interaction. The ones I mentioned are profound and wise, like an old friend that has been through a lot. They give you new perspectives and even a little push to get out of that rut.

Book Fair was LIT.

As a book lover, I was super excited when I heard about the Singapore Art Book Fair happening at the Singapore Art Science Museum. It is basically a place for smaller publishing companies and independent artists to showcase and offer their work to the masses. What intrigued me was that I will be able to see books and other works that are not as mass produced as the books that we see in Kinokuniya or Popular.


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In a nutshell, this book fair is a huge gathering of hipsters and the art committee and Singapore. Both are obviously not mutually exclusive.

I decided to go on opening night. My thought process was that I will be able to see the entire range of what all the booths had to offer and certain exclusive books  or one-of-a-kind items won’t be gone.



Bad idea.


What was I even thinking? Looking back I wanted to shoot myself in the face for thinking this was a good idea. The opening night was incredibly packed. My assumption was that this fair will be held outdoors and there will be ample space to browse from booth to booth. Unfortunately the fair was indoors, on the 4th floor of the art science museum. And it was a tiny floor indeed. With the number of people that turned up, there was barely space to move, let alone to view the booth tables. Towards the end of the night, the Art Science Theatre had to call in security to do some crowd control. Rather elderly men and women clad in fluorescent orange shirts and gloves were manning the entrance like the door bitches to an exclusive club.

People who left the space to go out had a difficult time coming back into the building. My friend, Josh, was stuck outside because people were denied entry at about 9pm. Honestly, the space was a major concern.

I found myself pushed and shoved a lot. Also, I realised that the art committee in Singapore is very small. Everyone kind of knew everyone else. I found it tough to talk to the people mending the booth because they were mostly talking amongst themselves and catching up with each other. I felt like I was constantly interrupting them when I was inquiring about prices of certain zines or books. But that is expected on opening night as these booths probably invited a bunch of their friends to come and support them.




So in hind sight, I should’ve waited till the days after the opening night to visit the fair. Hence, I would suggest that the next time you go for the actual Singapore Art Book Fair (which I believe is a yearly event) and skip the opening night.

Despite the crammed experience, I thought that the booths were all interesting. Local publishing company, ‘Books Actually‘ was particularly popular with hoards of youths gathering around their booth, grabbing for their poetry novels on the table. Some are frequent customers looking for specific writers, which I thought is so amazing for the local art scene. Local youths looking for poetry by fellow locals fills my heart with joy.

The Singapore Art Book Fair also featured artists and writers from all over the world; Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Australia. Besides books, they were selling merchandise like badges, iron-on patches, pottery, accessories and art work. Thus,  can see why the place was crawling with hipsters. I should’ve dressed to blend in with the crowd more.




Another booth that was swarmed with people was ‘Magpie‘. Magpie is a local magazine distribution company that sells indie magazines from all over the world. Here, you won’t find Vogue or Men’s Health. She has a large collection of visually captivating magazines such as ‘B’ (a Korean magazine that dedicates each issue on the history of a Brand) and ‘Cereal’ (an independent travel and lifestyle magazine that gives Kinfolk a run for its money in terms of minimalist designs). All the magazines are slightly over priced, in my honest opinion. Most of them make for great coffee table books as they are so pleasing to the eye. However, lots of them feature more photos than actual articles to read.

Nevertheless, if you are a fan of design, the magazines are to die for! I, myself, bought one. An issue of ‘B’ magazine on Nars cosmetics, figures. It was $28, which is pretty steep for a magazine. But it was an ‘in-the-moment’ type of decision. Also there are good quality souvenir tote bags for $18 a pop. A perfect addition to a hipster wardrobe.



Overall, it was a good experience. Lots of interesting works to look at and if you are a sucker for aesthetic, you will feel like buying everything in sight. I wished that the location was a bit more open and that there were interesting stories I could extract from the vendors, but due to how popular the fair is, it’s pretty hard to have good one on one conversations. Still, I am happy to see that the arts scene in Singapore is buzzing with youth and excitement.

It truly gives me hope.


Kindle Joy

Some might be rolling their eyes at the “Kinder Joy” pun I just made on the title, but it would’ve been a crime for me NOT to have used it. Especially when we are talking about the joys of having a Kindle.

Now, imagine having your entire book shelf compressed into the dimensions of a mini notebook. That is what a Kindle is. This e-reader was introduced by Amazon.com back in 2007 and has come a long way since. We are now into the 7th generation of the Kindle e-reader, much like other popular electronic devices such as iPhones. This genius device was built under the premises of portability, convenience and space saving possibilities for all you book lovers out there. Me being one of them.



Behold the Kindle Paperwhite (3rd Generation)!

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This baby is slim and tiny as it can be without compromising your reading experience. It’s smaller than an iPad Mini 4 with a 6 inch screen and certainly lighter in weight as well. The ‘Paperwhite’ edition is the version that has a low-power LED light built into the screen to allow the reader to control the contrast and brightness when reading. A regular Kindle would just have a non-glare ‘E-ink‘ display that would still require a night light, if you would like to read in the dark. This is probably the main reason I would pick the ‘Papaerwhite‘ over others in the Kindle family. The font is also customisable in terms of size and style, so readers can make them larger if preferred.

At first, I have to admit, I was not a big fan of readers. Somehow the idea of making reading a “tech” experience made every cell in my body cringe. As an avid reader, I enjoy the experience of reading in its entirety. I love browsing through shelves and shelves of books in a bookstore. Feeling the cover of the book, physically flipping through the pages and we all know that “new book” scent. It brings me such happiness, as it does many others. Hence why I was so aghast by the idea of e-readers. With more and more local bookstores closing down (RIP Borders, you were my jam) , I was worried that buying physical books were becoming less of a norm and more of a novelty. And that they would eventually be treated like CDs. Not so much a necessity as it is for collectors purposes.

As a more rational adult, I have opened my mind to the inevitability of technology being integrated in every aspect of our daily lives. Also, I am open to the many pros of having an e-reader. Not only will it help declutter your house, e-books are an eco-friendly option with zero trees being chopped down for our reading pleasure. Furthermore, I’m sure every Harry Potter fan understands the struggle of carrying their 1000-paged “Order of the Phoenix” around. That beast can be used as weights for very nerdy bicep curls.




The Kindle is all about minimalism.

With built in wifi, you can easily browse the Amazon bookstore website, purchase and download an e-book instantly at very reasonable prices, much lower than physical books. So not only do you save space in your bag and home, you also save money in the long run. Furthermore, if you are a jet-setter and often find yourself travelling a lot, you will appreciate the lightness of a Kindle so much more. You might need more than one reading material during a long haul flight, and this Kindle is able to provide that without costing you the luggage weight limit.

Safe to say I am a major fan of my new Kindle and I find myself more excited to read books after being in a major reading rut. I rejoice at the fact that I am still able to read my books as I commute, whilst carrying a smaller cross-body bag. I also enjoy the highlight and note function as I am someone who loves quotes. With the Kindle, I’m able to highlight freely without the fear of damaging my book and I’m able to revisit these highlighted portions easily at a touch of a button. It also has a dictionary function that tells you the meaning of a word just by highlighting it. Wizardry I tell you!

At the end of the day, I will still be visiting Kinokuniya regularly to see new arrivals and purchase a book or two, especially if they are by my favourite authors. But the Kindle is a great addition to my reading arsenal.


And it’s worth every penny!



Avada Kedavra My Heart!

Everyone, hold up! Hold the phone, the hotline-bling, the everything!

Drop whatever it is you are doing, because I just received this in my email inbox and I almost had a heart attack.


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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts I & II)

*cue* Crazy screaming, jumping up and down, gigantic grins. The brain is going, “AKSJFSBFSJFB”

The book itself is a continuation of the Harry Potter series. But it’s good to note that it is a script of the play that will be premiering in July 2016. It is also written by Jack Thorne, the director of the play, in collaboration with JK Rowling. For those who don’t live in London and can’t afford to fly there, this book is the only thing we’ve got. It isn’t the traditional narrative we are used to, and I’m sure that the experience of the play is infinitely better. But reading the script is better than nothing.

It will be interesting to see the response.

For my fellow 90s peeps, the ones who properly grew up in the 90s and are not just following a ’90s trend’, you guys will understand the gravity of this email. Harry Potter is my childhood. The characters are practically non-fictional in my mind. They exist to me, because they are so familiar. It’s like meeting an old friend.

Some people are saying that JK Rowling is beating a dead horse. Here’s the thing… I don’t care. I don’t care because I get to “see” Harry again. The REAL Harry, not fan-fiction Harry. I get to go to Hogwarts again.

The book/script is on pre-order. That means it will be released soon! I cannot contain my excitement. You can bet your butt that I’ve pre-ordered a copy! Book Depository is possibly my favourite site in the world. Amazing wholesale book prices with free international shipping. That’s crazy talk. My packages are never lost. And even though they ship from the UK, it doesn’t take a decade for it to reach me! *cough* ASOS *cough*

I cannot recommend Book Depository enough! I remember the long lines at Borders (a big bookstore that sadly closed down), waiting for the doors to open and getting my hands on the books. I remember my devastation after reading the final book in the series and crying for days, because I couldn’t believe it was over. It felt like my childhood was over, as dramatic as that sounds.

Now it’s not over! And I can put my “adulthood” on pause, while I have a few hours of blissful escape into the wizarding world.