Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sonnets from the Singlish by Joshua Ip

I saw this book in a Books Actually documentary and knew I had to get it. I write sonnets you see, and as a Singaporean, to have someone write sonnets that incorporate the language of the nation, bingo!

So I made my way to the abovementioned bookstore and promptly bought the book. 

It was rather disappointing. I mean, the poetry was alright, but rather depressing. I look to literature to inspire and to enchant. This just made me sad about the state of my country. As accurate a reflection as it was, it didn't suggest ways it could improve. Ah well, perhaps it's just me and my idealism. 

Still, it's heartening to know that I'm not alone in writing sonnets. 

Pick up this book only if you like sonnets and if you like Singlish and wonder what combining the two might look like. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Philosopher's Madness by Lishan Chan

I first chanced across this book when my father encouraged me to read it. My mom has schizophernia you see. But I didn't have the time. When was finally free, my dad had already returned the book to his friend. 

After chatting with my psychiatrist (I've got bipolar) and after hearing him saying that she was a good and outspoken mental health advocate, I decided to get the book. 

It was pretty tough. All the Popular branches didn't stock the title. In the end I went to Books Actually and they were sold out! But they ordered a copy for me that I finished in two days. 

I can relate to the book as a person who has experienced discrimination as a person who has been diagnosed and she portrays this very clearly. In addition, as a philosopher, she asks pertinent questions on whether the disease is a mental or physical problem. 

She has been a writer since her secondary school days and she includes extracts of the descent into madness. It's really interesting how complex her thoughts were already in Raffles Girls' School. It's no wonder she got into the London School of Economics to do Philosophy. 

I'd encourage anyone who has a friend or loved one who is mentally ill to read it to understand them better. Also, I'd recommend that every person who is diagnosed or is about to be diagnosed to read it. She helps one understand the tremendous difficulty of how one accepts one's diagnosis.