Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What gives us our names by Alvin Pang

This book is so awesome! I was at Books Actually and after Cyril Wong's this was the second book I laid eyes on. Alvin Pang had earlier tweeted that week that it was his bestseller of the year or something to that effect so I took it and flipped through it to get a feel of it. 

When I did that, I simply had to get it. It reads like Pilgrim's Progress but is diametrically different because instead of one long story, this chapbook is broken up into easy to read short vignettes on Success' ascent into, well, success, on the crippling fear that Anxiety possesses and the dejection of Failure. Loved it!

It helped that I spotted Alvin Pang at Books Actually where I was book shopping and the gentleman kindly agreed to autograph my book. Another reason to get it. Yay! I am a sucker for autographed books, having at least a half dozen of them at home, half of them by local authors - Felix Cheong, Theresa Tan, and Mahita Vas to name a few. 

I think absolutely everyone should go get a copy of this gem of a book. 

Not convinced? Here's an excerpt:

Failure had a lonely childhood. At school, Failure was a good student who learnt much and in fact had lots to share. He kept asking questions on subjects that were not in the textbook, and trying things that were not part of the lesson. His teachers thought he was a troublemaker. Most of the other students shunned him. He began to acquire a reputation for being odd, as well as ugly, and began keeping to himself. 

Later on, at work, Failure tried to make himself useful. He involved himself in as many things as possible. He attempted to spearhead new projects, trying out new ideas that no one in the organization had thought of before, but soon found that there were few others who were willing to chip in. Before long, he was burnt out with running around. When things went wrong, fingers were pointed at him, even though he was often the first to discover the problem in the first place. Eventually, he lost his job. 

It was while he was setting up his own business that he met Humility. She was a teacher in the school he once attended, helping students with difficulties, and wanted a non-conventional role model to inspire them. His name and student record had caught her eye, and she wrote him a beautiful letter inviting him to speak to some of her students. Failure was more than surprised, but quickly agreed. He spent many months with Humility and her students. With Humility's help, he found at last a willing audience for the lessons his experiences had taught him. Within the year, they were married. 

That was some years ago, before his business took off. He had many false starts, but Humility was always with him, and many of their former students became staunch supporters of his work, and themselves went on to break new ground in their fields. When asked, they always cited Failure's lessons those many years ago as being the most important element behind their successes. I hear they're now thinking of starting up a foundation in his name. 

As for Failure and Humility, they had two children who look nothing like their parents, but who share their deep strength of spirit. I'm sure you've heard of them, and they're much sought after nowadays. They're known as Experience and Wisdom. Ask them and they will tell you the story of your life. 

You can also get the book as you click here to go to the Books Actually webstore!

Sing a song of mankind by Anne Lee Tzu Pheng

So I borrowed 8 books from the library three weeks ago and this was the most accessible out of the lot. I suppose that that had to do with the fact that Lee used nursery rhymes and made them that much darker, as if they already weren't. I absolutely loved it! 

I've read this book thrice and am getting more out of it each time round. I thought the illustrations weren't too shabby either. One of my favourite pieces is this:

Go ahead and borrow a book from your nearest NLB branch. Or if you wanna copy, I spied with my little eye a couple available at our lovely Books Actually. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fill these hearts by Christopher West

This is by far one of the best books I've read about God and Sex. When you put these two words together, they make for a pretty volatile topic. With good reason. Christians are either prudish or prudish when it comes to this beautiful wonder God has created.

Well, using three different diets, the starvation diet, the fast food diet and the banquet, the author explains how the first represses and almost kills, the second indulges but doesn't satisfy and that the last is what God has planned for us.

Throughout the book, the author emphasizes that we need to aim our desire according to God's design so we can safely arrive at our eternal destiny: bliss and ecstasy in union with God and one another forever. And so he divides his book into three parts, namely, 

Part 1: Desire
Part 2: Design
Part 3: Destiny

What I felt was most relevant was the last couple of chapters. After the lengthy introduction of how we cannot suppress our desire and longing and the subsequent part of explaining how we are designed, the author ends with four great chapters:

Chapter 11: Chastity is a promise of immortality
Chapter 12: Freeing freedom
Chapter 13: Loving love
Chapter 14: To infinity and beyond

I loved the pop culture references and watched the YouTube video links. I felt they were really good anecdotes and metaphors on the topic at hand. In addition, the last few chapters explained clearly to me why we need to cherish our bodies and why chastity, a feared word in many circles, is essential to our sanity.

Promiscuity will ultimately never satisfy. We'd just want more and more and more.

God satisfies. Period.

Haha. It's tough to summarise how great this book is, one has to read it for himself or herself.

I would recommend EVERYONE out there to read this book. It's so awesome!
I thanked my aunt from New York for buying this great book for me once I finished it. She is so awesome. :)