Reads from July

FFS! July is about to hang itself out to dry and I haven’t even written a single post! Of course this shouldn’t count.

So… I’ve been reading. I was slacking, especially the month of May. My average of four books per month – well, I broke the spell. I broke it. Not proud of it, but life happened, and I broke it.

I’ve read 22 books this year, which means I’m six books short.

SIX! Since I can’t quite explain the reason behind the slack, so be it.

Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramovich has officially made my top three list. It’s such a DAMN GOOD BOOK. Damn amazing life, damn amazing everything. I wish I had known about her sooner.

So I finished Brave by Rose McGowan in 3 days. Quite a feat for me because I can only read during certain hours in a day.

A Dark Night in Aurora by William H. Reid was a good read, I managed to resonate with something though I’d rather not talk about it in real life.

Ordeal by Linda Lovelace. Doesn’t matter whether I believe her or not. What matters is that she managed to get it out in a book. Again, I know what’s it like to be attached to a bloody abusive pig.

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. I don’t need to explain why it should be a compulsory read for people in general. Lies, cover-ups, more lies.


So the above’s what it is.

What am I currently reading? Gosh, plenty. Bookishly speaking, I am shameless. So here goes.

I’m still reading Megan K. Stack’s Every Man in this Village is a Liar. I’m also still reading How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gill. Also, still trying to finish The Body Book by Cameron Diaz (which isn’t an easy read because it’s a rich-people-only kinda book. And there are two more books. One’s Facing the Wave by Gretel Ehrlich and I can’t remember the other.

I have few other reads waiting in my Kindle. Okay. Hundreds. I keep buying. I just don’t have enough time in a day to bloody read.

August is around the corner. Still, SIX books short. Who cares but I!

Read: Mercury

Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones

I read this before watching the movie. The movie could only cover this much, plus there are tens other biographies of the late Freddie Mercury. I decided to go with this because it’s written by a journalist – someone who was actually there, having bore witness to, and living it up during one of the greatest decades of music production.

To each their own. Love prevails. 5 stars.

[2018] May The Best Book Win!

Over the past week, posts on my Facebook groups has been filled with hashtags #2018fav6, #2018fav9, you get the idea. I didn’t participate because it would be too hard to pick 6! But then along came a true genius who cooked up a fed-up post, asking us to share our least favorite books of the year. Needless to say I jumped in because that was super easy for me. I even thanked her for that!

Back to May The Best Book Win!

Here are my favorite books of the year. Some genres are intertwined (supposed to, for example, some memoirs are of war and history but I didn’t categorize them under that genre). So to get around that, I compartmentalized them under the genre intended by the author or publisher (“it’s a memoir about war and history, therefore it’s a memoir”).

Here’s the list! For a brief version click here.

Best in Memoirs, Autobiographies

Tie!

I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High, by Tony Danza

&

She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Best in Biographies

In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum

Best in Current Affairs, War, History

Fire And Fury, by Michael Wolff 

Best in Business

Bad Blood: Secrets & Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Best in LGBTQIA

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt

Best in True Crime

Mossad: The Greatest Missions of The Israeli Secret Service, by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal

Best in Fiction

房思琪的初戀樂園, 林奕含 著 
Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise by  Lin Yi-Han

You’ve reached the end of this post and the year – Thank you for reading my posts (or this blog). I hope you’ve found what you were looking for. Keep reading, stay foolish!

Read (Years Ago): Never Grow Up

JackieChan

This book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon for $13.99.

I read this sometime in 2015, and it was in Mandarin (Simplified Chinese), the original context. It was a good read, despite having my reservations.

IMHO, Jackie Chan has a 50/50 reputation in Mainland China (I lived in Beijing for a decade, at least this was/is my takeaway from observing netizens and their ruthless comments). Acting aside, while he is despised for his playboy image, he is also wildly admired for his generosity (charitable causes and how he treats his film crew, for example).

JCandZM

Jackie Chan and Zhu Mo, author of his biography, “Never Grow Up”.

I read the book with mixed emotions, as the author of the book, Zhu Mo, literally wrote it with his blessing and did not include much of her own opinions (or any at all). This is in comparison to (and also, in contrast with) other (western) superstar biographies which dared to challenge often popular yet sensitive topics (e.g. lifestyle, drug use, negative press).

While this was a super fluffy read, it was no doubt an emotional experience especially if you are familiar with all his films stemming from the early 80s. I can’t say I’ve watched all his films, but I have certainly watched every single blockbuster and every single film that was screened across Hong Kong’s theaters (if it was screened in Hong Kong’s movie theaters, you bet it will make its way to the VCRs of most overseas Chinese households who has a special nostalgia penchant place in the heart for Hong Kong TV dramas and films). The most engaging part of the book for me, was Jackie Chan’s stories and afterthoughts of his fellow “band of brothers”, specifically those who’ve stood by him all these decades.

However, the book only barely scratched the surface of his most controversial downfall since Becoming Jackie Chan – his affair with a fellow Hong Konger cum slash queen Etta Ng. Needless to say it mentioned nothing close to her decision to have their baby, followed by his very public decision not to acknowledge the child but only to admit guilt over the affair, to which he “apologized” for. The way it was pictured in the biography – was somewhat predictable. There’s no way a “goody-two-shoes” author like Zhu Mo, one I assume to be a super big fan of Jackie’s – would choose to upset or annoy him with further probes, let alone publish it for the world to see.

It was also predictable (and unfortunate) that no one of importance else was interviewed for sound bites, e.g. his wife, once a superstar herself; their only son, Jaycee Chan; and other superstars and movie industry big shots. Maybe there was, I could be wrong but I honestly do not recall any other forms of narrative from the book other than an “intimate” Q&A with Jackie Chan and how she presented it – like an awfully shy, but insanely mesmerized and starstruck little girl on her first book assignment (she’s in her 30s).

But yes, that was an unpopular observation. To each (author) their own, I guess. Maybe not “interview”, but citing other resources as a means to continue with the flow of the memoir could give readers another perspective. After all, this wasn’t written by Jackie Chan, the man himself. I hope you catch my drift.

It was a good read, nonetheless. Like most reads, the original context is the best form. Translated versions are necessary and equally of high importance so that the world could share and learn from each other. I hope you will enjoy the English version, and that you’ve watched at least a dozen of his films, otherwise it could be a bit difficult to get into the mood.

Jackie Chan is a legend, but this book didn’t quite make him out to be one.