Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book review, it's been a while.

Recently, I acquired this book :

much thanks to Ooi Kok Hin for delivering it to me from the states in a really cute little parcel. Appreciate it. 

Firstly, I should probably state my biases : I generally prefer English reading materials, and very rarely do I actually purchase any reading materials voluntarily. I write primarily in English, and if you ask me to write a proper Malay essay right now I'd probably fail terribly. 

Some of these articles were written by my friends, i.e. people I actually know in real life, or, I suppose, people I've known over Facebook that I have been in contact with over the years, or at the very minimal, have seen their names on Facebook due to their Facebook activities, ahem. There may be one or two that I really am not familiar with. Part of the reason I actually bought it is because it's a compilation of my peers' writings, and also, because I was curious, and sort of in awe they'd got their works published, something I'd wished for myself, but I doubt my writings were really that good, even if they were publishing-worthy, it'd require a lot of editing. 

Anyhow, about the book, it's all in Malay, and yes, being inadequately equipped with the knowledge of the nuances in the language to allow me to produce any remotely artistic or coherent pieces in Malay, I was impressed with the quality of the writing, and I suppose I am still capable of appreciating the cerpen's (short stories). I've always loved and preferred fiction and stories. Stories convey meaning a lot more differently than an opinion piece would. It's something about how the information is presented in a flowing narrative and the extra reflection you end up making at the end of the story in piecing those information together. And I suppose, for lack of a better description, fiction is a lot more "light" and easier to digest. My favorite, if I had to pick any, was the one about the homeless man in the cold, I guess I was affected by it the most because I'd seen those kind of people in the dead of winter before. There's a few more, but I kind of liked them equally as much but religious contemplation pieces have a special place in my heart, and they seem well-written to me, coming from someone who isn't actually that articulate in Malay writing. Out of all the anecdotes, there was a single one that touched on homosexuality, spoiler alert, which was really bold, because I personally haven't read anything of that sort in Malay, but I don't know if it had enough depth of a raw experience to judge if it was effective. wallahualam. but okay, I didn't see that coming. Adilla, you get a special mention, has two pieces in it, but I've read those before in her blog (was it?) but it was still equally as good reading it a second, third time over. And oh, one sarcastic piece made me laugh out loud. 

There's a lot of philosophy sprinkled in between, or at least references of it, or mention of names. If you're not familiar to philosophy, you'd probably at least googled those names on wikipedia and get a rough idea of what things they wrote about to warrant a mention in those prose. Some of the names mentioned, I've at least heard of them before, thanks to my Ethics complementary electives course in second year, yay. It's the first time though that I've actually read a book with shades of philosophy written in Malay which felt a little weird. I don't read enough of philosophy to comment on it, but I love that there are actually people with varied reading habits. Growing up, I don't really know that many people who would pick up a book on philosophy, but I've enjoyed googling about those other names I don't really know about, and yes, I do enjoy googling random stuff in my free time. 

Some writings seem like musings, like it was a stream of consciousness pieced together. I admit my writings do end up being stitched up pieces of my thoughts too. All in all, there were varied writing styles. Each piece had its own individuality and nothing felt similar, even though a couple few touched on similar themes of religion, education, humanity and such. 

All in all, it was a good read, the book was really light and felt just the right size to fit in the hands, even as a one-handed read, which I tend to do with my books, because heck, engineering textbooks are so thick and heavy, anytime I get my hands on a smaller-sized tome, I'd just hold it one-handedly. It didn't take me that long at all to finish it, about 6 hours tops. It's interesting to read about the thoughts my peers have.

I'd say give it a go, it's not your usual collection of short stories/essays. Hopefully it gets those cog wheels turning. For me, a good book is one that makes you ponder and ruminate, and yeah, every person takes away different things from a book and form their own interpretations about it, which is always an interesting thing to share. Books are thoughts that creates other thoughts, and that's why I love them so much, even though I hardly have the time to properly read books nowadays. sighs. 

P/S: I'm pretty sure this deserves a thorough dissection, though I'm really just doing this while taking a break from the eng life, so yeah. Perhaps another time.

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