Category Archives: Bruneians Talk Books

Hey! I Think You Should Read These!

1. The Knot by Mark Watson

Mark Watson is a lovely chap who is really good with words. If you know Watson for his stand-up comedy, do not expect humour in his books. The Knot touches on a taboo topic but is written in such a way that you will still want to support the protagonist. It follows the life of wedding photographer Dominic Kitchen and his difficulty to move on from a “lover” which in turns affects his life and stunt its progression. You may be disgusted while reading this book, but with beautiful prose and and a great flawed protagonist, it’s something that you want to stick with to the end.


2. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Although the genre for this book falls under Young Adult, the writing of it does not feel like it. Why We Broke Up follows the progression in relationship between Min and Ed (spoiler alert: they broke up!) Yeah, sure, a normal plotline like any harlequin romance right? Not really, because Kalman adds another dimension to the book with drawings of items that comes along in Min and Ed’s relationship. The writing is simply superb in this book with easy narrative and strong characters that reflects teenage relationships and the sufferings that goes with it.


3. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

The Twilight films have ended, boohoo! But if you want to take part of the next film franchise that will potentially be as big as Twilight, The Mortal Instruments (TMI) series is for you. If you think Twilight and vampires suck, and you’re going to dismiss this book, there’s a few things you need to consider about TMI: 1) The lore of mythical creatures is stronger, 2) the writing is better, and 3) there are plots and, 4) there is no breakfast food making subplots. TMI isn’t exactly the strongest series. It has its flaws and stupidity, and a fair share of annoying characters. But there are plots! So, if you want to have “I read it before the film came out” bragging rights, pick up a copy at Booker or Best Eastern now!

A Conversation With… Carol Ajuni Tan on Asian Literature and How She Teaches Her Children to Read

A pattern I’m noticing from your postings on the B:Read Bookswap group/fan page and your attendance during our bookswaps is your interest in Asian literature. Where does the fascination come from?

What I actually enjoy are books with rich cultural setting – preferably traditional and definitely historical. Asian, because it’s our heritage – it’s interesting to learn why we, coming from and living amongst multi-ethic families and communities, think and behave in certain ways.

My Asian fascination began after I watched The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in the 90s – then read the book. My favorite parts was where she described the lives of the 4 women in China in the early 1900s. It’s like reading a history, cultural, travel, language and cook book all at once!

Since her, I have always seek other Asian authors and was happy to discover Amitav Ghosh, an Indian author. In fact, I am currently alternating between my 3rd Amitav Ghosh and 5th Amy Tan!

I have not been exposed to a lot of Asian literature, but more with literature written by white people who lived in Asia. For myself, personally, I’m more in touch with non-fiction regarding Southeast Asia than the fiction. What does Asian literature offer more to you that you cannot find in the environment you live in?

Asia is such a fascinating continent – with the different tribes, way of living, traditions, customs, history etc. I am more partial to Asian culture in fiction setting as oppose to other equally fascinating cultures e.g. South Americans or Africans because it is easier to relate to them.

It’s like reading a non-fiction on cultural/historical studies but in selected and most interesting doses that later on, if I so incline, I can research further once I have finished the fiction – and most of the time, I do that. I get lead on names of tribes or towns or traditions and I will do a quick read up. One interesting thing I learn was that headhuntings are not limited to Borneo – there are many other tribes that do this in the olden days, and I find this sort of information fascinating!

And I must clarify that I am not interested in Asian literatures that are Westernized – no characters in Gucci outfit sipping latte in a Starbucks cafe somewhere in Singapore because this scene is “us” now – I’m not interested to read about us.

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Meet My Speccy, War Hero Boyfriend

We met in a warm secondary school classroom. His story resonated in my ears, one of which I refused to hear because ohmygod, why would I want to hear your life story in that Brunei heat?! I didn’t feel any spark between us, mostly because there was no touching to justify whether there was a spark.

It wasn’t until a few months later during Hari Raya on a car ride to Seria that I fell in love with him after finally holding each other: my hands caressing his spine, and his life touching my heart. We began to journey together, from the abuses he had to go through to the difficult moment of misunderstandings between us (WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY?!)

Our love has continued on until now, and beyond.

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A Conversation With… Nurfatehah Shamsul on Poetry

A Conversation With… is a series where B:Read interviews readers in Brunei, asking them questions pertaining to genres they enjoy reading and looking into their reading pattern.  We hope this series will provide Bruneians an opportunity to look into other genres that they have never read before or give non-readers an opportunity to look into something that might spark their curiosity while reading the interview.

Launching this series is Nurfatehah Shamsul, a 17-year-old student who will begin the next phase of her life as a Food Marketing and Business Economics undergraduate at the University of Reading, UK in October 2012.

We asked Fate about her love for poetry.


You seem to enjoy poetry a lot judging by your postings on the B:Read Bookswap Facebook page to your own personal writings on your Tumblr. What is it about poetry that you seem to connect with as a format?

Poetry has given me an alternative way of expressing myself, what with having written only prose all my life. It forced me to just get to the point but be vague enough to let the reader interpret my work as they want. My thinking on poetry is that it should always give the reader something to think about, and giving people something to ponder on is what I love to do. Reading is a two-way relationship between the author and the reader; the author gives the foundation of thinking and the readers give the author a sense of fulfillment by having him/her know that they have read the work.

I agree with your point about the relationship between writer and reader, which is why poetry in Literature classes were something I abhorred. Teachers have the tendency to believe they are right when it comes to analysis. From my personal experience, my Lit teacher was insistent that The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock is about a man who cannot express their love to someone, while I viewed it as a man who is disenchanted with love because of class division. Gah! That was extremely frustrating!

How did you dealt with learning poetry in classes?

I wouldn’t even be able to tell you any of what material we studied in my English Lit classes, other than the two works of prose we had to study. And that is only because I still have the books. Ha. Continue reading

Happy birthday/Congratulations! Here’s a Book!

Some tips on how to convert non-readers by Teah Abdullah

My Queen, JK Rowling, once said “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

As if Queen Jo couldn’t be more flawless in my eyes, she comes out with statements like these to justify her perfection. We’re all readers. We read the newspaper, we read letters, we read bills (I’m kidding, no one does that) and we read Facebook status. We’re all readers, but the inclination to pick up a book differs from one person to another, which is why my solution to getting people to read is to buy them books for their birthday instead of Charles and Keith vouchers that renders useless in the future because they’re just shoes for God’s sake! Not a metaphysical solution to every existential questions in the world!

As readers, we tend to put ourselves on a higher pedestal compared to those who don’t (shut up, we totally do,) therefore giving books as a gift is a really tricky business. We need to be open and acknowledge the fact that the book we’re giving are for people who are not readers, therefore their level of concentration as they open a book is not the same as ours. Non-readers will not immediately go through a book in one sitting, nor will they enjoy that book you love so much because not everyone understands the appeal to reading.

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