Category Archives: We Write

Articles about reading written by B:READ committee and guests

You too can foster a stronger reading culture in Brunei

It’s easy for B:READ to write about “fostering a stronger reading culture” in Brunei, right? The committee has managed to establish a presence and keep ourselves together for two years. We organise events, store hundreds of books, and keep talking to you guys on our Bookswap group on Facebook. Isn’t this what we do? We’re adding on to the noble work of the overworked teachers and underpaid librarians of the country.

That said, we have our limitations. Our schedules are not free; our resources are not bottomless. Our to-do list and mind maps of ideas will never be completely achieved. In truth, we could use your help in doing something quite simple to encourage a stronger reading culture – by ensuring there is a reading culture at all.

We know that you’re reading. You log into GoodReads regularly and can’t resist popping by the bookstore when you’re at a shopping mall. But do you have someone to talk to about reading? It’s completely okay to enjoy reading alone or without a community surrounding your hobby, but if you’ve never tried otherwise, we invite you to consider opening up the people around you to reading.

You don’t need to become a full-time reading evangelist. Where reading may otherwise be viewed as an outdated, anti-social or “smartypants” activity, let’s make reading more “normal” in Brunei:

1. Don’t be shy or embarrassed about enjoying reading

You don’t have to hide your inner bookworm!

  • If a friend asks you what you did on the weekend, and you spent a whole Sunday reading, don’t apologise about being “boring” – tell them what was great about the book!
  • Don’t worry about going into a crowded cafe alone and planning to spend your time quietly reading. Heck, cafes aren’t the only eateries where you can read. Don’t worry about bringing a book into a fast food restaurant or a food court. If you’re eating alone, you have the choice on how to pass the time; if you can do it by staring out the window, or browsing Instagram on your mobile phone, why not read a good book?
  • When a good friend is going abroad and has asked if you want anything, “a bestselling thriller from a book shop” is a valid request. Continue reading

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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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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That Time In That Book When Something Important Happened

Every time I mention that I like a particular book, someone would ask me about a certain detail in it, or if I have a favourite moment. That’s when you’d find me flustering, looking like a 7-year-old who had just been asked to recite his multiplication tables in front of a committee of old, grumpy Mathematics professors. As my B:Read mates (colleagues?) would attest, I’m not very good with details.

Even if I were to discuss with you one of my favourite books ever, Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman), I’d be hard-pressed to even describe a single chapter in the format of an extremely vague summary. I’ve been attacked for this several times. They say “oh, but if you don’t remember what happens in Chapter 7, page 32, line 21, then surely you can’t claim to love the book!”.

Something about a man proposing to a giant stone eagle?

If I was unreasonable, I’d slap them in the face and call their mothers names that would make a sailor blush. Instead, I often just dismiss statements like that, preferring not to go into excruciatingly lengthy and unnecessary detail on why I don’t know my favourite books in excruciatingly lengthy and unnecessary detail. But hey, since B:Read have somewhat foolishly inducted me into their committee, now I can express myself here. And in Comic Sans no less. EDIT: I’ve been Comic Sans-blocked.

Let me begin by saying that I do understand the values of knowing your favourite books by heart. It allows you to discuss with fellow lovers of the book about characters, themes, and plots to your heart’s content. It’s also a good tool to 1-Up people in the implied ‘who loves this book more’ competition that always happens in these discussions. Just go to our next book meet for examples (ZING! OH NO YOU DI’N’T).

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How to Get Yourself to Read More

by self-proclaimed reader extraordinaire, Teah Abdullah

Reading is a difficult task. It takes a lot of brain power to get yourself focus enough to read through a page, and when something does not grab you instantaneously, it is more likely that you will give up. Reading requires time, and one of the most common excuse I have heard why people do not read is because they “do not have time”.

But fear not! The time you think you do not have can still be saved! Like saving water into a bucket, except maybe less physical and more realistic than a stupid metaphor like “saving water into a bucket”.

Here are a few tips to develop the reading habit and stick to it like glue to a bucket:

  1. Goal! Have an aim for your reading habit: In 2009, my friend Lana told me she was going to read 50 books. I thought it was a great idea, so I joined in. I kept track of the books I had read; finding the balance between my last year of university and reading through the books I devoured. The year after, I aimed lower (30) and fulfilled it. In 2011, I aimed to read a lot with no number associated to my goal and managed to reach 70. Having a goal is great because it helps you challenge yourself. Do not compete with others, compete with yourself. Along the way, you will be able to read good, fun things!
  2. Compliment Yourself! You can still have a life:  An extremely sad argument I have come across is how reading keeps you away from living your life. False. I mean, the Internet you spend over four hours a day using kept you from living your life properly, too, and we have accepted that as a norm. Do not use the argument above unless you have pledged to stop using the Internet! As a person who travels regularly, the times I have spent inside a plane is the ideal time to read before I explore unknown places. Read while you are in a plane or a bus; a taxi ride from a museum to your hotel can be spent reading half a short story. Wind yourself down from a hard day’s work by opening a book (including e-books!)  Just do not read while you are driving. That is ridiculous. Continue reading