REVIEW: Melting

Today we read poems again.

I’ve been getting more poems in my inbox and I’m slowly going through it so there will be a poetry collection review every month. It’s a change of pace from other books and it’s always great to tap into the emotions and reflect once and a while.

Do you have any favourite poems?


Melting
by George Stumpf

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Melting – the ache of the heart, the breath of the soul is a poetry book exposing humanity’s insecurities, regrets, desires and the hope that never fades. The author, George Stumpf has written this over two decades of happiness and despair and, like Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, even uses prose writing to touch the core of the agony and ecstasy many people feel. Each poem will take you on a journey and inspire you to explore your emotional intelligence!

The MELTING poem book is ultimately about hope and is divided into three chapters, each serving a different purpose.

BOOK REVIEW

4 STARS

*A review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

If you want to be blown away. This is the book for you.

These poems are intense in feeling. Each line was sculptured carefully. It left me speechless, yet also feeling at peace knowing that someone feels this way too. I read it, and admired it, the thoughts, the imagery, the way it slightly rhymes (those are very fun), and I loved it.

It is separated into three sections: Splintered, Struggle, and Rise. ‘Splintered’ featured poems that were about heartbreak, sadness and regret. ‘Struggle’ were poems centered around life and its questions and struggles. ‘Rise’ were poems about feeling at ease and hope.

Most of the poems were easy to understand, but some had to be read a few more times. Reading some of Stumpf’s poems took a lot of thought and focus, and until now, I don’t understand all of it. However, I can’t deny that what I do understand, was written beautifully. So if you’re looking for something to read before bed, maybe try another book and save this one for when you are in the mood for something more mentally challenging.

I noted my favourites in this book, and there were quite a few. I really enjoyed Lonely in New York, Wrenching in my gut, Too Exact, The Elusive, Fulfilled, Hopeless Heap, To Live, Father, I think of you… most of these are from the third part of the book, which is definitely my favourite part. It was definitely a great ending to this emotionally charged book.

How after 3 major fails, I motivated myself to start blogging again

Keeping to a routine requires more dedication than I could ever offer, but that’s the price I pay to do something I enjoy. I like reading, and I love writing. A book review blog is a great combination of the two.

I’ve been reviewing since 2018. That’s 4 years now. But it was never smooth sailing. I started off strong, reading 42 books in one year while juggling my studies. Then somehow, I stopped. I could barely finish 12 books. Then reading became more of a dread than a hobby.

Here is how after two years of non-stop on-off hiatus, I’ve shook the dust off my feet, picked up the pieces, and started blogging again.

The Hiatus

My TBR pile was growing at a speed that I can hardly control. I received emails a few times a week with a book review request that I am very grateful for but it became overwhelming. At one point, there were 70+ unread messages, more than 30+ review copies in my laptop, and I started losing interest in reading.

Book reviewing is tough, especially as a one-person blog. Without much discipline, you can easily burn out and lose interest. Then there’s the guilt. Somewhere out there, the author is waiting, and I feel awful for making them wait so long.

From time to time, I ensure that I post at least once a month. Sometimes I even posted twice a month, those were wins for me when I was in a slump. But there were months where I barely posted, and my stats were heavily affected.

The Realisation

Semester break comes. My close friends were going on an internship and I started having doubts on whether I can land myself a job in the future. I had time till my internship, a few months, maybe half a year. Seeing them send emails to potential employers made me want to do something with my time too. After all, it’s the second year of the pandemic, I’m alone most of the time and had nothing much to do.

So I started freelancing.

I instantly landed copywriting jobs and learnt a few things about myself:
1. I really enjoy writing.
2. I found the best way to plan for me.

The Reset

Previously, I’ve seen many book reviewers use spreadsheets, and really admired the organisation aspect of it. Shealea, from Shut up, Shealea has a great a template that I tried adopting into my life, but it just didn’t work out. It featured a whole bunch of amazing details such as “Is it by a POC author?” and “What disabilities does it feature?” in the form of checklists. It’s easy, it’s detailed, and it’s very, very cool.

However, it just didn’t work out for me. So I tried doing another spreadsheet for myself. One sheet, fewer information, with the review status at the first column. It was easy, simple, and it barely lasted a week.

I tried writing a schedule in my bullet journal, just like how I used to organise it back when I first started blogging. But with the pandemic, I only check it once a day, only to fill up my to-do list for the day and not flipping to any other pages. Sometimes, I don’t bother writing in it at all.

I even tried post-it notes on my computer. But that only overwhelmed me and drove me away from reading instead.

At this point, it felt like I tried it all.

But this copywriting job taught me how to like planning, in a way that works for me. It might seem strange but, it encourages me. It makes me excited to write, to plan, to read, to check things off. And I hope I really stick to it, or it will just be another failed plan to organise and get myself back on my feet again.

The Action

It’s Google Slides.

The slide limits the amount of information I can fit. For every new section, I use a new slide. Blog post ideas? New slide. Content calendar for a new month? New slide. Booklist for 2021? New slide. It’s less overwhelming, I can see all the information at once, and it works amazingly well for me.

I started off with a list of books I accepted, organised according to the year and the date I accepted it so I can place priority on the ones I accepted first. For now, I’m working to finish reviewing my books from 2019. I know it’s long overdue, and the faster I get to it, the better I’ll feel (or the less guilty I’ll feel).

I split the table into Date, Genre, Name and Notes for additional things I want to write, such as if its scheduled, if it isn’t sent for a review, or if it’s due by a certain date. The Genre is very important for me, since I try to not review two books of the same genre in a month, if I can avoid it. If there’s a lot of books from a certain genre, I make a themed-review month, such as Poetry May (soon to be Poetry Jan, hint hint). For some books, I write the page number on the side, just so I know what to expect and how I can fit the books into my schedule.

My content calendar looks like this. I try my best to fit two months in each slide. The more slides I use, the more overwhelming it is for me, so this seems like the sweet spot. I include an image for the calendar, and write the dates of when and what I’ll be posting.

For organisation, I use mainly two colours to highlight the type of post I’ll be doing. The blue for reviews, and the green for blog posts. I try to write whenever I’m free, ideally just after finishing the book instead of waiting for weeks like I used to. Now I schedule it and I wake up to it being posted at the same time every day.

* This is an older version. My July schedule looks a little different, and in June was when I was trying to get my blog ready for relaunch/ the update.

As I was making this calendar, I was a little too enthusiastic about posting. Now, I’ve stripped it down to posting 4 reviews a month and a blog post every 3 weeks to prevent burnout.

Once I posted, I delete it from my calendar. The fewer the words, the less overwhelmed I get, the more I am excited to write.

The Review

It’s working so far and I really hope it does. It’s probably the most effort I’ve put into and I really hope it pays off. Currently, I’m looking for a way to schedule Instagram posts. I’ve been trying out some apps but haven’t found one that I liked yet.

I’m hopeful. And excited. I love change, I love organising, I love getting things done. I’ll check back in October, well, I scheduled for it, so hopefully I’ll stick to it.

We’ll see.

Feel free to leave questions below! I’ll be more than glad to help.

– J

REVIEW: Fights

Today’s book is a graphic novel, maybe an emphasis on ‘graphic’ since there’s a ton of trigger warnings and it is far from a lighthearted read. Regardless, I do hope you will pick it up because it is an important read.


Fights
by Joel Christian Gill

BOOK SUMMARY

Fights is the visceral and deeply affecting memoir of artist/author Joel Christian Gill, chronicling his youth and coming of age as a Black child in a chaotic landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods. 

Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems by everything and everyone around him. But fighting doesn’t always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into, as Joel learns in a series of brutal conflicts that eventually lead him to question everything he has learned about what it truly means to fight for one’s life.

BOOK REVIEW

4 STARS
A review copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

t/w: dead animal, death, blood, physical violence, profanity, abuse, sexual assault, racism

This is a memoir written in the form of a graphic novel about a light-skinned black man from a poor family, raised with violence all around him.

Nothing about this book is light. If you’re looking for a light, fun and easy read, this is not a book you should pick up now, but I do recommend that you save it to read in the future.

This book sheds light on how trauma affects everyone and how children, especially, absorb the behaviour of their surroundings. It is definitely a wake up call, especially when violence, bullying and abuse cases are going up everywhere in the world.

In this book, the author uses a kindling fire above the characters as a visual representation of anger, of course, but I also understood it as events that eventually add together to cause someone to burst.

From a stylistic point of view, it does a great job in censorship, especially the scenes of sexual assault since it is a graphic novel. It is handled carefully, with a pitch black scene and speech bubbles.

Although this book is a memoir, some characters were not exactly real but a combination of different people in the author’s life. Though the ending was heartbreaking for me, since I really, really appreciated the character. But it also emphasised on the importance of checking up on our friends, especially those who were always the calm, levelheaded one in most situations.

It isn’t a preachy book, but it does make you reflect, especially when you see children bullying one another and picking up abusive and harmful behaviours from their parents. It’s definitely our duty to heal from our traumas so we won’t pass it on to anyone else.

REVIEW: SOLO

When I was younger, I considered becoming a freelancer. It made sense to me, since I was studying graphic design but I knew it was going to be tough, maybe even too tough for me to handle, so I dropped the idea of it. Few years down the road, I’m now a freelance copywriter (since it comes to me more intuitively than design) and this book couldn’t have come at a better time.

The pandemic has made us realise that we are easily dispensable. I’ve heard many stories about people being fired from their jobs without any notice, many companies going bankrupt and severe pay cuts. If you’re considering freelancing, this book will help you out.


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SOLO
by Palle Schmidt

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

If you’re planning to build a freelance career in an artistic industry, SOLO is the perfect field guide for creative entrepreneurs at every level. Whether you’re starting out, or a seasoned professional, this book will give you the tools you need to push forward on your journey to building your brand and becoming a sought-after commodity.

Drawing from his own experiences as a twenty-year professional in the comic book and commercial art industries, author Palle Schmidt guides you through the process of transitioning from amateur to creative professional with an emphasis on longevity, sustainability and happiness in whichever field you’ve chosen. Complete with real-life examples, pre-written forms and psychological business strategy, SOLO will be the book you reference throughout your career for advice and inspiration as you turn your brand into an empire.

SOLO is written for people who believe in creative living on their own terms, who want a sustainable career, mixing freelance work with creating and selling their own art. Diving into the tactics and strategies of this book will help you find a clearer vision to strike out your own path.

BOOK REVIEW

*A review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

5 STARS

“We are our own worst enemy that way, always looking for stuff to beat ourselves up with.”

– Palle Schmidt, SOLO

As I read this book, all I could think about was how much I didn’t know about the freelancing industry. Yes sure, I know embarrassingly little, and I wouldn’t have thought about it until I read this book.

As a person working in the creatives, SOLO carries a lot of invaluable advice. Schmidt has spent more than 20 years as a freelancer, and he explains the ins and outs of the freelancing industry. I’ve heard again and again about the importance of self-discipline (although I am still lacking), budgeting and time management (once again, I am still lacking) as a freelancer. However, this book made me realize that I had no clue about the entrepreneurial side of it.

Believe me, it was eye-opening to hear that as a freelancer, you have to have a registered company (I feel so ashamed to admit that I didn’t know it), apply for tax-deductible business expenses (which is great because Adobe software isn’t cheap) and the many opportunities for networking and help within the freelancing community. I’ve never heard any of these things when others discuss freelancing!

In SOLO, he not only gives advices, but also shares his experience as a case study, provide many email templates for different situations such as for when you need to pitch your ideas or when you’re looking for a mentor. It’s a gem.

I had to read this book twice. The first time, I’ve yet to begin my freelancing career, but I did wish I took down notes. The second time around, I am taking down notes and trying to apply it wherever I can.

If you’re interested in freelancing, I highly recommend this book. I’ve also found an unabridged version of SOLO on Spotify, read by the author himself, that you can check out! It’s an overall enjoyable read that motivated me to get my life together, and I hope you will enjoy it too.

MINI REVIEWS (#2): From my shelf

It has definitely been a while since I’ve posted. I didn’t feel like writing, which made reviewing difficult and had created a backlog of books to review. While I was gone, I made a minor dent in my bookshelf, juggling a whole bunch of books ranging from Architecture to Dystopian fiction, to books about writers and even books on design. It was fun to read books on my shelf without the need to write about it. However, I thought that I could just compile it all in a Mini Review (which I haven’t done since last year).

What have you been reading lately?


  1. On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

3 stars

I’ve started reading On The Other Side back in January 2019 while I was in Singapore for the holidays. I was a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher, and had to buy her books, but reading it was a different issue.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book and how the illustrations on the cover made sense as you continue reading. But at one point, it didn’t interest me anymore.

I saw it on my shelf, had it on my bedside table, wrote in my journal that I had to read it but I wasn’t in the mood. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely book and I cried a few times while reading it, but I wasn’t excited to read it for hours and hours.

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell

4 stars

I was looking for a short book to read and remembered that I had borrowed Animal Farm and 1984 from a friend before the pandemic. It took me two tries to finish it, since reading dystopia during a pandemic isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Despite that, I enjoyed reading it, even though I do not understand the historical aspect of it. I cannot contribute to any intellectual conversation about this book, but I am proud to admit that I’ve finished it.

3. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

4 stars

Prior to reading it, I have heard so much of the story that I didn’t even think I needed to read it. Still, I was curious about the execution. And man, did they executed it well.

I went into this thinking that the story would be told from the perspective of Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde, but it was told in the perspective of someone else, to my surprise. It made me doubt everything that I knew about the book.

This book left me on the edge, especially since most of us knew that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were the same person. It made me fear for his safety, especially when they were hunting down Mr Hyde.

Although I enjoyed it very much, I can’t remember it very well.

4. Malice by Keigo Higashino

5 stars

I finished this book in less than 24 hours and man, this book was great. If it were to be the best book I’ll read in 2021, I’d read it again in a heartbeat.

It opens like a normal mystery. Some characters hanging out, one of them dies, there are some suspects, etc blah, normal things. But one of the characters in this book is a writer, so it made sense for them to record down the events, since it might be an inspiration for a future book. That writer trade notes with the detective, and you are able to read and compare both the writer and the detective’s notes.

As a reader, you know the thoughts and opinions of both parties, and you’ll feel like you are also a detective, since they share their notes with you.

The ending is well though out. It made sense, it was clear, and it was predictable. But the journey, the multiple twist and turns, that’s the best part of this book.


I hope you are having a good time reading! Many places are slowly opening up again. For my country, I don’t think that would be any time soon, so I’ll probably be stuck indoors and reading, ideally.

Till then!

-J

HEY, A NEW LOOK?

There’s something about a fresh, new start that motivates one to do something. Today, the new fresh start will be for my blog, SKAVANSIEUR.


Hello friends, it has been a long time since I’ve posted. I’ve been motivated to get back to posting and writing, but for some reason, all my efforts never worked out. I’ve tried reading more: reading books of different genres, reading more than a book at a time for more variety, but it results in nothing.

During the end of my second year in college, I became a freelance copywriter, so all my days were filled with endless writing. It made me realise that I still enjoyed writing, but just not for my blog. It was strange to me since I had full control over what to write and what to post.

I realised I felt unmotivated. I didn’t feel like writing, had a long list of books to review, emails left unanswered, it was overwhelming.

I needed motivation, I needed change.

It has been a long time since I sloppily created my logo on Canva. Since then, I’ve even seen other brands using a similar logo, but I’ve put it off as well. On top of that, for the longest time, I was struggling with my Instagram posts. I used to take pictures, then turned to template, mixed both of it, it was a mess.

Since then, I’ve taken some time to create a plan for SKAVANSIEUR. I’ve been one to like structure, with some wiggle-way, of course. Plans that include regular posting and reviews, maybe some other fun stuff too. We’ll see.

It’s all a work in progress, but I won’t know till I try it out.

See you (very) soon!

-J

REVIEW: WYRD – The Wild & Weird Adventures of A+B

With now being the second year of the pandemic, I really miss being able to travel. It was something that I took for granted, amongst many other things that this lockdown had made me realised.

Reading, playing sims and watching movies had been a great form of escapism for me the past year. Now with the vaccine coming in, we can finally (somewhat) return to normalcy. It’s going to be strange, but I am looking forward to it.

What are you looking forward to?


WYRD: The Wild & Weird Adventures of A+B
by Sasha Borya

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Join Aleks & Boris on their magical journey around the world, as they meet interesting characters, get into crazy situations, and learn a little more about themselves and everything around them along the way.

BOOK REVIEW

4.5 stars

*An e-copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

That is, until that moment. We turned over a new leaf and stepped further out of our comfort zone. No more taking the easy route. This new journey was about challenging ourselves at every turn. It was about saying “yes” to new experiences and new opportunities for us to grow.

– Borya, WYRD

This is the ultimate quarantine book. Although the vaccine is available, I’m still a little fearful about going out, especially travelling abroad. Through WYRD, Aleks and Boris do it for us and we are able to live vicariously through them. They write about their spontaneous trip to Japan with no destination in mind, just their bags, a heart full of adventure and each other. Their experiences were truly unique and a once in a lifetime experience.

Aleks and Boris explain about the different places they’ve went, their experience and how difficult it was to find food as vegans. They pulled all-nighters occasionally, met people from different parts of the world who resided in Japan, and shared good times and laughter from strangers. It’s definitely not easy to travel to a place so different from what you’re used to, especially when you don’t know the language and have to rely on Google Translate and GPS.

This is a book that will transport you to Japan and ignite your wanderlust. It’s different from other travel books since Aleks and Boris shares about their relationship, the struggles they faced and how they lift each other up. It makes me excited to plan a trip with my loved ones and experience the world together. As they are vegans, they also shared their struggles in looking for vegan food in Japan. I am not too sure about how is it like for other dietary restrictions but it’s definitely something to take note of and research.

If any of you are bored during quarantine and are looking forward to travelling, I believe now is the best time to read this book. It’s a fun and enjoyable read if you love travelling and Japan. Besides Japan, Aleks and Boris also travelled to many other countries. In their second book, they travelled to North and South Korea, and in their third book, they travelled to Malaysia and Singapore. They both are so lovely and passionate, I’m extremely excited for wherever they go in the future.

REVIEW: The Spy Who Raised Me

My goal this year is to finish two books a month. Somehow it’s almost the end of February and this is my first review. I am reading, but not at a very quick pace. I’m also juggling 3 books at once, which I seriously don’t recommend but sometimes, that’s just what we need to do.

Sometime in January, I had the sudden desire to read graphic novels. I don’t know why I don’t read it often, but whenever I do, it’s usually from Netgalley. Hopefully I’ll read another one soon.


The Spy Who Raised Me
by Ted Anderson and Gianna Meola (illustrator)

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Some parents want their children to turn out just like them. Only a few secretly turn their kids into elite special operatives.

Josie Black can infiltrate any building, speak a dozen languages, and fight like a martial arts master. But no one told her that. After J.B. detects gaps in her memory, her mom reveals the truth: she works for a covert agency, and she’s given J.B. the skills of a super spy. After J.B. freaks out, runs off, and tries to escape the weird world of espionage, she’ll have to decide who she wants to be.

BOOK REVIEW

2.5 STARS
*An e-copy was given through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

As someone who grew up thinking being a spy would be really cool, I was very excited to read this. It follows J.B. who lived a very ordinary life but one day found out that she had the skills of a spy and that her mother was hiding a very big secret from her.

The storyline was interesting, unlike anything I’ve read before. It was fast-paced, though a little confusing at times, but also action-packed. As I kept reading, I became more disturbed by the many lies that J.B. grew up with, especially with how manipulative her mother was. The main character, being a somewhat ‘programmed’ child, had certain controls that could be voiced activated, such as “Halt and Obey”. As if that wasn’t messed up enough, there’s a [slight spoiler] few frames in the book where it’s being repeated over and over again [end spoiler]. I can’t help but to wonder if this storyline had a deeper meaning behind it. However, other reviews explains it to be child abuse.

I didn’t enjoy the art style. It just wasn’t my thing. However, I can appreciate the monochromatic colours since that isn’t easy at all to do. It also wasn’t particularly memorable. While reading it, I took a break for a few weeks only to feel very confused as I couldn’t remember what J.B. looked like. Now, as I am writing the review a week after finishing the book, I still can’t remember most details of the book.

I still have many questions after finishing the book. Some are unanswered, some are just events in the book that I am very confused by. There were definitely many points from other review that made me realise there were a few plot holes which I didn’t notice at all. Though I didn’t change my ratings because of that, it’s still an important point to note.

This book left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, it was interesting and different, not memorable for the most part but there were parts that left me with negative feelings and only those are the ones that are ingrained in my memory.

REVIEW: What’s the Tea with Gen Z

I can’t believe I am starting off this year with my second local read! As someone who used to not take interest in reading local books, this is extremely exciting. Many POC readers I know are slowly trying to read more racially inclusive books, I hope to do so too.

Today’s review is a book written by 50 (or more) Gen Zs about their generation. It’s a book that is for Gen Z-ers and other generations as well. It’s different from the usual books I usually read but why not give something new a try?

While reading this (very educational yet dense book), I had to juggle some other books in between since this was unbearably heavy. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t bad, but it’s definitely not a book to read for a few days straight. However, that’s my personal take. I’m sure others have enjoyed it more than I did.


What’s the Tea with Gen Z
by G.Z. Manuel

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

“During my time …”

“Your generation has it easier”

Sounds familiar? At some point of time, we were all once at a place where we wanted to voice out but were always suppressed to do so. Now, we live in a different environment and a whole new society. We want our voices to be heard, thoughts to be considered and understood. Is that too much to ask for as ‘kids nowadays’? We don’t want demands but instead, a mutual relationship with each other. Sometimes it is hard to take the first step into understanding one another because we all give in to our ego.

Here is a personal guidebook for you to understand our world as we reveal who we are as a generation. From how we think to what we say, what we stand for and why we do so. We have evolved in many different ways compared to those older than us. Oftentimes, our generations don’t seem to understand each other. That is why we have gathered everything you need to know about us, Gen Z.

BOOK REVIEW

4 STARS
*An e-copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

I had very mixed feelings about this book. It’s interesting, factual and educational, yet I wanted to DNF it 3 times.

This is filled cover to cover with information about Gen Z. From the differences of Gen Z and other generations, their goals, interest, beliefs, culture and habits, it’s a book that can help other generations learn about Gen Z and help the Gen Zs to them learn about themselves.

I deeply appreciate the amount of research done on the topic. With a great chunk of this book talking about the pandemic, it’s very likely that it was written in the span of less than 10 months. It’s educational and detailed and inspirational.

There were parts I enjoyed reading and really felt inspired by it. There were also parts that were difficult to read, because of minor reasons such as the tone and the many different topics. It’s very text heavy (definitely strange for a reader to say) and it felt overwhelming, which made me want to DNF it often. In terms of design, it had minor but glaring issues such as the space between the page number and the edge, and the thick strip of colour that became an illusion to the center of the page. It’s definitely because of the format the book was presented in but it took away from the enjoyment of reading for me.

My favourite parts were on that one chapter explaining how unprocessed trauma from previous generations are passed on, the history of the ‘black code’ and the chapter on creativity. There were many things that I was able to learn through this book, both about understanding Gen Z and myself, which I am sure you will too.

5 Books I’m Excited to Read in 2021 + Updates

It is finally 2021! I’m extremely excited for this year. Much like everyone’s 2020, mine didn’t go as well as expected. Aside from having online classes and having to stay at home all the time because of a pandemic, most of my days were spent watching movies and tv shows on Netflix and Youtube (I’ve watched so many good shows, I’ll probably write a blog post on that soon).

My initial reading goal for 2020 was to read 24 books. I intended to spend time on creating my portfolio (which I’ve yet to begin and will have to look for an internship in the later half of the year or the next), hence I thought 24 books would be reasonable, it is only 2 books a month after all. That was a huge oversight. I was speed reading the last 30 pages of my 14th book an hour before the New Year began.

This year, I’m still keeping my goal of 24 books. It might be a bad idea, but I think I can do it. I’m kinda getting the hang of online classes and so far in 2021, I’ve been reading almost every day! I’m feeling rather positive about hitting my goal.

Note: Yes, I did a post like this one last year. No, I didn’t even read any of the books on that list. Yes, I do not learn from my mistakes.


  1. What They Didn’t Teach You in Design School by Phil Cleaver

This is a book that will be crucial for me to read. I’ve found out about this through a classmate, who referenced it in her assignment and I had to get my hands on a copy too. I’m currently 50 pages into it and it is really helpful to me, especially since I’m applying for an internship this year.

I’ve read a book similar to this, What They Didn’t Teach You in Art School, but it focuses more on artists and exhibitions and not design like what I’m currently studying. I definitely recommend it if you are interested in learning more about how art exhibitions and galleries run.

2. Lullaby of the Universe by Anastasia Bell

I remember seeing this book on Bookstagram a few years ago and wanted to read it ever since. Somehow, I’ve won myself a copy when the author was doing a giveaway on Twitter last year so I’m thrilled to be able to read it!

3. WYRD: The Wild & Weird Adventures of A + B, Part 1: Japan by Sasha Borya

This is a book that was given by the author in 2019 which I am half regretfully only reading now. I feel awful about getting back to them so late, with the pandemic and the urge to be anywhere but where I am now, reading a book about the couple’s adventure in Japan feels like a great escape.

They also have a book on their trip to South and North Korea, and another one about Singapore and Malaysia! As a Malaysian, I’m really excited to hear about what tourists and travellers think about my country and what were their experiences. So far, I’m almost halfway through the book and really don’t want it to end.

4. A-Z Great Modern Writers by Andy Tuohy and Caroline Taggart

It’s the mix of knowledge, literature and art that made me curious about this book. I’ve always been fascinated by lists where others would write about the ’50 books that you need to read before you die’ or ‘greatest books in history’ and this feels like a good mix, accompanied by the beautiful (yet slightly scary, since they are just staring straight into my eyes) illustrations.

5. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

I remember reading my first Christie novel in 2019 while I was working as an intern. (Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I read another Christie mystery last year so maybe I’ll be reading an Agatha Christie book once a year. If I can control myself.)

The pandemic has made me realised how much I enjoyed watching crime and mysteries. I’ve spent so much time on Netflix that I’ve made my subscription worth it. I’m really hoping to read a few mysteries this year and I know that Christie never disappoints, so why not begin from there?


Aside from all these mentioned, there are a few more books that were sent as a review request that I’m excited to read. For some strange reason, I’ve received a sudden influx of poetry to review, which I’ve already had a ton of prior to this. It’s very likely that I’ll be reading a collection a month, in order to get through my terrifyingly large stack of books.

There’s many other ways to say this but I’m just excited. To read, to watch movies, to learn, there’s so many things I’m excited for and looking forward to this year. Perhaps it is just the January hopefulness and positivity speaking but I’ll try to make the most out of it.

So what are you excited to read this year?