Book Review: ‘Under The Wig’ by William Clegg QC

I thought this book ‘Under The Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence’ by William Clegg QC was really good (and I was impressed at how a lawyer can write so well and in such an engaging manner) till I got to the Acknowledgements at the back where, on page 278, William Clegg acknowledges his “ghost writer” – a John Troup a.k.a “Troupy”. Wait… whatttt? I do think that Troupy should be acknowledged on the cover of the book or at least within the pages immediately after. (@_@) It could have been stated “William Clegg QC with John Troup”, right?

In any case, like I’ve said, it’s a really good read. Besides being written for the average layperson, barristers themselves will enjoy chapters such as “How to Become a QC”, “Winning the Trust of a Judge”, “How to Appeal to a Jury”, etc. The case studies are illuminating and certainly eye-opening. There are some things I’ve never heard of before, such as earprints being admitted as evidence. I know of fingerprints, but earprints? Seriously?

And here is one lawyer, a QC or Queen’s Counsel no less, who thinks the wig is “ridiculous”. Yes! I think so too! πŸ˜€

Things we may not agree on would be ones such as the death penalty – his argument about miscarriages of justice is valid but still… is it even possible to keep everyone imprisoned until such time that technological advances allow us to prove beyond any and all reasonable doubt that the person is either 100% guilty or 100% innocent? If there is sufficient evidence, and the jury concurs, then why not proceed with the death penalty like in SG (we don’t have a jury, I know that)? If the argument is that every life is precious and the law cannot, and must never(!), allow for an innocent person to be hanged after being erroneously found guilty, then…

Stop complaining about the budget for legal aid cases. Why would you not take up a case simply because it doesn’t pay as well as your regular cases / commercial clients? In the book, the author claims it is because the other experts whom he has to rope in to assist on the case would need to be paid their fees as well. O…K. But if every life is so precious, and you’re going to wax lyrical about how miscarriages of justice persist till this very day, then try not to sound hypocritical when you confess you don’t take as many legal aid cases anymore ‘cos the budget’s been on a decline and you wish it’s back to what it was a decade ago. I’m not asking lawyers to work pro bono all the time (need to eat, right?), but if they claim to be in this profession because of some noble reasons then hey, do what you can whenever you can, ok? If you keep wanting to compare your salaries with that of other professions, then go join those, seriously.

~

At the end of the day, I don’t know if William Clegg QC can call himself an author. If the book was written by someone else, even if it is about this QC’s life and career, it would fall into the category of being a biography, no? But if you’re simply looking for a good read, then we won’t have to quibble over who actually wrote this book. #justsaying

Book Review: ‘Circumstance’ by Rosie Milne

circumstance by rosie milne

This book has all of 464 pages and I was initially a bit intimidated by the length of the novel. Thank God for speed-reading! It’s basically about British-ruled Malaya and how the colonial administrator, Frank, takes a new English bride (Rose) but ‘neglects’ to tell her that he already has a native mistress, Nony, whom he has lived with for 10 years and had 4 children with. Frank, who wasn’t being quite frank, had thought he’d be posted elsewhere so neither of the women would know about each other. As luck would have it, he’s sent back to the same post, with his new bride. And the two women end up meeting.

I’d expected a story full of twists and turns. Would Nony somehow wrestle the title of ‘missus’ back? Would Rose somehow be able to accept the mistress who, after all, had already given Frank three sons and a daughter?

Nony ends up blackmailing Frank because he didn’t have the balls to tell Rose about Nony’s existence. That plan backfired because he eventually caved in and let the secret out. Rose ends up getting pregnant (her baby will be called Grace… wahahaa) and it is super strange how this pregnant woman can decide to kill her husband.

And that’s basically it.

The book’s a bit of a letdown. I was hoping to read about how the women would fight for Frank’s attention but it seems Rose only wanted Frank dead and Nony only wanted his money.

I guess the main takeaway from this book would be that it’s best not to have secrets regarding past relationships. Your spouse deserves to know. If she finds out (too late), and she cannot deal with the truth, then you might just end up with a hammer to the back of your head. You won’t even know what hit you.

Book Review: ‘Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers’ by Paige Parker

Don't Call Me Mrs Rogers by Paige Parker

When I first found out about this new release, I was tempted to get it straight from the bookstores. It seems to promise tales of adventures, epic fights (it does say “loathing” on the cover) and invaluable insights into the relationship between investment guru Jim Rogers and his less-famous (but no less awesome) wife. The book ‘Small Fry‘ by Steve Jobs’ daughter, Lisa, really helped satisfy my curiosity about Steve. I was hoping this book would do the same. What I neglected, though, was the fact that Steve’s no longer around while Jim still is, and the couple also have two daughters who would definitely be reading this book. So, it’s either restraint I detect or an overwhelming saint-like ability to forgive and forget. Most women (or perhaps I can only speak for myself) get better at describing an unpleasant situation (such as a fight with a spouse) with each retelling of the same story. Paige’s account lacks that added punch of emotion. After all, if my guy calls me a “Stupid bitch!”, my account would be as fiery, if not more.

Reading this book is like watching a long documentary. It’s not reality TV and you don’t really feel the need to tell anyone else they should read the book too. I was initially a bit puzzled as to how Paige can remember details of this 3-year round-the-world journey with Jim. Was she using her imagination to fill in the gaps in memory or does she simply have a fantastic memory? Later on in the book,Β  they were fighting over a laptop and it appears she does her ‘writing’ on it. In which case, I think a ‘diary’ format would be much better. With dates and places stated clearly before each chapter. Otherwise the book always seems to be in that strange zone between fiction and non-fiction.

I think Jim Rogers picked the perfect way to select his third wife: a three-year-long journey around the world. If the pair can survive the trip, they’ll survive anything that comes after. Even if you’re a gold-digger, there’s only so much you can tolerate. And such a ‘crazy’ journey to foreign lands, away from friends and family, and with only one person as your constant companion, you’re bound to reveal questionable motives, if any. According to Wikipedia, Jim’s previous marriages lasted around three years each. And it does appear to me that this one will be ‘the right one’.

I admire Paige’s courage in dropping everything and leaving for this journey with a man who’s not yet her husband. One must be feverish with wanderlust in order to do that. Maybe Jim had really swept her off her feet, who knows? And I can only cringe while reading her descriptions of some truly awful locations, when she has to go without bathing for 5 days and her hair is full of oil. Good grief! I do also love her account of how she grabbed the collars of men who’d groped her bum, and how she’d smacked them repeatedly. You go, girl! And it does seem like she has a heart for helping women and children. So she’s not just one of those socialite types who attend galas and fundraisers mainly to be seen and to win ‘Best Dressed’ awards.

I think Jim’s gotten really good at picking the right woman to be his wife. Third time’s the charm, I guess. πŸ˜‰

‘Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers’ is available at libraries and bookstores near you, so grab a copy if you’d like.

Book Review: ‘I am not a label, I am Gary’

i am not a label i am gary

I regret picking up this book to read two nights ago when I was having trouble falling asleep. The reason I couldn’t seem to fall asleep was because I was buzzing after finally spotting Meow, whom I had not seen for weeks. And I regret choosing this book to read late in the night because it has just 168 pages, and was a relatively easy read, and so I finished reading the whole book in one sitting. (>_<) I think I may actually have seen the author working in Eighteen Chefs before, but I’m not quite certain.

Gary’s life is one that’s full of ups and downs, starting from the time his parents divorced when he was three years old. His story reads like the stories of many others before him – dropping out of school, joining a gang, getting into fights, substance abuse, blah blah blah. But in his case, there’s redemption. I love how he got his act together, doing extremely well in school due to sheer perseverance (4.0 GPA! Whoots!)

I was definitely horrified at the parts where he shared about sexual abuse he suffered as a kid, and when he later strangled a girlfriend till she fainted and had to be sent to hospital. I really hope the girl is well today.

I’m so glad Gary is a changed man, and he’s been actively giving back to society by reaching out to at-risk youths, and has even set up Happy Children Happy Future (find them on Facebook) to match volunteer tutors with children from underprivileged families.

One thing Gary wants to achieve with the writing of this book is to shine the spotlight on discrimination towards people with tattoos. I’m not sure what your take on tattoos is, but for me, I think people who DARE to get a tattoo (especially BIG ones) aren’t just brave; they are people who have experienced very painful situations in their lives, and therefore are able to ‘cope’ with the pain that comes with getting a tattoo. As for me, I’ve never wanted a tattoo before as I find that there’s no one perfect spot for a tattoo, and there’s no perfect design even if you’ve miraculously found the right spot, and if the tattoo artist makes a mistake, then guess who’s going to have to live with the mistake? So I really don’t mind if people have tattoos. If I’m an employer, I’d hire someone whether or not he/she has a tattoo (or many). But yes, if a GROUP of people with tattoos are walking towards me, my heart might start beating a little faster. While it may be art and self-expression and all that, one cannot deny that people belonging to gangs tend to also have tattoos.

All in all, I found this book to be a good read. Yes, the author thinks he isn’t a label. But I guess ‘inspiration’, as a label, would be a good one to have, ya?

Book Review: ‘Operation Playboy’ by Kathryn Bonella

operation playboy book by kathryn bonella

This book, ‘Operation Playboy’, is about the true story of “playboy surfers turned international drug lords’. It’s a hundred times better than ‘Billion Dollar Whale‘, in my humble opinion. πŸ˜‰ It’s a real page-turner and it’s obvious the writer did countless interviews with the people involved (caught or still at-large) and the cops who caught them. The result is a book which opened my eyes to a portion of the international drug trade starting from Brazil and leading to other parts of the world, such as Amsterdam and Bali. It reveals the lives these drug lords lead, dripping in cash, and their eventual downfall which could involve 12-man firing squads. Also, there is a shocking and damning account of the justice system in Brazil, where cops, prosecutors and judges can be bribed all too easily.

“…if a judge gets convicted for crimes, even if he worked only 3,4,5 years, he’s going to be dismissed of his judiciary power, they are going to say you are not a judge anymore but you are going to receive your paycheck every month… it’s almost an invitation to sell some sentences, to get money off some guys being accused. Give it a try, man. What’s the worst [that] can happen? You don’t have to work for the next 30 years and you’re going to receive pay as if you’re working.” – Chief CaieronΒ 

Sometimes I wonder how drugs land in Singapore, what with our strict laws and all the customs checks. Then there’s this book about how these surfer drug lords have ‘horses’ (read: drug mules) working for them, and they have drugs hidden in the lining of bags, parachutes even, and also within specially made surfboards just for this purpose. There’s carbon paper packaging to counter all those x-ray checks and anti-dog scents to get dogs off their (drug) trail. It all sounds so easy, unless dumb things happen, such as sending a horse who looks like the exact opposite of a surfer, or when the guy making these surfboards isn’t paid promptly and he decides to cut corners this time.

This book succeeds, beyond any doubt, in drawing readers into the world of the playboys, with its free flow of drugs, cash, booze, women, luxury hotels and first-class travel. You might begin to wonder why you’re working so hard and making so little, when these guys are getting others to be their horses and they’re just flying in after them and getting loads of cash without much risk. Then, towards the end of the book, you’ll find executions, jail time and sometimes ridiculous outcomes such as when a “well-known horse and boss” becomes a police officer in Brazil. (>_<) Someone should make a movie out of this book!

Book Review: ‘9th Of August’ by Andre Yeo

9th of August book by Andre Yeo

This is a book that was just waiting to be written, really. I’m surprised it wasn’t written / published earlier. It’s a no-brainer: Singapore’s a shiny target for the terrorists, and what better time to cause maximum damage than on National Day? So this book by Andre Yeo is about how six suicide bombers have slipped into Singapore, planning to blow themselves up on SG’s 55th birthday in the year 2020.

I like how the author has woven in other stories, about Tun, about Inspector Rahim, and even about Henry. Gosh. Henry’s wife’s last words to him are so shocking when they are finally revealed towards the end of the book. You got me there, Andre! Good one!

I found this book an exceedingly enjoyable read, no doubt due to the author’s astute observations about Singaporeans. It’s totally true how a suspicious-looking character on a train would get zero attention whatsoever. And since a good portion of our train network is underground, if timed perfectly, a suicide bomber on a train could cause a lot of damage when the detonation happens right under a densely-populated area such as Raffles Place during office hours.

One of the suicide bombers even heads to Waterway Point! I certainly sat up a little straighter when reading that bit. Why a terrorist would want to head to a mall in ulu little Punggol, I don’t know. But seriously, guys, don’t come here ok? πŸ˜› I think the author might even have done a little shopping in Waterway Point before since he states on page 195 that the suicide bomber codenamed “Number Two” headed to “level one of the East Wing of Waterway Point” where he saw “several [people] struggling with plastic bags filled with produce from the supermarket”. *Fact-checking!* The author knows there’s an East Wing, but the truth is… the supermarket is actually located in the West Wing, at Basement 2. If you go to Level 1 of the East Wing, you might actually be looking at the Customer Service counter after you head past the cafe. Having said that, please don’t come to the West Wing either! There’s toys ‘r’ us, Daiso, PizzaHut, Times bookstore, McDonald’s! Most of my favorite stores are in the West Wing. Seriously. Why not an Orchard Road Mall though? Oh wait… ‘cos people don’t visit Orchard. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

What I’m not too fond of is how the author paints such a rosy picture of Singaporeans coming together after the terrorist attacks, united as one, looking out for each other, etc. The book almost became a tearjerker. But wait… we aren’t the Japanese, you know? I think the book doesn’t do enough justice to our kiasu, kiasi spirit.

I would think that people would lock themselves in their homes, like they usually do already. And they would stock up on essentials (you may think it’s rice and biscuits and water, right? But it’ll also include things like powerbanks, duh!) Possibly people might even pretend they aren’t home when neighbors come asking for some infant formula or water or food. We even pretend we are asleep on the trains when pregnant ladies and elderly folk come on board! So don’t put it past us.

And if the authorities let slip that they’ve received intel regarding a possible attack on National Day, wahahaha, people will definitely be trying to flee the country before 9th August. If they are crazy rich, they’ll jet off. Or cruise. Most of us will be trying to get onto a flight out of the country (especially folks like me who have no bosses to report to). And just about everyone will try to get to JB. We’ll walk over if there’s no other mode of transport available.

And I really don’t think the suicide bombers should target the PM. ‘Cos I want to see how he handles such a crisis. πŸ˜›

What an exciting topic for a book. And yet how difficult it must be to write this book. There must still be a “National Education” sort of message about how we stand together united as one. The author is the Deputy News Editor at TNP so yah, I don’t blame him for including an NE message. But if you were to ask me what I really think, it’ll be that we’re more likely to die in a stampede while trying to get over the Causeway to JB before the terrorists even set foot in Singapore.

If the nation is made aware of the fact that an attack is imminent (based on highly reliable intel), I think all hell will break loose. So, will they tell us? That’s something to think about.

Book Review: ‘Sick: A Memoir’ by Porochista Khakpour

‘Sick: A Memoir’ by Porochista Khakpour is unputdownable, but not in the usual ways. I wanted to read this book (and did so in less than 24 hours) because it’s strange. Why is this lady on the cover, with an oxygen tube (or a nasal cannula if you want to be specific) and pills of all sizes and colors? Why’s the book titled ‘Sick’ instead of something like ‘Road to Recovery’, ‘My Battle With Lyme’, or something along those lines? Sure, ‘Sick’ cuts right to it but it still makes you wonder why someone SO, apparently, ill would bother with writing a book and its accompanying strains on time and energy what with the editing, the promoting of the book, tours, etc?

sick by porochista khakpour

“I am a sick girl. I know sickness. I live with it. In some ways, I keep myself sick.”

And while reading the book, I’m thinking this lady is a real warrior. In her shoes, I might have taken the easy way out. Yes, really. After all those hospital visits, trips to meet “healers”, pills, therapies, broken relationships and more, wouldn’t it just be easier (so much easier) to end this life? After all, can you endure chronic insomnia, not knowing when you’ll faint again on the streets, or when you’ll vomit in public, or when there’ll be a relapse? I doubt I can. And having your parents tell you to please leave their home because they can’t live with a sick daughter anymore, and want their quiet lives back? That’s brutal.

If you’ve watched the video I’ve embedded above (if the link doesn’t work, just head to YouTube and search for “Porochista Khakpour with Eileen Myles: Sick | 6-5-2018 | NYPL Author Talks”), you’ll find that the author is a very intelligent individual with a great sense of humor. I’m already planning to read her two novels which were published before this memoir came out. πŸ™‚ [*I love the way she handled that heckler of a woman in the audience, around the 42-minute mark of the video :D]

In this particular book, she mentions a lady who wanted the author’s help with her manuscript for a memoir. But Porochista read the lady’s manuscript and found that it was made up largely of fabrications. So she turned that lady down. I’d hazard a guess that much of this book, if not ALL of it, is true or what the author believes to be true. She’s so brutally honest that sometimes I find myself shaking my head in disbelief and disapproval as I read about how she purchased a CARTON of Marlboro Reds when she went to college and purposely got herself addicted to cigarettes (WHO DOES THAT?!), and how she was STILL smoking when she put together this memoir, as a “reward for some paragraphs or pages”. I have very little sympathy for sick people if they smoke while already ill. They have a right to smoke, for sure. But don’t expect any help or pity from me.

“Another part of it is the thrill of the sick person making herself sicker. If you know a part of you is always dying, taking charge of that dying has a feeling of empowerment. My body goes against me often, so what if I put it through that myself?”

A common theme in Porochista’s life has been that of ‘addiction’. Not just cigarettes, but also drugs. In her younger, and healthier, days, she took cocaine, ecstasy, etc. At some point, she even got sexually assaulted by two men after a drug-fuelled escapade. Later on, as many ill people are, she had a drug addiction because of the medications prescribed to her.

She has managed to present so many years, if not decades, of her life into this one book that has just 250 pages but will leave you thinking she has lived a full life. She has experimented with so much, lived in so many cities, had so many relationships (probably not a good thing) and now she’s a very successful author.

“At some point I questioned why I had for much of my life leaped from one person to another, with no end in sight. I’m not sure my conclusions are good, but I can tell you when the body feels out of place it will cling to anything that looks like life. Cities. Homes. People. Lovers.”

~

I’m not sure what you’ll take away from it.

At the end of the day, it leaves me thinking about wealth and of health. Would you want to be a writer who has gotten accolades from The Oprah Magazine, Buzzfeed, Cheryl Strayed, etc? Would you want to have to go through what Porochista did in order to get there? πŸ˜‰ I’ve already read a couple of books recently which made me think that it’s such a privilege to be able to go to sleep at night with little trouble. So many people have to battle insomnia, and so many need pills in order to fall asleep and even if they do get some sleep, they don’t wake up feeling refreshed.

If anything, this book makes me feel even better about my own life, and reminds me of what I need to be thankful for. Sure, it’s probably not the author’s intent. She probably wants to raise awareness regarding Lyme disease, how flawed the medical system is because doctors don’t take young women’s complaints of being ill seriously enough thus leading to delayed detection of Lyme, and shining a spotlight on society’s attitudes towards those who are ill and not being productive, not working and not hustling.

Overall, it’s a great read. It shows you what war and revolution (the author’s family are refugees from Iran), and dysfunctional families can do to young people. And it might even get you alarmed at how a tick bite can lead to severe health consequences. Before this book, I didn’t even know there’s such a thing as Lyme disease!

Porochista currently has two fundraising campaigns going on at gofundme.com. If you are so inclined, go donate some money to help her fight Lyme disease.

Book Review: The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

the girl who smiled beads

I was wrong. I thought this would be yet another book of a refugee who simply wanted to share her story of how she fled the Rwandan massacre at age 6 and eventually made it to America after 6 long years, and how she also managed to graduate from Yale University! “Well done!”, a congratulatory pat on her back, and all should be good, right?

Instead, this book taught me more than I’d expected. What impacted me the most were the bits about how we, as people who have never suffered the horrors of war, think we know what refugees need / want. And in giving to them, we also want to receive appreciation and their gratitude. When we meet someone like the author, whose (internal) response might be “you have no idea”, it’s a punch to the gut.

Clemantine forces me to differentiate between giving and sharing. Giving implies that I’m more privileged, more able, etc. While sharing means the refugee and me are equals. I’ve realised I’m pretty good at giving; what I no longer need, what I can spare, what I can do without. I’m not that great at sharing. (@_@)

And how brutal we all are when we ask refugees to relive the horrors by sharing their stories, made worse with our insensitive questions such as “do you feel guilty that you survived when the others perished?” As usual, Clemantine has a ready response. And it’s gold. Read the book to find out what it is. πŸ˜‰

Clemantine pulls no punches. She hits you where it hurts, rips your mask of hypocrisy to shreds and grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you up.

This is a book which will definitely teach you a thing or two you never expected. And I’m glad it’s in the form of a book and not a movie. If it’s too graphic, I won’t be able to get it out of my head.

Because this book also has a co-author, Elizabeth Weil, I somehow knew it would be a decent read even before setting eyes on the first page. How much of this book is fact, and how many pages of it is fiction / imagination, I don’t think anyone knows. I cannot remember much / any of what I did as a 6-year-old. And if I had been separated from my parents because of a war when I’m 6, the trauma would have left indelible marks on my memory. Still, this book is based not so much on the author’s childhood / family history, but on her take of what happened, what should not have happened, and what needs to happen from now on. A very good read.

Book Review: ‘Dying To Meet You: Confessions of a Funeral Director’ by Angjolie Mei

Dying To Meet You by Angjolie Mei

While preparing dinner, I began reading this book ‘Dying To Meet You’ by Angjolie Mei and now, before I head to bed, I’m ready to do a review. Proof that the book was ‘unputdownable’. In fact, it got me crying by page 12. What’s up with authors these days? Can’t they make us laugh, or at least laugh till we end up crying? πŸ˜€ Very good book, though I’m not so sure about whether locals would buy a book featuring a (quite stunning) coffin on the front and back cover, albeit accompanied by a HOT female who loves salsa (though you won’t know that till you’ve read the book). Though some might think it’s ‘pantang’ to work in this industry or even to be associated with someone working in this line, I think it would be quite a privilege to be friends with a funeral director (Hello Angjolie, we should meet!) because if she’s someone who does her job well, I would think that happy spirits would be hanging around her and probably granting her wishes or something – perhaps something like always having an empty parking lot in a crowded carpark or finding money on the ground, maybe. πŸ˜€ What’s there to be ‘pantang’ about?!

I learnt a few things from reading this book, that I didn’t know before:

  1. Islam forbids cremation, so Muslims have to be buried. (You can Google this. I have. It’s considered haram and apparently Muslims cannot witness a cremation or even state their approval of it)
  2. A casket has 4 sides while a coffin has 6. (Again, you may Google for images)
  3. A person’s sense of hearing is the last to go when a person is dying. So feel free to keep talking to your loved one lying on his/her deathbed.
  4. The Ngee Ann City mall is located where a former graveyard used to be.
  5. In Singapore, you may only remain buried for 15 years. (So you might as well be cremated. Just saying.)
  6. Funeral wakes usually last for 3 or 5 or 7 days. Odd numbers because the Chinese believe that good things come in pairs (ε₯½δΊ‹ζˆεŒ) and funerals are considered inauspicious therefore are held over an odd number of days.
  7. The fabric square worn on sleeves of family members of the deceased are worn on the left for males and on the right for females. (Yes, I didn’t know that!)

Ok, now back to the author. Angjolie Mei changed her original name and included ‘Jolie’ because of Angelina Jolie, whose courage and commitment to humanitarian work she admired. Angjolie is the daughter of ‘the Coffin King’, the late Ang Yew Seng. When she was in Primary 5, her best friend died after he was run over by a cement mixer. Hence she now makes it a point to look out for kids at funerals and help them cope. In the book, the author also shares how she helps shield grieving family members from the media, such as when a Japanese lady in a taxi was killed after a crash involving a Ferrari in 2012. I like that. All too often, people handling newsworthy cases (such as lawyers) try to manoeuvreΒ  themselves into the limelight. Of course, I have not met Angjolie and can only trust what I’m getting from the book. We’ll see. πŸ˜‰

“…the day you stop feeling sadness for the family is the day you lose empathy and compassion, which is needed to work well in the industry”

If I do meet the author one day, I have two questions for her:

  1. Why PINK as a corporate color for your company?
  2. How did you do so well in the financial planning industry when you say your heart wasn’t in it? Qualifying for MDRT for 3 out of 4 years is pretty amazing.

~

Go purchase or borrow a copy of this book. It’ll certainly get you thinking. I remember reviewing another book involving a mortician, ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ by Caitlin Doughty, which is also really good. Strange how funeral directors are such fantastic writers. Or perhaps they just have outstanding co-writers and editors. πŸ˜€

p/s: I would love to be cremated (please ensure I am really dead first, ‘cos you know getting burnt to a crisp is irreversible but some people are able to claw themselves out of coffins after being buried). No embalming, please! All those chemicals – yucks! And people touching my body – ARGH!!! I hate being touched when I’m alive. I’ll probably haunt those who dare touch me when I’m dead. Muahaha! And forget about turning my cremains into a diamond – please lah, spend money more sensibly. I don’t mind becoming fertiliser for a plant though. πŸ˜€

Times Bookstore is Moving Out of Tampines One: Offers 20% Off Books*

Times tampines 1 moving out sale

Screengrab from Times’ facebook page

I’m guessing this might be the beginning of the end. It would be a real shame if we lose yet more bookstores. Though I suppose this is inevitable. Without the right people, ideas and plans, we might just end up with 1 bookstore chain in the near future – yes, that popular one which parents drag kids to and stock up on assessment books. πŸ˜€

After Times’ exit from Tampines One, this bookstore chain will be left with 6 outlets in Singapore: Centrepoint, Cold Storage Jelita, Marina Square, Paragon, Plaza Singapura and Waterway Point.

About two weeks ago, I met two female employees of MPH in Malaysia (who have marcomms roles) and gave them an idea that just came to me while I was looking at the titles they had at their booth. Without bothering to delve further and ask more questions and see how this idea could work for them (not me), they provided immediate objections such as “can’t be done”, “no budget”, “management won’t agree”, etc. But if they had given me 5 more seconds, or shown more enthusiasm, I could have shared with them ideas for how it could be executed with little to no budget (and might even make them money in the process), what steps to take, how to generate a ton of publicity and even how to convince that boss and other people to get on board. The reason I even bothered to speak with them was ‘cos they were attending workshop after workshop to find new ways to revive the book-selling industry. (I think I forgot to ask if MPH had sent them or if they had voluntarily come by. Haha!)

But too bad, too sad. I’m guessing they’ll look for other jobs eventually. Those positions at MPH Malaysia are mere stepping stones for them, it seems. But wouldn’t it be awesome if they could play a part in rejuvenating this (dying) business, make a name for themselves, then move on to another company?

In Singapore, there are a few main reasons why I don’t buy books at bookstores anymore. (It has nothing to do with authors sending me their books for reviews, ok? :P) And I’ll share with you what would make me return…

#1: The lack of people who are PASSIONATE about the business

Seriously. Just walk into any bookstore (Times, Popular, etc) and ask the staff for a book recommendation. You might just give them a heart attack. Some don’t read books, have not heard about best-selling titles (not obscure ones), and always have to rely on “Let me check the system” no matter what question you ask.

Don’t ask me for a book recommendation. I’ll just go on forever, invite you to my home, and make you leave with a handful of books you should read. πŸ˜€ It’s true. There was another lady at the same book table in Malaysia who had picked up a copy of a book that I was about to buy as well, we started chatting, and I eventually bought her another book PLUS gave her a copy of my book ‘Blogging For A Living’. And at that point, I didn’t even know her name. Good grief!

#2: Seriously lame marketing efforts

Are we really going to make a beeline for Times just ‘cos they’re dangling a “20% discount” offer? *yawn* Do you not know that you can get books on bookdepository.com at a much lower price, PLUS they deliver worldwide for FREE, with no minimum spending? They even give you a free bookmark with every order, for crying out loud!

The only book sales that can get me out of the house are the Books Box Sale ($50 for an entire carton of books you can handpick yourself, but which, sadly, isn’t happening this year) and the Epigram Books sale ($20 for 10 books you get to choose).

With 20% discount, I’m just going to stay put and watch more episodes of the 2018 Meteor Garden remake ok? πŸ˜›

#3: No value-add at all

What’s the difference between buying a book online and buying one from the Times bookstore near my home?

Does the one in the store come with the author’s signature? Does it have a special “limited edition” freebie? Is there an accompanying workshop? Do I get to MEET the author? Do the staff read stories to the kids who visit the store? Are there staff recommendations of books I should get, or which mothers should get, or which children aged 5 to 7 should read?

No. What I’ll get is a grumpy guy (or lady) who asks me if I’m a member, then scans the barcode off my Times app, collects payment and sends me on my way.

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Sure. Bookstores can bank on assessment books and kids’ titles to be their cash cows for a little longer. But how sustainable this will be in the long run, I’m not sure.