Nov 26, 2013

4 Days To December

For the rest of November, I watched the numbers in my bank account shrivel, vaguely feeling an urge to panic but I couldn't find a reason to regret spending the money. 

Well, let’s see. Most of them are normal expenses. Tithe, youth camp fees, lunch, dad repayments for the laptop, and train tickets. What else did I spend it on?

I even exercised self-constraint and didn’t take advantage of Airasia’s Free Seats!

Hasn’t had a new bag in ages!

Lost touch with recent sales and newest store items!

Every ringgit counts. Times are hard, man. 

This is disturbing. Where did the money go?


Then the answer came to me.

After #TSBreakAway ended and I came back from Penang, I plotted the first available lunch hour to head to Kinokuniya.

I enlisted Nico to buy sandwiches beforehand so the measly hour can be fully utilized. We had tuna on rye, talked about his new job, and headed straight to the beautiful giant bookstore to hunt for books.

Honestly, Kinokuniya is my 4th favorite place on earth. Just stepping into the store with its blond bookshelves, blond floorboards, an ocean of books, competent store clerks, and book-loving customers slows down my breathing. More importantly, one is safe in the knowledge that even if you couldn’t find the book you want, no worries; the wonderful staff will order it for you.

Of course, the three books were found in less than three minutes (checked their location and availability online beforehand hehehe); and I paid about 10 percent of that month’s salary on them. that's why lah. felt so poor. 


But those wonderful competent staff still gave me the dark blue plastic bag though. When can I get that nice paper bag version?

Here are the books I got!

1.      In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

2.      Telling True Stories on non-fiction writing

3.      Bird by bird by Anne Lamott

Why these three books? 

On the second day of #TSBreakAway, we took the boat to Pulau Ketam, and groggily settled in the town hall for Dina Zaman’s writing workshop.

Her workshop is basically 70% why I decided to join in the first place :D 
(15% for photography workshops, 15% for paragliding hehe)

The workshop was really short, and (in Dina's words!) slightly "school teacher-ish", with her drawing mind-mappy points on the white board, then sending us out to observe the pretty little morning market and describe it in different styles like happy, confused, angry, etc.

It's been awhile since i jotted down notes in a classroom setting. it's a a nice feeling. feels like i'm in English class again. 

Two things:
Dina passing out excerpts from In Cold Blood, 
“It’s from one of my favorite authors, Truman Capote.”

Then some writing advice from a book called Telling True Stories, 
“You can buy it from Amazon, I think. It’s a very useful book.”

There are so many writing advices online, but I’ve been looking for something more in-depth. And now I got some recommendations! 

Also, Truman Capote’s name regularly appears on most “Books You Must Read Before You blah blah” lists, but I’ve never checked out his books. The reason is kinda lame. In Cold Blood sounds like some major violence will happen, and I don’t want to read books that will make me unhappy. Hahah. Anyway his writing from the excerpt is superb, and I want to read more. 

Reminder: You won’t get to places being comfortable.

(Another author I insisted on avoiding is Murakami. Well, now I’m making my way through IQ84.)

One of the regular questions in the Goodreads Author Interview section is “What book are you reading at the moment?” (John Green is reading Wolf Hall!), and this particular author raved about Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, calling it light-hearted but really good advice on writing. Brainpickings did a pretty good job of summarizing Bird by bird here

So there you go.

I’ve read Bird by Bird, almost finishing In Cold Blood (shivers), and I’ll keep Telling True Stories for the next year. Have to ration my reading lah, or else every month will be spent in starvation.

The basic gist i got from Bird by Bird: every writer struggles, and what you need to do is just write. every single day. bird by bird. not for the glory of being published, but for the happiness of telling a story on paper. 

I think this is the first time I happily spent so much on books at one go. Usually only book vouchers or Big Bad Wolf allows that, but since I don’t think I have the patience to hunt for these particular books in the BBW tsunami and I don’t get book vouchers anymore; I’ve come up with a pretty good justification: INVESTMENT.


Stretching out the skinny ringgit by making lunch to work, and it’s just four more days to December!

Thinking about these books still brings a smile to my face though. There’s nothing like unwrapping plastic cling wrap and running your hands over the smooth books. Then reading them, over and over again.

Now for the bookshelves… …


  1. Haven't had the chance to actually sit down and read a book without a fuss! Miss those moments actually. And even if I do, I will always go for Nicholas Sparks lovey-dovey sad stories ahahahaha! Shall catch up with you soon to tell me some in-depth thoughts :P

    1. YEA MAN. haha nicholas sparks also good ah :P when you free?

  2. Hello..can i please have ur email address please? would you mind sending it to: ..thanks a lot

  3. Joyce, you really bought ALL THOSE BOOKS?? Salute weyh! Haha. And congrats on winning the canon prize. I love your writing skills. You have a style of your own actually. Keep writing and reading! And of course, keep calm too! :D