Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I did not pick up this book at a bookstore. A friend had finished reading it and passed it on to me saying, “I think you will enjoy this book.”, and she was so right. I did like it very much.

This book is essentially a record of Albom‘s conversations with Morrie, his old college professor in the last few months of Morrie‘s life, as he was dying of a terrible disease. Sounds depressing? I thought so too before I started reading this. It is anything but. It is such a life-affirming read.

Morrie was Albom‘s favourite professor but life took over after college and he never kept in touch, only by chance did he see a news story on Nightline and found out that his old beloved professor was dying. He went to see Morrie. He thought it would be the last chance to simply say goodbye but Albom got so much more than that.

Interspersed throughout the conversations are flashbacks to Albom‘s college years and the times spent with Morrie when he was healthy and a dancer. These backstory moments give context to the conversations with a dying man.

They talked about lots of things; marriage, fear of aging, the world, regrets, money, family, culture, love, emotions, feeling sorry for yourself, death, the perfect day, forgiveness, and finally goodbye. In every conversation, Morrie passes on his little pearls of wisdom, not in a patronising “I-know-more-than-you” way or in a “I-am-dying-listen-to-me” way but in a loving “I-want-the-best-for-you” kinda way.

“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

“Love each other or perish.”

“Learn to detach.”

“I am every age, up to my own… …How can I be envious of where you are – when I’ve been there myself?”

“But giving to other people is what makes me feel alive… …Do the kinds of things that come from the heart.”

“I believe in being fully present.”

“…when we are infants, we need others to survive… …when you get like me, you need others to survive… …But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.”

“Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.”

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

These are some of the things which struck me as I read the book. Throughout the book, you see Albom‘s perspective on life, his career and relationships change. It’s a wonderful thing to have a great teacher and that was what Morrie was, to the very end.

I hope you would be interested to learn from Morrie and find out more about the above statements which I pulled out of the book.

Happy Reading!

syc

Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club, Book #1 by Richard Osman

I have to admit it: I totally picked this book up because I have watched Richard Osman quite a bit on quiz shows on British TV and liked his personality on TV. While I have read quite a number of crime novels (Patrick Cornwall, John Grisham, etc), it has been a long time since I picked one out to read, so it was sort of his celebrity status that made me buy this book.

I was not disappointed. I absolutely LOVED it! It’s a great story; well-written with a good balance of mystery and clues, a good dash of British humour, and many heartwarming moments with an insight into the retired mindset as well as a fabulous cast of characters.

Elizabeth is the leader of the pack, Ron, the one with a famous son, is the loud outspoken trouble-maker, Ibrahim, the psychiatrist, is the quiet voice of calm, and Joyce, the new addition, is the enthusiastic follower. They all have their stories and their past which we get to know bits and pieces of throughout the book.

They all live in a retirement village, quite a posh place, and pass their time solving cold cases which they have access to because Penny, Elizabeth’s best friend, was a detective in her previous life. But Penny is no longer able to be a part of The Thursday Murder Club but the others carry on.

Excitement enters their lives in the form of the murder of the man who is the builder of their beautiful retirement village. A real-life case – The Thursday Murder Club is on the case, much to the dismay of the local police.

Elizabeth, Ron, Ibrahim and Joyce might be retired and have about 30 decades between them but drawing on their great life experiences and previous work expertise, they definitely make quite the formidable team.

As the story goes on, more than one murder is revealed but is the same person responsible for all these murders? I love the layers Osman has worked into the plot and how wonderfully connected almost everything and everyone is. And skillfully interwoven into all of these are the personal stories of the characters. It’s really quite clever.

I also really like the writing style and how there’s a first-person narrative in the form of Joyce’s diary which breaks up the third-person accounts very nicely. It’s lovely to read Joyce’s observations of the various characters and situations with a nice little surprise at the end which I had not expected her to speak about.

There is a sneak peek chapter into the next book at the end of this first one. I am so getting the second and third books. I hope this review has done this superb novel and the delightful cast of characters justice.

Oh, and I have read that Steve Spielberg has bought the film rights to The Thursday Murder Club so I am looking forward to watching that when it comes out.

Happy reading!

syc

Book Review: Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher by Suffian Hakim

My darling husband gifted me this book for Christmas and I smiled like the Cheshire Cat when I saw it. It was one that had been on my TBR list.

As you would have guessed, it’s a parody of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I am a bit of a fan of J.K. Rowling’s Potter series of books – the heart of the stories she tells is why I think her books have such a wide appeal. I was hoping that such a parody would not miss that. And it certainly did not disappoint.

In keeping with the Singapore flavour of Harris bin Potter, I shall attempt to write some of this review in Singlish.

I tell you I super like this book. This Suffian Hakim, he very funny writer. No wonder it is number Uno in The Straits Times bestseller list. Hakim use proper Queen’s English when he writing but you can still feel so much Singapore flavour cos he use words like baju kurung, sial lah, relek in a corner, and many others.

He follow quite close to the Harry Potter one; he go to the school, here called Hog-tat-Halal-what, then got the bad guy – this one is called Lord Oldermat and he want to make everyone who show any Malay-ness no more magical. Then got the principal of the school, he called Pakcik Dollah. Got that talking hat, here called a songkok. Of course, got the fat cousin and family. Got all the professors – all with very funny names, I let you read yourself. Harris bin Potter has to live under the kitchen sink, worse than the Harry Potter one. People with no magic are called kosongs. Oh yes, definitely have the best friend, Ron and the girl, here called Her-Aku-Punya-Lutut – you can Google translate to find out why she called that. Don’t want to spoil the fun for you. Actually, in the book got footnote to tell you why also.

But I tell you, huh, I so long not live in Singapore, plus I never study Malay at school, I had to look at dictionary to know what some of the Malay words mean. When I understand already, I think, wah, this Hakim guy quite clever, no? Many times I LOL.

He also have some deep meaning in his writing; he even say in the book, in Chapter 11, “There are several things that many Malay people do not know. That is not to say that Malay people are predisposed to not know things – that would be a horribly racist statement to make, even if the author himself is Malay.” He use this story to talk about some stereotypes that people sometimes think about Malay people. It is not to fight anything, just to show it exists. But I hope that this sort of thinking will be no more soon. You read this interview Hakim gave to l’Officiel Singapore – good to know his thinking behind his writing.

So that’s the book review. I hope this has proven to be helpful in convincing you to go out, buy this book and read it. If you’re Singaporean, I know you will enjoy it and you would have also supported a local talent. If you’re not Singaporean, there might be some head-scratching moments, but nothing that a quick question to a Singaporean or Google won’t be able to help you with, plus it’s a good way to get know a bit of Singaporean culture.

If you have read it, do share your thoughts about this Singaporean version of a famous book.

Happy Reading!

syc