KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – How you choose your reading material says a lot about you. There are some of us who select books by reading the blurb, others read the first chapter before committing, and there are those who quite literally judge books by their cover.
The relaunch of Borders as a lifestyle store in The Gardens Mall has given Kuala Lumpur a beautiful new outlet for these bookish decisions. With a coffee shop situated down the middle of a vibrant, flowing floor plan, the store is tastefully arranged to urge you to stay awhile as you consider the perfect book to go with home with.
Now, every year, there’s a new list published by a myriad of groups citing the 100 must-read books. But who has the time to read 100 books a year? Then, these lists are generally peppered with either gratuitous mentions of classic literature or sometimes, a plethora of inconsequential pulp fiction.
During the store’s relaunch, The Binge team scoured the shelves for a more manageable sum of 12 quality books – a book a month, perhaps – titles we believe are worthy tomes for your reading pleasure in the coming year!
Light Reading (January – March)
The start of the new year, means a whole lot of broken resolutions and destroyed financial markets. It’s here that we’ve listed the most enjoyable and indulgent reads to give you a break from reality.
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz is the first in a series of books dealing with a family of private investigators. While the storyline itself leaves a lot to be desired, it’s a series that sells itself based on the interactions among characters. Between bad life decisions, and spying on your own family with professionally-acquired skills, this book has it all.
Also part of a series spanning over three decades, the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend are a highly addictive read. You would think that the diary of a teenager wouldn’t be suitable reading for adults, but you would be wrong. In reading the books as a child or an adult, different aspects of Adrian Mole’s adventures will appeal to the reader.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is the novel equivalent of Days of Our Lives. Although known to be edited within an inch of its life, it’s an entertaining read that will challenge you to put it down. It’s a riveting read that doubles as a window into the lives of the very rich in Asia. The curious thing is how it manages to elicit sympathy for characters who, materially, have it all.
Movie/TV Tie-Ins (April – August)
We’ve all heard, or uttered, the phrase, “The book was better”, and these few books are the embodiment of this sentiment. While the portrayals come off as either highly addictive or disappointing, these are must-reads.
I don’t think A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin needs any introduction, but the necessity of reading the books does. The characters are so much more brutal and terrible in the series, while the books are all so well-written that they paint beautiful pictures in your mind’s eye.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is a cult favourite, and for good reason. Still the best of Palahniuk’s work, the film adaptation was quite the triumph in itself. Spoiler alert: The books end differently. Read to find out.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a book that should never have been made into a movie. Not because the movie was bad; it was in fact as good as it could be. It’s just that the premise of this book simply cannot translate to film. Niffenegger’s graphic novels border on just plain weird, and this book comes off as relatively normal in that spectrum; but don’t be fooled: It’s a truly spectacular read.
The film adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver was beyond terrible. It skimped on pertinent details, and there are so many gaps in the storyline that someone watching it without reference to the book would be left utterly confused. Nevertheless, the book is an excellent read, and one that will leave you afraid of your children (rightfully so).
The Golden Compass (also titled Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman is also the first in a trilogy, and a book that far surpasses anything of its kind. It’s the complete antithesis of the heavily borrowed themes Harry Potter takes from Enid Blyton, and it deals with metaphysical concepts in a very approachable way. This is the book you should be introducing your kids to, because you will enjoy the read just as much.
Thoughtful Reads (September – December)
As the year starts winding down, here are books that deal more with contemplation and history to go with your undoubtedly lofty goals for 2018.
Tan Twan Eng‘s debut novel The Garden of Evening Mists is one for the book lovers among us. It’s so beautifully written that you will savour every word coming off the page. Between the serenity that exudes from this book, to the gorgeous imagery it paints, you will pay Cameron Highlands a visit just to try to will the place into existence.
While the ending to The Gargoyle was highly disappointing, it doesn’t detract from what an excellent read this is. It’s highly graphic, and definitely not one for the tame or squeamish.
Wild Swans is a gripping book steeped in Mao‘s terrible reign of China. It goes through the differences in the lives of three generations of women before, during, and after he came onto the scene. Definitely one for history buffs, as well as those who think they don’t enjoy the subject.
Letters to Felice is a collection of Kafka‘s actual correspondence with the woman he loves, and it is truly the best love story that wasn’t written. What’s fascinating about it is catching a glimpse into the mind of a true literary icon. You can chart what he was writing at the time based on his description of his mindset. Why aren’t there Letters to Kafka? Because he is said to have destroyed all her letters to him.
Photos of books from Amazon.