Archive for the ‘Bookworm Confessions’ Category

I was among a 1,000-strong crowd that waited outside the gates of KLCC Park Mall to attempt to be first in line to get our grubby paws on one of three copies of the special limited edition Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Kinokuniya Bookstore was giving out.

As you can see from this picture:

So many people already queueing up! Boo hoo hoo! :-(

My chances were somewhat dismal…

It got even worse… the moment we were given the go-ahead by the strict, mean-looking KLCC security personnel, the mob just madly, wildly rushed in… pushing against the glass doors, trying to get past and squeeze in as much human fleshies as possible through the small opening of the glass doors. People were falling over each other, trampled upon and a few were purportedly ended up with broken limbs! Terrible! I could still hear one of the security guards’ screaming, “OYY!!! JANGAN TOLAK, SATU PERSATU! JALAN SAJA!! JANGAN LARI!! TAK TAHU ARAHAN, KE??”

In short, it wasn’t pretty… all manner of garbage and early morning food stuff were simply abandoned and tossed on the floor for the poor cleaners and guards to clean up. The injured muggles were all left trailing in the wake of the others. It goes to show that Malaysians’ civic-mindedness goes kaput the moment everyone had set their hearts’ desire to obtain something for free… at whatever cost! It’s every man/woman/child/hermaphrodite for themselves!

After about an hour or so of waiting in line, I finally came face-to-face with the Portrait of the Fat Broad herself…only that she’s there in the flesh!

The Portrait's ALIVE!!! Nah...it's just the front entrance to the Kino Bookstore, helmed by the Fat Broad who requires a password before one can enter.

In my opinion, she looked great, probably one of the best-looking fat ladies I’ve ever seen and the dress does complement her size.

So, I got the book at a 30% discount as I managed to cut out discount coupon that came with last Sunday’s StarMag’s paper in the literature section. Retail price of the book was RM109.90 and after the 30% discount, I only have to pay RM76.93. But that’s nothing compared to the price these two hypermarkets in Malaysia are offering! Smart move to encourage the lower-income earners to buy the book to read, and I totally think that MPH, Times, Popular and Harris are complete idiots to refuse selling the books in their store. I don’t think anyone’s complaining anyways, it’s their loss and all I can say is that they deserve it for trying to squeeze every single penny from us ordinary folks.

Before I went home, my friend Ian managed to snap a picture of this happy quartet who were No.1, No.2, No.3 and No.9 in line at the queue, and thus, went home with lots of Harry Potter goodies:

Lucky winners Donovan Liew (far right), Daniel Rajasingham Subramaniam (second from right), Dayana Liew (third from right) and Lee Swee Bee (far left) show off the goodies they walked away with after waiting in line with hundreds of others - all wanting to be the first few in KL to get their hands on the book.

I’m glad that it were mostly kids who managed to be among the first 13, so I’m not that disappointed. I’ve already decided that if I do get to be among the first 13 in line, I’ll be willing to give up the space to any forlorn-looking kid. After all, I got the money to afford buying the book.

Me and Ian left KLCC and headed for MPH 1 Utama to pick up another copy of the Harry Potter book which I pre-ordered which Ian bought off me. We expected quite about the same number of crowd, so imagine our shock when we greeted with near-deafening silence – no screams of joy, no “hip hip hoorays” or any of the shindigs that was promised by MPH. That’s when we found out about them refusing to sell the books. Luckily, they still let those that pre-ordered them earlier to come pick up their books but stupidly turning away walk-in customers who were looking to buy the book.

A special “limited edition” mug came with my pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The mug’s ain’t nothing to shout about so, not going to waste paste by putting up a rather boring-looking mug. Would most likely put it up for sale on eBay through Ian’s sister.

Shortly afterwards, Ian and I made our parted ways to make our journey home. I got back about two hours ago, washed up, had a bit of chow and getting online to blog about this morning’s events and finally, I began reading the book…

My ppprrreeeccciiiooouuussss copy of the final book in the Harry Potter saga.

No spoilers! ^_^

That’s all folks! For further Harry Potter-ness, including a review (which I would write the moment I finish reading), head over to my litblog.

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I’ve finally read five novels from my newly updated reading list for 2007, which you can find here.

Yikes, it’s been exactly five months since I wrote my last book review! As much as I want or desire to write a review for the books I’ve read thus far, I admit that at times I lack compulsion to write a review…does that makes sense? Yeah, I think it does… I have the desire, just don’t have the motivation. Partly because when I’ve read a book, I usually need to collect my thoughts and ponder over my feelings about the book I’ve read and look up on the Net to see what other people think of it.

And usually after I did that, which would usually take up about a week or two of my time, I just somehow don’t know where to begin to write my review, and in my confusion and distraught, I lost interest or I’d postpone writing it until I get the motivation back. So, thus, my absence from the House of Scribbles & Endless Jottings in the past months.

Plus, my workload is piling up and I’ve got a lot of personal issues to settle too, so I guess that also took the wind out of my sails. I hate it when this happens. It’ll take me so long to finally get things going again. I’m feeling the urge now, so it’s a matter of time for me to write them before I lost it all again.

Wish me luck!

Head over to my other blog to read my first book review of the year 2007. Please share your thoughts and leave a comment there if you’ve read the book before and if you don’t, leave a comment anyways to let me know if my review is ok. Thanks!!

And as a treat for my friend Sora, and also for everyone else who’s probably looking forward to it… there will be one list that I’ll be putting up in a few days… the Top 10 Anime/Manga that I have enjoyed in 2006, thanks largely to ANIMAX and also the wonderful manga collections at the bookstores.

My letter of protest on the banning and restriction of books was published in The Sun last Thursday. You can find the online version of the letter here though I have posted the original below. Still, the online version was 98% unedited.

Book Banning Cripples Social Growth (The Sun, Dec 7)

I am writing this in response to your article dated December 4 “Ministry Will Bar ‘Offensive’ Publications”.

I am an avid reader and a member of a group of bloggers who is wedging an online protest against the Ministry’s banning and restricting books which they deemed ‘offensive.’ I find the act of book-banning to be deplorable and that the Ministry’s move to ban books will severely result in the degradation of our country’s intellectual standing in the world.

How can we ever hope to compete with the best in the world when we’re not allowed to read books that are considered to be classics of our time and that can stimulate our minds by generating interesting discussions and debate? While I understand why the Ministry may be afraid of fiction books and books on religion, but how dare they ban books that serves the purpose to inform and educate such as “Practice of Business Statistics”, “How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex”,  “Breastfeeding Your Baby” and “The New Book of Massage”?? What kind of laughable, incomprehensible reason or rationale has the Ministry conjured up to explain the banning of these books?

And let’s not forget books by children. I take offense against Che Din’s moronic quote “Some children’s books may also have offensive content and contravene conditions in the PPPA”. What could possibly be so offensive about a book for kids that contravened the conditions of PPPA. Don’t tell me we’re not allowed to teach our children how to pray and write and read poems (Poems & Prayers for Children) and we’re not allowed to entertain and educate our children through The Wiggles? Do they think there’s something wrong with grown men dressing up in funny costumes to entertain and educate young children? That it will make these children grow up into wanting to be like these men? God forbid that our children all grow up one day wearing funny costumes to make children sing and laugh! 
 

The Ministry may be stopping the distributors and retailers from getting these banned and “restricted” books, but it is not going to stop individuals like myself and my other bookworm friends from getting these books elsewhere! What are you going to do about it? Ban us from entering the country of our birth? Sorry, but the Ministry has screwed up big time by banning books and the repercussions of this will be felt in the years to come when Malaysia experiences severe intellectual and cultural retardation and starved of open-minded academicians, poets, artistes,writers and authors.

Moral guardian of society? I think Che Din’s Ministry is more like a destroyer of knowledge and information! 

Philipp C.K. Gan @ The Eternal Wanderer

Whether or not the jokers at the Internal Security Ministry took note of my letter is unknown, but I like the fact that The Sun published the letter even though I was near borderline calling the Ministry “stupid” and “idiotic”, which I personally think they are. 

Wish there are more newspapers in this country that is like The Sun.  

Related Links

Book Banning: It’s Finally Out in the Press >>> My 2nd post on the book banning issue has The Sun article that inspired me to write the letter above.
My First post on the book banning furore
Manuscripts Don’t Burn >>> Join the anti-book banning cause by downloading the buttons and put it up on your blog! Read also what others had to say about the book banning issue!

 The pg. 4 report in The Sun, December 4, 2006

The Sun carried a news article (pix above courtesy of Bibliobibuli) on the controversial decision to restrict and ban books. The Star did the same on Sunday. Not sure whether News Straits Times carried the story too, but a search on their website revealed that they hadn’t (or may be they would not, considering is strongly controlled by the government?)

Anyways, they finally got the Internal Security Ministry to explain why books are being banned and restricted and the moronically-ran ministry decided to send out an equally moronic and intellectually retarded official to speak on the subject. Needless to say, I do NOT like some of the things he said in the article. The deputy minister’s comments in The Star article was far from satisfactory either.

No concrete or logical explanation was given for these questions: 1) why some books are banned now when they weren’t before, 2) what was so offensive about some of the books that they had to be banned and 3) Are they banning books because of title, author, content or the just the cover page?

Says Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, the Deputy Minister for Internal Security :

“We ban titles, not authors.”

There could be some element of truth in that statement above, seeing that some of Salman Rushdie‘s books had been available here before they started disappearing off the shelves of almost all bookstores (and not because they’re selling like hot cakes, mind you!). 

However, what really pisses me off is this guy named Che Din Yusoh, who is the secretary of the publications and Quranic texts division of the Internal Security Ministry. Some of the statements he made were:

“As the country’s moral guardian, we cannot let these books in!”

“Some children’s books may also have offensive content and contravene conditions in the PPPA.”

“Some classics are banned because they contained liberal Western ideas that were not conducive to Malaysian society!”

Country’s moral guardian? Offensive content in children’s books? Classics banned because of liberal Western ideas that are not conducive to Malaysia society?? What the hell?

Are we that fragile? Do they expect that hordes of people will be driven to insanity and epileptic shocks because we can’t deal with things like “sex”, “breasts”, “vagina”, “Spongebob” and “The Wiggles”?

Don’t tell me the government seriously think we cannot think and rationalise independently and thus needed to be spoonfed things that are good for us and throw out things that are bad for us?

I would like to warn the government that they had better NOT underestimate the public’s intelligence! They’re playing with fire here, banning intellectual property that is for the advancement of people’s knowledge and understanding of various matters affecting our lives everyday. The government will have no one but themselves to blame when the country becomes an “information desert”, no thanks to the book-banning and film censoring idiots. How do you expect people to grow when you’re stunting their growth by restricting materials that are to stimulate thinking and debate?

It’s no wonder we have so many graduates overseas who refuses to come back to this country because there’s simply no opportunity for growth. We’re not allowed to be intelligent, to be critically and creative thinking individuals and to debate about things that concern us. I cannot help but laugh if the government thinks we out to shut up, be good, and listen to the government because what they’re doing is for our own good.

Hogwash! Who voted for the government to be our “parents”? Their purpose is to serve the needs and wants of the people! And we the people want our right to read the books of our choice! The government has no right to decide what I should read and what I cannot read as it infringes upon my right to acquire knowledge and information! Knowledge and information is the key to a progressive, successful, intellectual nation!

Book Burning during Nazi GermanyI hope our country is not entering into an age where offensive books are torn and burned in massive bonfires like in the days of the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazis. Heck, this is not surprising as there are even groups of people elsewhere in the world that conducts massive book burnings in the 21st century (Click on link if you’re not averse to getting a heart attack from seeing precious books being burned!)

The only hope we all have is to vote in a government that is open-minded, liberal and well-read. The present government is littered with bigoted, power-hungry, religious conservatives and greedy intellectually-retarded fools who think they can lead the people and the country to better heights. Instead, they’re bringing this country down, tarnishing the image of this country more Christian fundamentalists in Ohio, USA, burning books, CDs and other materials they deemed offensive in 2001.and more with their idiocy.

I say overthrow Barisan Nasional and vote in Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat & Lim Kit Siang’s Democratic Action Party. Five years in the wilderness for Barisan Nasional will force to seriously reflect on where they’ve gone wrong and finally have the balls to sack the law-breakers, the inept fools, and the narrow-minded conservatives, racists and extremists.  

Related Links:

The List that started it all
Bibliobibuli – Offensive Publications
Bibliobibuli – Disallowed?
Manuscripts Don’t Burn
My Previous Post on the Issue of Banned Books
Sensintrovert – Are We Heading Towards a Third Reich?

And that’s not all the bloody damned Kementerian Hal-Ehwal Dalam Negeri (Home Affairs Ministry of which the Prime Minister is in charge of) banned… for the full list, visit here courtesy of Silverfish Books. I’m a bit late in commenting this, but at least am commenting about it, no?

So idiotic. So silly. So stupid. So siao. Soso… @$^&*%!!

Suffice to say, I’m just so damn, absolutely PISSED OFF… what the hell possessed the knowledge-deprived, intellectually retarded officers at the Home Ministry in Johor to ban these books?? Simply because they want to put a stop to Malaysians going across the border to Singapore to buy the banned books??

Children’s books (Why oh tell me why in the world were books like Read Aloud Children’s Classics and Poems & Prayers for Children banned???), books that talk and discuss frankly about sex, important books from famous authors like Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Robert Jordan and even books on well-known celebrities like Robbie Williams (Maybe they think kids will get influenced to become Robbie Williams after reading this book!)!  Even the Vagina Monologues and the Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood got the axe! Do they have shit for brains or what?

I know I’m a bit foul with my words now, so I apologise, because in my current rage, I cannot find a more “polite” description of these brutal acts of terrorism against intellectual property and books!

Damn it, how many more banned books and movies are we going to tolerate?? Are we going to let them do it until they’ve rendered the entire Malaysian public intellectually-retarded, incapable of reasoning, incapable of higher-order thinking and full of nonsense just like them?

Excuse me, Mr Shit-for-brains-who-ordered-the-books-banned, you may want to be an intellectually retarded government servant who blindly follows orders from your “morally upright” Masters who continues to shield politicians who close one eye, build grand buildings for themselves without building plans and demolish legitimate businesses – but get this straight… LEAVE THE REST OF US MALAYSIANS OUT OF IT!!!

Damn, I’ve just written why I thought Malaysia is the best place to live…and you screwy people in the Home Ministry have shit-fucking screw things up!! Love the country but HATE…no LOATHE the people running the government system. If we adults can’t broaden our minds and openly receive ideas and encourage debate and independent reasoning, this country is going down the drain!

Already in schools there are teachers who are force-feeding the students information that puts Malaysia in a positive light and spreading gross untruths about other things. Now we are not even allowed to read books on sex, Islam and what other people have to say about Malaysia! Heck, even SpongeBob Squarepants and The Wiggles are not spared the axe! What? The Home Minstry afraid that children will think yellow sponges are going to come alive and talk to them while they scrub their body parts which they probably don’t know the real name of?

Eyeris wrote a very sarcastic and satirical piece on how those nuts at the Johor checkpoint came to the decision of banning these books. I’m not sure whether I ought to laugh or be plain frightened by it. Like Bibliobibuli (she also commented on this issue at her blog over here) said in the comments section of Eyeris’ post – Eyeris could be right!

Lord…we are being terrorised by little Maos (Napoleans are too “soft,” the act of banning these books are akin to Mao Zedong’s bloody Cultural Revolution, except there’s no bloodbath in Malaysia yet! They like Mao so much they’ve decided to be selfish and keep all books on Mao for themselves…the better for them to be living personifications of Mao)…The fact that they banned Sponge Bob Square Pants and The Wiggles and also The Sarong Party Girl (which, incidentally, has been in Malaysia for quite a long time before they decided to ban it! And not to mention that I’ve also interviewed the author!) is evidence enough that the officials at the Home Ministry could not tell the difference between a dangerous book and a harmless book. Even if a book is dangerous, the public reserves the right to be a judge of that and moral policing in anyway is utterly wrong as it infringes on the right for individualS to freely express their opinions.

The banning of books is a serious crime which must be stopped at once! Stop treating us Malaysians as fools without capabilities for logical reasoning. Stop deciding what we should read or should not read – you’re not our parents! Do you really think we Malaysians are that fragile and easy to believe in everything that we read in books? How dare you look down upon us as if we’re mere children? There are even children who are smarter and capable of more rational thinking than half of you Ministry bozos put together.

Go ahead, ban them. Malaysia’s now officially the laughing stock of the world. You’ve only succeeded in strengthening the resolve of the Malaysian public to obtain the banned books and see what the freaking hell got all your feathers ruffled up. Heck, I’m going to tell you this – I’m even prepared to go to jail for possessing these books and reading them in public! Try and stop me!  

What Others Have Been Saying About This Book-Banning Craze

Midnitelily: Banned Books
Bibliobibuli’s Index on Censorship in Malaysia
Minishorts: The Simplest Reason is The Right Reason
Sashi-isms: Banned Books
Suanie: sick/ mawi still sux/ banned books/ cheers/ finger/ lainie
Sharanya: Oh. My. God
Whereinsoever: Who’s genius banning books this time?

The StarTwo, the lifestyle & entertainment section of my favourite paper The Star, main feature today highlighted the five ways savvy bookworms maintain the expensive (but oh-so-worthwhile & pleasurable) habit of reading. For many of us in Malaysia, books sold in regular bookstores like MPH, Borders and Times burn huge holes in our wallets, pockets & purses. It still puzzles me why the government would one to impose such high import duties on books when they’re trying to encourage people to read.

Anyways, the writer – Elizabeth Tai – gave us poor bookworms cheaper and more convenient alternatives in getting our hands on books without having to starve ourselves or rob the bank. Here are my thoughts on each of the five alternatives for bookworms like myself to fulfill our book-reading needs.

Rent-a-Book!

  • Back in the ’90s when I was still in school, I definitely thought book-rental shops were heaven sent. I can still remember borrowing those evergreen teen mystery and thriller books like Hardy Boys, Famous Five, Goosebumps and R.L. Stine books. I was given very limited pocket money those days, and I would normally starve myself during recess time thrice a week to save up enough to rent one book. I must say, those books I’ve read played a great part in shaping and sharpening my fluency in English. Lord knows that if I hadn’t spent my free time reading those rented books, my English wouldn’t be as good as it is today and I probably wouldn’t end up as a journalist/writer as well! So, I’m all for renting books, especially if you can’t afford to buy books. Also, book-renting is also ideal if you’re the type who is easily attracted by the blurb/synopsis of a book because it “sounded interesting” or the type that reads books on the basis of the “cool title” and the author.

I’ll Give You Mine and You Give Me Yours!

  • Okay, I admit that I was astonished to read about the Bookcrossers and bookcrossing. I didn’t know that such a thing existed, and that there’s even one here in Malaysia…started by a 16-year-old no less! One thing is for sure, this is a great idea but only if you’re the type who can easily part with your books when you’re finish with it.  I have to confess, I am not that type…I’m very possessive of my books. I love my books and I can’t imagine myself giving away my precious books to someone else. I do borrow books to my friends, but I always get them back in the end. Of course, there comes a time when hard decisions have to be made – when I shifted to my new house last year, I had to give away a couple of boxes of books and comics to PayLess and my former secondary school’s library. But passionate habits are hard to neglect and after a year, I have reaccumulated new books and am facing a storage problem. *Sigh!* If only I have the heart to part with some books that I actually did not read again after the first reading. Swapping books is certainly a great idea and am sure there are many out there who will benefit from this bookcrossing effort.

 Discounts, discounts and more discounts!

  • I like discounts. 🙂 Who doesn’t? I’m a member of both MPH’s Readers’ Circle and Popular Bookstore as these are the two bookstores that I most frequently get my books from. I could not tell you how great and worth it to be members at these bookstores. The discounts given to members are so generous and wonderful! Besides member discounts, I also use discount coupons which I cut out from the newspapers and also hold out for generous friends who give me book vouchers as gifts on my birthday and Christmas. Heck, I don’t think I’ll be mad if anyone gives me a RM50 MPH book voucher as an angpow for Chinese New Year! Oh, and one more thing, it really pays if you could make friends with the bookstore employees too, as you can utilise their staff discounts! Heh, heh, my friend used to work at MPH and whenever I buy books, I pass my books and the money to her for her to pay on my behalf so that I can get books at discounted price!

Warehouse sales! Woot!

  • Like one of my favourite people in Malaysia, Bibliobibuli, I just loooooovvveee warehouse sales for books! This year alone, I’ve been to MPH’s warehouse sale, Times Bookstore’s warehouse sale, Popular warehouse sale and the Big Bookshop warehouse sale…spending an estimate total of RM350 for about 12 books! Like book-rental shops, warehouse sales are truly god-sent! Books going at such unbelievably low price that you’ll be forgiven for thinking that you’re dreaming of a bookworm’s paradise. Moreover, warehouse sales are the best places to look for precious gems you’ll never find in the regular bookshops. I’ve got a few of it myself and I’m enjoying them! Can’t wait for next year’s warehouse sales already! Hopefully by then, I’ll have extra shelves for all my precious books!

 Let’s Borrow!

  • Borrowing I definitely don’t mind. It’s different compared to swapping as swapping involves two people exchanging books. Borrowing entails that you give a book to a person for a certain amount of time only. Again, I don’t usually borrow books from people but I do lend books to people. When I do borrow, however, it’s mostly to check out the first chapter of the book and if I like it enough to buy it, I will return the book to its owner and go out and buy my own copy. If I don’t like it, the least I did was try to finish reading the entire book and then return it to the owner. It’s a great way to gauge whether a book is really worth the money buying it. Of course, it only works when someone else have already owned a copy of the book or if you go to libraries. 🙂 Unfortunately, the local libraries suck, with the exception of British Council’s library.
  • While these five ways are definitely great ideas and ideal for people hard on cash, I’m pretty much a loyal bookbuyer because I believe in giving the author its due. As I myself would like to be a successful author one day, I want to buy books as a way of encouraging the author and bless him/her back monetarily. Most of these authors may be millionaires, but spare a thought for the new authors and authors who are struggling to make a living writing these books for the entertainment and joy of other people, even if they say authors, first and foremost, write for themselves.

That said, what’s your favourite way of getting books for your reading pleasure?

Do you have what it takes to be a masterful suspense writer? If you think so, Xeus, author of Dark City invites you to spin the darkest, creepiest and most twisted yarn you can ever dream of!

So, what are you waiting for? Tap into the deep, dark recesses of your perverse soul and scare the wits out of all us…and maybe even the indomitable Xeus herself!

Here’s the info:

For the Dark City sequel, which is scheduled to be published in April 2007, author Xeus is calling for short story submissions. Dark City 2 will be an anthology of dark and twisted Malaysian tales much in the tone of the first book.

The submission criteria are:
1) Each short story should contain around 3000 – 8,000 words. Please use double spacing and Microsoft Word.
2) Each plot must be in the same vein as Dark City 1, which are stories about the darker side of Malaysian life. The short story genres can be contemporary, horror, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, romance, Roald Dahl-style ironic etc.
3) The stories must meet the English and storytelling standards of the first book. (In other words, the editor will only select only what is publishable)
4) Each short story must contain a twist which hopefully no reader will see coming
5) This is open to published and unpublished writers of all ages. For unpublished writers, this allows you an opportunity to be published and to use this in your literary resume. You will then be able to sell your work more easily to a future publisher.

Your story will be selected on the strength of its plot, your ability to beguile the reader, and the shock impact of your twist. Your story must be concise, gripping and satisfying! Selected contributors will be paid RM 150 and 4 free books for each story. You can submit as many stories as you like.

The editor reserves the right to conceptually edit selected stories in the purpose of making them more appealing and ask you for a rewrite.

Closing date is Feb 28th, 2007.


Stories are to be submitted to dark.city.xeus@gmail.com