A Game of Thrones – Book or Series?

Many people have been recommending that I read, “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. I’ve read very few books in this genre – in fact that only one I can think of is The Hobbit. Having said that, for those of you who have read the book and watched the series (so far), is it still worth delving into the books now that the series is out?

Pardon the noob question, but how does this series stack up against The Lord of the Rings? (which I’ve not yet read either although it’s sitting on my shelf)

Packing up, books vs Kindle, and the joy of dead trees

The movers are here today, shipping our belongings to Manila.

We spent the week packing up and sorting through dusty memories. It’s really hard to narrow your life down to only 12 cubic meters; especially considering I arrived in Indonesia 7 years ago with only two suitcases. What goes? What stays? What gets donated to charity? What gets trashed?

I don’t want to become a pack rat – I enjoy simplicity and minimalism to a degree. However, I do have a slight problem with books; a problem meaning I buy far too many, and read far too few. Case in point? I spent no less than 9 hours categorizing and cataloging my books into Delicious Library 2 – software for Mac that uses the built in iSight to scan the barcode on the back of books (very cool). You can then sync it with your iPhone so you can view your library on the go.

Why would I ever need this? What, you’ve never bought the same movie or book twice? Never loaned out books and forgot to whom? Tedious and perhaps a bit OCD, but pretty sweet once it’s complete. After sorting many books to remain in Jakarta, and not including Novita’s Indonesian books, the grand total was 285 books.

Yes, 285. Maybe not a lot compared to some (including my parents), but considering I brought only a beat-up copy of Trainspotting and Sho-gun to Jakarta, it sure seems excessive. To put it in perpsective, if, say, I live another 60 years (hopefully more), I’d have enough books to read almost 5 per year – without ever buying another book. Ouch.

Why not just use Amazon’s Kindle?

I guess despite being a full on tech guy, books are one area in which I like the tangible item. I spend much of the day online reading and working with screens; books are a welcome respite from pixels. I realize digital formats are more sensible, devices have made great strides in readability, and probably are much more ‘green’; perhaps I’ll look back on this post in a decade and laugh at my naivety.

For now, I’ll stick with dead trees and expensive shipping.


Ironically, Novita just shipped the novel I’m reading. True to my post, I went searching for another book to read in the books that weren’t sent in the shipment – whaddya know – on the top of the pile was another copy of that very same novel.

See, there’s a perk to being a book monger!

Top classic novels and nonfiction

Recently I’ve developed a strange desire to read some of the classic novels in literature and nonfiction. As the majority of Americans tend to only read through these while in high school or university, I believe we’ve missed out on so many great books. I have a number of classics on my shelf at home, but with my limited time to devote towards reading, need to be selective.

So my question for you is, what would you consider to be your top five favorite classics?

These can be works of fiction or non-fiction. I know there are lots of lists out there by the BBC, Guardian, etc, but I’d like to hear your own opinions. What are the works which have altered your perceptions?

Sci-fi book recommendations?

Ok, I have a confession. I’ve never read any sort of science fiction or fantasy book other than something like “1984“. I came across Dune in the bookstore the other day, and it sparked my curiosity. I’ve seen it compared to some of the better novels of the 20th century, including Lord of the Rings. Has anyone read it? Thoughts?

Similarly, if I were to start off with one book from the genre, what would you recommend? I don’t mind a bit of crossover with another genre, but think it’s high time I open myself to something new.

Getting Published: Digital Portrait Photography and Lighting

Some of my photographs have been published in “Digital Portrait Photography and Lighting” – a book written by the lovely, talented, and award-winning photographer, Catherine Jamieson. She was kind enough to include some photos of Novita, Nana, and some other portraits of Indonesians in her book. I haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but it’s available on Amazon.com and most likely in many bookstores across the world.

Here is some additional acclaim for the book.

Snorkeling on a Motorcycle

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I love about Singapore are the cavernous bookstores on Orchard Rd. I have an addiction to reading (when I have time) and find that it only makes my craving worse to be surrounded by towering shelves of goodness. There are simply too many subjects that I’m interested in. Here’s a typical path I may follow in no certain order:

Photography, travel, new fiction, graphic design, computers, psychology, mountain biking, new non-fiction, classic novels, technology, business, investing, marketing, economics, cultural studies, history, architecture, back to photography (always drawn to that area), science, physics, geography, travel writing, politics, car design, fitness, music, and probably a good hour browsing the magazine section letting a nice pile of the subscription cards stack up at my feet as I receive nasty looks from the staff.

Are you this random? Is this normal?

At any rate, I generally walk out of there having spent no less than triple digits. Here are a few things I picked up last week:

As I work through these, I’ll let you know what I think. I’m almost finished with Freakonomics – fascinating read but I’m sure it will spark some controversy in some circles.

Have you heard about the haze in Malaysia? Apparently it’s so bad that some companies have had to close temporarily – if there’s anyone from Malaysia or K.L. I’d love to hear your perspectives. Is it hard not to blame Indonesia for this problem? (It’s caused by the rampant burning on the nearby Indonesian island of Sumatra)

This is an actual image from the haze – no joke (not taken by me).

You guys may enjoy this… my most ‘interesting” photos (oops, didn’t realize only my login works… let me figure out a different way)

To and 'Fro

Pelabuhan Ratu, South Java

I’m ashamed to admit that it’s taken me so long, but I’ve just recently discovered the Japanese author Haruki Murakami. I’ve just finished David Mitchell’s number9dream – and loved his style. Upon further reading, I found that many of his ideas were inspired by the work of Murakami, so ran to the bookstore this weekend to pick up a few of his works as well as another of Mitchell’s:

Kafka on the Shore – Murakami
Norwegian Wood – Murakami
Ghostwritten – Mitchell
Cloud Atlas – Mitchell (had since xmas but haven’t read)

I’m on this Japanese literature kick lately if you can’t tell – not quite sure what started it, but if you have any recommendations or authors I should check out, please email me or leave a comment.

Also – I’ve been hit pretty hard with spamming comments on this blog – around 300 per day – and therefore will approve each comment before it displays. This simply means that if you leave a comment, it will not show up immediately – only after I approve it. Please don’t let this cause hesitation, but be aware that it won’t show up instantly. 😉

The Da Vinci Code

I read a fascinating book titled, The Da Vinci Code. It’s been a long time since a book has actually made me interested enough to research its material on the ‘net.

Take a chance and check this book out – every person that has borrowed it from me has been gripped by the stories mix of fact and fiction. Let me know what you think if you’ve already finished it.