It comes as a pleasant surprise to find that in the midst of our busy schedules, Singaporeans do make the much needed time to read. Being the typically 'kiasu" Singaporeans we are, of course we like to keep up with trends, and this applies very much to books.
So here's a quick round up of the bestselling books for 2012 thus far at renowned bookstores such as Kinokuniya and MPH that their representatives told me Singaporeans are reading - and by reading I mean 'die die must read' novels. I am sure that they would like to share them with you - and that you would love to know what novels are making Singaporeans say "wah (amazing)"!
The “Must Eat” Hunger Games Trilogy - The Hunger Games, Mockingjay, and Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy, attention grabbing and fascinatingly morbid, has had our fellow Singaporean readers clamoring over bookshelves for the past couple of months. A trilogy of books aimed at younger readers, it highlights the consequences of senseless, gruesome brutality.
24 teens are being forced to murder each other in a series of morbid games, and the novel draws readers with its bloody, gripping scenes. These youth, known as “tributes” murder each other in a variety of ruthless ways - one resorts to survival of the games by snapping the neck of another tribute while one of the final surviving tributes is mauled by a pack of rabid dogs. It is the fascination with the perverse that draws many a Singaporean to the local bookshelves. The second book of this trilogy, Catching Fire, also has the same gritty feel.
There is the romantic element that “die die” must be part of every successful novel or film; the protagonist, Katriss, has to choose between two of the male leads, Peeta and Gale in the trilogy’s final installment, Mockingjay. The titillating electricity keeps readers wanting to continue reading.
All in all, the horrific powerplay remains a draw for readers - the success of every novel is obvious when it is made into a movie, as this set of novels has. I do recommend both reading this set of books - makes for great MRT reading entertainment - and catching the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.
Image Source: Author's Own
A ‘Must Fight for’ Game of Thrones : Song of Ice and Fire
George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series of books has a confirmed draw - political power play between imperfect characters, which begins when the lead, Eddard Stark, becomes the uncomfortable recipient of the throne of King Robert. The political intrigue and the continuing destruction that is a constant cause for confrontation remains a big draw for readers.
The first in the series A Game of Thrones, set as a medieval fantasy, is told from 8 perspectives - 6 of which are from the members of the Stark family. They constantly shift, and include a marriage to a barbarian king as a inroad to political power. The mindless destruction that ensues never fails to fascinate and act as entertainment fodder.
Further, Martins use of the supernatural in the begging of A Game of Thrones serves as an effective lead in to completely different political theme - the contrast keeps readers glued to the book. The plot is full of twists, turns, and it is captivating with unusual scenarios - which make it a ‘die die must not put down” book. The book has been made into a highly successful television series now telecast on the HBO channel.
Image Source: Author's Own
A Romantically Wonderful Night Like This by Julia Quinn
Julia Quinn’s 2nd installment of her Smyth-Smith series of books, A Night Like This, continues with its riveting formula of romance and mysterious thrill. Quinn has a talent for penning light-hearted Victorian romances in the vein of Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights - romances that still have a hold on readers this day and age.
Such romances always have an irresistible pull - an attractive young governess paired with a romantic young noble man. Anne Wynters, a young governess attached to the Smythe-Smith family, is soon besotted with young earl Daniel Smythe-Smith, who is relentless in his pursuit of her. The so-close-yet-so-far effect is always a pull - Anne is involved with a man whom she knows she cannot have.
There is also captivating mystery and intrigue - readers stay glued to the book as Daniel manuvers through various attempts on his life by Ramsgate, Anne’s stalker. With its mix of adventure and love, this is another “die-die must read’ book.
Entrapped by David Badalacci’s The Innocent
A spy thriller filled with intrigue, The Innocent by New York's best selling author is sure to keep fans of spy novels on their toes. America’s government calls on Will Robie, a professional hit man to take down some of its enemies - those that it cannot put down.
He is assigned to kill a target close to home in Washington, but something about the task puts him ill at ease. For the first time in his career, he refuses to kill - and himself becomes the target of ruthless stalking.
In the course of his near-death misadventures he runs into a runaway teenaged girl who is no ordinary runaway - her parents were murdered as she herself is a potential victim. He rescues her against professional judgement and soon realizes that she is the centre of a cover - up by the government.
With political twists and turns and the archetypical hero, this novel is another ‘die-die’ Singaporean must have.
Image Source: http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/the-innocent-a-do-or-die-dilemma
An inspirational One Summer by David Badalacci
Another of Badalacci’s creations, the novel is not typical of the author of spy thrillers. Instead, its draw is in the dramatic, tragic elements that keep our Singaporean friends hooked. The idea for this emotional tale came as Badalacci sat in a church awaiting the confirmation of his son.
Jack Armstrong, a happily married father, has a disease which doctors warn is nearly always fatal. In getting his medication, his wife’s van is struck by a snowplow and she tragically meets her death.
He and his children then move to a beach house once lived in by his wife and her family in South Carolina. He miraculously recovers, and bridges the gap that is formed between himself and his children.
The novel’s very real elements have had Singaporean readers drawn to bookshelves. One is able to empathize very much with Jack’s fate - making this another ‘die die must have’ book.
Image Source: http://books.usatoday.com/bookbuzz/post/2011/06/beachy-keen-novels-have-that-summer-feeling/175307/1
The Fascinatingly Youthful Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This book is absolutely suitable as a present for a restless teen - if you are looking for a present for a youth at home, this would be a “die die must buy.” Marissa Meyer skillfully combines the elements of fantasy, science fiction and romance.
Aimed at youth, the book traces the angst of being a little different - a emotional draw for every teen, who will not be able to put the book down as he or she traces Cinder through her romantic and fantastical adventures.
The book has another irresistible draw - romance - that keeps younger readers and lovers of fantasy coming back for more. As Cinder and Prince Kai interact, they find themselves falling more for each other - combine that with the element of secrecy - Prince Kai does not know that Cinder is a Cyborg - and you have the ultimate novel winning formula.
An amazing story of love, science, fantasy and secrecy in one package, Cinder is a book that readers will not want to put down.
Image Source: http://bobsbooksnz.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-lunar-chronicles-part-1-cinder-by-marissa-meyer/cinder/
Performing The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
Rhonda Byrne, as an author, has certainly hit upon a winning formula by tapping on the positive, and I must say that I am one of her die-die hard fans. All of us are drawn to the positive - and positive thinking is certainly becoming very popular here in Singapore.
Byrne first created The Secret, teaching us all the power of the Law of Attraction - that thinking of the positive does bring about positive consequences. She followed it up with the sequel The Power - where she elaborates on tapping on the power we have within to attract the positives into our lives, and emphasizes the need for gratitude for the things we do have.
Now, Byrne brings us The Magic - where she has a wide variety of exercises to help us put positive thinking in place. It is the book’s draw - and for those who have the first two books but have not grabbed the third yet, this is yet another “die die must have.”
Image Source: http://planetzella.blogspot.sg/2012/03/magic.html
Have Cecila Ahern's The Time of My Life!
A huge draw of Ahern’s books are their clever, unique concepts. Why I “die die” could not put down this book was because she cleverly personified Life - making readers think about what would happen if life were a person who keeps track of the moves they make with it. It leaves readers conscious of the positive things that need to be done to keep our lives on track.
Ahern does this brilliantly by showcasing the growth of her protagonist, Lucy. The girl is at first, stubborn and lazy - she grows later to become a more attentive, better person through various trials and challenges.
Though not the main focus of the book, it does have its sweet, giggly romantic elements. Lucy’s first wrong number conversation with Don that is a welcome distraction for readers and a wonderful subplot that is neatly woven into the story.
Life, personified brilliantly by Ahern, is a Life that meets various twists and turns because of Lucy - reminding her of all the things she must do to put him right - but in general, he is a very positive Life that keeps readers charmed.
Image Source: http://atadbitcreative.com/tag/cecelia-ahern/
We All Should Cry For The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Stockett deals cleverly with a difficult period in American History - the time of intense racism - and handles the controversy with charming flashes of humour. It is a book to have when one wants to have something to think about - and yet not overdo it.
One of the draws of Stockett’s book are the well crafted, holistic characters who are human and easy to relate to. There is Abileen Clark, the proud African American nanny of 17 children, Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, a college graduate who becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the prevalent violence and racism in her hometown and Minnie Jackson, Abileen’s best friend and a maid, who has struggles dealing with an abusive husband and enjoys “sassing” her white employers.
The plot is centred around Skeeter’s desire to write a book from the perspective of an African American woman - and draw attention to the discrimination they face. Always a topic of controversy, the book allows some light hearted thinking about racial prejudice - and sends a message that it can bring unwanted, serious consequences.
The novel has since been crafted into a movie starring Emma Stone, Viola Clark and Octavia Spencer - a “die die” must watch. Get the book as well - this is a thought provoking read that one cannot put down.
Image Source: http://www.bookpage.com/the-book-case/2011/11/18/kathryn-stockett-live-and-in-person/
The Blazingly Hot Red House by Mark Haddon
The Red House by Mark Haddon is a book with a perennial draw - uncomfortable family reunions. Singaporean readers have been grabbing this book off the shelves because of the topic anyone can relate to instantly - awkward family reunions. Anyone can understand how difficult questions at Chinese New Year or Hari Raya gatherings can put anyone in a spot.
This novel definitely has that pull - it involves a family reunion at at a small countryside house near the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye. The novel boasts of an eclectic mix of characters - everyone has their share of baggage to carry. The realistic setting gives the novel an edge, making it a die-die must not put down.
Characters have their emotional breakdowns and trials, and their problems follow them to the countryside and wherever they go. Richard’s stepdaughter is in trouble in school, and can no longer hide it from her parents, while other subplots deal with religious friction and tussles over sexual orientation.
What draws me to this book is how it appeals to the ordinary things of life - we can all empathize with the angst the characters go through as they play emotional tug-of-war with their baggage. It promises to be a really engaging read.
Image Source: http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/books/20120622-book-review-the-red-house-by-mark-haddon.ece
Each of these ten books have their own attention grabbing draws - and these make them the "die-dies" that must be in every Singaporean home. They prove to be real couch teasers, coffee table winners and bed time books - do give them a read!