List of Lists

December brings a bit of panic. The year is ending! How is that possible! Christmas is coming! What am I going to get this person and that person? Order presents for my family in Singapore! Send Christmas cards! Quick! We have Christmas stockings but nowhere to hang them!

And more importantly, all these book lists that keep appearing every day! I want to read them all! But I haven’t even read ALL THE BOOKS from 2013 yet. Let alone 2012 and the years before!

But I am a sucker for lists and I keep opening the links and going through the books mentioned anyway.

So I’m going to add links here in case you’re into that sort of thing too…

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014

Goodreads Choice Awards winners

NPR’s Best Books (some 250 titles!)

Amazon Best Books (100 titles)

Huffington Post Best Books

Wall Street Journal’s list

Slate’s underrated books

Kirkus Review’s list

Library Journal

From the UK:

The Telegraph’s best fiction

The Guardian’s best fiction ; best SF;

Also from The Guardian, writers like Hilary Mantel and Margaret Atwood pick their favourite reads of the year  (part two is here)

The Independent’s list


Children’s books
Association for Library Service to Children’s notable books

SF and Fantasy

Not a ‘best of’ list but a pretty good one:’s standalone fantasy/SF novels




Links for a foggy Wednesday morning

It has been ages since I’ve done one of these!

Edan Lepucki writes at The Millions about likeability in fiction. She mentions her novel, California, which I really ought to try to read soon! And this year is ending! Gah… Have you read it yet? Or are you intending to?

If you’ve not checked out the series that Morning News is doing on writers in restaurants, you really ought to! Here’s their brief: “In our series, we send novelists out into the field to eat in restaurants and report back, as long as they file something that fits two criteria: It is a restaurant review; it is not a restaurant review. From there, they’re free to go wherever inspiration takes them.”. And here is Charles Yu on Buffalo Wild Wings

So many great topics on Nonfiction November’s second week: Be/Become/Ask the expert. SOOOO many books to add to my TBR list!

The Mouse Mansion – what a cute book!

A fun post on Scratch and Sniff Books for Grownups on BookRiot!

Non-bookish things:

This Gruyere and Emmentaler Mac and Cheese with Ham and Cubed Sourdough at Vanilla Garlic is going on my mental list of recipes to try!

I usually have udon in my fridge, and often stir it into a quickly made chicken and vegetable soup or tom yum soup (made from one of those pastes). But this recipe for a meat sauce at Teczcape sounds quick and easy too!

Usually I’m not a cheesecake person but this Coconut and Mango Yogurt Cheesecake at Dessert First sounds divine!

Links for Wednesday

Sous Chef author Michael Gibney names his top 10 restaurants and bars in modern lit

The Millions on food and literature:

“When I think about my favorite books, I remember how they made me feel, and I remember the food, and sometimes those two feelings get all mixed up. I remember when a girl is hungry and when she eats something. Especially when the girl is hungry and when she eats something.”

50 Novels By Women Writers On Conflict, Displacement And Resilience (Huffington Post)

The Center for Fiction’s 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize long list:

The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Krug Benjamin (Atria Books)
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Black Cat)
Byrd by Kim Church (Dzanc Books)
Cementville by Paulette Livers (Counterpoint)
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (Harper)
The End of Always by Randi Davenport (Twelve)
For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (Ecco)
The Girls from Corona Del Mar by Rufi Thorpe (Knopf)
The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (Grove Press)
The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko (Penguin Press)
The Kept by James Scott (Harper)
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books)
The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson (Little Brown and Company)
Life Drawing by Robin Black (Random House)
Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah (Sarah Crichton Books)
Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston (Random House)
Ruby by Cynthia Bond (Hogarth)
Saint Monkey by Jacinda Townsend (W.W. Norton & Company)
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (Thomas Dunne Books)
The Sixteenth of June by Maya Lang (Scribner)
The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart (Little Brown and Company)
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (Simon & Schuster)
What Ends by Andrew Ladd (New Issues Poetry & Prose)
The Word Exchange by Alena Gradeon (Doubleday Books)
Young God by Katherine Faw Morris (FSG)


Things I’m loving this Thursday

20140731-084030-31230703.jpgThese two. Always and forever. (That’s his favourite book)

The nice and cool morning we’re having. A bit of an overcast sky is a nice change from the full blast of the sun!

Jenny Lewis is back with Voyager. I’m so glad.

This three ingredient salsa from Smitten Kitchen makes me want to go out and get me some tomatoes!

This blueberry lemon cake with lemon glaze from Averie Cooks

Celery Bread sounds like a good way to use up celery next time.

I’m going to see whether my library has any of these books by Rose Tremain for Savidge Reads’ Trespassing with Tremain

I’ve added books to my TBR list thanks to these links:

Mr Gwyn – Alessandro Baricco (B&N Review)

This one’s for the kids: What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom (BookDragon)

JoV at Bibliojunkie is back on her blog and making me want to read Apple Tree Yard by Louis Doughty!

Aarti’s #Diversiverse genre spotlights, like this one on non-fiction, this one on historical fiction. And here’s her main post explaining what it’s all about.


Things to love this Wednesday

Now how did most of the day go by already?

It’s Wednesday! The weekend’s going to be here soon, or perhaps not soon enough!. Wee Reader’s preschool lets out tomorrow and this marks the end of his first ever preschool year! He’s grown from that overly cautious, unsure 2.5-year-old who was still being potty trained (SO many days in which he came out of school with a bag of wet clothes!!) to being completely diaper-free, more confident, happy to go to school (most days) 3.5-year-old! He’s learnt all sorts of important things like how to hold a pencil/crayon properly, put on his shoes, jackets, pants and underwear (the tops are a bit trickier), songs and rhymes, and things that surprise me like how he nods and says ‘yes’ when he’s listening to a story and peeing standing up (!). I put him in school last year mostly because I wasn’t sure if I could handle two kids under three by myself so I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all these little changes I see in him.

Anyhow, here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

Populaire – a 2012 French film that’s currently streaming on Netflix. It’s set in the 1950s and features speed typing!

This very summery snap pea, watermelon and edamame salad! from Joy the Baker

I am so craving a milkshake right now, thanks to these ice-cream-sandwich milkshakes from Bake at 350

The Millions’ post on the most anticipated releases for the second half of 2014. These kinds of posts just make me sigh and wish I had more time to read. Because I so want to read SO MANY of these books. David Mitchell! Sarah Waters! Hilary Mantel! Christos Tsiolkas!

Added to my TBR list: On Black Sister Street by Chika Unigwe thanks to Me, You and Books

An article on the art of the opening sentence from The Millions

Ok all that talk about food is making me hungry. Plus the house smells great thanks to the beef stew that is in the slow cooker. It’s currently got beef, onions, cabbage, garlic, tomato paste, star anise, cloves, cinnamon bark, coriander roots, a bit of soy sauce and fish sauce in it. I’ll be adding carrots and potatoes a little later. But meanwhile I’m hungry! I think I’ll go for some crackers and brie.

What are you snacking on today?

Things I’m loving this Thursday

One thing I’m not loving: the possibility of getting a sore throat! I’ve been chugging down plenty of green tea and watching what I eat!

But here’s what I am loving today:




This gorgeous pink daikon I picked up at the farmers market. I’ve never seen pink daikon before and just had to grab some. They went in a pot of chicken stock with some ginger and carrots for a lovely comforting bowl of soup, served with spam fried rice last night.

Dinah Washington. I’ve been reading Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert and Dinah Washington was mentioned and I’ve been listening to her a lot since.

Pretending I’m right there along with Book Snob at Chevening in Kent

Celeste Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You – haven’t read it yet but keep hearing good stuff about it!) on becoming a writer in a family of scientists. 

Dovegreyreader on The Coat Route – Craft, Luxury & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat, by American journalist Meg Lukens Noonan. Sounds interesting!

A Cup of Jo talks about some approaches to sibling rivalry.

I always have to add a link about Singapore food. So here’s one from Food Canon about dry horfun (flat rice noodles) with minced pork

Gorgeous ‘fireworks’  cookies for July 4th at Bake at 350!







Links I’m Loving this Wednesday

After reading this review of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas on BookDragon, I immediately put in a request for it at the library. Looks like a great story!

Julia Fierro (author of Cutting Teeth) on writing: (via The Millions)

When I tell the story of how I became a writer, I make sure to include the seven years I spent notwriting. Even after all I’ve accomplished, I still feel ashamed of those years spentnot writing.


Mmm, coffee brownies!

This is why I read food blogs. This tomato, peach and avocado bruschetta from Love and Lemons.  Because I would never ever think to put those three things together. Peaches, tomatoes and avocados??! Love it!

It’s not something I’ll ever make, but I was so very fascinated by the making of this Cassata alla Siciliana on David Lebovitz’s blog

These great pictures – and a recipe – of a Blackcurrant and Morello Cherry Drizzle Cake. Those plump berries sitting on top the cake just made me open my fridge, grab some cherries and eat them.

The summery colors in this chickpea salad! So very happy!

And I’m off to try finish reading The Goldfinch.

Things I’m loving this Wednesday

This book bingo. Sounds fun!

You might have seen this news already, but I’m always fascinated by hidden pictures found under famous paintings

This fashion spread is gorgeous. And underwater.

What it’s like to take a 36-hour sleeper train ride from LA to Seattle

These photographs of London bookstores

This recipe –  a reminder that I’ve not made Bibimbap in ages – and a thought to try it with bok choy next time

I am drooling at the thought of curry puffs…. How I miss them!

Random thoughts while vacuuming

– why does the husband use the bathtub as a clothes hanger?

– can I just vacuum around these books instead of moving them off the floor?

– ooh that’s where that book went

– must congratulate Yu-Mei on her stories and tell her that Lighthouse was my favourite story in Balik Kampung

– why can’t I just think things and have them typed out and ready for uploading onto the blog when I’m done

– why do I keep blogging anyway?

– what am I going to do about the kids’ lunch?

– must link to that funny discussion about social media by Maureen Johnson, John Scalzi and Bill Barnes

Maureen: “But isn’t it possible—”
Scalzi: “NO NO NONO NO NO NO. Wait until I’m done.”
Maureen: “I thought maybe…”
Scalzi: “Why haven’t you made me a sandwich yet??” He sighed in frustration, but then allowed, “Now you may speak.”
Maureen (whispered): “I love you.”

– must read something by all three soon. I already like them in person. I prob would like their writing.

– what happens if it’s the opposite? Has that ever happened to you? That you like the book but then discovered you don’t like the writer? Like VS Naipaul. I’ve not read any of his books, I’ve heard he’s a good writer (he does show up in many ‘best of’ lists) but he also is extremely arrogant and just an overall unpleasant person, to put it nicely

Wednesday Links and a cup of tea

– Over at BookRiot, Swapna talks about minorities and mainstream reading:

“You don’t have to write a minority story in order to embrace a minority character.”

Thank you for that, Swapna. It’s exactly how I feel. As a Chinese Singaporean, I try to read more Asian and Southeast Asian literature, but most of the time read more, er, general works, often by American or British writers (who tend to be white). Having grown up and lived most of my life in Singapore where I wasn’t a minority (Chinese make up about 75% of the population), I never thought much about whether I read books with non-white characters. These days though, I’m far more aware of that. And I think it’s even more so when I select books for the kids. I do appreciate that the drawings are becoming more diverse, that they reflect people of different colours and backgrounds (sure wasn’t like that when I was growing up!). And there are picture books by authors like Wong Herbert Yee (Tracks in the Snow and Who Likes Rain?) which aren’t about being Asian or Asian culture but use Asian-looking children as their main characters. Of course we do enjoy books like Grace Lin’s Dim Sum for Everyone and Roseanne Thong’s Round is a Mooncake which are specifically about Chinese culture, but it is nice to be able to read them a picture book that uses a minority character to illustrate a situation that any child, no matter the colour of their skin, can relate to, such as playing in the rain.

– On a similar note, Tao Jones writes in the Wall Street Journal about the Fresh Off the Boat TV series based on Eddie Huang’s memoir, musing first about Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl series (20 years ago!):

For decades, Asians had been all but invisible on this most mass of mass media, flickering on and offscreen again in bit parts or as background scenery; when primetime deigned to include us, it was nearly always in roles that presented us as buffoons, monsters or victims (and sometimes all of the above). The idea that millions of people across the nation might be gathering to watch a show in which they’d be invited into an immigrant Asian household, experiencing our unique issues and aspirations through the humanizing lens of comedy — this was incredible. It was groundbreaking. It seemed like the culmination of decades of struggle for cultural relevance and social inclusion. And from May to September, it was all that my friends and family members could talk about.

But when the show finally arrived, all those expectations came crashing to the ground.

– Buried in Print is back after some database issues and has a great post about standalone mysteries, many of which I’ve not read yet. Onto the TBR list it goes!

– I was rather struck by that picture of Benedict Cumberbatch on the cover of Derry Moore’s An English Room, which Lynn at I prefer reading posted about.  It was like, wait is that who I think it is? It sure looks like him, but it seems so more quiet and gentle than the Sherlock that I know! 😛

– Barnes and Noble Review has a nice interview with George Saunders on Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, a revised and expanded edition of his 2013 commencement address at Syracuse University. I especially liked the last bit in the interview, where the interviewer tells Saunders that he had first met Saunders at the National Book Awards, and Saunders had been very kind to him:

Actually, that night, I got a lesson in kindness from my wife. That event is kind of exciting. You’re there with your editors and your agents, and it’s really exciting. Then, when you don’t win, you feel a bit like, “Oh God, I’m in public and I just didn’t win.” Just a little bit.  But afterwards, my wife just said, “Let’s dance.” I went, “Well…” She says, “Yeah, come on. I got all dressed up. We’re gonna dance.”

BNR:   You can’t ask for better than that.

GS:   No, exactly. It was a physical cure to whatever whininess or hurt feelings I had, whatever was embarrassing and uncomfortable. She fixed it with this physical gesture of taking my hand. “Let’s go dance.” You dance for two minutes and you’re like, “Yeah, we’re happy.” She used to be a ballet dancer, so her way of being in the world is very physical, very joyful. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to dance; it’s embarrassing; I’m not going to…” But then I couldn’t say no. She looked so beautiful. I’m not going to say no to her. Within a couple of minutes, you’re back to yourself again. And I didn’t do that. She did it. So that’s marriage. A good marriage.

Foodie links:
Cheese, vegetable and egg muffins at Averie Cooks

– The James Beard Award for best cookbooks

– I just made oatmeal cookies (half chocolate chip, half raisin and coconut) and now I wish I had seen this recipe for brown butter chocolate chip cookies from Joy the Baker. Yum

– I’ve never cooked polenta or fennel before but this recipe (and the lovely photos) makes me want to give them both a try!

Garlic Roasted Tomatoes with Fish sounds like what I need to make for dinner another day!

– Mmmm, laksa. I miss that rich spicy coconutty broth.

Something random:
– Check out these crazy-luxurious suites on an airplane!!