Best Read of 2019

I have read quite a lot of books this year, be it fiction, non-fiction, biography, self-help and so on. And here are my top 3 picks for the year, and I highly recommend everyone to read them too. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Don’t be fooled by the title of this book. It certainly isn’t some fucking nonsense book that talks about nothing. The author discussed about why people felt entitled, how we can make a better decision to make our lives better, what we should be giving a fuck and not giving a fuck on, how we should embrace problems and difficulties for growth and so on.

To put it simply, this fucking book gives you some mind fuck and hopefully you will be able to unfuck yourself after reading it. To get a taste of what is being covered in this book, take a look at Mark’s website here.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

This is another epic book that will surely gives you enough mind fuck. Facts are everywhere, readily available, literally been taught and stuffed into our head, but yet people can still get things so wrong, be so out of touch with reality, and keep believing in the falsehood that they believe in. I myself am guilty of this, and this book gave some guidance on how to be a little more mindful and factual in life, which hopefully lead to better decision making, less complaining and more optimistic.

Here’s a video of Hans in action:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This is a memoir of Paul, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with cancer. It’s about the story of him fighting his life between work, family, life and illness. It’s not just an ordinary fiction or Korean drama where the main character get sick and died just for the sake of making you cry. This book is much more than that. It makes you think about life, about choices, about death, and the meaning behind those. All in all, a very nice read that will make you think and re-think about everything.

I am who i am, still.

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I know my weakness, I do know. Well, I guess it’s my weakness, at least that’s what others perceive it. Along the years, I tried to change some of them, but not all were possible to be changed. Some old habit, some sticky behaviour, some fixated thoughts still remain.

For a start, I’m someone who doesn’t hide his words and feelings, who don’t give “face” when I don’t give a damn. I’d been trying hard to pretend, but it didn’t work well. It’s just not me. I’m trying to change a little of my approach nowadays, will still need to see if that gels with me.

I’m not afraid of offending people when I know they are in the wrong. I know a lot of people will take that as offensive, not forgiving, not caring, no empathy. I have tried to be a little more compassionate, but it had not always turned out well. So in the end, I’m still very much the own-self I am.

I’m not trying to justify myself being who I am here. This is more like a reflection piece for me, myself, as I reflect back and see how I could possibly move on. If I do offended anyone all these days, I’m sorry for that. Perhaps there are things that are harder to change, things closer to my values, things closer to my belief, things closer to my core personalities.

Of course there were instances where I probably can do better, and those are the lessons I need to learn and remember, and ensure the same mistake will never happen again. It’s a long way to go, and let’s see how it goes in the future. It takes time, but I’ll still try my best, and hopefully one day, I am a better me.

Are we getting “Smarter”?

Nowadays, everything seems to be getting “smarter”… Smart home, Smart phone, Smart TV… getting stuff connected to internet and create an app to control them seems to be on the rage and the new standard of defining “smart”… add in a few AI, Big Data, IoT and you have a full package to market it.

But with all these “smart” devices flooding into our lives, are we really getting smarter? Is our lives really improved? It reminds me of a few instances when I visited a couple of my friends’ home. Walking into the room, my friend will proudly show me his trick by using voice command to turn on the light or air-conditioner.

“Ok Google, turn on the lights.”
From the moment we step into the room, to my friend finished his command, to Google finally understood it and get the lights on… it took like 5-10 seconds? If I were to walk in the room and press the physical switch, it would take me probably… 1-2 seconds?

“But… it’s cool!”
“This is the future! Voice command and hands free!”
“I don’t want to be left behind! I must be at the forefront of technology!”

Sadly, a lot of people just don’t seems to understand what they are getting themselves into. To me, I don’t see a point of wasting 10 seconds to replace a task that can be done in 1 second. It just doesn’t add up, why automate something that’s already been so efficient to begin with?

Now, that’s not to say I’m against the idea of… say a smart home. In fact I find that there are quite a lot of advantages (and disadvantages) of having everything connected to the internet. You can turn on or off appliances at home remotely, monitor power consumption, understand and study your usage behaviour or pattern, group several devices together and control them at once under scene mode… just to name a few of the good and meaningful things that you can and should be doing with your smart home.

Collecting data, providing insights and control in improving life, automation… these are genuine reasons for us to celebrate “smart” devices, but to turn on a switch in front of you with voice instead of your hand? Oh please… Okay, I might be pissing people with this post. I’m not trying to make fun of anybody. If you want to be cool, want to be ahead of times, then invest a little more time into doing some of the things that really harvest the best of technology.

We all can get a little “smarter” with all the smart devices around us, but we still need to take the effort to do so. Having the devices alone will not be enough, we still need to think, understand and extract the best of them, just like how we have been living our lives in the pre-smart era.

A new chapter

Finally settled down after moving into new place. Previously I was renting a room and stay with my wife. However, as we changed our job and to reduce travel time to work, we decided to shift out and rented a small apartment. Nothing fancy, just a small unit with one bedroom, a kitchen, a toilet and a living room.

Shifting from our old place over proved to be a challenge. We thought it would be easy to move from a room, but still there were a lot of stuffs that we need to pack and move. In the end, we decided to engage a mover to carry some of the bulky furniture for us.

I also spent a few days cleaning and tidying the place. During this time, it strikes me with a feeling that as if I’m owning my first home. Technically speaking it is, though it was rented instead of bought. But come to think of it, the first time I stayed in my “own house” was back in Dubai, during my job posting there for a year.

Back then, I rented a studio apartment and stayed alone, but I didn’t felt as much of a sentiment as this time around, probably because I just checked in the place with my clothings and that’s about it, every other things were all inclusive and provided. This time, however, despite the unit itself was furnished, but there are still some essential items such as cooking utensils, cookware etc. that needs to be taken care off. Hence, it gave me a little sense of “building my own home”.

When will I be owning my true “first home”? Hopefully it will be in the near future. Let’s see how things unfold. Till then.

Moving…

Yes, I am moving. Not moving this website though, but I am moving from my current rental room and shifting to a new place. Rented whole unit instead of just a room, hopefully this will be a change worthwhile of the investment, at least now it’s a little closer to “living in my own house”. 

When will I be buying my own house? Probably few years down the road, but not so soon. For now, I hope that this change will improve my quality of life a little. Now I can restart my cooking habits, yes I do cook, although they may not taste great. There’s more freedom in inviting friends to come and have a drink or a small gathering, and there’s more freedom and privacy for me and my wife as well.

It’s a little sad leaving the current place, I had stayed here for the past 6 years, and I really enjoyed the environment and neighbourhood. However, as both me and my wife have changed our job, it will be more convenient to move to the new place to cut down some travelling time.

There are still a lot of things that need to be tidied up, hopefully we’ll be able to settle down soon. Also need to get used to the neighbourhood and hopefully I can make myself comfortable here. Looking forward for the days to come, till then.