My Favourite Books

I’ve blogged about my favourite anime so I thought that I would do the same with books.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849; HORROR/MYSTERY)

Poe inspired drawing of mine.

The Black Cat – I read this short story when I was 16. It was my first story by Poe.

The Cask of Amontillado – I felt chills!

The Masque of the Red Death – I see a lot of parallels between the prince and wealthy nobles from the story and some people from today AKA privileged people who attended parties during a pandemic.

The Tell-Tale Heart – I love horror stories told from the villain’s point of view the most. I want to know what they were thinking before, during, and after committing the murder.

Edogawa Rampo (1894 – 1965; HORROR/ASIA)

The Human Chair – Its elements are simple but it’s an effective horror story. I could not put the book down!

The Red Chamber – The protagonist talks about he was able to commit perfect crimes. It was incredibly interesting to read.

You can read my review here.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930; MYSTERY)

The Adventure of the Speckled Band – I own all of the Sherlock Holmes novels but this is my favourite Holmes story. It is a locked room mystery. It was scary!

The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane (TBR) – This is one of the two stories narrated by Holmes. It’s sitting on my desk.

Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)

As a child, I watched the Jekyll and Hyde inspired Bugs Bunny episodes. I fell in love with the musical songs during my second year of university. I bought the book and loved it.

Richard Dawkins – The Selfish Gene (1976; PSYC)

This is a book on evolution. Human nature and selfishness are things I’m super interested in. It was also referenced in the anime, Parayste. You can read my post on it here.

Osamu Dazai – No Longer Human (1948; ASIA)

This is the second best-selling novel in Japan. Dazai committed suicide not long after the book was published. You can read my review here.

Wu Cheng’en – Monkey (Earliest known edition was published in 1592; ASIA)

This is also known as The Journey to the West. Like most Chinese people, I grew up watching the live-action adaptations of the folk tale. It is regarded as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. You can read my review of the first part here.

Marie Kondo – Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (2016; SELF-HELP/ASIA)

This self-help book works. I started tidying up midway through the book! You can read my review here. Marie Kondo also has a show on Netflix.

Ryōgo Narita – Durarara!! (2004; LIGHT NOVEL/ASIA)

The anime is based on the light novel. My favourite anime character, Izaya, is from this series. I like the light novel for Izaya’s quotes.

Haruki Murakami (1949 – present; ASIA)

As you can tell from the books I’ve listed, I like older books. Murakami is my favourite contemporary author. I’m currently reading The Elephant Vanishes.

You can read my review of Men Without Women here.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales – Oscar Wilde (1888)

I blogged about parallels between The Happy Prince and a story told in the anime, Fruits Basket.

BOOKS I WANTED TO LIKE:

B. F. Skinner – Walden Two (1948; PSYC)

Victor Hugo – Notre-Dame de Paris (1831)

It’s a long book. Barely anything happened in the first 80 pages.

Edgar Allan Poe – The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841; HORROR)

This is described as the first modern detective story. The commentary in the beginning was very long. I didn’t like the end reveal.

TO BE READ (TBR):

Homer – The Odyssey (8th Century BCE; GREEK MYTH)

William Shakespeare – The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (First performed in 1599; PLAY)

Sophocles – Oedipus the King (429 BC; GREEK MYTH)

These books have been sitting in my room for a long, long time. This is why I buy my books.

Book Review: Monkey [Part 1]

Monkey, also known as Journey to the West 西游记 or Sun Wukong 孫悟空, was written in 1592 by Wu Cheng’en. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Most Chinese people know the story because it became enormously popular through its television adaptations and plays. It influenced some of the earliest Chinese and Japanese animation. It also influenced many series like Dragon Ball. 

I’m reading an English translation by Arthur Waley. Waley only translated 30 chapters out of 100. However, it’s still one of the best English translations out there. He omitted most of the poetry. If you like poetry, hopefully you can find a version that includes it. There is poetry in this one, but very little of it. 

Page count: 350

220px-Arthur_Waley—Monkey.jpg

Synopsis: Monkey is “born” and becomes the Monkey King. He then trains under a Master and learns the secrets of immortality. Monkey then becomes very cocky in his abilities and creates havoc in Heaven. He challenges Buddha and loses terribly.

The above synopsis is only on the first part of the book. I wrote broadly because I didn’t want to spoil too much. The rest of the book will be on the pilgrimage to the West. Monkey travels with Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy to retrieve sacred scriptures and enlighten people about Buddhism. They face many adverse monsters and bodhisattvas along the journey.

I’m writing about the parts in isolation because there’s too much content to cover in the first quarter of the book. I divided the book in my own way: Part 1 ends when Monkey is punished by Buddha, before he begins the pilgrimage. Other people include Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy’s stories into the first part but I think those stories make up its own part.

There are lots of flaws, but it’s understandable because it was written in 1592. What I perceive to be “flaws” are:

  • Fights are not detailed at all. For example, “x and y battled z many times and then y fled.” (I’m using my own words here, but that’s the gist of it.)
  • No character descriptions. I know what Kuan-yin looks like because I’ve seen television adaptations and because of my culture, but not everyone has the same experience as me.
  • The epic part of Monkey challenging Buddha is only told in a mere three pages.

I believe that television adaptations do a better job at these. However, nothing can compare to the book in my opinion, because so much happens in every page. No adaptation can possibly cover every single detail, whether it’s showing hundreds of thousands of men fighting against Monkey, or all the events that happen. Expect “ten years passed” thrown around every few pages.

One of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, why this story is so successful is because of Monkey. He is so clever, witty, confident and funny. Although he disturbs Heaven and so many characters, he’s so likable.

I recommend this classical novel to everyone.