Wednesday, 26 December 2018

The Worst Books I Read in 2018

The year is coming to a close. I've had a pretty packed and good reading year—surpassing my goal by 10 books. From this point on, I feel like taking a slow approach to reading, so it's probably a great time to look back on some of the books I've flipped through this year. While it's great to celebrate the amazing reads I've managed to enjoy—which you'll find on a video down below—I think sometimes it's also good to reflect on the bad literary choices I've made. Usually, I'm pretty good at steering away from books I know I wouldn't enjoy, but sometimes covers and recommendations can fool you. That's the case for me this year. So here are the worst books I read in 2018—from okay to hell no.

The Rising of the Shield Hero Vol. 6

by Aneko Yusagi

Firu practically forced me to read this ongoing series. It's a Japanese Fantasy Light Novel, in an RPG-like setting. It tells the story of Naofumi, a Japanese college student who's suddenly transported to another universe, in which he and three other guys were regarded as heroes who are destined to save this other world. However, his hero character has been unfairly prejudiced and he has suffered from discrimination from some very powerful people, not to mention the uncooperative traits of the other three heroes. That's basically the plot. While some of the prequels have revealed some very astonishing discoveries that should affect the story, Volume 6 in particular feels incredibly slow. The character growth that seemed to happen in Volume 3 just sort of unraveled and undid itself, there is no improvement story-wise and, well, as is usually the case with this genre, it is very gimmicky—clearly, Naofumi is set up to have a harem of his own—and prioritises obvious fanservice. There are a total of around 12-13 volumes so far, but I put a stop to it on this volume.

Platform

by Michel Houellebecq

Back in 2016, I read this nonfiction book called Romancing the East. It discusses several authors who have written about Asia back in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries—mostly Westerners. This book is one of the titles included in the discussion. I've never heard of the author before, but I was quickly very intrigued by the subject matter. Basically, the story follows this man named Michel—possibly a memoir?—whose interests are limited to pretty much two things: sex and travel. At first, he joins a tour group to Thailand and explores its sex tourism, but later on starts a relationship with a tour agency worker and goes deeper into the sex tourism industry. While the book itself is clever and well-written, I feel more uncomfortable with the message contained within. Sex itself isn't the issue, really, except for the fact that it could really jump on you—complete with its various kinks and antics—without serving much to the story itself. It also promotes 'yellow fever' and the sexualisation of Asians—especially women. Let's just say, it doesn't age well.

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

by Shawn David Hutchinson

This is one of those cases of a great concept, but shitty execution. The way the author speaks of this work, you could almost expect it to be amazing and unique—but then you read it and realise that he obviously oversells it. Shawn David Hutchinson isn't a name that I'm familiar with—I've never read any of his previous books—so I'm not sure if this can be the reference for his skills. The story, basically, is about a boy who lives in hospital for one reason or another, and that his whole family is dead. Little by little, we find out things about him. Now, unfortunately, there are just too many inconsistencies—the boy seems to have the attention span of a goldfish—that the plot doesn't flow as naturally as it should. The title has pretty much nothing to do with the content—so much so that the author has to explain it in his Goodreads page. A lot of Andrew's choices don't make sense and the portrayal of any of the characters feel unrealistic—making it hard to sympathise with any of them. In the end, I couldn't really finish it and just skipped to skim the ending.

Overlord Vol. 1: The Undead King 

by Kugane Maruyama

Before the first book I mentioned on this list, Firu actually wanted me to read this one. You may recognise Overlord from its anime version. It is also a Japanese Fantasy Light Novel, set in an RPG-like world as well. The story starts with a guy who comes online to his favourite MMORPG to be there for its official shut down. When the countdown clock struck zero, however, he isn't automatically logged out—in fact, he can't log out at all. The world around him, including his non-human form, turns into reality. Yes, it's one of those. I couldn't even read past chapter 2 of this book, however, as it absolutely irks me. First of all, the writing is somewhat tedious—descriptions go on for ages, without being in any way significant to the storyline. Then there's the borderline NSFW gimmick portrayed in at least two female characters fighting over the main character. Halfway over the book, there is still no actual point of resolvable conflict. I just had to put it down and waste no more of my time.

Underground

by Ika Natassa

And the award for the worst book of the year goes to...this half-baked mess of a book. Honestly. If you're Indonesian, you might know Ika Natassa as the writer for the newly-adapted-to-film book of Critical Eleven. Personally, I don't know if that one was any good either, but this one certainly isn't. I was excited to find an Indonesian-published English book, with a really cool—and deceptive—cover that deals with the music industry. Nope, nope, nope! That's not what it's about at all. The author apparently wrote this when she was 19—yet it doesn't seem like she bothered to proofread it again before sending it to publication. The story is trying to show the backstage of MTV, with lots of reference of '90s and early 2000s trend and music. However—surprisingly for someone who's actually lived in the US—the story is absolutely superficial, unrealistic and there's no depth in the characters or story. Don't even get me started on the basic grammatical and spelling errors. Hard nope!

Well, I think that's it from me this year. I could obviously expand the list and create a bottom 10 one, I suppose, but I don't want to force it. These are the books that I didn't thoroughly enjoy and would probably stay away from—the rest are mostly quite pleasant although, obviously, not all of them will get 5-star ratings. It was very fortunate that I happened upon very few of such books in the past year—and that I spent very little time on them. My motto is that "Life is too short to read terrible books"— okay, it's a lot of people's motto. I didn't use to not finish books, even bad ones, because I felt like I owe it to the book. But, in fact, I owe myself more to use my time wisely and utilise it for better activities, instead of sitting around with a terrible read in my hands.

Did you read any terrible books this year? Share with me!

Also, check out the best books I read in 2018 down below!

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Sunday, 23 December 2018

Closing the Year (with Coffee)

 Kedai Kopi Kulo

This is it, guys: the last outfit post of the year! After this, there will be a small recap of the books I read this year—partly in video form—and a walk down memory lane of the past 365 days. I'm so glad that for this last one, I was able to have some photos taken in a cute, small coffee place not too far away from where I live. It wasn't really planned. My sister, my brother and I went to see Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse earlier that day—literally the best Spider-man movie of all time!—and visited our favourite burger joint Burger Blenger in the neighbourhood afterwards. Nearby, happily enough, is apparently this tiny coffee place—one of its branches originally from Senopati, Jakarta—that is pretty much all the rage on Instagram. My sister wanted to try it, I wanted a great backdrop for this post, so here we were. The place was empty when we came in, but attracted many takeaway and dine-in customers until we left—around 4 hours later. My sister ordered the Es Kopi Kulo (the signature coffee menu), my brother ordered Coffeenade (coffee mixed with lemonade) and I ordered the Es Kopi Keju (Iced Cheese Coffee). The service was amazing—accommodating to our low-impact needs—the coffee was nice and the place was cozy.

Thrifted hat // Tendencies ombré shirt (old) // swapped dress // old tights // MKS shoes (old) // photos by Cafa

Unlike the past couple years, I've really got nothing planned for the blog next year. I think I'm going to keep doing it casually as I've done this year. For now, at least, I'm still driven to post frequently, though. On the real life front, however, I've got a couple things planned. First of all, as you can already see here, I am in dire need of a haircut. Hopefully, by the end of this month I'll be with a new hair. Gosh, I just can't wait. A little further on, my semester at uni will be coming to a close at the end of next month and then I will be a full-time intern—for the past week or so I've only been doing it part-time. And then by the end of February, I'll be attending a convention and selling some of my work with some friends. Woohoo! Well, that's as far as I'm comfortable sharing in terms of plans—the rest is still up in the wind, I'm afraid. Do you have anything planned for next year? Stay tuned to see the books I've been loving (and hating) as well as things I've been up to in 2018—and, of course, my resolution for next year!

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Saturday, 8 December 2018

Mix It Up a Notch: Book of Deer Skirt

As you may well know, I am a huge fan of Book of Deer. They have the most quirky designs with the best quality—something that I've only longed after for years. In 2016, I finally took the plunge and purchased one of their items from their Country Kitchen collection—on major discount. Lo and behold, it comes with this skirt thrown in there for free—thank you, Eilidh! You wouldn't believe how excited I was. It has the smoothes silky quality to it, absolutely breezy and with cute little details like the mitten pocket and ribbons at the back. It has been my favourite thing to throw on the past couple years—although I mostly wear it around the house—as it is so easy to put on and take off. It always garners a plethora of stares and puzzled looks, often with comments on the particular mitten pocket, but I don't mind. It's also the perfect length for me, making it appropriate for pretty much any occasion. Afterwards, I purchased two more items—although, unfortunately, from all four items, only two still remain intact and in perfect condition, with one being lost to the abyss and one other damaged considerably. Hopefully, this one will stay with me for years and years in the future. 


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Saturday, 1 December 2018

Golden Labyrinth of Fabric

Last week my friend Jess was in town and we promised to see each other. We wanted to go see some kind of artistic event when we met up—hitting two birds with one stone and all, y'know—but almost nothing of note seemed to take place last Friday. That was when I told her about this installation by Sejauh Mata Memandang. As you might know, SMM is an ethical brand from Indonesia—which I have loved in the past—and now they are launching their newest collection, inspired by Timun Mas—a Javanese folklore. To celebrate their launch, they're showcasing this 3-month-long installation at Senayan City. To be honest, I've come here by myself before, but Jess doesn't mind and would love to see it herself too. It is actually contained to one rather small room of golden labyrinth made entirely of fabric. Once you enter, you are led down a narrow path surrounded by strips of eggshell cotton, shined from above with warm, yellowish light—creating a golden effect. There are four smaller rooms within the maze: one with a big screen showing the animation of their Timun Mas book, one with two walls of mirrors facing each other, one with the photos of their lookbook and the last one was their store. It was a short visit, but a sweet one indeed.

Hand-me-down top + purse // old hat + socks // MKS shoes // Book of Deer skirt // photos by Jess

Some of my favourite highlights from this installation includes the cozy beanbags in the screening room—as well as the blue, jellyfish-like air conditioner; the mirror room—because it is clearly there for great photo ops; the various nooks within the maze—with small beacons of light among the relative darkness; the fabric book of Timun Mas—hand-embroidered!—and, lastly, the lookbook video in their store. To be honest, I didn't intentionally forget to take as many pictures of the installation as humanly possible. I just had too much fun chatting and catching up with Jess—we haven't seen each other in 4 months. But, in hindsight, I find it the right decision. This event is free-of-charge and will still be there waiting for you until 8 January 2019. I think it will do them a great injustice to reveal all on the internet, while most of you are probably able to go see the installation for yourself. Of course, if you don't live in this country, but want to see the installation yourself, I hope their hashtag will help you navigate through the labyrinth.

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