Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
I don’t know about you, but to me, 2018 zipped by so quickly. A lot happened this year, both in my personal life and in the outside world, and it’s incredibly fascinating and mind-boggling to sit here and write my last article for 2018, knowing that this time, next week, it will be 2019.
Since the “Screen Time” update on my iPhone was installed, I’ve become more aware of how much time I spend online—and I admit, 90 percent of it is comprised of endless scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Am I proud of it? Not really. One of my goals this 2019 is actually to reduce my social media time to only 2 hours a day (you’ll be surprised to know that I’ve reached 6 incredulous hours on my phone), and to read more books. I do, however, have read some pretty awesome books this 2018, and I thought, “why not end 2018 with a list of books that made my year?”
Here it is (in no particular order)!
Just Kids by Patti Smith
I’d like to start by saying I have a strange aversion to book covers with black and white photographs of people. For example, I am struck by fear when I see The Diary of Anne Frank (terrifying experience waking up to her face at 2:30am). I am getting myself acquainted with A Little Life—if all else fails; I have one of those Japanese cloth book covers.
Anyways, before I digress, I brought Just Kids to me when I went to New York, but I only actually read it when I got back. Big mistake. I wish I read this book even before I went to New York! This book reads more like a memoir and is heartbreaking yet blossoming with so much life. In this book, Patti Smith talks about growing up with her beloved companion, Rob Mapplethorpe, and how they both navigated through life with art as their compass. This book easily became a favorite of mine, and now I also have a copy of M Train and Devotion waiting to be devoured.
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
This was an unexpected gem that was hard to put down. My sister-in-law recommended this to me, and at first it was hard to get past the first few pages (I told her it felt like chick lit, which I wasn’t in the mood for at that time), but she told me to just soldier on. It’s hard not to talk about this book and include a few spoilers, but let’s just say that it goes deeper than its first chapters—it tackles a lot of women’s issues, focuses on independence, and packs on loads of girl power.
Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki
I adore this book because it’s simple and relatable. A huge chunk of this book’s philosophy became the foundation of my No Shopping Challenge for 2019.
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
There are days when I find myself so drawn to pieces of art that gravitate towards the theme of loneliness. One of my favorite artists is Edward Hopper, and this book investigates different forms of art that have blossomed from human feelings such as sadness, isolation, and aloneness. Apart from Edward Hopper, the biographies of other artists such as Andy Warhol are magnified and brought to light. It’s quite an interesting read, but it could get quite heavy at times.
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
I read this at the start of the year, and in Japan, no less. Strange Weather in Tokyo is a surreal slice-of-life about a bizarre yet charming relationship between a young woman named Tsukiko, who rekindles her relationship with one of her old teachers. They then begin to cultivate a bond over beers, trips, and food. Further into the book, this bond evolves into something more sensitive and a little sensual. It’s intriguing, yet written extremely captivatingly. It was hard to put down.
From the Corner of the Oval Office: One Woman’s True Story of Her Accidental Career in the Obama White House by Beck Dorey-Stein
Think of this as a memoir of a young, determined White House stenographer. It has been described as a cross between Sex and the City and The West Wing, and rightfully so. Beck Dorey-Stein talks about her White House journey, tailing behind Pres. Barack Obama with a notepad and recorder in hand. In this book, she dives into both the glamorous and intriguing lifestyle of someone who works so closely with the President of the United States of America that it can become quite personal, most of the time. It’s an amazing book about growing up with this incredible opportunity and finding one’s voice in the process.
Like Lines on a Map by Isa Garcia
Isa’s words always come to me the way chocolate comforts the soul. Like Lines on a Map treks Isa’s journey through life with people as her cities. Each chapter is devoted to a person whose story has somewhat become a breathing metropolis filled with humanity, emotions, and so much heart.
Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York
As you know, one of the best things that I have been so lucky to experience this year was autumn in New York. I spent two weeks in the city, soaking up like a sponge all the energy, the magic, the passion, the frustration, and the rawness of The City that Never Sleeps. Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, I feel, was the perfect sendoff for me as I hopped on my plane home. There is a line in Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen that goes, “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard”. This book captures exactly that from the point of view of 28 writers. Taking cue from Joan Didion, each personal essay in this book is a visceral and bittersweet recount of life in the Big Apple—the magnetic city for free spirits, writers, artists, musicians, and more. I admit, there was a point where I toyed with the idea of building a life in New York, but maybe I wasn’t meant for it in this lifetime. However, this was one of the books that I enjoyed the most this 2018.
And, that’s it! Books have always been a huge part of my life since I was a child, and I hope 2019 brings about a whole new set of reads that are riveting and that leave my heart beating wildly from the adventure brought by the magic of words. Cheers to the new year and may we all read more books this coming year.
Art by Marian Hukom
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