Light reads for the year-end
Ah, 2020. We'll probably look back and wonder how we managed to make it through such a year! But you know what? We found that sometimes, when you're feeling in the dumps, it really does help to look at the bright side of life.
For us, that means fun—and funny—reads. So we thought we'd share some of those that brought out the chuckles in a year that seemed to get no better. Hopefully, you'll find the same respite we did with these books, and you can turn your frown upside down.
Of course, we had to start with this. Coronavirus, or Covid-19, is the C-word of the year. When soprano (and now, author) Christina The wanted to bring a smile to her family and friends as the pandemic started its stranglehold on the world, she starting writing funny, short stories to show that "even the most dire of situations can be inundated with precious, humorous moments". The stories in here are vignettes of experiences, of challenges and human resilience, of overcoming fear, and they verge on the hilarious, but laughter really is the best medicine we need right now.
This book by Suffian Hakim hit the #1 spot on the national bestsellers list recently, and for good reason too: It's just a fantastical, funny read! Right from the get-go, when we learn that Harris bin Potter, a young Singaporean who loves football, was told by his aunt that his parents died after they ate some "very bad satay". That sets the scene for a parody like no other, complete with colourful characters like the Sorting Songkok, Professor Airbus Dinosaur and Harris' nemesis Lord Oldermat, some fantastic illustrations (not available in the original edition) and a fair flushing of toilet humour. Yes, it's that kind of book. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Felix Cheong is better known as a poet, but he can be really funny guy too (just look at his social media posts). This boxed set comprises three books written in his Singapore Siu Dai series—The SG Conversation in A Cup; The SG Conversation Upsize! and The SG Conversation Dabao!—all of which feature a fair serving of digs at the government, our oddball Singaporean-isms and sharp observations, with side dish of crisp language and in-your-face humour. We know what you're thinking: it’s easy to dismiss this as nothing more than a collection of familiar complaints. But these books pull no punches, and poke fun at issues some are hesitant to discuss.
Imran Hashim's debut novel is a rom-com about a Singapore teacher who goes to France, ostensibly to get her Masters, but really, she wants to find true love in Paris. Unfortunately for Annabelle, the City of Love isn't all champagne and roses: student riots, racism and other challenges look set to mar her plans to nab Mr Right. But hey, Annabelle isn't going to let something like that stand in the way of her quest. When the book begins with "I share my first name with Singapore’s world-famous (and only) porn star and my Chinese surname with a piece of lingerie" you know you're in for a fun time. It's as funny today as it was the first time we read it.
Author Akshita Nanda's second novel is 180-degree shift from her Singapore Literature Prize-winner, Nimita's Place. But that's the beauty of it (pun fully intended). The story follows veteran salon owner Gurpreet Kaur and her arch-rival, April Chua. In a bid to control the network of salon owners in their HDB estate, Gurpreet and April enter two of their star clients into the Grand Glam Singapore Beauty Contest. Gurpreet is backing Tara, daughter of a wealthy Indian family and mum to a pair of teen influencers; while April is supporting Candy, an actress-turned-mummy blogger. Throw in a cache of colourful supporting characters and you've got the makings of a glorious local comedy.
Gwee Li Sui, PhD, wears many hats: poet, graphic artist, literary critic... but it appears that he reverted to his former role as assistant professor at NUS' Department of English Language and Literature when he penned this book. It's a guide to Singlish, Singapore’s unique language that blends (or some say, mangles) English with Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Gwee looks at how Singlish is used – both in substance and in form – and it's possibly the only book about Singlish written that has been entirely in Singlish. Should you get this book? Aiyoh!What you think? What you think? Still need to ask for what? Surely must get. Don't say bojio. Fasterly get now.
Andrea Tang is bracing herself for the usual CNY onslaught of nosy relatives and their probing into her love life (eg, "why are you still single?"). Of course, climbing the career ladder has taken up most of her time; but when wealthy entrepreneur Eric comes along, it appears she has it all sorted. There's only the slight inconvenient attraction to her office rival Suresh, with whom she is vying to make partner in her legal firm. This book has been touted as a cross between Bridget Jones's Diary and Crazy Rich Asians – which is a good thing, mind you. It's a great read if you want to relieve the workday blues.