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20 Notable Books of 2018

As 2018 comes to an end, we take a look at 20 books that proved to be enduring favourites in Singapore and the world.

Children’s books

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown (Book 13) by Jeff Kinney

More of what made the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series a huge success, this will appeal to long-time followers of Greg and Rowley’s adventures. This time the drama happens in the neighbourhood when the school shuts down due to snow and an all-out winter meltdown breaks out.

Pinkfong ABC Activity Book

Pinkfong ABC Activity Book by Pinkfong

Pinkfong can not only create a catchy tune, their ABC Activity Book is also pretty great. In addition to activities to help your child with learning to recognise, pronounce and write their ABCs, the book has QR codes that link to A- Z phonics song videos, giving you more bang for your buck.

Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas

Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey

Though billed as a children’s book, what differentiates the Dog Man series of graphic novels is its inclusion of deeper themes drawn from classic literary works; in this case, Lord of the Flies. Both adults and kids will find something enjoyable in this fifth instalment. (PS. Book 6 Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild is also available on Goguru!)

Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy #11: The Guardian of the Realm

Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy #11: The Guardian of the Realm by Geronimo Stilton

The titular mouse continues his escapades in the Kingdom of Fantasy. The vibrant illustrations bring the story’s setting and characters to life. The series is a great way to introduce the fantasy genre to children who are fond of fairy tales.

Local reads

Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story: Volume 1

Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story: Volume 1 by Peh Shing Huei

Being the Prime Minister between Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong, Goh Chok Tong had big shoes to fill and a mandate to bring Singapore into the 21st century with his personal voice and style. As followers of the MParader Facebook page will know, the man is not without personality and Peh write a biography that showcases it and the former PM’s recollections of his political path.

This Is What Inequality Looks Like

This Is What Inequality Looks Like by Teo You Yenn

The cover of this book aptly conveys the concept of inequality; it is not immediately visible but leaves a discernible gap. Clever cover aside, this collection of essays will speak to any Singaporean on some level. Along with Channel NewsAsia’s hotly discussed Regardless of Class, this book challenges us to examine Singapore’s flavour of meritocracy and its supposed fairness.

Retire Smart

Retire Smart by Lorna Tan

Retiring in financial comfort is a common aspiration but the path to it is not exactly well-lit for the average man in the street. Tan gives advice specific to Singapore, such as tips on leveraging Central Provident Fund (CPF) schemes and enhancements to make them go further. Good for total beginners. 

Singapore, Disrupted

Singapore, Disrupted by Chan Mui Hoong

In this anthology of published articles and fresh essays, The Straits Times veteran Chan Mui Hoong presents her perspective on change: in people, government, and society. If you are behind on Singapore’s current affairs, this will get you up to speed in a digestible and relatable manner.

Fiction

Origin

Origin by Dan Brown

If you have ever read a Dan Brown book, you have read them all: Robert Langdon, exotic locales, museums, a hot babe, art/history/symbolism and puzzles. Formulaic maybe, but still entertaining for those looking for an easy read.

Killing Commendatore

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Fans of Murakami will find more of what they know and love in this tome. A painter searches for inspiration after the collapse of his marriage and spoiler alert: he returns to her in the end. Safe to say that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters.

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling

Can’t get enough of the movie? Savour it again and again with this screenplay! Continuing from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, more is revealed about Gellert Grindelwald, Newt Scamander and his friends from the first movie. Plus, young Albus Dumbledore!

Spark of Light

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Shootings and hostage situations are not new in Picoult’s books but the real struggle here is between the pro-life and pro-choice side of abortion. The issue is presented through the perspectives of different characters, and provides some food for thought to all.

China Rich Girlfriend

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians, one of the most talked-about movies of 2018, brought Kevin Kwan’s trilogy into the sights and shelves of readers and non-readers alike. Born to a storied family, Kwan’s satirical novels shed light on the lives of Singapore’s 1 percenters with over the top flair. Prepared yourself for the next instalment of the movie series by catching up the books. 

Past Tense

Past Tense by Lee Child

Jack Reacher, ex-US Army major, takes a trip down memory lane in the 23rd book of this series. His visit to his father’s hometown reveals an unexplored side to his past, but even first-time readers can enjoy the action that happens when two travellers find themselves in danger and need of Reacher’s help.

Non-fiction

Robert Kuok: A Memoir

Robert Kuok: A Memoir by Robert Kuok with Andrew Tanzer

The only official memoir of the reclusive billionaire took more than 14 years to complete. If nothing else, this book is a fascinating account of a man who not only lived through the Japanese occupation of the former Malaya and many periods of political turmoil, but built a formidable business empire from scratch.

Becoming

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The Obama presidency was remarkable for many things, but Michelle Obama was one of the most significant. During her tenure as First Lady of the United States, she left her mark on pop culture, fashion, childhood obesity and LGBT rights. The title of this autobiography rightly sums up her journey from humble beginnings to being a political force to be reckoned with.

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World by Bradley Hope, Tom Wright

Being right next to Singapore, news of Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal reached us much like neighbourhood gossip but no one, except the men who planned it all, could have known the breadth and depth of their schemes. Hope and Wright tell the story of a true crazy rich Asian who brought down a government through a lifestyle of extravagant excess.

The Bullet Journal Method: Track Your Past, Order Your Present, Plan Your Future

The Bullet Journal Method: Track Your Past, Order Your Present, Plan Your Future by Ryder Carroll

Need a game plan for 2019? This book can help. Carroll’s Bullet Journal method, aka bujo, has garnered devotees around the globe and all it asks of you is a pen and paper. This is the ultimate bujo go-to guide if you have always admired those gorgeous spreads on Instagram but have no idea how to make it work for you.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

Feel like you are too busy to read, or for anything really? This book is for you. The author, a Buddhist monk, encourages readers to mull over parts of the book rather than reading it all in one go; invest five minutes of your day to reading a few pages and gain clarity and serenity amid chaos.

The Laws of Human Nature

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

Sometimes we observe certain behaviours repeatedly in different people. Why is it that we all seem to act in similar ways? Greene puts back the metaphoric curtain and gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the emotional and psychological factors that make us, and the people around us, behave the way we do.


The popularity of these books proves that although our choice of reading materials may relate to current political or social issues, we'll always have a soft spot for personal favourites. Missed out on a good book? Shop the selection here.  

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