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