Another year, another #GoodreadsReadingChallenge to do.

This year, I’m setting the same number of books to read as last year: 48. I might go over the number (as I did in 2018), or I might even go lower. But what’s important for me is that I enjoy the reads. One book a week has allowed me enough time to really digest the words, and yes, I’ve read four books in January!

I’ve started the month slowly, reading four nonfiction books—most of which are quite easy reads. I really recommend The Good Women of China by Xinran, which was recommended to me by a colleague; it’s truly an eye-opening book. Being of Chinese descendant myself, I understand a little bit about what’s been happening in my ancestral country, but I have no idea that the circumstances are that, well, bad for women who live there. My heart aches a lot when reading that.

On the other three, I do recommend Reading Allowed by Chris Paling, only because I work in the library and this book, which is written by a librarian, sums up very aptly on what working in libraries is all about. Contrary to the public’s belief, working in the library is more about customer service than books. It can be quiet at times, but most often, we get to see very interesting things happening at our workplace.

So without further ado, here are the books I read in January.

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Another easy pasta recipe.

I cook bolognese once every few months, as I usually make a huge batch and freeze three-quarters of them into separate portions, ready to be defrosted on a lazy cooking night.

And while it’s time consuming, this recipe is quite forgiving, basically all you need to do is to throw everything into the pan until they’re all cooked and leave everything on the pot to simmer to improve the flavour.

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Ever since I work in the library, I’ve met so many different people walking different paths of life.

It seems a bit surreal sometimes, of how different we all are, and how different are the lives we’re living—how different are the things we want in life.

Take those who work in the library for example. Almost everyone has a different story. One is currently studying, the other is a proud grandmother of three who’s filling her time as a casual. One, I find out, has always dreamed of becoming a librarian. Another comes into the job by accident, and yet he’s stayed on, year after year, for almost a decade.

One has a side business as a photographer. Another used to be a teacher, a banker, an economist.

One travels a lot, every chance he gets. The other has hardly ever left the country.

One thinks of the job as a bridge to the next thing. One really, really wants to be a permanent, and has been waiting for an opportunity ever since.

And that’s just the people working there. The patrons’ stories are even more diverse.

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This is probably the easiest pasta recipe. It’s perfect for weeknight cooking where you just don’t know what to cook and you want to cook something quick. And it’s so delicious as well!

My husband loves creamy pasta—you know, alfredo and carbonara type of thing, but I never can quite replicate the creaminess of the sauce, until now. Apparently there’s a trick to make such lovely, thick sauce, and I’ll share with you on how to do that on the method section!

The other great thing with this pasta is that you can pretty much substitute chorizo with anything you want. I’ve made it with bacon and chicken as well, and they both taste good.

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Oh, drumroll please. Ready? Here we go.

I’ve ready a total of 71 books in 2018.

*Thank you, thank you, you’re too kind.

(Okay, I assume you were clapping when you read that.)

Twenty eighteen has been such an enriching year to me, in terms of reading. I’ve never read that many books in one year before, and I have to say that I’ve tried my best to read widely, from fantasy, memoir, fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, and more. I’ve decided to pick up books on topics I usually didn’t, and they are all wonderful. Even when they’re bad reads, they still teach me something in return.

In December, I’ve read seven books and they are all recommended. Really. All four nonfictions are great, especially Gourevitch’s story on Rwandan genocide and Westover’s story on growing up uneducated as a Mormon. The fictions are equally great, and I especially love to read the sequel to Mitch Albom’s Five People You Meet in Heaven, which used to be one of my favourite books growing up.

I’m going to do another Goodreads reading challenge in 2019. Thanks for reading my reviews and I do hope you get a few good recommendations on what to read and what not to. I’m always delighted when I post these reviews and one of you reaches out to me to talk about a book.

So without further ado, here are December’s books~

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When Tjok and I are getting our own house (in the near future, Amen), he’s promised me that he would get me my own library.

It’s probably not going to be as wonderful as Belle’s library, but I’d take anything that has more than three bookcases, hopefully with a ladder, and fill them with books.

You see, I’ve run out of spaces to put my books in our apartment since, well, since we first moved in. Most of my books are now stored in our basement storage space, and I make the pilgrimage to take out some books (and return some) once a month. Yet despite lacking the physical space to buy and store more books, this year I’ve been reading more than ever before. That’s because I’ve discovered a service that I’ve never really utilised before during my previous seven years in Melbourne: a local library.

It’s been slightly over a year since I’ve found out that I can borrow books, and even reserve the books that are still on order (so I get to be the first one reading that book before it’s being passed to dozens of other people) for free. So it’s only natural that sometime in August this year, I sent in my application to work as a library officer.

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Can I just say that this year is going by too fast? I suppose it’s true what people say: the days are long but the years are short.

This month, I read both nonfiction and fiction books, and all has different genres. Sort of. The highlight is definitely Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. I’ve been wanting to read that book for so long, but it has a long list of reservations at my local library. Then I got a job at another library (more on that on another post), and I’ve gotten the book almost straightaway. It’s oh. so. good.

I’d also recommend picking up the Villains series by Serena Valentino. (For this month, I read the third book: Poor Unfortunate Souls.) While this one is not super great, but I just feel like there are very few people who know of these series, and all in all, it’s awesome. Published by Disney Press, these are the stories of Disney’s villains, giving them background and voice, telling why they are who they are and do what they do. For a Disney lover like me, it’s a wonderful revelation.

So here are November’s books.

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One fiction and three memoirs. Well, in my defence, nonfiction books are much easier to read than fiction ones.

I’d say that the fiction one (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) is the highlight though. It’s beautifully written, and I find myself being really drawn into the story, in a way that only a good fiction can do. Needless to say, it comes really highly recommended. I’ve heard that the book’s movie adaptation is coming out soon, so make sure you read the book first before hitting the cinema.

The other three memoirs are a hit and miss, or more precisely: one hit, one miss, and one somewhere in the middle. I love There Are No Grown-Ups—it’s the second book by Pamela Druckerman, who wrote about French parenting I’ve read a few months back. I’m quite disappointed with Everything Happens for A Reason, which despite its strong story and lots of marketing, just fell flat for me. I can’t quite connect with the writing. The last book—If You’re in My Office, It’s Already Too Late—is quite good, but it’s the sort of book that you enjoy but doesn’t leave a lasting impression on you.

So without further ado, here are October’s books.

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I love cooking sliced beef. It’s quick to cook, it’s easy, and it always ends up being a tasty dish.

Some months back I experimented with cooking beef enoki for the first time. I discovered that it’s actually super easy to make, hence it’s been cooked quite a lot ever since. The key is to buy thinly sliced beef, and I get mine from the Asian supermarket. I reckon you can buy the meat on a butcher shop and ask them to slice them very thinly as well.

For this dish, I use light teriyaki sauce which is straight from Adam Liaw’s recipe.

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Another dish of my childhood, and it seems—many others’ too.

I think it’s pretty obvious that I love eggs. Whenever I’m short of a dish, I add an ‘extra’ by cooking omelette, or steamed eggs, or boiled eggs with spicy sauces. I really think eggs are so yum.

This dish is so easy, I might just convince you to add this into your rotation.

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