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Singapore Wed Night Book Group

Page history last edited by Katie Day 10 years, 4 months ago

Try Brian Herzog's Book Review Search Engine (a Google Custom Search Engine)

See also The Complete Review: a literary saloon for compendiums of reviews of current fiction


Reading suggestions (from our discussions and other sources)


Online catalog of the National Library of Singapore


Online catalog of Kinokuniya


Open suggestions:


Shelfari bookshelves online


Our group's bookshelf

(started Sep 2010) -- lists books mentioned during the course of our evenings as "Read" and lists books we all read and discuss together as "Are Reading".


Tamara:  Shelfari bookshelf

Adele:  Shelfari bookshelf

Sophie:  Shelfari bookshelf

Katie:  Shelfari bookshelf ("adult" books) / GoodReads bookshelf ("kiddie lit")

Barb:  Shelfari bookshelf (empty at the moment, but maybe this will prompt her to fill it up)

Cheryl:  Shelfari bookshelf (also empty at the moment, but we can hope to see something on it soon)  

Ben:  Shelfari bookshelf


Sep 2010 -May 2011


We decided at the May 2010 meeting that next academic year we would look at the months through the lens of a country or culture -- where the book choices could be about that country/culture, by a person from that country/culture, set in that country/culture, etc.


The monthly host will set the title/s to be read.


September -- Cathy:  Ireland -- In the Forest -- by Edna O'Brien


October -- Open Book Talk


November -- Linda: UK -- Notwithstanding -- by Louis de Berniere


December -- Book Swap


January -- Pamela: The Caribbean - January -- Texaco - by Patrick Chamoiseau


February -- Barb: Australia -- Riding the Black Cockatoo -- by John Danalis



April -- Cheryl: Poland -- Primeval and Other Times -- by Olga Tokarczuk


+ [Ingrid: original choice = Czech -- War of the Newts  by Karel Capek (1936)]


APRIL REPLACEMENT:  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother -- by Amy Chua 


May -- Megan: Ethiopia -- Cutting for Stone - by Abraham Verghese  AND 


May -- Cheryl: Poland -- Primeval and Other Timese - by Olga Tokarczuk 




August/Sept -- Tamara:  Italy:  I'm Not Scared -- by Niccolo Ammaniti






May -- Book Swap

November 2010


Date to be decided




Notwithstanding: Stories from an English village" by Louis de Bernier.


<< I heard a snippet being read on ABC radio on a visit back to Melbourne last year. It's available at both Kinokuniya and NLB. i went straight out and bought it last year  but still  haven't read it . It's a light reminiscence of days passed, described as a cocoa and tartan rug read in one review...that might put you off?





October 2010


General book talk.... at Cheryl's house....


Sept. 2010



Instead of working I'm browsing amazon and talking to our resident Irish Lit expert!

Following his recommendations I would like to suggest "In the Forest" by Edna O'Brien - a fictionalised account of a murder in Galway that apparently caused a bit of a furore.

I'm also ordering 2 books by John McGahern - "Amongst Women", and "By the Lake" (US title)/ "That They May Face the Rising Sun" (UK) - both look good and get great reviews.

If you have a preference for one or the other let us know.

So if you're on for a surfeit of Irish, join me!  Not sure if we have a date but it's at my place.


May 2010


It's another Book Swap!  Be thinking of what book you're going to bring -- anonymously wrapped up -- to put in the center of the table.  Everyone will go home with something new to read....


June 29, 2010:  Here's the list of books we swapped -- as well as titles that came up in our discussion.  NB: many of the ones at the end of the list are Young Adult novels (not that you shouldn't read them, but just to inform you....)


April 22, 2010


Location:  Katie's house:  12 Kensington Park Drive, #05-01

The condo name is Kensington Park -- and the entrance is off Serangoon North Ave 1 -- between the Indian temple and the Serangoon Garden Secondary School.  Third tower block in is number 12, the 5th floor, apt. 01.

Phone: 8233-2922


Time:  7:00 for 7:30 start


Genre focus:  Science fiction


Author:  Margaret Atwood 


Texts:   Oryx & Crake and its companion novel, The Year of the Flood

(and if you've never read The Handmaid's Tale, you might start with that one)


In terms of supplementary materials, the good news is Atwood is into Web 20.  


First there is her homepage: http://www.margaretatwood.ca/


Here she is in a recent (2010) essay on Twitter -- yes, she's on Twitter: @MargaretAtwood (and almost 40,000 people are following her so far).


She blogs: http://marg09.wordpress.com/


And she has a website up for "The Year of the Flood" -- http://www.yearoftheflood.com/us/ which is definitely worth exploring.  


She has posted up music of the hymns of God's Gardeners -- which you can download/buy/listen to online.  
Thanks, Megan, for sending me several good links re Atwood and these books:



In exploring Atwood online, I also came across this funny monologue she wrote back in 1992 re Gertrude talking back to Hamlet.  You can find the link here: http://www.shmoop.com/hamlet/margaret-atwood-gertrude-talks-back-activity.html


Read this essay about Atwood's "science fiction" by Ursula K. LeGuin -- ostensibly a review of The Year of the Flood....   Excerpt:

<<To my mind, The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake and now The Year of the Flood all exemplify one of the things science fiction does, which is to extrapolate imaginatively from current trends and events to a near-future that's half prediction, half satire. But Margaret Atwood doesn't want any of her books to be called science fiction. In her recent, brilliant essay collection, Moving Targets, she says that everything that happens in her novels is possible and may even have already happened, so they can't be science fiction, which is "fiction in which things happen that are not possible today". This arbitrarily restrictive definition seems designed to protect her novels from being relegated to a genre still shunned by hidebound readers, reviewers and prize-awarders. She doesn't want the literary bigots to shove her into the literary ghetto.>>


The essay Le Guin refers to is this one: Writing Oryx & Crake [PDF]


Atwood is passionate about birds and heavily involved in movements to protect them.  Read this article in the Guardian about her efforts: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jan/09/margaret-atwood-birds-review


On "The Year of the Flood" website, there is also a booklist of further reading:  Here is is as of April 2010:


The Case for God by  Karen Armstrong

Examines how the changing world has altered religion through the ages, and why it has not disappeared.

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

All the how-to information you need to successfully square-foot garden – for all those with postage-sized city backyards.

No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan

A year of attempting to live without a footprint in downtown Manhattan.

The Secret Life of Compost: A “How-To” & “Why” Guide to Composting – Lawn, Garden, Feedlot or Farmby Malcolm Beck 

Gives us the understanding and direction to initiate the regeneration of the most precious life form known – soil.

Ragnar’s Urban Survival: A Hard-Times Guide to Staying Alive in the City by Ragnar Benson

S.A.S. Urban Survival Handbook: How to Protect Yourself Against Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Fires, Home Invasions and Everyday Health and Safety Hazards by John “Lofty” Wiseman 

Two guides to surviving in an urban environment in the wake of disaster: how to find water, trap food, and protect yourself.  

The Last of the Curlews by Fred Bodsworth 

Classic novel about the last of a species.

Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural by  Brian Brett

Witty barnyard tales with deep insights into the symbiosis among animals, plants, and human beings. 

The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Two courageous people in early 18th century England and America who fought for the early form of vaccination. 

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson 

Landmark work with the first shattering look at the ecological degradation caused by pesticides and weed killers. The grandmother of today’s environmental awareness.

Acquainted With The Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark by Christopher Dewdney 

The science, religion, and art of night. Charts the nocturnal phases of life- planetary, human, and animal.

The Art Instinct by Denis Dutton

Dutton argues that humankind’s universal art-making is not simply socially constructed-- art and religion are both evolutionary adaptations.

The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley 

Granddaddy of whole-universe thinking.

Locavore by Sarah Elton

Elton, the food columnist for CBC Radio’s Here&Now, looks at the local food movement in Canada, pros and cons.

The Weather Makers: The History & Future Impact of Climate Change; A Gap in Nature ; Astonishing AnimalsThe Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and its People by Tim Flannery

Australian eco-genius helps us get a grip.

Stalking the Wild Asparagus by  Euell Gibbons

The classic of wild foods.

The Bedside Book of Beasts: A Wildlife Miscellany by Graeme Gibson

Gathered from all eras and cultures, works of art and literature that capture the power, grace, and inventiveness of predators and their natural prey.

The Bedside Book of Birds by Graeme Gibson

Writings and images that celebrate the many ways people have engaged with birds over the centuries.

The Lost and Left Behind: Stories from the Age of Extinctions by Terry Glavin

We’re losing not only animal and plant species, but the vast legacy of languages, and with it ways of living and knowing. Endangered species, but hope in unlikely places.

Vulture: Nature’s ghastly gourmet by Wayne Grady

A fascinating and authoritative look at the important but gucky role vultures play in the ecosystems they inhabit. 

The Green Bible: Understanding the Bible’s Powerful Message for the Earth 

The first bible of its kind includes inspirational essays from key world leaders; essential for anyone interested in a biblical basis for humane and sustainable living.

Healing the Landscape – Celebrating Sudbury’s Reclamation Story

A photographic history of re-vegetation and restoration in the once devastated Sudbury area, and of the community members that worked to achieve it.

 Grass, Sky, Song by Trevor Herriot

Herriot draws on twenty years of experience as an observer of nature to reveal the spirit of the grassland world and the uniqueness of its birds, discoving why birds are disappearing and what can be done to save them. 

Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich

A charming in-depth study of these very smart and sociable birds.

Balcony and Roof Gardens: Creative Ideas for Small-Scale Gardening by Jenny Hendy 

This insightful work guides you through the process of establishing, maintaining, and enjoying small-plot up-in-the-air gardens.

A Diet of Souls - Film. Directed by John Houston

Explores the profound spirituality of the ancient covenant between the Inuit and the animals they hunt- and the difficulty of preserving this way of life today.

Mean and Lowly Things: Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo by Kate Jackson 

An intriguing blend of science and human interest detailing the author’s Republic of Congo experiences collecting snakes, frogs and toads.

Systems of Survival: A Dialogue of the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics by Jane Jacobs

Why government should not run business, and vice versa.

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly

A vividly detailed account of Europe’s fourteenth-century plague and its aftermath.

Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival by Mors Kochanski 

Kochanski, an Albertan, offers clear instructions and methods for wilderness survival. Complete with diagrams and images.

The Flu Pandemic and You: A Canadian Guide by Dr. Vincent Lam and Dr. Colin Lee

A frank and clear book about how to prepare for the next influenza pandemic, and how to understand the broader context in which the threat exists – an essential survival guide.

The John Livingston Reader by John A. Livingston

Several of the prophetic ecologist’s most important texts, which decry man’s impact on the natural environment and predict a worsening of the situation.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv 

Describes Nature Deficit Disorder, the effect it has on children deprived of nature, and how to counteract this effect.

Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity by James Lovelock

Expounding on his theory that Earth functions as a single living super-organism, Lovelock argues that global warming, presents a threat to humanity.

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James Lovelock

Lovelock warns that the environmental problems we will face in the twenty-first century are even more terrifying than previously realized, and that only the Gaia theory can help us understand the crisis fully.

Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological & Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World by Adrienne  Mayor

The origins of biological warfare, drawing extraordinary connections between ancient and modern worlds.

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by Bill McKibben

Shines a revealing spotlight on humanity’s headlong rush into technology and the ethical slippery slope on which we will find ourselves.

Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill  

Considers the influence of infectious diseases on the course of history, paying special attention to the Black Death of the 13th and 14th centuries, which killed millions across Europe and Asia.

God, A Biography by Jack Miles

Combining literary criticism and religious inquiry. Miles examines God as a literary character and the Bible as one of the greatest but most complex books of all time.

Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning by George Monbiot

Explores our current reliance on fossil fuels, the burning of which, he suggests, is about to pass a point of no return. An urgent call for drastic action.

People of the Deer by Farley Mowat

Mowat recalls his time spent with the Ihalmiut people in Northern Canada, whose population over a forty-year span during the late nineteenth century nearly became extinct.

Never Cry Wolf:  predator classic.

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions by David Quammen

Applies the lessons of biogeography to modern ecosystem decay, offering insight into the origin and extinction of species, our relationship to nature, and the future of our world.

Rodale Organic Gardening Basics- Vol. 8: Compost.  

How to make compost and how to use compost to produce healthy soil and plants, without using chemicals. 

 A World for Butterflies: Their Lives, Habitats and Future by Phillip J. Schappert

Examines the most highly visible and endangered members of the insect world. A plea for the continued existence of these beautiful creatures.

The Return of the Black Death: The World’s Greatest Serial Killer by Susan Scott and Duncan Christopher

Contrary to popular belief, the disease may not have been bubonic plague, and may have been spread by human contact. Perhaps the plague (or a variant) is lying dormant, waiting to strike again in the very near future.

Silence of the Songbirds by Bridget Stutchbury

Follows the migratory paths of a number of endangered songbirds, identifying as she does so the most virulent threats to their continued existence, especially pesticide-sprayed sun-grown coffee.

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Douglas W. Tallamy

A guide for gardeners and planters, urging them to revert to and support an area’s native plants in order to help sustain local wildlife, and in turn, our own human existence.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Using New York as a template, Weisman speculates how long our presence will take to vanish should we be become extinct..

The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth by E. O. Wilson

Wilson argues that both secular humanists and believers in God acknowledge the glory of nature and can work together to save it.

The Future of Life by E. O. Wilson

Combines lyrical descriptions with dire warnings and remarkable stories of plant and animal life on the edge of extinction with hard economics.    How many species are we really losing?  Is environmentalism truly contrary to economic development?  How can we save the planet?

The Evolution of God by Robert Wright  

Wright provides a history of the shifting perspectives of monotheistic faiths, arguing that, despite undeniable differences, there is a common pattern.

Rats, Lice, and History by Hans Zinsser

A darkly humourous classic that examines disease transmission, the transmitters, and the scientists who sought to understand and halt the spread of pandemics.

On Guerrilla Gardening by Richard Reynolds

The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin

Brodeck by Phillipe Claudel

Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford

What On Earth Evolved? by Christopher Lloyd




March 17, 2010


Location:  Cheryl's house:    International Plaza, 10 Anson Rd (above Tangang Pagar station), Fl 46/ apt 15,  Handphone: 90927206

Time:  7:00 for 7:30 PM


Genre focus:  Historical fiction


Presenter:  Tamara

Author:  Robert Graves 

Book:  I, Claudius -- and if you've already read that, then try Count Belisarius


Here's the Wikipedia entry on the real Belisarius.




February 22, 2010


Date: Monday, February 22

Time: 7:00 for 7:30 start



Location: Ingrid's house - ADDRESS/DIRECTIONS:  7 Stevens Road (next to the Tanglin Club carpark entrance); Ingrid's cellphone 8113-7201 (in case you are lost)


Presenter: Ingrid


Focus:  Romance


For those who want lighter reading, go for Julia Child's memoir:  My Year in France

See the NYT review of the book -- better yet, read this Vanity Fair article on the making of Julia Child -- as her husband Paul was a major influence in her life.  Romance definitely plays a part in the life of this famous cookbook author and TV chef.  Minimal effort would be watching the film: Julie & Julia.


Want to see and hear the real Julia Child (not Meryl Streep portraying her)?  PBS (Public Broadcasting Corporation) in the US -- the network that ran Julia Child's cooking program -- has several episodes available for viewing online:  see their Julia Child website.  You can even explore her famous kitchen which is now installed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.


For those who are willing to tackle somewhat dry history books in order to uncover some juicy tales about the first Mrs. Raffles... see

The Wives of Sir Stamford Raffles (a 2-book set) (2002) - by John Bastin

     1)  Olivia Marianne Raffles

     2)  Sophia Raffles


Availability:  In the National Library (search for "John Bastin" - the books are individual entries) -- and presumably in local bookshops.  The publisher is a local one called Landmark Books.  A Google search shows the boxed set for sale by Select Books in Tanglin Shopping Centre for US$40.



January 21, 2010


Date: Thursday, January 21

Time:  7:00 for 7:30 start


Location:  Pamela's  house:   69 One Tree Hill #11-69 -- Tel. 9133 5223

DIRECTIONS:  Off of Grange Road, About 150 meters from Grange on the right hand side, 16 story cream-colored older building,  Opposite number 1 One Tree Hill – buildings are not found in numerical sequence!  On corner of One Tree Hill and Jalan Arnap, if you pass Jalan Arnap on the right, you’ve gone too far


Presenter:  Pamela

Genre focus:  Non-fiction


Book:  Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide -- by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn



See the accompanying website:  Half the Sky



Availability:  In bookshops and in the National Library.


Archives - previous years


2009 Archive
2008 Archive

2007 Archive 


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