Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
Alan Moore, the same author who brought us Watchmen and V for Vendetta gives us his philosophically-laden take on Batman and The Joker. Moore argues that both of the characters are insane, utterly broken by life’s tragedies — yet, the former chooses to channel his brokenness towards bringing order, and the latter towards chaos. It’s dark, unconventional and heartbreaking — everything you’d hope for in an Alan Moore book. I’ve read Batman comics since my childhood, but none has left me reeling and dumbfounded as much as this book did. This is the only Batman story to date that has made me empathize with The Joker.
Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
Steal Like an Artist! is one of those books that has had a major impact on how I understand creativity. In this book, Austin Kleon tells us how we can “share like artist”. He gives us practical strategies on how we can embrace the habit of creating and posting regularly, as well as stay in the game for the long-haul. I could only aspire to write in the way Kleon does — his works are concise, and they’re a lot of fun to read as well with all of his hand-drawn illustrations.
Seinlanguage by Jerry Seinfeld
Actually picked this one up in a second-hand bookstore. It’s a collection of Jerry Seinfeld’s jokes on everyday topics such as relationships, money and work. I’m reminded of what makes Seinfeld such a great show — that it’s a show about nothing — no elaborate plots, just jokes based off real-life situations. It makes you recognize the humor in the small and mundane things, and in turn you get to take yourself a little less seriously.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
In the past month, I had been thinking a lot about the concept of duality — the idea that harmony in anything couldn’t happen without a balance of positive and negative elements. So it’s no surprise that I turned to Stevenson’s classic tale. Sure, a story about a scientist who lives out his dark side may be a bit far-fetched, but it makes you reflect on the duality in all things. It’s the inner struggle between good and evil that makes us human. And in life, there would likely be not much meaning if it’s all good, if it doesn’t share of the bitter and painful.
Think Like a Freak by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt
Oftentimes, thinking smarter, or “thinking like a freak”, as the authors put it, has a lot to do with thinking simpler. Unfortunately, that’s not how most of us are accustomed to thinking. As the authors make you realize, we often overcomplicate things — because more sophisticated solutions make us look better and less of a lazy turd, or so we think. We love to ignore the obvious solutions, and we love to work hard for the sake of working hard, while the biggest problems in our lives essentially stay unsolved.
The Insanity Defense by Woody Allen
Funny how the back cover of this book mentions that Woody Allen needs no introduction. The book literally doesn’t have an introduction, as it jumps straight into some of his best-known essays on the human condition. He has his way of making you laugh, while also reflecting on the absurdity of our human nature. I’ve personally never watched any of Woody Allen’s movies, but all in all, I did find this an enjoyable read.