Reading List

Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang 


Rejection Proof

Jia Jiang’s TED talk on rejection is one that I have often come back to. The threat of rejection easily paralyzes all of us, that we often become the first to say no to ourselves — for fear that others would say the same thing. Think, though, what are the things you would you do if you weren’t afraid of rejection? Also, what if rejection isn’t as bad as we imagine — and what if, it is in fact, a necessary aspect of our lives?

From committing himself to actively seeking rejection for 100 consecutive days by making the most bizarre requests to strangers, Jia shares his most valuable lessons in overcoming and accepting rejection. This book surpassed my expectations, as it really goes the extra mile with its research-backed and very practical insights. 



Phosphorescence by Julia Baird 



One of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a while. Part memoir and part science writing, this book discusses how we can keep our inner hopeful light alive and persevere through dark times, particularly by being in a state of awe with the world around us. This inner light, is what the author Julia Baird terms as phosphorescence. 

This book was borne out of Baird’s own experiences of surviving cancer, and she goes into detail on how spending time in nature made a tremendous difference in her recovery and outlook — and we can similarly ward off our own share of darkness. In a sense, I was reminded of how Leonardo Da Vinci’s daily to-do lists were made up of the things he wanted to learn on a particular day. It got me thinking that truly, we need very few things to be happy, with just a dose of curiosity, wonder and purpose to fill our day.



The Storyteller by Dave Grohl 


The Storyteller

I’ve read a bunch of music memoirs over the years, and this one definitely stands out, possibly next to Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and Patti Smith’s Just Kids. Dave Grohl wrote this memoir as a catalogue of fragmented memories, recounting significant moments in his life, such as learning his first notes, getting his first paycheck as a musician, the demise of Nirvana, and the rise of the Foo Fighters from the former’s ashes. 

While this was overall a great read, it would have been much, much better if he had talked more about his time in Nirvana, rather than making it only about a chapter long — and I’m sure the majority of his readers feel the same way too. 



Danse Macabre by Stephen King 


Danse Macabre

It has probably been 10 years or so since I last read a Stephen King novel, but I’m not kidding when I say that the mental images I had from his stories still remain today. Horror is a fascinating subject. Particularly, why do we, or at least some of us, like to scare ourselves? And what exactly makes a story so scary?

I’ve tried figuring out the answers to these questions myself over the years. Some horror movies I’ve watched made me fall asleep. And some have had such a visceral effect on me. I remember waking up on my own at exactly 3:07 a.m. for a few days after watching The Conjuring. In the story, this is the time when all the clocks at the haunted home would stop, and there would be aggressive signs of demonic presence. And Hereditary gave me nightmares — twice, that is, after both times of watching the movie.

In this book, Stephen King gives his take on answering these questions. He analyzes his favorite horror novels and movies, and also sheds light on how he has emulated those stories in his own writing. 



From Hell by Alan Moore


From Hell

The Jack the Ripper case was one of the most horrific and methodical serial murders during the Victorian era, and still is today as it remains unsolved. We may never know if Jack the Ripper was just one person, what his motives were, or if the famous letters were even his own doing. The certainties we seek may be lost to the vortex of time, as we chase after answers on someone who is long dead.

We’re only left with theories, one of the most popular and also most disputed ones suggesting that the murders were a plot from the royal family. Alan Moore’s comic book, From Hell, is based on this theory. Despite being a fictional retelling, what’s most interesting is how Moore depicts the Victorian society, giving us a picture on the multifaceted realities that likely made the case complicated. I also do like that the book is drawn in entirely black-and-white, giving the story its haunting and murky feel.

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