Friday, January 29, 2010

January: Every Rafflesian a Lifelong Reader

A good friend who has two children was recently lamenting to me that they do not like reading and because of that they are not scoring good enough marks for English. So he tried to take them to bookshops and libraries and stipulated a few hours of reading each day. He reported that they did not take to this regimentation very enthusiastically.

I asked if he himself enjoyed reading himself and was often found with a magazine or a book. He confessed that he was a couch potato and preferred to watch movies and television. Therein lies the crux of the issue. Children who read tend to pick up the habit from their parents. If there are reading materials strewn about the house, or if parents recommend interesting books for their children to read from young, the habit will catch on very naturally.

Prof Tommy Koh once shared at a breakfast talk that the cultured person is one who has read history and literature, and he recommended very highly some of the literacy classics of Southeast Asia, such as the Ramayana and the Analects. He said that every time he travels, his wife would pack two books in his luggage and he had the happy excuse of staying in his hotel room to read in the evenings, rather than spend the evening wondering what to do with himself.

I have a list of 2009 books I would like to recommend for adult readers and a separate list for younger boys. (Please see below.)

As we herald in a new year, my wish is for every Rafflesian to be a lifelong reader. No one can be lonely when they continually bask in the warmth of a good book and no one can be dogmatic or narrow-minded if they are constantly exposed to ideas and perspectives from different people.

A Dozen Good Reads for Boys 


A History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Little History of the World by E H Grombich

Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

1421: The Year China Discovered the World by Gavin Menzies

The Pig that Wants to be Eaten (and 99 Other Thought Experiments) by Julian Baggini

The Economic Naturalist: Why Economics Explains Almost Everything by
Robert Frank


The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Narnia Chronicles by C S Lewis

The Hobbit by J R Tolkien

The Waterworks by El Doctorow

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Heartland by Daren Shiau

My Top 10 Books for Adults in 2009

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

How the Mighty Fall And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Tim Collins

The Flipside: Finding the Hidden Opportunities in Life by Adam J Jackson

The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas by Richard Ogle

Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement by William Duggan

Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently by Gregory Berns

Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson