For many avid readers in the world, the Alchemist is heralded as a life-changing book that had a significant transformative impact on our way of thinking. This modern classic was written by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho and first published in 1988, originally written in Portuguese, it has since been translated into 70+ languages and sold over 30 million copies worldwide. What is it about this novel that makes it such a successful international bestseller? Keep reading for my two cents.

At first read, this novel’s plot seems quite simplistic — it’s a fable about a young shepherd named Santiago who…


Convenience Store Woman is the first of Sayaka Murata’s ten novels to be translated into English and this novel has enchanted critics who fell in love with the quirky, iridescent, and exhilarating weird story of a woman who challenges the social conformity of Japanese (and any) society against the fluorescent backdrop of a convenience store. This book has been a huge success in Japan and worldwide — although I have mixed feelings, it is undoubtedly an offbeat and charismatic exploration into what we must each leave behind to participate as a functioning human being in this world.

The protagonist of…


Ocean Vuong’s hauntingly beautiful first novel has been praised by critics as a painful yet extraordinary portrait of a family, a first love, and the redemptive power of storytelling. It was an instant New York Times bestseller, longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal in Fiction, and shortlisted for the 2019 Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize. …


Elizabeth Gilbert was propelled into international fame from the cultural phenomenon of “Eat, Pray, Love” — the memoir which sold 10 million copies worldwide and made her wealthy, famous, and controversial. In “Big Magic”, Gilbert returns to the self-actualization realm and provides a self-help guide for anyone to pursue creative living. This book doesn’t define creativity as pursuing a life that is exclusively or professionally devoted to the arts, rather it’s written as a manual with universal aspirations and provides lessons in how to unleash your creativity.

Gilbert is a master storyteller and this book explores her love of pursuing…


It’s 2020 and we live a modern hyper-connected existence, most of us floundering in a digitally saturated post-modern predicament, one of our own creation. Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World offers a refreshing and unapologetically practical method to initiate our digital detox in order to rediscover what really matters (hint: it’s not the number of Instagram followers you have). This book is highly readable and deeply provocative for anyone who wishes to achieve balance in their social media use and break their enslavement to the social-validation feedback loop. …


In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, racial injustice, and police brutality — we are thrown into a media frenzy where public figures, so-called intellectuals, and experts took the opportunity to inundate our minds with their highly politicized and ego-driven agendas. …


Have you ever wondered about the link between science and human behaviour? Dr Camilla Pang (Millie) explores the intersection between scientific principles including proteins, machine learning, and molecular chemistry with human behaviour to provide an essential and enlightening guide to understanding the world around us. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age eight (later with ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder), Millie struggled to comprehend the world around her and created a blueprint to dismantle our social customs and identify what it really means to be human using the language of science. …


From my experience, Japanese fiction tends to be quite serious and didactic with quirky or abstract undertones (think Murakami). However, Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s poignant debut novel “Before the coffee gets cold” (first published in 2015 and translated to English in 2019) uses the familiar techniques of magic realism to introduce interesting characters and heart into the literary trope of time travel. …


In contemporary society, the majority of us take education for granted — considering it as a basic right as natural as breathing air; Tara Westover’s memoir shatters the illusion of education as universally accessible and subverts our intrinsic sense of entitlement to formal education. This is a hauntingly nostalgic coming-of-age memoir about a young woman’s efforts to use education as an escape from her Mormon fundamentalist life in Idaho. Tara’s voice is reflective, meditative and at times heart-wrenchingly scattered as she attempts to reconstruct her remarkable tale of self-determination and enlightenment. …


Pachinko book cover
Pachinko book cover

Pachinko is a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for fiction and has featured on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal. It is rare for a work of fiction to read with such intimacy and heartbreak; the rich tapestry of characters and emotional conflict spanning nearly 100 years to explore the universal themes of resilience, family, identity, and displacement. This novel is revolutionary in its honest and often brutal depiction of the immigrant experience yet reads like a compassionate, beautiful hymn to the struggles of people in…

Lisa Wan

I'm a bookworm that loves to read and share my insights with others. Take a look at my book reviews for my honest thoughts on the books I've read!

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