Somebody asked me, “how do you manage to read so many books”?
First of all, I’m semi-retired. Next, business has been bad and my part-time work has gotten even more part-time. Friends and colleagues with mortgages and car loans panic. I just tighten my belt and spend my free time reading and writing.
I also have a time-saving technique when it comes to reading. This is necessary because there is literally an ocean of books out there and frankly, there are not many which are worth reading. How do I decide? I read the first paragraph of every chapter. I stop the moment I think it’s a waste of time and return it to the library.
To be honest, I do judge sometimes. When I see a title like How To Get Rich In 3 Weeks, I won’t even bother to pick it up. Most of the time, however, I will give the author a chance. And the shallow, superficial and judgemental among us may never realise that books in the F* series actually talk about good values and mindsets in ways which are acceptable to our youngsters. Being prejudiced and aloof will cause us to miss out on a lot of insights and information.
While I may only have started my adventure travels at 30, insights and experiences gained from these journeys have contributed more to my personality and philosophy than Singapore’s educational system. From the day I debated with Koh Buck Song in the Straits Times on the value of “high brow” and “low brow” literature, I’ve been postulating that you can never tell if your next lesson is going to come from someone younger and less qualified.
Regardless of what our leaders have been saying recently, Singapore society will still not open gates for you until you have shown your credentials, KPIs, qualifications and testimonials. People with alternative lifestyles and personalities will still be summarily dismissed. Chua Lam for example, has been branded as a dirty old man with no redeeming features. One local academic even valued him at “a dime a dozen”. Mr Chua is now an internationally acclaimed food critic based in Hong Kong.
For me, there are only two kinds of books out there – books that are worth my time and those what are not worth my time. The former can be written by a peasant. My task is to humbly sieve through. Never judge a book by its cover or its author.