My Top 10: Books

Last week, there’s a World Book Day. Of course, I wasn’t aware of the day until my cousin Anom informed me. And I wanted to write something about it because I do like books and reading. So I decided to list my Top 10 Books ever. But it took me longer than I expected, I mean to come up with the list. I find it rather difficult to list just 10 books when I have literally hundreds of books that have brought me joy and excitement.

Anyway after giving much thought, I finally came around to list these 10 favourite titles of mine. So in random order, here they are:
1. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Lord Jeffrey Archer. Personally, I think this is one of his most clever works. First published in 1976, this was also his first novel. It was said to have been inspired by Archer's real-life experience of near-bankcruptcy. Interesting fact: Apparently, it took him some time to find a publisher for this first novel. When it was published, it only sold 3,000 copies in hardback. The paperback did a bit better, selling about 20,000 in the first year. However, as word-of-mouth took over, demand increased. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less has now been reprinted 57 times.

2. Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival” by Anderson Cooper. I like autobiographies and memoirs and this one is clearly my favourite. I guess being a journalist myself, I am drawn to this book. A son of a famous and wealthy socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson is now one of the popular anchors at CNN. He has been a globetrotting reporter for fifteen years, covering armed conflicts, political upheavals and natural disasters in hot spots around the world. The book is Cooper’s account of the people he met, the things he saw and the lessons he relearned in the midst of devastation. Beautifully narrated.

3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. After 4 years, I am still affected by the plot. It tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, who betrayed his best friend Hassan, the son of his father's Hazara servant, and lives in regret. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet invasion, the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime. Heart wrenching but beautifully written.

4. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Like many people, I too read many self-help and motivational books. But I like this one the most. The focus of The Magic of Thinking Big is on the different thought patterns that repeatedly lead to success. It explains how your mind works and how you can harness it to achieve success instead of allowing it to torture you. However, perhaps because the book was published over 50 years ago, it lacks the fast food information feel of many modern books. Now the only thing left for me to do is to apply the tips given…. Hmmmm.

5. Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot. Yes, confession time. I read Meg Cabot’s books. Anda ada masalah? But you know what, reading these kind of books allow me to talk to my daughters on a few more levels. I particularly like Ms Cabot’s Boy series especially this book. I think Ms Cabot is quite a clever author. The entire novel is written in diary, e-mails, notes and PDA entries. Included are several clever illustrations. Despite, or perhaps because of, the unusual format, the story is charming, the characters very well drawn and I was pulled into the story from the very beginning. It was a fun, light-hearted story.

6. Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. I believe I’ve read almost all of Mr Grisham’s books (just like Lord Archers’ books). This title is among his few fictions that’re not really legal related but definitely one of the most enjoyable books by the author (and I do like his other books). The novel is about an itinerant American football player who can no longer get work in the National Football League and whose agent, as a last resort, signs a deal for him to play for the Parma Panthers, in Parma, Italy. The quarterback's move to a small city in a foreign land leads to a series of cultural misadventures.

7. Keluarga Gerilya by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Okay, this book was part of my compulsory reading when I was in Form 6 in early 80s. It was written in 1950, after Pramoedya’s release from Dutch custody, Keluarga Gerilya charts the complete and absolute annihilation of a nationalistic Indonesian family, triggered by the fight for independence from colonial rule. It is a painful novel to read, overflowing with anguish, despair and disillusionment. This was a family that lost everything, even humanity, as it charted an unwavering path to freedom. Simply heart wrenching.

8. The Secret Mountain by Enid Blyton. Growing up like many kids, of course, I read Ms Blyton’s books too. Of all the adventures, this one stuck in my mind for as long as I remember. I guess that’s because the Secret Mountain was the first Enid Blyton book that I ever read. My brother Chor bought this title and we became Enid Blyton kakis forever. And till today, I can still picturing myself joining Mike, Jack, Peggy and Nora, together with Prince Paul, flying off to the heart of Africa on a dangerous mission. They are my childhood friends, you know?

9. Harry Porter Series by J.K Rowling. Then I grew up, and I hooked up Harry, Hermione and Ron instead. Okay, I can’t possibly pick any of the seven books to be my favourite here (don’t want to and how can you?). But to me, the series provide me serious entertainment. Oh by the way, Harry Porter series have been sold in more than 300 million copies worldwide and are translated into more than 63 languages.

10. 1511H Kombat by Faisal Tehrani. I was told of the book by my cousin Meor Hamzah. Set in the futurustic year of 2087, this book saw Faisal merging occidentalism with the spirit of mystic chivalry. It also opened up my eyes that there are many good books in BM. Very interesting read, indeed. Apparently, there are people in Germany who thought this book was cool and wanted to translate it. (The book is being used as text in one of the universities in Germany).

Okay, now that I have successfully list my favourite, I think I would like to read about your top 10 books too... do share!!! I tag Yah and Anom first....


Hari Bumi

Once in a while, I can be ignorant (okay, okay.... most of the time la) ... like when I picked up Asma and Arissa from school this evening. As the girls settled in the car... we had this conversation:

Asma: Happy Earth Day, Bapak!!!!
Bapak: Huh?
Arissa: Today is Earth Day la, Bapak!!!
Bapak: Yang hari tu kita tutup lampu bagai and makan dinner dalam gelap tu apa?
Asma: Laaaa... tu Earth Hour la... lain la...
Bapak: Oooooo ya ke?

Feeling suitably idiotic for not being aware of the Day, upon reaching home, I googled Earth Day and I found this CNN report:

LONDON, England -- More than one billion people were expected to mark Earth Day Wednesday April 22. Since its creation by United States senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, Earth Day's reach has spread around the world and is now marked in about 175 countries.

Earth Day Network, the organizers of Earth Day, are launching the "Green Generation" campaign. The campaign will last two years and Earth Day's organizers hope it will raise awareness on how to reverse dangerous environmental trends.

Okay, Selamat Hari Bumi semua!!! Let's save the planet!!!!


Coffee, anyone?

Growing up, I never did drink any coffee (or any of those hot drinks for that matter). I simply cannot “tahan” as a sip will resulted with me throwing up big time. So I only drink air kosong and fruit juices. Until I went to college where somehow, almost everybody drank coffee especially during exam weeks. As I wanted to be part of the “in” caffeine crowd (and I don’t smoke either, also cannot tahan), slowly I attempted to drink coffee. I started off with black coffee first (as coffee with milk still made my stomach queasy), and not long after I became a serious coffee drinker.

Then when I was already working, Delifrance opened in Klang Valley and along with it, I was introduced to Cappucino. And ever since, I became a Cappucino lover as well (but espresso never grow on me). Then when I got married, I found the beautiful woman I’m married to is a Nescafe addict. Wow. For the first few years of our marriage, she needed her Nescafe fix every morning but the wife has somehow managed to shake off the habit as now a sip of Nescafe would send her into severe gastric condition. I guess, it’s good for her!!!

As for me, today I’m a full fledged coffee drinker. I don’t see myself as coffee addict though as I drink only ice coffee in the morning, afternoon and at night. (sounds like in denial right?). But I don’t go for gourmet coffee la (of Starbucks variety)... that’s too damn expensive for me.

Which bring me to this site
http://www.squidoo.com/coffeefacts. Yep, that's right. The site features trivia about coffee. Imagine, coffee has influenced me so much so that I even google coffee in my spare time.

Anyway, like me, perhaps you can use these facts to impress your friends and family, probably. But, be prepared for their response being "get a life!"

Some of the interesting facts found in the website are:

* Only 27% of US coffee drinkers add a sweetener to their coffee (remembered once when I was on assignment in Hawaii, a nice American PR lady asked me how do I take my coffee. I answered,” Black, please!”. She then handed me the most bitter coffee I’ve ever tasted - kalau ya pun bubuh la sikit gula).

* The world's largest coffee producer is Brazil with over 3,970 million coffee trees.(okay I learned this like 30 years ago in Ilmu Alam)
* Coffee beans are really berries
* Most coffee is transported by ships. Currently there are approximately 2,200 ships involved in transporting coffee beans each year. (really!???)
* Over 53 countries grow coffee worldwide, but all of them lie along the equator between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. (Malaysia is one of them, right?)
* Cowboys made their coffee by putting ground coffee into a clean sock and immerse it in cold water and heat it over a campfire. When ready, they would pour the coffee into tin cups and drink it. (eeewwww)
* Both the American Revolution and the French Revolution were born in coffee houses. (imagine a local revolution begins from a White Coffee Kopitiam)
* Turkish bridegrooms were once required to make a promise during their wedding ceremonies to always provide their new wives with coffee. If they failed to do so, it was grounds for divorce (pardon the pun).

Now, I’m thirsty oredy. Let’s go and have a cuppa?


Buat Permata Hati

Air terjun di celahan batu
Udara nyaman petang dan pagi
Kasih terkumpul di sudut kalbu
Berpisah jangan sampai ke mati

Untuk Azian Hasan
Selamat Hari Ulang Tahun
Moga Panjang Umur
Molek Rezeki
Bertambah Iman


In the News!!!!

From blogging to e-book venture
Rozana Sani

WHAT initially started as a means to improve her writing skills has launched Subang Jaya-based homemaker Azian Hasan’s e-book venture.

Azian’s blog appeals primarily to women who enjoy food and beautiful things.
Azian’s blog appeals primarily to women who enjoy food and beautiful things.

Azian, who started blogging in mid-2007 after much encouragement from her husband, is owner of Mrs. GoodThings@Home (http://mrsgoodthingshome.blogspot.com.)

Through the blog, she shares anecdotes, projects and experiences that revolve around the loves of her life.

“I love my family, home decorating, cooking and baking. I’m also into craft. You can read about my experiences in the blog.

“I also give out food recipes as well as tips on cake decorating, baking and making wedding gifts,” she said.

An actuarial science graduate from Universiti Teknologi Mara, Azian said she started blogging in the midst of coming up with an e-book.

“I just sold my restaurant then after two years of running the business. It was taking a lot of my time, so much so I didn’t have time for my family. I was looking into other opportunities when I discovered the Internet business, and it seemed the best option as it allowed me to work from home.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have a clue on where to start where e-book was concerned. So, my husband encouraged me to blog to gain confidence in writing. From then on, ideas started to form and I finally wrote the e-book How to Make Money from Your Kitchen.

“In the beginning, I haven’t the faintest idea whether people would come and read my postings but today, I find the response from readers quite encouraging. I don’t really keep track of the hits, but I have made many friends through the blog, especially women and mothers.”

Azian pointed out that the blog appeals primarily to women who enjoy good food and beautiful things.

“I write about food that are easy to prepare, and I often include an anecdote behind each food. I think people like that, and I appreciate it when readers e-mail to tell me that they have tried my recipes and they turned out well.”

Although she does not plan to sell the cakes, cookies or wedding gifts, she often receives orders.

“I will continue to update the blog as long as I can as it launched my new e-business venture,” she said.

In her blog, Azian also promotes her e-books hosted at another Web site, www.duniadapur.com, including Dapur – Lubuk Duit Anda (Kitchen – Your Money Making Machine).

“Most of the stuff in this e-book are based on my experience of doing business from my kitchen. It gives you an idea of how to set up your business,” she said.

(Thanks Ana. Thanks Che Mat)