Reading: Beliefs about the Mrenh Gongveal: Chasing the Elves of the Khmer

I've just had a chance to flip through this book. It's a photo essay on the Khmer tradition of providing a home to beings (elves) believed to provide them protection, guidance and advice. Look around Phnom Penh and it is such a common sight on the streets outside of residences, that it barely registers in your peripheral vision. … [Read more...]

Tagalog book: Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut)

This folk song is a catchy tune (in tagalog), and my son picked up the lyrics in a very short time. He was 2 years old then and spoke no Tagalog. It's a good introduction to the language and culture of the Philippines. Anak Books has a great description of the book, so I copy it below in its entirety from their website. Please visit them because it also features a lot of great books in both Tagalog and bilingual Tagalog/English. The classic Tagalog folktale 'Bahay Kubo' is lovingly told and beautifully illustrated through classic Filipino vignettes. This book includes lyrics and score. "Bahay Kubo" is perhaps the best-known and best-loved folk song in the Philipines. Its composer is unknown. Its Tagalog lyrics have been passed down … [Read more...]

Book review: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Wow. Despicable characters trapped in contrived lives freefalling to hell. No plot. Hackneyed social commentaries. And yet, I loved it!! Don't read it for a good story. If you want technical brilliance and stylistic writing-- cartwheeling between streams of consciousness, juggling fury with humor, in pretentious yet witty ramblings-- you'll enjoy this work. … [Read more...]

Book Review: Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges into Success

I'm fortunate for my background where good enough is simply not enough, and to constantly aim high. Working in foreign aid and development has opened my eyes to poverty and the reasons behind it, perpetuating it, situations that unintentionally(?) encourage it. When most peoples' realities means that the basic aim of survival is aiming high, it's difficult to keep occasional bouts of disillusionment and apathy at bay. To keep upbeat, I seek out the occasional motivational book from the meager selections of used bookstores in Phnom Penh.While the motivational messages (e.g. productivity, financing/ investing, self-help) tend to be regurgitated and re-packaged by points of view in different books, the nuggets of advice are useful reading for … [Read more...]