Archive for the ‘Readings’ Category

KLIBF 2010

I lost again.


Despite my earlier vow that I would reduce reading non-academic books until I complete my PhD + reduce my expenses on books, the temptation was just too strong.


I spent three hours at the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair last Friday, after attending a seminar at UIA.


It was the first day of the book fair + it was school holidays so the place was extremely packed.


I don’t even want to calculate how much I spent, but I know I bought 26 titles + a few more for the kids.


Should I just leave them on the shelf?


Beli tapi tak baca, boleh ke? Well, at least I can claim tax relief for this year.


Anyway, congratulations to my cousin Nabil, who recently got married – semoga kekal hingga ke syurga.


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I failed, miserably.


Seriously, I cannot let go of reading non-academic materials… well… not yet.


Horror betul.


Despite the disastrous ending during my last class on the 12th of October, and as much as I vowed to stop reading non-academic materials until I complete my studies, I still cannot help the urge.


Plus, last Friday was off for us (since Saturday is a public holiday) and I took Monday off to be with my kids on their first day of examinations… Imagine reading journals on a four-day break! Tak boleh jadi ni.


So I ended up reading three books: Wo Ai Ni Allah, Lovers and Strangers Revisited and Gurindam Jiwa. 



Wo Ai Ni Allah is a story of a 14-year old girl who wanted to know if Allah really exists. In the earlier part of the book, the story focused on the dad who was also under the same mission, but later died in a ‘planned’ accident (apparently, the mom’s ex lover killed him). Anyway, both the girl and the dad suffered mental disorder – which really complicated things. Overall, it was an interesting read… but I found some of the paragraphs quite difficult to comprehend (maybe because I wanted to read ‘lighter’ materials!)


LSR-front cover


Robert Raymer’s Lovers and Strangers Revisited won the Popular Book Award for 2009. That was the only reason why I got a copy of the book. It contains 17 short stories, from Robert’s own experience living in Malaysia. I think that any Malaysian who reads this book, can relate to most of the stories in the book. Indeed, it was worth reading.




Finally, Gurindam Jiwa. Three short stories including one GREAT story by Hlovate. By the way, Hlovate, who until today remains anonymous, writes extremely interesting books. In fact, I have read all his (or her) books – 5 Tahun 5 Bulan, aA + bB, Tunas and Rooftop Rant. Of course, the other two stories by Imaen and Noor Suraya are equally interesting, except that Hlovate’s style of writing captivates me!

Let me try to renew my vow: I will stop (read: I will TRY to stop) reading non-academic materials beginning… TODAY!

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Makrifat Cinta

I finally managed to complete reading the Makrifat Cinta trilogy last week.


Although I bought the first book Syahadat Cinta last year, I had to refrain myself from reading it after realizing that it was a trilogy but the other two books were not yet released back then. During the KL International Book Fair this year, I bought the other two books, Musafir Cinta and Makrifat Cinta, to complete the trilogy.


taufiqurrahman 1


I got so hooked up on the three books that I completed reading them over 2 days. Really, I wish I could finish my literature review at the same speed!


Anyway, the trilogy focuses on Iqbal Maulana, a young and rich lad from the city of Jakarta. The setting is almost typical – anak tunggal, banyak duit, unIslamic lifestyle. Iqbal was determined to change into a better person after he unintentionally caused injury to his mom. And that was when the spiritual journey of Iqbal Maulana began. He started out as a person who did not even know how to perform solat or read the Quran, but he ended up as an Imam and a Huffaz!


I think the first two books are more spiritually fulfilling compared to the third though. Syahadat Cinta and Musafir Cinta concentrated more on Iqbal’s journey into becoming a true Muslim, but Makrifat Cinta is more about his journey on choosing the right partner. Regardless, these three books provided me with a different kind of motivation that I don’t get from reading other books. The plot is interesting and the words are touching – to the extent that I sometimes get goosebumps!  


One important take home point for me – everything begins with your intention. If you have a good intention, and you are really, really sincere, Allah will make it easy for you!

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A Quiet Weekend

My husband loves fishing. He can talk about fishing for hours, just like he talks about cars. But he has been so occupied with so many other things for the past few months that he was unable to do this thing that he likes. On Saturday, he decided to leave for Lumut with his six other colleagues and spent a night there fishing. When he came back on Sunday, I have never seen him so excited about the whole thing!


Meanwhile, I managed to finish three books on Saturday while he was away. Sentuhan Muttaqeen, Dalam Mihrab Cinta and Boy Meets Girl – and I enjoyed all three extremely.



Umi Kalthum Ngah’s Sentuhan Muttaqeen is a story about Afiq, who was brought up by his grandmother after his parents were divorced. It tells about Afiq’s life at an Islamic school and how he made it through successfully even without the attention from his parents.


Three major lessons I learnt from this book:

1.     When parents divorce, the children will definitely suffer the worst. This is quite apparent and I have a few cases myself. Therefore, as a reminder to myself and to all other married couples out there, before you make the decision to separate or even think about getting a divorce, think about the children and the impact on their life. Think about the amanah that Allah has given you!

2.     The people surrounding you including your friends and your teachers will play an important role in shaping your identity. Afiq’s father made a wise decision by sending the originally-problematic Afiq to Al Muttaqeen, and after so many years, and after going through the necessary “tarbiyyah” (or education) and having supportive teachers and friends, Afiq made it through successfully. So, as parents, we must select the right school for our children so that the Islamic fikrah is instilled in them from small.

3.     Money is not everything. Afiq’s dad is a successful businessman. But what is money if your family is suffering? I would rather have less money but more happiness!



Habiburahman El Shirazy’s Dalam Mihrab Cinta contains three short stories. I love his books as they never fail to remind you that Allah should be above everything in a Muslim’s life. I am reminded that in any case or any circumstance, Allah is always the best planner.


The first story is about Zahrana who was in search of a husband and finally married his own student after so many tribulations (some were so horrific!). No matter how much she planned, Allah still knows best. The second story is about Syamsul who was being accused of stealing but managed to prove it wrong after years of suffering. And it further proves that Allah knows it all for He is the Most Knowing! Finally, the third story is about Zul and Mari who met in Malaysia and fell in love but the circumstances were so against them. But Zul is such a strong character in this story and I am so touched by the way he surrenders himself to Allah. Zul and Mari met again in Indonesia and the circumstances were much better and they finally got married.


The one lesson I always get from Habiburahman’s books: Allah is your best companion so confide in Him!



Boy Meets Girl is a novel written by Meg Cabot and it is extremely funny. It is not the normal novel but it contains exchange of emails between the main characters, instant messages at work, journal entries and notes written everywhere (including on a menu at a restaurant!). One major problem I had when I first started reading the book was trying to digest the ‘to’ and ‘from’ in the emails, and the characters in the instant messages. But after sometime, it was enjoyable.


I think I should spend all my time reading books instead of working and studying!

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101 Malaysian Anecdotes


I bought Salmiah Alias’ 101 Malaysian Anecdotes during the KL International Book Fair in April 2008. The first attraction was the cute cover and after browsing through the pages, it was full of cartoons and illustrations – and it looked more like a comic to me. But I had a good feeling about it so I bought the book and actually got the author to sign her autograph on the last page of the book. Puan Salmiah is a very pleasant lady who had been practicing law for the past 20 years. She has nine children and I can’t help but wonder how she managed her time so well! It is just amazing! Anyway, the short conversation that I had with her at the KLIBF was something that I would remember forever.


The book contains short anecdotes of her daily experiences in life. She wrote about her childhood, and I think she had described it so well. Some of the tales were so funny that I just couldn’t stop laughing:


One day, my friend, a senior civil servant told me “A group of us senior civil servants accompanied a prominent minister to a fishing trip. We did not talk much in the presence of the minister. We were afraid to make any remarks or comments in his presence”. My friend continued, “The fishing trip was a failure and we did not catch a single fish!” I was surprised and asked, “Why is that so?” He answered, “Even the fish closed their mouth!”


But this piece of advice from Puan Salmiah brought tears to my eyes:


So, for young mother, this is my advice.. Firstly, take a lot of photos of your children as they grow, if possible every day, for those faces would soon be just a memory. Secondly, enjoy your life with your young children while they still depend on you and listen to most of your words. Hug them, kiss them and smell them while they are still sweet smelling and allow to be hugged. Carry them and walk with them, holding them by their hands, for soon you will be walking, dragging your feet and holding on to them!


Thank you Puan Salmiah for the great advice. And most importantly, thank you for a book so well-written. I pray for your happiness!

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The Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair 2008 was held last week.


I was in Kuala Lumpur for a meeting on Friday, and I managed to squeeze in two hours to visit the fair. My kids had to ‘ponteng’ tadika because I wanted to bring them along with me. Naughty mom!


Anyway, I bought the following books on Rasulullah and his Sahabah which I had been eyeing for some time:



These are the novels:




And these are the motivational and self-help books:




I also bought Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat Unplugged 1 – which contains some speeches and writeups by my beloved Tok Guru.


I hope these books will last me until 2009 KLIBF. I still have a few more books that I had purchased earlier that I need to read!!!


Happy reading to me!

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I had to attend a meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Instead of driving, I decided to take the public transport hoping that I could get some rest. My twins have been quite challenging to manage this past few days and driving would create another headache for me. A three-hour bus ride would provide me with sufficient time to rest.

I brought along with me ‘Relevankah Aku Di Hatimu (RADHA)’ which essentially means Am I Relevant to You written by a new author, Rynsa. I bought this book during the recent Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair but since I have been busy with my ICSA examinations, I had kept it safely in my bag. Anyway, I just couldn’t stop reading the book. I managed to finish half of the book on my way to KL, and completed the rest on my way home.. with some occasional naps in between, of course.

The book brought me many bitter sweet memories. It reminded me a lot about the place where I had spent pursuing my undergraduate degree, Melbourne. The most liveable city in the world. No, the story had nothing to do with Melbourne, it was all about Japan, but the involvement of the main characters in Islamic organizations was what brought tears to my eyes. During my student days, I was quite active in Islamic activities. Every term break, gatherings or camps were organized. Summer Camp, Winter Camp, Spring Camp.. you name it. Most of us had our schedules planned around this activities. Weekdays and nights were filled with lectures, tutorials and revisions. Weekends were reserved for Islamic activities – usrahs, study circles, visits, picnics. Not even a single hour was put to waste. By the time I became a senior, I started to lead usrah groups. I had so much time to do all kinds of things. Those were experiences I would treasure for the rest of my life. It gave my life a lot of meaning.

But things have been different ever since I returned home. I am very, extremely inactive in doing Islamic activities which I really enjoy doing – learning new things, discussing with fellow friends, arguing on current issues… Although right now, I am trying to get myself more active by becoming involved in the activities at my workplace. And after reading the book, my earlier belief – that by having a partner that has the same ‘fikrah’ or understanding is a strong factor – is re-emphasized. Of course, my other half is a devoted Muslim, but he is not into Islamic activities very much – maybe due to lack of exposure, lack of experience and lack of friends. The ‘right environment’ is lacking. But I still have this hope that things would change one day. And I will keep praying that Allah will show us the light… Ameen.

And I guess, it does reflect on me as well. I have to keep improving myself, improving my iman to Him… Because afterall, Allah has said in the Holy Quran in Surah Al Baqarah, verse 187 on husbands and wives… “..they are your garments and you are their garments….”

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