WBD Panel Discussion Report & Book Recommendations

May 20, 2010 at 6:34 pm 1 comment

(Pictured left to right: Felix Cheong, Alvin Pang, Yong Shu Hoong, Jason Erik Lundberg (moderator))

On 22 April, in Hwa Chong’s Drama Centre, three of Singapore’s established writers — Alvin Pang, Yong Shu Hoong, and Felix Cheong — sat down to discuss the books that influenced them as readers and writers, as part of HCI’s celebration of World Book Day. The audience was comprised of interested students and teachers eager to hear the experiences and views of these published authors.

In 1995, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (or UNESCO) conceived of World Book and Copyright Day as a yearly event on the 23rd of April: a symbolic date for world literature as it is the birth or death date for many prominent authors, including Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, Maurice Druon, and Vladimir Nabokov. It was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.

Franz Kafka once said that “a book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” Many of us have books that have been like a lightning bolt to the brain, that have opened our eyes to what literature can truly do. For me it was George Orwell’s anti-totalitarian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which I read as a high school junior. A love story set in the most repressive society imaginable, where even your innermost thoughts are not safe, and the smallest form of dissent is dealt with by the Thought Police and the Ministry of Love. Winston Smith works in the propaganda office of the Ministry of Truth and changes history on a daily basis through the retroactive alteration of past newspapers and books, so that all truth leads to the Party and Big Brother. When he meets Julia, a young revolutionary, he is put on course toward torture and Room 101. Harrowing, bleak, and depressing as hell, and at the same time one of the most important novels ever written.

What books were recommended by our panelists?

Felix Cheong:
Collected Poems 1909-1962 by T.S. Eliot
Collected Poems 1934-1952 by Dylan Thomas
Against the Next Wave by Lee Tzu Pheng

Yong Shu Hoong:
Wilderness: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison, Volume 1 by Jim Morrison
The Great Fires: Poems, 1982-1992 by Jack Gilbert

Alvin Pang:
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Remembering Grandma and Other Rumours by Wong Phui Nam
The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Devil’s Larder by Jim Crace
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami


Entry filed under: Events, Recreational Reading.

Most Borrowed Books in 2010 Q1 Review: The Novice by Trudi Caravan

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. peiyu zhou  |  August 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    The three writers’ who were discussing about sat down to discuss the books that influenced them as readers and writers.
    I think that the talk was very interesting and i personally feel that it could be improved by talking about 20th century writers-roald dahl, enid blython etc.

    I feel that this talk should be made available to the sec ones so that they too can enjoy this talk.


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Library Club Leadership

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Mdm Shieh Le-shiang
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