Book Reviews

Hello and welcome to my book collection. My goal is to read at least two books about every country I am going to, one written by a Westerner and one written by someone born and raised in the country in question. I’m hoping this way I can get two different perspectives on the country I am exploring. The columns on the left are for the Western authors while the columns on the right are for those from the country.


I was disappointed with this book as a history of the Philippines and I honestly don’t know how it has such high reviews. Not only was the book itself not well written and lacking a cohesive linear narrative but the author tried to shove as many details as possible into the story, making the cast of characters long and unmemorable. I can’t count how many times an ‘elderly man who was still quite handsome” entered the scene for only a few pages.

The author also did not cite his sources, there were many typos and syntax errors in the kindle edition and it was some of the most opinionated history that I’ve ever read. The author appears to stick his nose up at every point of history, without distinction from the good or the bad or in-between. It’s as if he’s following a brand of academic doublespeak which in his own ironic cynicisms continues to emulate the white man’s burden of self-flagellation at his own “whiteness and the evils of his own wonderful prestige” in the face of the poor unhappy native.

Honestly, if he had made his writing more concise, cited sources, and put away the battering ram he used to shove his own inconsistent opinions down the readers throat it could’ve been a good and informative book.

Noli Me Tangere

(not yet read)

Among the great novels in Philippine literatureNoli Me Tángere (Touch Me Not) is the most controversial and widely-known – it’s included in the current education curriculum of Filipino high school students. Written by the country’s national hero, Dr. José Rizal, this novel sparked the social awakening of Filipinos during the Spanish colonial era. As Rizal cannot fathom the unfairness of the Spanish priests and the ruling government at the time, his purpose of writing the book was to expose the ills of Philippine society at the time. In this revolutionary book, you’ll learn about the story of Crisostomo Ibarra, how he dealt with Spanish authorities, and how he prepared for his revenge, as told in Rizal’s 2nd book, El Filibusterismo.

Except collected from: TheCultureTrip


a brief history of indonesia

(In progress)

Indonesia is by far the largest nation in Southeast Asia and has the fourth largest population in the world after the United States. Indonesian history and culture are especially relevant today as the Island nation is an emerging power in the region with a dynamic new leader. It is a land of incredible diversity and unending paradoxes that has a long and rich history stretching back a thousand years and more.

Indonesia is the fabled “Spice Islands” of every school child’s dreams–one of the most colorful and fascinating countries in history. These are the islands that Europeans set out on countless voyages of discovery to find and later fought bitterly over in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. This was the land that Christopher Columbus sought, and Magellan actually reached and explored. One tiny Indonesian island was even exchanged for the island of Manhattan in 1667!

This fascinating history book tells the story of Indonesia as a narrative of kings, traders, missionaries, soldiers and revolutionaries, featuring stormy sea crossings, fiery volcanoes, and the occasional tiger. It recounts the colorful visits of foreign travelers who have passed through these shores for many centuries–from Chinese Buddhist pilgrims and Dutch adventurers to English sea captains and American movie stars. For readers who want an entertaining introduction to Asia’s most fascinating country, this is delightful reading.

Beauty is a wound

(not yet read)

Compulsively readable, Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humour, and romance in an astonishing epic novel, in which the beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by every monstrosity.

Kurniawan’s gleefully grotesque hyperbole is a scathing critique of his young nation’s troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders, followed by three decades of Suharto’s despotic rule. Drawing on local sources—folk tales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit—and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Beauty Is a Wound is passionate and ironic, exuberant and confronting. Hailed as ‘the next Pramoedya’, Eka Kurniawan is an exciting new voice in contemporary literature.