What Is She Reading #2

They say sharing is caring. Because we care, and it’s Christmas, we thought this is the perfect time to ask a few of our favourite #WoWWomen to share their holiday read list with us in this “What Is She Reading” sequel.

We love a good book, but there are soooo many books in the world (how many? Google actually counted in 2010 and concluded that there were in existence 129,864,880. Then a few months ago, Mental Floss attempted to fill in the gap between 2010 and 2016, and came up with a new grand total of 134,021,533!) — how does one decide which books are worth our very limited time and attention? This is why the quest for good reads continues to be a pet project of ours, and finding out what others’ favourites past and present never fails to inspire and excite us.

So here it is, some seriously good picks from Claudia Wu, co-founder and creative director of Cherry Bombe, Winnie Chan, founder of Bynd Artisan, and Kate Low, owner of Perk by Kate, complete with precious nuggets on their reading habits, cherished quotes and ideal nerd-out spots… 

1/ CLAUDIA WU

Co-founder & Creative Director of Cherry Bombe

What are you reading right now?
I picked up Dave Eggars’s The Circle at an airport in Amsterdam recently and am about halfway through. I only seem to read when I’m on vacation these days, so hopefully I’ll finish it soon!

What is on your holiday read list?
Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and Christopher Bollen’s The Orient.

Is there a book that you find yourself revisiting time and time again?
I haven’t hit that nostaglic point in my life when I want to just wallow in the culture of my youth.

What about one that has altered your perspective on life, or left you as a slightly different person from before you started?
There are too many to name, but I used to love reading science non-fiction books. I had an urge to understand the world and how things work. The books of Matt Ridley come to mind.

If you had to recommend a book to your 16-year-old self, what would it be?
I’m not sure, I think books find you when it’s the right time.

What is your favourite quote?
I just heard this quote: “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.” by William Gibson.

Complete the sentence: My ideal spot to unwind with a book would be …, and in each hand I would have a … and …
My ideal spot to unwind with a book would be anywhere I’m on vacation, and in each hand I would have a pillow and a blanket.

I think books find you when it’s the right time.

2/ KATE LOW

Founder of Perk By Kate

What are you reading right now?
Magazine B. The cover story this issue is Netflix! I am a big fan of Netflix and what it has done for content consumption. These guys started out as a DVD-by-mail service and look where they are today. I cannot imagine replacing my Netflix subscription with cable TV. And these days, they are going head to head with content owners by producing their own original series. In a way, I can relate to their experience — it is hard to survive as a distributor of other people’s product.

What’s on your holiday read list?
This is a little silly, but I hope to relive my childhood with Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree novel series.

What is a good book in your opinion?
A book that’s well researched, delivered with clarity and packed with emotional intensity… I also indulge in good investigative journalism books occasionally. Snowing In Bali by Kathryn Bonella really opened my eyes to the underworld of drug trafficking. It is a view of a world most of us are not in contact with.

Which book do you find yourself revisiting over and over?
Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. There are so many thought-provoking facts that I still discover something new every time I read it.

What about one that has altered your perspective on life, or left you as a slightly different person from before you started?
Can I name two? Purple Cow by Seth Godin and The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett. Both have inspired and shaped the way I do business. Purple Cow made me excited about wanting to start a business and create something I would enjoy. Buffett’s essays provided the business and ethical foundations for my journey. It also helps that he writes like a kind grandfather and in a very relatable way.

Which book would you recommend to your 16-year-old self?
The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett. I would have grown up a lot faster if I had read it at 16. It is also the cheapest and most effective MBA education in the market.

What is your favourite quote?
“We are all a great deal luckier that we realize, we usually get what we want — or near enough.” from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by

Roald Dahl.

Complete the sentence: My ideal spot to unwind with a book would be …, and in each hand I would have a … and …
My ideal spot to unwind with a book would be at a holiday home overlooking the snow-capped mountains of New Zealand’s South Island, and in each hand I would have a Marou chocolate chip cookie with sea salt and a cup of hot English Breakfast tea.

We are all a great deal luckier that we realize, we usually get what we want — or near enough.

Roald Dahl

3/ WINNIE CHAN

Founder & CEO of Bynd Artisan

What are you reading right now?
The Founders Mentality by Chris Zook & James Allen. This is about the only book I have been reading this year as work has been extremely hectic and by the time I picked up the book, I’d doze off after one paragraph. This book addresses the paradox of growth and the complex issues that arise when a company is trying to scale. It is a subject close to my heart as all the craftsmen in Bynd Artisan, being the core team that started alongside me, have the founder’s mentality and take ownership of their daily chores. They all possess the key ingredients of having an insurgent mission (to present paper in a different light), front line obsession (customer centric) and have an owner’s mindset.

What is on your holiday read list?
Mochtar Riady’s My Life Story which documents Pak Mochtar’s success story with strong emphasis on family values and ethics. I attended this book launch and was really touched and inspired by Pak Mochtar’s quest for learning even though he is now 87 years old.

What’s your idea of a good book?
Writing is a creative personal process, a craft. A skilful writer is able to make the narrative come alive through imagination. Often times, we hear of people commenting “the book was better than the movie based on it” for this very reason. There is no such thing as a bad book. A good book is one that is beautifully bound with the heady scent of paper and has content that interests me and keeps me riveted.

Which book do you find yourself revisiting time and time again?
Lee Kuan Yew’s Hard Truths is one of my all-time favourites because it shows how visionary he was in laying the foundation for Singapore. He was pragmatic and straight-to-the-point in laying out the strengths and weaknesses of our little red dot, and he was able to see how our relationship with the world was important.

I believe that life is a process of continuous change and a constant struggle to make that change one for the better.

Lee Kuan Yew

What about one that has altered your perspective on life, or left you as a slightly different person from before you started?
I enjoy reading about women heroines in history and especially love reading different versions of the 15th century war of the roses in England between the Tudors and the Yorks.

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies are such books. Philippa Gregory’s novels focus on women heroines set in the 14th and 15th century in England. Women are traditionally excluded from medieval history due to the view of male historians of that era that women are incapable of anything worth documenting/recounting.

I like how Gregory researches history and reconstructs from evidence to write what she feels is likely to be the characters of Margaret Beaufort, Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth Woodville.

Her writing also made me realise that historians select what story they want to tell and select the facts they want to use to illustrate and prove their story. This selection is based on what they think is most relevant and likely biased.

If you had to recommend a book to your 16-year-old self, what would it be?
How Stella Saved the Farm by Vijay Govindram and Chris Trimble. It is a book about innovation, but told as a fable, played out by animals in a farm. In the story, the main character’s father passed away and she saved her father’s

declining business by venturing into a new business model with value-added features while uniting all the old workers.

It is a book that can be read in two hours — easy reading and sends the message across very clearly. I cannot thank Eugene Chang, our HR consultant, enough for gifting me this book. It greatly motivated me in the conceptualisation of Bynd Artisan.

What is your favourite quote?
“I believe that life is a process of continuous change and a constant struggle to make that change one for the better.” — Lee Kuan Yew, The Wit And Wisdom Of Lee Kuan Yew.

 

PHOTOS
Feature: Karman Tse  //  Claudia: Stefon Miller  //  Kate: Franz  //  Winnie: Courtesy of Winnie Chan