Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain


You know that feeling when you are glued to a book and you seem to not able to keep your MIND off them even though your HANDS are?
I am so much into books these days, again.
And I am glad I picked it up again.

I used to be such a reader, especially before I entered medical school.
The amount of readings required by medical school seemed to separate me from my books.

**The Horrible Morrible Ice Breaking**

During my first week in the UK, there was an ice-breaking session held by the Undergraduate Dept; you know the one that people make 2 circles of chairs - the smaller circle is within the other one and every 1-2 minutes the person in the inner move to the next chair and have 1-2 minutes to "break the ice" with the person on the outer circle they came to?

Well, one of the men quickly asked me "What is your hobby?" and I quickly answered "Reading!". And he looked very excited, the kind of face people make as if to say "ME TOOO!!" and started asking "Really? Cool! So what do you read?" (or something like that. I can't remember his exact sentence but he did ask me what did I read)

"What do you read?" - I was very startled at the question; the ice breaking session itself was a bit too fast-paced for me - having to move around every minute and I was still very shy, and he looked so confident I felt so small talking to him (with time I got to know that he is already a dentist when he entered medical school, so he IS older than me, and a lot more confident, and speaks even faster. His name is Richard C. I think I better write it down here - I almost forgot his name).

At that very short moment, thousands of things were running through my mind - what do I tell him? What does "What do you read?" even mean? Does he want me to list out all the books I've read? That's crazy! Or should I say I read Harry Potter? Oh maybe he is talking about "other" kinds of readings - like self-motivation books or political books? Oh no, I don't read those kind of books, they are boring.

God, why did I say I like reading? I should have said sleeping or shopping or maybe even cooking - the odds that he likes cooking too will be very small, won't it? Maybe English and Malaysians define "Hobby: Reading" differently. Maybe in England, people who likes reading are supposed to be able to talk intelligently about the world in one minute. In Malaysia it's not so often people say that their hobby is reading - because really we are not a reading society - we have to work on that. So whenever I say my hobby is reading, no one will ask any further. God, I must look so stupid to him now.

Seeing me startled at the question, he shot an understanding look (or maybe he didn't, maybe I imagined it) and I think he changed the topic and soon enough (to my absolute relief), the time is up and he had to move to the next chair and break the ice with the next person and someone else came in front of me. But I can't quite focus anymore - maybe he think I lied. I can't even answer a simple question. Oh I have embarrassed all Malaysians - maybe I am not a reader. What is my hobby then? I can't do gardening, I can't jog, I don't do music at all - I really need to rethink my life.

But that was 3 years ago.

I know now, I should have said I like reading story books, or to make it sound more professional maybe I should say "fictions". To make it sound even more confident and "yes I know what I am talking about", I can say love stories or comedy, not so much of the thriller type. I can also say I like Daniel Steel and Sophie Kinsella, I can say I really love Harry Potter series but I have never tried reading JK Rowling's other books. And sometimes I read non-fictional like recently I have just finished Extreme Rambling by Mark Thomas or Fikah Luar Negara by Maszle Malik or Men are From Mars.Women are from Venus by John Gray.

It took me three years to understand that question - to know what exactly he meant.
Because people just don't ask me questions like that back in Malaysia.
So you can imagine how hard it was for me to settle down here. I cruised through my third year of med school without actually knowing I was doing it.

**The Book**

You see, I have been trying very hard to pack my things into boxes and ship them back home - as I am leaving this country in less than 2 months. I started with my textbooks - it was quite easy because I know exactly which ones I still want and which ones I can give away to the hospital library.
Same goes for my lecture notes - those that can go to recycle bins and those precious enough to be treasured and bring back home.
I am going to ship my things through Edaran Express - a Malaysian shipping company based in Manchester. They provide the boxes which they sent to our house and they will also collect them from our house and deliver it to our house in Malaysia - it's a door-to-door service. They charge us by box and the box is HUGE. I can fit into one of them, although it will be easier if I can cut myself into slices. Anyway, the box is huge so I wanted to put my stuff into smaller boxes and arrange those boxes into the big box.

One of my biggest problems is my storybooks. Anyone lived in the UK can tell you that the books here are really cheap - even after you times it by 5 and make it into Malaysian currency, because there are just so many used books around. I used to save my school allowances for months before I can buy a Harry Potter book, which cost more than RM35. And I really hated seeing the UK price at the back cover of the book. It always say something like £5.99 or £6.99. At that time I knew even if I converted the £ to RM, it may cost the same but knowing that people in the UK paid only £5.99 made me so jealous. Why can't the price be RM5.99 here? Why must it be RM39.99?

So now, back to my point.
The storybooks here are very cheap so over these three years I have been buying more books than I had for the past 21 years in Malaysia combined (I may be exaggerating but you get the point). But I have only 2% of the time I had compared to when in Malaysia - before med school to be exact. So I didn't get to finish many of them. And now when I finally have the time, I need to post them back home because the shipping itself takes 2 months. If I don't ship them now, I will get them much later. And my sister is coming in two weeks, I need to finish packing before she arrives.

I now have this huge mission - I intend to finish ALL the books before shipping them home, and I have two weeks to finish more than 10 books - almost impossible but I am going to try as hard as I can.

Two days ago, I put "The Lost Daughter" into a box because I have never read Diane Chamberlain's books before and I am more interested in reading H.R.H by Daniel Steel first or Sophie Kinsella's Mini Shopaholic first. So I thought I can let The Lost Daughter go into the box and see it again after two months. I bought it because it was cheap (all my books now cost less than £2.50), the cover was beautiful and feminine and the synopsis was quite interesting. But a few hours after putting it into the box, I took it out again and started reading it - because at that time I felt like reading. Since then I was glued to it until this morning I finally finished all the 522 pages and is ready to put it back into the box.

Diane's writing is a lot different from Sophie Kinsella's. I can compare it to Daniel Steel's though. Both of them write about strong willed women who underwent lots of things during their childhood and how much the upbringing affected them and the decisions they made in life. The main character is always a woman - a strong one. And I think I started to like her writings. Maybe if I find her books in the future, I'll buy it. One of the comments on the book cover said "For fans of Judi Picoult, this is a must read". And it didn't quote where the comment came from. I don't understand why someone compare her to Judi Picoult. I don't think they are the same person with different pen names. I read Judi Picoult's Salem Falls before but I don't remember being gripped and glued to the book as much as I was with this one. Maybe I should try to read hers more. They said My Sister's Keeper is a good book, I'll try buy it if is cheap i.e. less than £3..

I should restart packing now. I will leave my storybooks for now and concentrate on my clothes - unwanted ones should go to charity.

'til then!

-Because life is a test-


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