Book Reviews by @Ulatbukutales

 Ulat Buku Tales is a curated Instagram online bookstore that sells, recommends and occasionally rents secondhand books which have been owned and read by the founders. Read their book reviews below!


Book Title: I Am Malala
Genre: Authobiography, memoir

I Am Malala is an absorbing book about a young girl who was shot at the age of 15 by The Talibans for insisting on equal rights to education for all people including women and children. The book chronicles not only the trials and tribulations faced by her and her family, but also of Pakistan as a whole during a period where The Taliban’s regime of terror was developing. This part of the book suggest the hand of an experienced foreign affairs correspondent as the in depth knowledge of both contemporary issues and the country's history and political situation, as well as of the many different tribes, languages and customs within each region, is so very extensive. Readers will be able to gain some insight into the history of Pakistan in course of this, which makes for an interesting background understanding to the society and mindsets in which Malala grew up in and why she is indeed remarkable. In a society steeped in a culture that devalues a woman’s worth entirely, Malala is unapologetic, articulate, fierce and ambitious -traits that make her a force of nature and threatening to those who prefer docile and obedient shrinking violets. However, Malala insists that surviving being shot in the head is not what she wants people to focus on, but the issues of children's rights, women's education and world peace. Surely that is what we should take away from reading this book.


Book Title: Reasons to Stay Alive
Genre: Psychology, mental health


What is it like to be in the mind of a depressive? What comes to our minds when we have someone near and dear to us revealing that they are a sufferer of this elusive mental health -especially if they don’t readily look the part? To begin with, what is a depressive stereotypically expected to look like? Indeed, these are all valid questions. Depression is a silent tragedy, but also a condition so often misunderstood that many end up suffering in silence for fear of being ridiculed or not taken seriously. Ironically, every now and then we would be shocked by international headlines broadcasting that a famous so and so had taken their own lives as a result of depression, and as a society we are often baffled and sympathetic. So why then are we less merciful to the people closest to us? This double-standard is Matt Haig’s premise in his book Reasons to Stay Alive. He aims to help us understand that there is no “why” to depression. That it is not voluntary, nor is it a condition which even depressives want to be in. Reasons To Stay Alive is a short simple book that lists down characteristics of depression, possible trigger factors, ways to cope, and even guides for caretakers --among others. In all truth, it is a brief introduction, perhaps a little too simple, but one which drives its points across.


5 minutes with Najat Nordin of Ulat Buku Tales!

What inspired you to start writing reviews?
A lot of books are empowering and beneficial; when you stumble upon a good thing that are ironically accessible to many and yet do not garner the attention it should, it is natural to ensure that changes. I write reviews for two reasons -one is to call attention upon the subject matter, second is to actually help me synthesize the complex or combination of ideas that I’ve discovered into one sufficient narrative.

What were you doing before @ulatbukutales?
I was a full time Interior Designer.

Top 3 most fascinating / interesting books you've read and why?
Born A Crime - A memoir of a man who grew up during apartheid South Africa. The complexity of racial injustice and dynamics compels the reader (me) to reflect on my own humanity which I think is especially important.

The Kingsbride Series by Ken Follet - A classic historical masterpiece set in a fictional medieval land called Kingsbridge where generations of the people are immersed in multiple dramas full of ambition, love, power and family conflict. Something like Games of Thrones.

Frankenstein - A classic masterpiece that pioneers a lot of the character conflicts we find in other books today. Example -a man can both be good and bad at the same time, that a man’s mistake doesn’t make him an outright evil person. 

Book suggestions for people who want to get into reading?
Depends on interest. Perhaps go easy on non-fiction materials, and pick up fiction items instead. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a good start.

Why do you love reading, how has it helped you?
I was raised in a family of readers, and have always seen the value in reading whether in the way they shaped my thinking, or helped to make sense of a complex situations, to expanding my vocabulary. Above all, reading is a window to the outside world, to discover there are ideas I haven’t bridged yet, societies I haven’t met, and so on.


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