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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Chin

Books I Read: Real Singaporeans, not #crazyrichAsians

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

It's the long National Day weekend. We're entering our 56th year. And so, as part of the National birthday celebration I attended the zoom launch of Melanie Lee's and Lee Xin Li's book We Are Singaporeans Vol. 1.

This is a collection of 10 interviews with 11 Singaporeans who've chosen the road less taken. We have two musicians, a potter, an urban farmer, a filmmaker, a tour guide and neighbourhood activist, an ex-NMP and Singapore beauty queen, a medial researcher, two food tech entrepreneurs, and an actress, all opening up about their vocations.

The book's meant to be a supportive guide for teens contemplating more adventurous life choices than doctor, lawyer, engineer or computer scientist. Each interview maps a journey and talks about challenges. At the end of the section, there are lists of contacts and resources or key takeaways. As a guide for emerging adults, I'd say it works.

But it works for me too! Despite being someone who's been there, done that and am now trying the other thing, I found the whole volume refreshingly unassuming and entirely motivating.

Every single story was inspiring. No one had an easy time of it, but all are glad they've found their passion. No one claimed they'd arrived, not even those who've gained some recognition abroad. They're all on a journey, they say. They're all still learning.

Not to sound too hokey, but it's a bit like our journey as a nation. We haven't had easy time of it, but here we are, still going. There's lots we still need to learn.

It's not over till it's over. Until then, on this 56th birthday, here's to the country being as brave and flexible and as willing to take the plunge as the 10 interviewees:

Shabir Tabare Alam >> Music composer, singer, songwriter and actor

Alan Phua and Verleen Goh >> Food-tech entrepreneurs

Siti Khalijah Zainal >> Theatre actress

Kim Whye Kee >> Potter

Eunice Olsen >> TV presenter, actress, communications and media trainer

Cai Yinzhou >> Tour guide and activist

Joanna Dong >> Singer, actress and host

Bjorn Low >> Urban farmer

Eugenia Ong >> Medical researcher

Anthony Chen >> Filmmaker

Thanks Melanie and Xin Li for this little tome. Thanks also to Marshall Cavendish for putting this out, in these times when too many overseas publishers just want another version of Crazy Rich Asians.

I'm so happy to be a Singaporean with the likes of this group of so not #crazyrichasians and so very inspiring eleven people.

Do get a copy for yourself, your teen or nephews and nieces. I have. Two in fact. One for my son. One for me!

You can pick them up at Kino or order online at goguru.




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