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7 book recommendations from your favourite Korean dramas

Are you looking for book recommendations? Oddly, one of the places to look for some book recommendations are K-dramas.

If you have watched a dozen Korean dramas by now, you should know how much K-dramas love books.

Sometimes, books are mentioned to build up the character background, or to make the character look smart like in Encounter (2018).

Other times, a book plays a crucial key or a turning point, as it does in The King: Eternal Monarch (2020).

While most of the books are in Korean and unfortunately not available in English translation (yet), a handful of titles that feature in these dramas are in English.

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Here are seven book recommendations from some of your favourite Korean dramas:

1.’The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane’ by Kate DiCamillo (My Love from the Star)

The male protagonist in My Love from the Star quotes this book so much throughout the series that the novel became a bestseller in major Korean bookstores.

Written by American writer Kate DiCamillo, ‘The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane’ follows the life of a china rabbit (a rabbit made of ceramic, just to be clear).

Overall, the novel circles around the themes of loss and recovery as well as the journey to self-discovery.

One of the famous quotes in the book is, “If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”

2.’The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde (My Absolute Boyfriend)

My Absolute Boyfriend (2019) follows the story of Zero Nine (Yeo Jin-goo), a humanoid robot who is programmed to be in love with his one and only girlfriend.

When he was first programmed, his programmer read out ‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde over and over again to remind Zero to never become like the character in the story.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888) is a collection of short stories for children.

Apart from ‘The Happy Prince’, other short stories by Wilde are ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.

3.’To Room Nineteen’ by Doris Lessing (Because This is My First Life)

Since the female lead Yoon Ji-ho (Jung So-min) in Because This is My First Life (2017) loves to read, books can be found throughout the series.

One of them is ‘To Room Nineteen’ by Doris Lessing which is actually a collection of short stories.

‘To Room Nineteen’ itself is a short story of a couple who get married because it is the logical thing to do.

One day, the wife realises her career is sidelined because of her duties as a wife and a mother.

So the wife finds herself a secret refuge, in room 19, a place where she can be herself.

4.’World’s End Girlfriend’ by Kim Yeonsu (Because This is My First Life)

In one of the episodes of Because This is My First Life, Ji-ho receives this book as a gift.

It is a short story collection entitled ‘World’s End Girlfriend’ by Korean writer Kim Yeon-su.

There is a no English translation of the book.

However, there is an audiobook produced by Literature Translation Institute of Korea.

5.’The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame (When the Weather is Fine)

In the drama When the Weather is Fine (2020), Eun-seob (Seo Kang-joon) is the owner of ‘Goodnight Bookstore’.

Besides selling his books, Eun-seob’s life revolves around drinking coffee, reading, writing on his blog.

One of his favourite books is The Wind in the Willows by Scottish author Kenneth Grahame (1908).

Eun-seob loves the book so much that he owns a collection of at least twelve different Korean editions of it.

This children’s book focuses on four animals; Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger.

A former employee of Bank of England, Grahame moved to an old farmhouse in Blewbury, England in 1908.

There, Grahame used the bedtime stories he had told his son Alastair to write the basis for The Wind in the Willows.

6.’Owl At Home’ by Arnold Stark Lobel (When the Weather is Fine)

Speaking of the drama When the Weather is Fine, Eun-seob turns his bookstore into a book club meeting at night on weekly basis.

During the meeting, members are encouraged to share about their favourite books, poems or verses.

In one of the meetings, the youngest member of the book club Jung Seung-ho (Han Chang-min) shares his favourite book ‘Owl at Home’.

It is a 1975 children’s book written by American author Arnold Lobel.

The story follows Owl who lives by himself in a warm little house and makes a friend when he goes for a walk one night.

If you have young children at home, this is a perfect book to read for them.

7.’Unterm Rad’ by Hermann Hesse (Encounter)

Also known as ‘Beneath the Wheel’, this 1906 novel by Hermann Hesse is on the heavier side of our book recommendations.

It follows the story of Hans Giebenrath, a talented boy sent to a seminary to study and his life after he is expelled.
Overall, Hesse is criticising education system that focuses only on students’ academic performance and nothing more.

The male lead character Kim Jin-hyuk (Park Bo-gum) reads this book when he is travelling on a bus, which makes some of us wonder, “Doesn’t he get any motion sickness?”

Frank Marryat, the man who gave us the early drawings of Borneo

There were many adventurers who came to Borneo during the 19th century.

While most of them jotted down their experiences in writing, only a few talented ones managed to capture it in drawings.

One of them was Frank Marryat (1826-1855), an English sailor, author and artist. His father, Captain Frederick Marryat was a Royal Navy officer and a novelist.

Captain Marryat is widely known today as an early pioneer of the sea story.

Life of Frank Marryat

Following in his father’s footsteps, Marryat joined the Royal Navy at the young age of 14.

During Marryat’s service on board of HMS Samarang, he drew the places he visited and the people he met.

At first, he planned to publish his drawings without any writing. Eventually, he added some text of his own and from his colleagues’ journals, publishing his first book in 1848.

The book was entitled Borneo and the Indian Archipelago. In the book, Marryat described his life as a sailor from witnessing a piece of history such as the Treaty of Labuan and collecting turtle’s eggs at Talang-talang islands.

Here are some of his notable drawings of Borneo and Marryatt’s description of it:

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“The town of Kuchin is built on the left-hand side of the river Sarawak going up; and, from the windings of the river, you have to pull twenty-five miles up the river to arrive at it, whereas it is only five miles from the coast as the crow flies. It consists of about 800 houses, built on piles driven into the ground, the sides and roofs being enclosed with dried palm leaves. Strips of bamboo are laid across, which serve as a floor.” (Frank Marryat, 1848)
James Brooke’s house
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“The residence of Mr. Brooke is on the side of the river opposite to the town, as, for the most part, are all the houses of the Europeans. In structure it somewhat resembles a Swiss cottage, and is erected upon a green mound, which slopes down to the river’s bank, where there is a landing-place for boats. At the back of the house is a garden, containing almost every tree peculiar to the climate; and it was a novelty to us to see collected together the cotton-tree, the areca, sago, palm, &c., with every variety of the Camellia japonica in a state of most luxurious wildness.” (Frank Marryat,1848)
Mount Kinabalu
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Borneo has but small elevation for so large an island; in the immediate vicinity of Keeney Ballu the country is hilly, but by far the greatest portion of Borneo is but a few feet above the level of the sea. Keeney Ballu is the highest mountain in the island,—its height is estimated at 14,000 feet or more,—and it can be seen at 150 miles distant on a very clear day. It is very singular that there should be a mountain of so great a height rising from an island of otherwise low land. (Frank Marryat, 1848)

Frank Marryat’s Life After Borneo

He returned to England after his adventure in Borneo then proceeded to California in 1850.

Then in 1853, Marryat returned to England and got married. In the same year, he wanted to return to California with his new wife.

Unfortunately, he had contracted yellow fever on board ship.

This forced him to cut the trip short and return to England.

He died shortly before his book Mountains and Molehills or Memoirs of a Burnt Journal (1855). Marryat was just 29 years old.

The notice of Frank Marryat’s death

An unnamed writer wrote Marryat’s obituary and it was published in Life and Letters of Captain Marryatt (1872), a book about his father. The notice summarised his life perfectly.

“It is with the most sincere regret that we announce of the decease Mr Marryat, author of ‘Borneo and the Eastern Archipelago’ and of ‘Mountains and Molehills’, the latter of a work published at the commencement of this year, which has been most favourably received by the reading public.

Mr Marryat died at his residence, Mercer Lodge, Kensington on Thursday, the 12th instant, at noon, after a severe illness of more than six months’ duration.

He was the fourth son of the late Captain Marryat, the eminent novelist, and was born on the 3rd of April, 1826.

Like his elder brother he early displayed an invincible longing for the sea, and was consequently entered a midshipman at the age of fourteen.

Previously to this, he had received as large education as possible- first at Paris, afterwards in a school at Wimbledon.

Happily, in these days, the young midshipman’s education is still carried on, even in matters not strictly professional, and this was the case with young Marryat on board the Vanguard, Captain Sir David Dunn.

In the Vanguard he cruised principally in the Mediterranean, and was afterwards entered in the Samarang, Captain Sir Edward Belcher, ordered on a surveying expedition in the Indian Archipelago.

In his work on Borneo, Mr Marryat has given a very agreeable and instructive account of his four years’ cruise in the Samarang, 1843-1847.

On his return home, he resided for some time at Langham, in Norfolk, with his father, who lost his eldest son in the Avenger.

Captain Marryatt himself died in August, 1848 and his son, by no means tried of a roving life, now resolved to seek fresh adventures.

The field he chose was California, with reference to which he penned his work ‘Mountains and Molehills’, to our mind one of the most delightful books of travel ever written.

He was described as “his manners were most agreeable, and his conversation showed that delicate kind of humour as well as keen observation of mankind.”

Thanks to Marryat’s observation, we roughly have a glimpse of how Borneo looked like in the 1840s.

You can read Borneo and the Indian Archipelago online for free thanks to The Project Gutenberg.

KajoPicks: 10 literary detectives that we love

When it comes to fiction, who doesn’t love a good crime novel? Not only are the mysteries fascinating, but the characters themselves are essential to any compelling mystery crime fictions, be it in short stories or novels.

There are all kinds of literary detectives out there; from private investigators to professional policemen.

Some of these literary detectives have even made it to TV shows or the big screens, gathering a new fan base, especially among those who do not read crime novels.

Every literary detective usually has his or her own quirks or issues that keep readers coming back for more.

Here are KajoMag’s top 10 picks of our favourite literary detectives:
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1.Sherlock Holmes

We cannot talk about literary detectives without mentioning Sherlock Holmes. In terms of Holmes’ depictions on screen, fans have had long arguments on who has played Holmes better, Robert Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch. (Who also happen to share the big screen in the MCU universe XD)

At the end of the day, though, books are always better than movies or TV shows. Besides letting you imagine the setting or events happening in the story, books can usually create more interesting plots or let you in on what the characters are thinking.

Created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes is one of the most famous literary detectives of all time.

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2.C. Auguste Dupin

Before there was Holmes, the literary world had C. Auguste Dupin first. Edgar Allan Poe penned him in The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841), The Mystery of Marie Roget (1842) and The Purloined Letter (1844).

The Murders in the Rue Morgue is widely considered as the first detective fiction story ever.

After Poe created Dupin, the character had inspired other authors to create their own literary detectives, including Holmes.

3.Hercule Poirot

Here is another character which is inspired by Dupin. English writer Agatha Christie first created Poirot in 1920 in the book The Mysterious Affair at Styles. This was during the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction” (1920s-1930s).

Obviously obsessive-compulsive, Poirot’s interesting character along with Christie’s writing style where she likes to keep her readers guessing, makes him one of the most memorable literary detectives.

Besides Poirot, Christie also created Miss Marple, an elderly lady who is an amateur consulting detective.

4.Harry Bosch

With years of experience as a crime beat writer and crime reporter, it’s no wonder American author Michael Connelly is one of the best crime fiction writers in recent decades.

His most notable works are those featuring Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Harry Bosch.

He has appeared in 21 novels to date since the first novel The Black Echo in 1992.

After reading any of Connelly’s books featuring Bosch, one can imagine him as a very confrontational and hostile person who always has problems with authority despite being a police officer himself.

Apart from novels featuring Bosch, other must-read books by Connelly are of Mickey Haller. He is a Los Angeles attorney and Bosch’s half brother.

5.Harry Hole

After reading crime novels written by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, one can’t help but notice the similarities between Connelly’s Bosch and Nesbo’s main character Harry Hole.

That is because Nesbo took Bosch not only as the inspiration for his own character but also a tribute to the American literary detective.

Just like Bosch, Hole also has repeated conflict with his superiors and colleagues.

And just like Bosch, Hole is a brilliant detective who, despite his sometimes compulsive behaviour, still earns respect among his colleagues.

6.Dave Robicheaux

What do Dave Robicheaux and Harry Hole have in common apart from both being literary detectives?

They have both problems with alcohol. Created by American writer James Lee Burke, Robicheaux first appeared in The Neon Rain (1987). Burke’s latest book to date featuring Robicheaux is The New Iberia Blues (2019).

7.Adam Dalgliesh

Perhaps it is a trend or scientific fact that being a loner, or someone not in any committed relationship, makes one a great detective. Most of the literary detectives in this list are single men who either sleep around or are divorced, widowed or simply those who prefer to be alone in the first place.

P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh falls under the widowed category after he loses his wife in childbirth.

Like any British detective fiction, Dalgliesh is depicted as the gentlemen detective throughout fourteen mystery novels he has appeared.

8.Inspector Morse

Created by British author Colin Dexter, Inspector Morse is another gentleman detective that we love.

Inspector Morse appeared in 13 novels with the last one being The Remorseful Day (1999).

Like most literary detectives, Inspector Morse has a snobbish characteristic, but he is good at his job.

9.Jack Reacher

While most literary detectives on this list are policemen or private investigators, this character is a former major in the United States Army Military Police Corps.

British author Lee Childs first created Jack Reacher in 1997 with the book Killing Floor. Since then, Reacher has been roaming around the countryside, always coming across a mysterious situation that requires him to put on a detective’s hat.

If this character sounds familiar, that is because Tom Cruise portrays him in the movie adaptations.

10.Dr Temperance Brennan

Speaking of onscreen adaptations, Dr Temperance Brennan is perhaps one of the literary detectives that successfully transitioned from book to TV.

However, the TV’s Dr Brennan in Bones (played by Emily Deschanel) is just loosely based on American author Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan.

Other than sharing the same name, they also share the same occupation as a forensic anthropologist.

According to Reichs who is the executive producer of the show, the TV’s Brennan is like the younger version of the novel’s Brennan.

Either way, if you like Dr Brennan in Bones, you might also like her in the crime novels.

Do you have any favourite literary detectives? Let us know in the comment box.

What Sarawak nature looked like in the 19th century according to Harriette McDougall

Harriette McDougall was the wife of Francis Thomas McDougall, the first Anglican Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak from 1849 to 1868.

They first arrived in Sarawak on June 29, 1848 then subsequently established a medical mission as well as a home school here.

The couple spent the next 20 years -on and off- in the Kingdom, visiting various areas in Sarawak.

In 1888, Harriette published ‘Sketches of Our Life at Sarawak’, a book sharing her experience while staying in Borneo.

While some of her accounts were controversial, arguable and biased; she cited the deaths of the Great Kayan Expedition as “their own fault” and stated Islam as “not a faith which teaches mercy or respects life”, Harriette did give descriptions of Sarawak nature during the mid-19th century that would be important for historians or ecologists today.

They not only gave glimpses of how the state appeared back then, but how much has changed in term of biodiversity:

Here are some of the places Harriette described in her book ‘Sketches of Our Life at Sarawak’:
1.Buntal Bay
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Welcome to Buntal Esplanade!

Over recent years, scientists identified Bako Buntal Bay as the wandering site for at least 27 migratory bird species in their annual migration between Southeast Asia and Australasia.

However, can you imagine that the number of bird species could be more during the mid 19th century?

According to Harriette, there was no settlement at Buntal bay when they occasionally visited the area.

Harriette wrote, “As the tide ebbed the birds arrived–tall storks, fishing eagles, gulls, curlew, plover, godwits, and many others we did not know. They flew in long lines, till they seemed to vanish and reappear, circling round and round, then swooping down upon the sand where the receding waves were leaving their supper. I never saw a prettier sight. The tall storks seemed to act like sentinels, watching while the others fed.”

She continued, “And there are many such spots in Borneo where no human foot ever trod, and where trees, flowers, and insects flourish exceedingly; where the birds sing songs of praise which are only heard by their Maker, and where the wild animals of the forest live and die unmolested. There is always something delightful to me in this idea. We are apt to think that this earth is made for man, but, after many ages, there are still some parts of his domain unconquered, some fair lands where the axe, the fire, and the plough arc still unknown.”

2.Muara Tebas
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The view of Muara Tebas.

When Harriette and her companions needed to enter Sarawak, they used the Muara Tebas route.

Along this route, she took in the view of villages and environment along the river banks.

Though Harriette mistook crocodiles for alligators, she did describe how the mangrove forests came alive with glittering fireflies during the night.

During this 21st century, one can only imagine how beautiful that sight was.

“The river winds continually, and every new reach had its interest: a village of palm-leaf houses built close to the water, women and children standing on the steps with their long bamboo jars, or peeping out of the slits of windows at the schooner; boats of all sizes near the houses, fishing-nets hanging up to dry, wicked alligators lying basking on the mud; trees of many varieties–the nibong palm which furnishes the posts of the houses, the nipa which makes their mat walls, and close by the water the light and graceful mangroves, which at night arc all alive and glittering with fire-flies. On the boughs of some larger trees hanging over the stream, parties of monkeys might be seen eating the fruits, chattering, jumping, flying almost, from bough to bough.”

3.Batang Rajang

When Harriette arrived at Batang Rajang, she described it as a glorious river saying “It is not visited by a bore, and eighty miles from the sea it is half a mile broad, and deep to the banks.”

She also had high praises for the flowers in Borneo.

Harriette wrote, “They seldom grow on the ground, though you may sometimes come upon a huge bed of ground orchids, but mostly climb up the trees, and hang in festoons from the branches. One plant, the Ixora, for instance, propagating itself undisturbed, will become a garden itself, trailing its red or orange blossoms from bough to bough till the forest glows with colour.

The Rhododendron, growing in the forks of the great branches, takes possession of the tall trees, making them blush all over with delicate pinks and lilacs, or deepest rose clusters. Then the orchideous plants fix themselves in the branches, and send out long sprays of blossom of many colours and sweetest perfume.”

At the Rajang river, Harriette also paid attention to the sounds or birds.

According to her there were not many singing birds in Borneo but she did notice the curious creaking noise made by the wings of Rhinoceros hornbills as they fly past.

(We bet Sarawakians nowadays may not be aware of how hornbills’ wings sound.)

Regardless, the biggest noisemaker of the Borneon jungle was none other than the gibbons or as Harriette called them, the Wawa monkey.

Here is how she lengthily described the sounds of gibbons:

“More musical is the voice of the Wawa monkey, a bubbling like water running out of a narrow-necked bottle, always to be heard at early dawn, and the sweetest of alarums. A dead stillness reigns in the jungle by day, but at sunset every leaf almost becomes instinct with life. You might almost fancy yourself beset by Gideon’s army, when all the lamps in the pitchers rattled and broke, and every man blew his trumpet into your ear. It is an astounding noise certainly, and difficult to believe that so many pipes and rattles, whirring machines and trumpets, belong to good-sized beetles or flies, singing their evening song to the setting sun. As the light dies away all becomes still again, unless any marshy ground shelters frogs. But to hear all this you must go to the old jungle, where the tall trees stand near together and shut out the light of day, and almost the air, for there is a painful sense of suffocation in the dense wood.”

Novelist Joseph Conrad and how his book “Lord Jim” was inspired by Sarawak

While W. Somerset Maugham drew inspirations from Sri Aman’s famous tidal bore, there was another British novelist whose works were inspired by Sarawak.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was a Polish-British writer whose hero – Lord Jim (1900) – was famously based on the first White Rajah, James Brooke.

Besides Lord Jim, his other notable works are The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897), Heart of Darkness (1899), Typhoon (1902) and The Secret Agent (1907).

Joseph Conrad

Conrad in 1904 by George Charles Beresford. Credits: Public Domain.
Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and S.S Jeddah

Lord Jim is a novel by Conrad originally published as a serial in Blackwood’s Magazine from October 1899 to November 1900.

Jim is a first mate on an old steamer Patna carrying Muslim pilgrims to Jeddah. When the ship hits something and begins taking on water, Jim and the captain together with two other crewmen jump into a lifeboat to save themselves, leaving the passengers behind.

A few days later, they are rescued by an outbound steamer. When they reach the port, they find out Patna and its passengers are safe. The captain is then put on trial for abandoning his ship and the passengers.

The circumstances in the opening of the book are inspired by an actual event which happened to the crew and passengers of S.S.Jeddah in 1880.

On July 17 of that year, S.S. Jeddah was sailing from Singapore bound for Penang and subsequently Jeddah. When it appeared to sink during a hurricane, the captain and some of the crew abandoned ship, leaving its more than 700 passengers behind. Although, the ship did not sink in the end, a court of inquiry was held for the captain.

In the first part of the book, the circumstances and actions of Jim’s character was inspired by the scandalous Augustine Podmore Williams. He was the chief mate of S.S. Jeddah who abandoned the vessel together with its captain and other officers leaving more than 700 passengers behind.

Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and James Brooke

Meanwhile, the second part of the book was inspired by James Brooke’s real life exploits in Borneo. Brooke, who managed to set up an independent state of Sarawak, was fascinating for many people during those times.

In the book, Jim was a trade representative in Patusan, a fictional country on a remote island.


Who grew up reading these Classics Illustrated Comics? Here’s a page from a comic adaptation ofLord Jim by George Evans in the 1950s. (

Away from European civilisation, the place is exactly what Jim needs because he is unable to forgive himself for what happened on the Patna.

On Patusan, Jim earns his respect from the locals by defeating Sherif Ali, a local bandit who extorts fees and steals crops from the locals.

He also protects the people of Patusan from the corrupt local Malay chief, Rajah Tunku Allang. Jim then leads the people of Patusan and they call him “Tuan Jim” or “Lord Jim”.

Sound familiar? In Sarawak, Brooke had assisted Pangeran Muda Hashim in defeating the rebels led by Datu Patinggi Ali. At that time, Sarawak was administered by Pengiran Indera Mahkota who was not a crowd favorite, just like the Conrad’s Rajah Tunku Allang.

Besides Brooke, Conrad also wrote many of his characters based on real people at that time. Stein in Lord Jim, for example, might have been inspired by Alfred Russel Wallace who wrote his hugely influential Sarawak Law paper.

In Lord Jim, Stein learned botany, occasionally sending specimens to his contact in Europe.

Moreover, Wallace’s book The Malay Archipelago (1869) was Conrad’s favorite bedside companion and used it for information in his book Lord Jim.

Was Joseph Conrad’s Patusan set at Batang Lupar?

A map of the forts and villages of Patusan which appears in Henry Keppel‘s account of The Expedition to Borneo of HMS. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy (1846). Credits: Public Domain.

Conrad described Patusan as a remote backwater in the South Seas, forgotten by the rest of the world. Before Jim arrived to the country, it is ruled by various factions of native Malay people.

The famous theory of what inspired this fictional Patusan is that it might be the actual Patusan. It is a historical Sarawakian fort on the Batang Lupar river where the HMS Dido led by Captain Henry Keppel fought on behalf of Brooke in 1844.

The map of the forts and villages of Patusan was actually featured in Keppel’s account of The Expedition to Borneo of HMS Dido for the Suppression of Piracy (1846).

However, one theory pointed out that Patusan might actually by Berau which is located in East Kalimantan province in Indonesian Borneo.

This was because Conrad actually visited Berau four times during his career as a merchant marine officer.

Other than Borneo, another hypothesis theorised Patusan might be in the island of Sumatra, based on the passage route written in Lord Jim.

Nonetheless, Patrick Tourchon in a study “Joseph Conrad & Sarawak: How if Patusan were in Patusan?” strongly believed that Sarawak alone was on Conrad’s mind when he wrote Lord Jim.

Many disagreed with this theory because first of all, Conrad never actually visited Sarawak.

Tourchon argued, “But this only proves that Conrad’s knowledge about Sarawak came exclusively from books: a point nobody dreams of challenging, and which would rather confirm that Conrad left Patusan where he found it so as not to take any risk.”

Joseph Conrad and his letter to The Ranee

Scholars could continue to argue if Patusan was really located in Sarawak, but as what Tourchon wrote, they could not argue how the first White Rajah was partly the inspiration behind Lord Jim.

Conrad even gushed about Brooke in a letter to Ranee Margaret on July 15, 1920.

He wrote, “The first Rajah Brooke has been one of my boyish admirations, a feeling I have kept to this day strengthened by the better understanding of the greatness of his character and the unstained rectitude of his purpose. The book which has found of the first Rajah’s enterprise and even by the lecture of his journals as partly reproduced by Captain Mundy and others.”

Conrad also expressed his admiration on the Ranee’s autobiography. He continued, “It was never my good fortune to see Kuching; and indeed my time in the Archipelago was short, though it left most vivid impressions and some highly valued memories.”

“It was a very great pleasure to read “My Life in Sarawak”, recalling so many things (which, I, myself, have only half seen) with so much charm and freshness and a loving understanding of the land and the people. I have looked into that book many times since.”

He even admitted to Margaret that he wrote The Rescue, A Romance of the Shallows (1920) partly inspired by the Ranee’s book.

After all, drawing from inspiration and working on their own experiences is how many writers become great. For Conrad, who never visited Sarawak, he drew his inspiration from his reading experience.

I only spent RM10 at the Second Time Around Books Kuching

Kuchingites know it is the end of the year when the Second Time Around Books fair is in town.

The annual book fair is famous for offering up to 90% discounts on a wide range of books.

This year, the Second Time Around Books fair is being held at The Hills from Nov 3 till Dec 9. There are at least 100,000 used books for children and adults alike up for grabs.

And the fun part is it has a bargain section with up to 8,000 books for only RM1, RM2 and RM3.

Here at KajoMag, we want to make the most of our RM10 and these were the books we bought in the bargain section of Second Time Around Books:

1.Perfect Timing by Olga Bicos

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Perfect Timing by Olga Bicos for RM1.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet and the ever-ready smartphone, you can read the reviews first if you want to take a chance on an unknown writer.

Luckily for me, this 1998 book by Cuban author Olga Bicos had great reviews on Amazon. According to the reviewers, Perfect Timing is one of her best works. (Score!)

The story follows Cherish, Alec and Conor who survive a horrible airplane crash. A year after the incident, Cherish receives a strange message which unites her with Alec and Conor.

2.Home for Christmas by Anita Stansfield

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Home for Christmas by Anita Stansfield for RM1.

Since Christmas is around the corner, how about a book which complements the season? Home for Christmas by Anita Stansfield is a romance story. (Yes, there is a section on Romance at the Second Time Around Books fair for those who want to indulge that guilty pleasure.)

The reviews found online for Home for Christmas are mixed; some say it is a must-read during the holidays to get the Christmas mood going, while others found it too cheeky.

Nonetheless for that dose of Christmas spirit, perhaps this book is worth a try.

3.Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra

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Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra for RM1.

As you can see from the cover, Hollywood made a MAJOR MOTION PICTURE out of this book which is a nonfiction story about four friends who took the law into their own hands.

Set in the 60s, after a prank goes wrong and leaves a man seriously injured, the four friends are sent to a juvenile detention centre where they are sexually abused by the prison guards.

The story follows what happens years after their release.

4.Night by Elie Wiesel

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Night by Elie Wiesel only for RM1.

I first heard about this book when it was featured on Oprah’s Book Club in 2006. Then I tried to find it in nearby bookstores but failed. Back then there was no MPH Online or Book Depository and in the end the book slipped out of my mind.

So I actually gasped the moment I saw Night by Elie Wiesel which was selling at the price of RM1.

First published in 1960, the book is about Wiesel’s experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944-1945.

5.Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

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A classic by William Thackery for RM2.

Here is another tip when it comes to choosing a book title; when in doubt, choose a classic because you can never go wrong with a classic. This classic English novel was first published as a 19-volume monthly serial from 1847-1848.

Vanity Fair follows the lives of Becky Sharp and Emily Sedly during and after the Napoleonic Wars.

6.Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

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Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah only for RM2.

The first Kristin Hannah book I read was about 5 years ago. So I thought it was about time to break the long drought and pick – not so much of a favourite – but a familiar author.

Firefly Lane is about two friends Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey. One chose marriage and motherhood while the other opted for career and celebrity.

What I gained from my first impression was that it was a typical Hallmark friendship movie, making it a quick vacation read.

7.Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick at RM2.

So far, we have picked up a Hallmark movie plot, a Christmas romance, a 19th century classic and even some true stories.

The last book which rounded up our RM10 total purchase at Second Time Around Books fair is an adult fantasy novel.

It focuses on Nora Grey, a teenager whose life is at risk after starting a romance with Patch. And in true adult fantasy fashion, Patch is actually a fallen angel with a dark connection to Nora.

With so many books to pick at Second Time Around Books, try to be a little bit more adventurous with your reading. Of course, there were more famous writers at the fair such as Sidney Sheldon, Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steele and so on.

Pick a new writer for yourself or try a different genre, you might be surprised what you can find at the Second Time Around Books even with only RM10.