They have the power to transport you to strange foreign lands, allow you to escape to multiple realities and even live the life of another person.
What are we rambling about? (and has the MCO finally driven us mad?)
Don't worry, we're OK. We're talking about BOOKS, friends, lovely, amazing books.
Today (23 April) is World Book Day, and we were super lucky to be able to catch up (exclusively) with Selangor princess Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah
on her love for reading and the KL BACA 2020 initiative.
Speaking to Rojak Daily
, Tengku Zatashah said that the initiative was one that she was truly excited about.
"KL BACA 2020 is a UNESCO initiative. They appointed Kuala Lumpur as the World Book Capital for the year 2020.
"So, the idea is for the city to have activities and programs to share about the importance of reading books," she said.
Tengku Zatashah said that the event was an annual one spearheaded by UNESCO and this year, KL (out of all the other cities that applied) was selected.
Her connection with books
Gushing about her passion for books, Tengku Zatashah said that she has been actively promoting the value of reading for over a decade.
The down-to-earth princess even reached out to us personally this morning (Thursday, 24 April) to remind us that it was World Book Day!
Of course, we were thrilled that she was this excited about books.
She replied: "Am a nerd! hahaha".
But apart from reading books and promoting it to her followers on social media, Tengku Zatashah also donates loads and loads of books from her own collection.
"I have donated all the books I read to the Raja Tun Uda Library in Shah Alam. I have shelves in my name on Level 1 where you can find all my books which people can borrow.
"To date, I have donated over 400 books; and I have a batch waiting to be donated after the MCO is lifted," she said.
Other than donations, the princess also buys illustrated children's books yearly for the children that she works with at PPR flats.
"I work with a small voluntary tuition centre and I buy BM and English illustrated books and I encourage the kids to read to me," she said.
Another form of encouragement is posting about the books she reads on social media and participating in the goodread.com #readingchallenge yearly.
"The idea of the reading challenge is to set a target of how many books you want to read. Last year I set the target at 75 books but managed to read 80 books.
"This #readingchallenge2020 I have already read 30 books, with a target of 70," she said, adding that she also promotes #KLBACA2020 through her posts.
Thrillers, historical fiction and chick lit
When asked on her favourite kind of book to read, Tengku Zatashah said that she appreciated quite a number of genres.
"I like historical fiction especially 'Tudor' and the 'War of Roses' series and such by Phlippa Gregory and Ancient Eqypt historical fiction by Wilbur Smith and Christian Jacques.
"I also love chick lit as it is easy and fun light reading," she saidm explaining that her favourites were Jane Green, Lucy Diamond, Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty and Jenny Colgan.
She also loves drama thrillers by Joel Dicker and Dan Brown.
While we love reading, we understand that it does not come naturally to everyone.
We asked Tengku Zatashah for tips for those who are just beginning to pick up the habit.
"Those who are about to start their book reading journey, choose light fun books and maybe a genre that you like. If it’s fantasy then choose some of those great Young Adult authors; if it’s romance then a fun chick lit author, if it’s crime thriller then an award-winning author like Stephen King," she said.
Other than that, she also advised new readers to look up reviews on goodreads.com
"But I don't always trust other people's taste because we all like different things. And if a book doesn’t grip you by page 100 or half way, then my advice is dump it. Life is too short to waste on a bad book," she said.
(We whole-heartedly agree with this point!)
She also explained that most people don't set aside enough time for reading.
"Reading only 5 pages a day doesn’t get you into the story. I usually set a target of say 50 to 100 pages. I switch off my phone and just read, especially just before going to sleep and when I wake up early morning.
"This allows you to dig deep into the story and let your imagination run free," she said.
Of course, we had to know what local books the princess recommended.
Here's her list of 5 must-read Malaysian books.
1. 'The Garden of Evening Mists' by Tan Twan Eng
"I absolutely love the two books by Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng and I had the privilege of meeting him at the movie premiere of his award-winning international hit book, 'The Garden of Evening Mists'.
"This book is set in Malaya, and it is a heart-breaking but stunning novel during World War II and the Japanese occupation in Malaya."
2. 'The Gift of Rain' by Tan Twan Eng
"I also would recommend The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng which is set in Penang in 1939, a story of betrayal, cruelty and enduring love, and again set in WW2 Japanese occupation in Penang. This book was listed for the very prestigious Man Booker Prize."
3. 'The Harmony Silk Factory' by Tash Aw
"I would definitely also recommend reading award-winning highly acclaimed Malaysian author Tash Aw. He wrote The Harmony Silk Factory, set in 1940s Malaya, which was long-listed for Man Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Book Awards and Commonwealth Writers Prize.
"Tash Aw even signed a book copy for me," she gushed.
4. 'The Night Tiger' by Yangsze Choo
"I would recommend reading 'The Night Tiger' by Malaysian author Yangsze Choo, a book set in 1930s Malaya and this was on Reese Witherspoon Book Club recommendation, and I always love her book recommendations!"
5. 'The Sum of Our Follies' by Shih-Li Kow
"Last but not least I would recommend Malaysian author Shih-Li Kow who won the very prestigious French literary prize Prix du Premier Roman Etranger for her book 'The Sum of Our Follies'.
"The book is set in Perak about small-town life, and was a huge hit in France."
Reading during MCO
While some of us may feel that the MCO is a little bit draining by now, Tengku Zatashah also said that it was the perfect time to sit down with a good book at home.
"Books allow our minds to travel," she said adding that she has succesfully read 3,450 pages since the MCO started.
Apart from promoting reading through her social media posts, Tengku Zatashah said that she also initiated a book giveaway contest on her Instagram page
The competition #BookGiveawaybyTZ, will see three lucky contest winners get a hardcover book from Tengku Zatashah's collection.
"All they have to do is post of photo of themself reading a book, tag me @zatashah and tag a friend of theirs. They also have to include the hashtag #bookgiveawaybyTZ #Klbaca2020 #readingchallenge2020.
"The three lucky winners (Klang Valley so that it can be delivered) will get my books," she said, explaining that the contest ends on 27 April.
The princess also shared a lovely quote about reading.
"Reading gives us someplace to go, when we have to stay where we are", which, to be honest, is the most apt quote especially now.
So you guys, go find a comfy spot at home (for Tengku Zatashah, it's a sofa beside her balcony) and dig into a book or two or three or four or five!
Happy World Book Day!