The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists by Neil Strauss

The Game tells a true story about the society of pick-up artists, men who devote their time (and almost entire life) to seducing women. Most of which come as an AFC (Average Frustated Chump) and then build their way through seminars, online forums, and field trainings, in hope to become a PUA (Pick-Up Artist). Neil Strauss is one of these guys who transform from average balding-nerd to irresistable charm.

It’s very interesting to read the book from female point of view. I say some (if not most) of the techniques exposed would actually work to a lot of women. Some things that I think are quite trivial are properly planned, carefully analyzed, and taught for a big fee by the masters in the field. They treat it like a battlefield. A game. You play by the rules to win.

You would see after halfway through the book though, that picking-up girl is actually a very small portion of what everybody is looking for. Very well put by my friend, this is a game you cannot win.

The story is pretty well written. The characters are intriguing. I did a quick google search to find some of them in Wikipedia and the related websites all around the internet. It’s almost hard to believe that they are all real, flesh and blood. There’s a seminar going on in my city too for $2,500. So if you have that amount to spare…

~Finished on 20 April 2006

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


“People used to look out on the playground and say that the boys were playing soccer and the girls were doing nothing. But the girls weren’t doing nothing – They were talking. They were talking about the world to one another. And they became very expert about that in a way the boys did not.” ~ Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Physchological Theory and Women’s Development

“What is sexual is what gives a man an erection… If there is no inequality, no violation, no dominance, no force, there is no sexual arousal.”
~ Catharine MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State

“If there was anything I’d learn, it’s that the man never chooses the woman. All he can do is give her an opportunity to choose him.” ~ Neil Strauss

“Being together has required a lot more time and work than learning to pick up women ever did, but it has brought me far greater satisfaction and joy. Perhaps that’s because it is not a game.” ~ Neil Strauss

“How do you kiss a girl? The distance between you and her is just three inches. It’s not a long stretch, by any standard. You barely even have to move your body to bridge the gap. Yet it is the most difficult three inches a man has to move in his life. It is the moment when the male must concede all the privileges that are his birthright; put his pride, ego, esteem, and hard work aside, and just hope – hope that she doesn’t deflect it with her cheek or, even worse, the let’s-just-be-friends speech.” ~ Neil Strauss

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

The author was emotionally and physically abused by his own mother as a child, and this is his story. Weird thing is that the mother only abused him and not his other brothers, which left me wondering up until now, WHY? It’s never discussed in the book. I’m guessing that he himself doesn’t know the answer. Or it may be revealed later on his second or third book (this is the first in the trilogy).

I gave 3.5 and not higher just because it’s highly disturbing book. I winced the whole way through. Definitely not a book you want to read during a nice Sunday afternoon to relax. It’s informative and eye opening though. I’d like to read the second and third installment in the series, but decided that I need a break from the painful story. Yeah it’s that bad. It’s extremely bad when the victim is a child. They’re just completely helpless and hungry of love. To think that someone could abuse them beyond imagination.. I can’t stand it! :(

~Finished on 30 October 2006

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

I wanted to read Jodi Picoult’s book for some time, but just never got the chance to. This is her first book that I read, and it’s good enough to make me wanting more of her work.

I just picked up this book out of the shelves in Border Singapore (I like the cover), then sat down reading it for hours. When it got too dark to continue, I decided I might as well buy the book because I’ve gone through about 1/3 of it.

The Tenth Circle is a story about an average family of husband, wife, and a daughter, living in a small city. Husband is a comic author, stay-at-home dad, with difficult past. Wife is career oriented woman, fell into extramarital affair. Daughter is a stereotype troubled teenager, busy living in her own world. One day, she came home, raped by her ex-boyfriend, a guy who is so loved by everybody in the city. That’s where the story begins.

Like what people say, I think Jodi is really articulate in extracting human behaviours. Like most of her books, the stories are usually based on extensive research of real life cases, brewed together with imagination and story telling skill. Which makes them rather interesting in some ways than pure fiction.

The book is also a good insight into the latest of teenage trends and behaviours, of which some are quite unbelievable for me. There is a game called Rainbow where a bunch of girls with different bright color lipstick under a table with a bunch of guys sitting all around it. The guy who gets the most colorful penis wins. I mean, seriously, this kind of thing really happens? In your average high school? In a small city? Whatever happens in big city then? Whatever happens to the world? Scary.

~Finished on 10 August 2006

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

tuesdays with morrieThe book about an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson. :)

It’s a true story about a former student and his professor names Morrie who suffered ALS and was dying. A visit turned to regular meetings every Tuesday, talking about life, the meaning of, and what’s important in.

The book is as good as I expected. I would recommend this book to everyone that I care about. Like Morrie said, I too believe that most people in this world are sleepwalking day by day instead of living. Really living. How wonderful the world could be, if everyone could stop and wake up. See. Think.

~ Finished it on 12 December 2005

4.5 stars

Memorable Quotes

“For one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it. They’re more unhappy than me–even in my current condition.” ~ Morrie

“Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too–even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling.”

“The culture doesn’t encourage you to think about such things until you’re about to die. We’re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks–we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing?” ~ Morrie

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ~ Henry Adams

“You know what that [wish to go back young again] reflects? Unsatisfied lives, Unfulfilled lives, Lives that haven’t found meaning. Because if you’ve found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward, You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until sixty-five.” ~ Morrie

“We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on in our country. They repeat something over and over. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it–and have it repeated to us–over and over until nobody bothers to even thing otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.

You know how I always interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works, You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness of for a sense of comradeship. When you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.” ~ Morrie

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” ~ Morrie

“If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.” ~ Morrie

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“So many people with far smaller problems are so self-absorbed, their eyes glaze over if you speak for more than thirty seconds. They already have something else in mind–a friend to call, a fax to send, a lover they’re daydreaming about. They only snap back to full attention when you finish talking, at which point they “Uh-huh” or “Yeah, really” and fake their way back to the moment.” ~ Mitch Albom

“Part of the problem, Mitch, is that everyone is in such a hurry. People haven’t found meaning in their lives, so they’re running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty, too, and they keep running.” ~ Morrie

“There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage. If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. And the biggest one of those values, Mitch? Your belief in the importance of your marriage.” ~ Morrie

“People are only mean when they’re threatened, and that’s what our culture does. That’s what our economy does. Even people who have jobs in our economy are threatened, because they worry about losing them. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself. You start making money a god. It is all part of this culture. Which is why I don’t buy into it.” ~ Morrie

“Here’s what I mean by building your own little sub-culture. I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community. I don’t go around naked, for example. I don’t run through red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things–how we think, what we value–those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone–or any society–determine those for you.” ~ Morrie

“It’s not just other people we need to forgive. We also need to forgive ourselves. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened.” ~ Morrie

“There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like. In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe you’re too used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.” ~ Morrie

“When you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” ~ Morrie

“Most of us all walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.” ~ Morrie

Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent

self made manThe author went into 18 months long of disguise as a man. That’s the gist of it. She blended in the “men’s world”: bowling league, strip club, monastery, door-to-door sales work, men’s movement retreat (yeah didn’t know such thing existed either until I read this book).

It’s a good book, and not to mention informative. But to be really honest, I kind of struggled to finish it. I put it down halfway for weeks before continuing again, and it hasn’t been a smooth ride.

I guess I found her a bit over-analyzing after a while. Although I can’t say the information that came out of it isn’t eye opening. Fact is, which she also mentioned in the book, men and women are just different. As different as two creatures from different planet. And efforts to understand our counterpart sex can lead you to point of depression.

I think it also helped that she’s a dyke. So at least there’s no attraction coming from her to any of the man (and the other way), which means all her analysis was quite objective and matter-of-fact.

I particularly like the cover of the book. I’ve seen two versions of them, both with pictures of Norah in man and woman form. She can definitely pass for both, her disguise is very believable. I find it fascinating.

Oh, and I did learn more about men ;).

~Finished on 16 March 2007

3.5 stars


“I, meanwhile, am staying right where I am: fortunate, proud, free and glad in every way to be a woman.” ~ Norah Vincent

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

The book is a collection of stories, journal, published writings of Amy Tan. This time it’s non-fiction. I found the book in Biography section. I wouldn’t miss this book, because I’m such a fan of Tan :)

There are some chapters that I love so much, but some others I had a bit of struggle to go through. The main reason being her effort to play more with words, which in my dictionary are considered never-heard-and-probably-never-will-ever-again. She is, after all, a linguistic hobbyist, we can say if she doesn’t prefer the word expert. The language used in her other books, are the ones “simplified” in respect of her mother’s English.

Apparently it’s not only me who wonders why the picture of Dad is never that big in her life. I think it’s really not the matter of the person as a role model. It does not mean the Mother is a better person, or the Dad has weaker personality. I guess some people in your life just make greater impact, for reasons that probably noone really understands. They could be person you love the most, you hate the most, a stranger, someone who’s with you all your life, or one that just passes by ;)

Finished on 09 May 2005

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

“The truth is, I write for more self-serving reasons–that is, I write for myself. I write because I enjoy stories and make-believe. I write because if I didn’t, I’d probably go crazy. Thus I write about questions that disturb me, images that mystify me, or memories that cause me anguish and pain. I write about secrets, lies, and contradictions, because within them are many kinds of truth. In other words, I write stories about life as I have misunderstood it.” ~ Amy Tan

Burned Alive by Souad

burned aliveBurned Alive is a story about a woman from Palestine, who was burned alive by her own brother-in-law because she was pregnant (of course, outside marriage). The man was asked the favour by her own parents, supported by her own brother and married sister.

Reading it was very depressing. She told all the stories about the society in her village, how women are literally worth less than animals. Only men are counted in terms of everything. Women cannot live without men. Without men in the family, the women are just a bunch of flocks. There is no one owns them. It’s very normal for the men to hit and struck his wife and all his daughters, even for a very simple mistake, like dropping some water on the floor or picking a green tomato. She said her father hit her much harder than he hit the donkey. Women do not speak, think, or even see people in the street. If a girl looks at a man in the street, she’d be called charmuta, a whore.

(And I thought the old Chinese/Asian society was pretty bad already…)

The whole book was very disturbing. Her experiences were so bad, even to feel a touch of it made me sick. I can’t say it’s a fun book to read. I always felt something heavy in my stomach every time I finished a bit of it.

Before I read the book, even until in the middle, I thought it would tell all the history of how it happened, what, why, when, where, someone rescued her and she finally was freed to really live her life.

But she got to the point where the brother-in-law came, poured gasoline all over her, and burned her, at about less than halfway of the book. And so I half thought, shouldn’t this lie at somewhere before the end? What else is she going to tell us?

Yeah, more than half a book was the story of how she built her life after the freak incident.

It is very hard to live. Much harder than to die.

Her rescuer was a woman names Jacqueline, that works for an organization that fights against the injustice of the customs that victimize women who are subjected to criminal traditions. Her line was put very nicely, which I think is the core of the story. During the whole obstacles she must have gone through to save this girl, she fought her own battle inside, because this she fully realized:

“Keeping her from dying is one thing. Making her live again is another.”

~ Finished on 31 July 2004

3.5 stars

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