Review: Misery by Stephen King

Review: Misery by Stephen King





Gosh… Annie Wilkes.

I was on the brink of finishing IT. Browsing Goodreads and Reddit to find Uncle Stevie’s best books according to everyone’s list. Well, Misery is on the list and dubbed as “one of the King’s best”. So I picked it.

Actually, there was a little conflict inside of me to choose between Misery, Pet Sematary, or The Shining first. Initially I would pick The Stand or 11/22/63, but considering my goal–Goodread’s goal–to read 3 more books (out of 10) until the end of 2017, I’d pick some light reads. So, it was narrowed to Misery and Pet Sematary. And finally, I picked out Misery first.

My take and first impression to Misery was like the others have said: it was grotesque, disturbing, and live up to its genre, psychological horror. However, despite its grotesqueness, I enjoy this book very much. Though, at some point my hands were spaghetti’d.

In comparison, during the middle of reading Misery, I bought one local book with the same grotesqueness. But to compare the execution between King and the local book author will not be a good match. The local book I bought served a dreary, gory, full-of-blood grotesqueness. It was damn straightforward, you have this family who could not eat and decided to eat human flesh anyway, and since the beginning, it was full of sadness.

Misery, however, has an undulating emotion inside. Even before I read the book, I know Annie Wilkes is crazy. But the book wasn’t filled with one emotion, instead, you could find some parts where Annie was lovely, and other parts where she was a psycho. That’s where Uncle Stevie’s great at. Creating characters we would love or hate so much.

So far, this was probably a book that could create a great suspense. Last night before I finished, probably several pages left, the suspense was intense that I subconsciously muttered “God no way” in disbelief.



The premise of the story came from a simple idea: a self-proclaimed number one fan who meet and kidnap her idol. It actually inspired from Uncle Stevie’s experience of fans who rejected his 1984 book– The Eyes of The Dragon, which did not include a horror at all.

Paul Sheldon was a best-selling writer of a Victorian romance novel which features Misery Chastain as the main character. Annie Wilkes was the ‘number one fan’ for the Misery-themed books. One day, Paul was involved in a car crash and rescued by Annie, who then decided to take Paul to her house. Annie, who later know what Paul has done to Misery-themed books and decided to write a whole new novel named Fast Cars, was upset–no, she was furious. She asked forcefully for Paul to write a whole new Misery-themed novel to her own liking.

Paul who was heavily injured and almost immobilized, couldn’t do anything rather than accept the fate that he had to stay in Annie Wilkes’ house who starting to be… strange. There, Paul started to know Annie and her antics.

Example? Forcing Paul to swallow his pills using… rinse-water. A rinse-water with gray color, you know, after you mop the floor and put the mop on a bucket? Yes, that water.


Claustrophobic setting. Throughout the story, the setting was only one: Annie’s house. That’s it. And to make matter’s worse, the protagonist, Paul Sheldon, was powerless. He was heavily injured, his feet couldn’t be moved due to the injury. Paul was also locked in his room, despite at some point he was out of that room, but mainly he was locked. Annie was smart to put on any kinds of lock in her house. To top that, Paul was also depend on a medication that Annie only have. If he’s not taking his medication timely, the pain would seize him. So basically, Paul was powerless against Annie, who, in addition to mentioned above, also took karate class and has a strong hands. The only thing that could stretch Paul’s life was writing Misery.

Fearless villain. There’s a reason why Annie Wilkes secured number 17 on top 100 Heroes and Villains. Subjectively, Annie was fearless. There was a quote from the book (rephrased) “If they found out about you, Paul, I’ll kill them first, then I’ll kill you, then I’ll kill myself”. She seemed to not have any stakes at all. Other than that, the embarrassed wire that should be on her brain seemed to be cut, or loosened. Paul had witnessed her psychotic antics and how she would treat him. But after treating Paul badly, she didn’t seem to feel embarrassed or even feel bad (she felt bad for some occasion though), instead, she smiled it off like nothing ever happened. It’s like you were facing someone, maybe your roommate, in some occasion they would give you chocolate or laugh at your jokes, but maybe at night, they would bring a hammer to smack you off when you upset them, but then next morning they hello’d you like nothing ever happened.

Smart villain. There were times in movies or books where us viewers and readers would root the protagonist in scheming or plotting a good revenge for the villain, a sly way to smack the villain out of their sanity. It was what happened exactly to me, I root for Paul for his meticulous planning to get out from the house and from Annie. In movies like James Bond or any kinds of that, the protagonist would start planning something accompanied by thrilling background music, at the end it would be successful and the villain was fooled. If we’re talking about James Bond, the villain would be intelligent, bulky, fast, and anything.

But Annie’s nowhere match to that description. Honestly, how would you perceive a cunning and smart villain? He/she must be fast like a ninja, biceps decorating the hands, and equipped with powerful tools. Then look at Annie, a hefty, lovely woman. You wouldn’t think she took a karate class or have a strength matching that of Captain America’s. You would think she would bake a great cookie and be a darling to everyone.

But hey, she can smell you coming out of your room and any little details that changed around the house. She know exactly how you lie and can smell the footsteps you just left subconsciously in her house.


The Misery Chastain Story. I found no use of the Misery story other than a support of the main plot. Sure, it helps the plot to advance, also subconsciously show the readers how Uncle Stevie crafts his stories. But I kinda hope that it will reveal something in the end that impacts the whole plot, I don’t know, it’s probably a dilettante’s analysis and a wishful thinking. But I don’t really like the Misery Chastain story mainly because it’s setting was in old England, where the grammars of the people aren’t as logical as it is now. It’s a bias, I know, but I had a hard time getting through the Misery story.

Overly imaginative Paul Sheldon (So vivid!). This is probably just the character or King’s signature. But drifting off far to somewhere I couldn’t reach and had to re-read several times to understand kind of irking. The Can You Paulie? thoughts somehow felt off to me.



  1. First and foremost, hobbling scene. The scene was just… gruesomely perfect. Never came to my mind that Annie would do such thing, but she did it anyway and just shrug it off afterwards. In the movie, the ‘hobbling’ was Annie smashing Paul’s ankle with a sledgehammer. In the book, Annie was chopping Paul’s foot with AN AXE. To make matters worse, after being chopped, Annie lit up a blowtorch and torched Paul’s skin. (My hands were weak typing this)
  2. Lawnboy scene. Schnap. This was second scariest and most grotesque. There was a young police who came to Annie’s house, intended to find Paul Sheldon as his whereabouts had been a news. Knowing that, Paul threw an ashtray to catch the young police (later known as Duane Kushner). Before Kushner help Paul, he was stabbed from behind using a cross by Annie. Didn’t stop there, Annie turned on a lawn mower, and drove it to Kushner’s hand and head. Blood spurted like a jet. And Kushner’s face was… well, ripped.
  3. Thumbectomy. Annie, again, chopped a part of Paul’s body. It was his thumb. As if it’s not done scaring, Annie bought a happy birthday cake…. with Paul’s thumb in the middle as the candle.
  4. That false alarm when Paul told us that after Annie’s death, he suddenly found Annie jumping from behind of his apartment sofa, swinging axe and finally chopped Paul’s head. It gave me shiver and a swearing word after knowing it was just in Paul’s imagination.


For horror and gory readers and enjoyer (what a bad portmanteau lol), this should be on your list and you will enjoy this book. And this could be enjoyable to the general public though, but I had found some people who can’t stand the book mainly because it was that gruesome. But bottomline, this is a book I’d first recommend to any of those who would ask me “what horror book should I read?”


And a final parting gift from Annie Wilkes…



Review: IT by Stephen King

Review: IT by Stephen King

“Beep-beep, Richie!”

We all float down here”



I will miss reading this.

2 months it takes for me to finish the whole 1,138 pages, cover-to-cover. IT was a quite memorable novel for two reasons:

  1. I really, really wanted to read the novel and watch the 1990 movie since roughly 2 years ago, and
  2. Very first novel I read after I bought a Kindle

Never thought that I’d finish reading this, though. Before jumping into reading IT, I read the reviews on Goodreads and Reddit. What people said about the novel at some point influenced me, should I read It first before other novels or should I not read It at all and just watch the movie? was the initial question before I read the novel.

People rambled about chronological order in reading Stephen King’s book, some of them recommended Pet Sematary, Misery, The Stand, Tommyknockers, and Carrie before reading It, others ranted about how bad the ending was (I thought the same, too, but not that bad), and others considered It as Stephen King’s magnum opus.

But pushed by the fact that I am curious of how scary Pennywise is, I decided to read It and jump to the other novels afterward. Indeed, I didn’t read other novel than It. I read Haruki Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance, too, but that was an exception, because at the time I only reached the first 100 pages of It, which I know everyone will say boring and tough, and Dance Dance Dance was only 300 pages long (Finished it in 3 days).

Now that it ended, I felt like a winner and a heartbreak at the same time. For the former, this was my first ever 1,000+ book that I finished, it took a chunk of my time, but it was worth it and never came to my thought before that I’ll read that much page. As for the latter, I should give you a warning on heartbreak because King is known for his great character development, which means you’ll get close to the characters in the novel (Even I felt bad for Henry Bowers and Hockstetter). So when it ends, it’ll leave a hollow space and some absurd aftertaste.


It tells the story of a creature addressed as It or Pennywise as It introduce Itself, who comes back to a town called Derry every 27 years. It feeds upon children and only visible to children. Almost every time It is about to come, the killings of the children in Derry increased significantly, leaving the adults confused about what was happening. Pennywise Itself could change shapes into the fear of every children, be it Mummy, Leper, Werewolf, or others.

Pennywise was about to face Its first ever threat, seven kids who called themselves ‘The Losers’ Club’, comprised of William “Big Bill” Denbrough, Ben “Haystack” Hanscom, Richard “Richie” Tozier, Eddie Kaspbrak, Beverly Marsh, Stanley Uris, and Michael Hanlon. The event started after Bill’s brother, George Denbrough under the rain in Derry, 1957. George was playing with his boat when suddenly the boat, brought by strong current on the gutter, fell down to the sewer. George met Pennywise and had his hand ripped by Pennywise.

Bill and his friends, intended to avenge George, traced the existence of Pennywise and find ways to kill It. However, as the journey goes on, they have to face other non-Pennywise threat.


Firstly, strong character development. The first 200-300 pages are, as I mentioned above, tedious, boring, and quite dull. The backstories of every character was told, how George was killed, Eddie’s overly protective mother, about the first appearance of Pennywise, the back-and-forth years from 1957 to 1985, also adult Mike Hanlon’s diary. But this sets a strong foundation when the story advanced gradually to the climax. I found myself cared for these characters and rooting the kids to go against Pennywise and Henry Bowers’ gang. It was also the main cause of my heartbreak when it ended, because… You’ll find yourself. The bottomline is, you will care for these kids as if they were your gang, although Richie was noisy as hell and sometimes annoying the frock out of me, but when he faced danger with Bill, I couldn’t help but hope he could be safe.

Secondly, fresh scare. For us grownups, how scary and violent clowns could be? Best they could do is creep the heck out of children. To us grownups, clown doesn’t scare us, bills, house prices, deadlines do scare us. That’s the gist of the story. As a kid, we imagine things and get scared over things that often considered as “silly” by the grownups.

I had the fair share of being scared as a kid, too. There was a rumor on our school that below the mosque, a door leads to another dimension and ghosts like Pocong and Kuntilanak resided there, so we formed a group (A toddler version of Ghostbuster and cheap version of The Losers’ Club) to exterminate these ghosts by reciting Holy Quran verses. Another time, we were having an in-house camping on the school (I just realized as a grownup that our school might be short on budget so school’s the option). The school has, amazingly, what we called Terasering (A ladder-like rice field) but not really a rice field, just the shape resembled it. We built a tent on each ladder and I was placed on the edge second (out of 8 or 9) ladder. The night was coming, and I alone could not sleep, strangely. When suddenly there was a BRAK! sound right above my tent. It was a sound of a dirt or sand being thrown at my tent. I recalled it was on 1am in the morning, everybody’s asleep. THAT remains a mystery.

Alright, moving on.

The scare on this book didn’t rely on the Pennywise Itself or other form of It. But how unexpected it was. Imagine you were talking with your girl/boyfriend on the car about having your 4th anniversary, the song played on the background was “Endless Love” or other suitable songs, and when you are about to hold hands, there was a head fell to your car. Or imagine you were having an ice cream and having a great mood, then a blood dripped from the ice cream. That was how It was.

Got legitimately scared when there was a scene where Beverly visited her house as a grownup, didn’t met her father but an old lady instead. A sweet, sweet old lady. What do you think about old ladies? They were generous on the cookie and cooking, made you Darjeeling-like tea with that bright eye smile. Beverly experienced this and for minutes, the talk went well when suddenly in the middle of conversation, the old lady mentioned Pennywise without Beverly realized. Gave me creeps.

Thirdly, disturbing stories. If you love horror, you must love disturbing things. Things that aren’t normal. This can be found on the book. A lot of it. Not that I enjoy it, but as a fan of horror you’d find an admiration and curiosity of how limitless a possibility humankind could do (And how weird humans are). These disturbing stories underpin and strengthen the brand of It. Things like children-killing, children-beating, children-intimate-relationship (this one scores a major controversy, I felt bad typing it so I put it in an euphemistic language), and many more disturbing things.


First and the foremost, disturbing stories. If you didn’t really like horror but curious about the book, I suggest you better read other King’s book. As mentioned above, this has gory, disgusting elements that involves kids.

Secondly, verbosity. The book could be trimmed to only 500 to 600 pages if not because of King’s incessant words explaining things that are beyond needed. To some extent, I felt it was needed to explain deeper about the character. But at some point, I felt that this was too much. I don’t really need to know about other characters other than the canonical ones. You’d find a lot in DERRY THE INTERLUDE chapters that explain the history of Derry and appearance of Pennywise in some occasion. Okay, I need to know about how Kitchener Ironworks and Blackspot exploded and engulfed in flames, but I think I don’t have to know about Bradley Gang, Claude Heroux, and others that didn’t really strengthen the story in my opinion. Didn’t make much difference if they aren’t there.

Third, Pennywise’s true form


Pennywise is best known for Its clownish look with tufts of orange hair, wearing a clown suit with orange pom-poms dangling on it. I thought that the Pennywise we know is the true form Pennywise, and frankly, Its clown form is what I enjoy being scared of. The Spider was… not scary at all. I lost it when Bill, Bev, Ben, Richie, and Eddie saw the true form which was not a clown, instead of a larger-than-life sized Spider. Somehow it was a turn off for me. Hope the 2nd chapter of Muschetti’s IT doesn’t involve Spider or any arachnids.


  1. When The Losers’ Club (Except Stan) were having a reunion at Jade of the Orient, they were about to open their own fortune cookie and turned out an eyeball, a cricket, and other disgusting creatures came out of the cookie and they were forced to not say anything and ‘dummy up’
  2. The Rockfight. What portrayed on the 2017 adaptation was only the surface, the book described a way more brutal rockfight between The Losers’ Club and Henry Bowers gang
  3. Adult Ben Hanscom’s library tour. This was another unexpected moments where Pennywise showed up breaking the peaceful situation. Ben was talking to the librarian then suddenly a voice called him up, it was Pennywise



All in all, It was an enjoyable book despite of its verbosity. It was tough to chew but every chapter, every part of the story will take your imagination wander to a place you’d never thought before. Though depressing, but I really, really enjoy it. Highly recommended for horror fans, but for those who just about to be a fan of Stephen King, you might want to try others like Misery and The Shining, if you don’t want to jump to It right away.



Review (more like fanboying over) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Review (more like fanboying over) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future


“Good ideas are always sounds crazy until they’re not” – Larry Page (Page 396)

If someone ask me “What was your favorite coincidence?” I would say: “discovered Elon Musk via BBC News app“.

It was in 2015, on campus’ parking lot. A story of Hyperloop and Elon Musk first popped and enter my life unwittingly. Long story short, I ran a Google search on Elon and find that he is dubbed as “real-life Tony Stark”, which I thought was overrated because nobody would ever be on par with fictitious Tony Stark and his ingenious mind.

Since then, I only know Elon Musk for being dubbed as real-life Tony Stark without ever discovering who he really is.

Last month, I strolled to Periplus, an import bookstore near the office. I have this habit of buying new books every month, but because I’m far from being financially secure, I’d run a Goodreads search on every book. The top contender was: Charles Duhigg’s the Power of Habit, Chris Guillebeau’s the $100 Startup, Freakonomics, and Adam Grant’s Originals. After finding that Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk biography scored 4.2, which, quite rare in Goodreads, without hesitant I bought this book, snatch away the plastic cover, and start reading.


Like any other biographies, the book solely focused on the life of Elon Musk. Elon Musk himself was born in South Africa, way far from the United States of America, but he moved from there to Canada, and eventually, the USA.

The story began from his childhood, as per usual, the “bullied kid” narrative could be found here, and Elon was bullied hard because he was this quiet, nerdy, and ordinary kid with no billionaire symptoms anywhere. He never took any leadership position, be on the podium beside the brightest kids from his class, or any signs of “oh-he’s-going-places”. He’s just usual.

Apparently, he’s doing that on purpose. He said “I just look at it as ‘What grade do I need to get to where I want to go?’ There were compulsory subjects like Afrikaans, and I just didn’t see the point of learning that. It seemed ridiculous. I’d get a passing grade and that was fine. Things like physics and computers–I got the highest grade you can get in those. There needs to be a reason for a grade. I’d rather play video games, write software, and read books than try to get an A if there’s no point in getting an A“.

He was fed up growing up on South Africa and went to Canada and USA instead, where he could find something more interesting. Which he did.

Long story short, he and Kimbal Musk, his brother, went to found Zip2, an online city guide company in 1995, and then sold to Compaq for $307 million.

Elon then found afterwards, an email payment and online financial services company. Found a competitor named Confinity, founded by Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Luke Nosek. Both then merged to be the world-renowned online payment service, PayPal. Which then acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion.

With fortunes acquired by Elon from Zip2 and PayPal acquisition, he then started Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX, holding his conviction of carrying man to Mars.

Almost right at the same time, he also start building electric cars with a company he invested on, Tesla. Up until now, Tesla has produced several cars and will produce more. Replacing gas stations, Tesla built Supercharged station for recharging, spread around US and soon, worldwide.

Together with Rive brothers Lyndon and Peter, Elon founded SolarCity, now second largest solar power system provider in the USA. Elon is the largest shareholder there.

And just recently, Elon unveiled Hyperloop, an ultra-fast transportation that looked like an MRT, but with a pod and super high speed.


I will always remember this book as one canonical business book that establish my fondness of starting a business.

You can tell me Dale Carnegie’s book is all-time best, Jack Welch’s MBA book is a must-read, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit is on best seller list. But no other biography or business books that will give me tremendous amount of effect than Elon Musk’s.

I’d have to thank Ashlee Vance for tailoring sentence after sentence eloquently that it became an obvious page-turner for me. I enjoy reading Elon’s childhood, the rising of Zip2 and, and mainly the Tesla and SpaceX arc.

Pestering is what I loather, but I share some trait with Elon, albeit his 14 hour work per day is unparalleled, his love of technology, being geeky, likes to be different, are traits I share with him. That made me feel like I was standing in the same ground (but different dimension) with the business magnate, and every time I read a page, I feel a significant increase in confidence.

It is somewhat blasphemous to place Elon with other big business owner, I mean, in terms of net worth, they are probably on par or even above the par from Elon, but if we’re speaking vision, Elon has the upper hand.

Elon said that human could be a multiplanetary species, he work on it, he incrementally make it true. That’s the thing I admire the most from him. He walk the talk–no, he run the talk, in lights speed.

The fact that he hold a top management position in 5 different companies is beyond imagination,  even being a CEO in one company is tremendously difficult and a hair-falling journey.

His work ethic is…. ineffable. Putting 100 hours a week for years straight is insane! But he nailed it anyway.

Oh, I couldn’t even tailor words properly to describe how I admire Elon Musk. Not merely because he’s a business magnate and I’d like to be on his position sort, but more like he’s a prove that being geek is starting to be cool and outplay the quarterbacks and muscular and shredding guitarists with eargasmic riffs.

But even with all that winnings in life, a price must be paid, too. All that relentless hard work and demand for perfection makes Elon’s attention to human relation a bit abandoned. He had two wives, Justine Musk and Talulah Riley which had divorced him because of different way of life. Justine had been with Elon for eight years, while Talulah spent an on-off four years.

Elon is also known for having sky-high demand for his employees, high standard, high working hours, despite high earnings. Temper problem is his feat, too. He had some quarrel with former co-founders such as Martin Eberhard of Tesla, former designer of Tesla, Henrik Fisker (who eventually establish his own electric car company, Fisker Automotive) and a lot more.

It was Mary Beth Brown, former right hand of Elon Musk, a woman who devoted her 12 years to SpaceX and Elon, who witness this first hand. She was indirectly fired from her job for asking a raise. There were two version of this story, one from Elon’s side (written in the book and a Quora answer written by Justine Musk herself) and other narratives who said that Brown was fired right away by Musk. From the book, Musk said this:

“As Musk recalled, “I told her, ‘Look, I think you’re very valuable. Maybe that compensation is right. You need to take two weeks’ vacation, and I’m going to assess whether that’s true or not.’ Before this came up, I had offered her multiple all-expenses-paid vacations. I really wanted her to take a vacation. When she got back, my conclusion was just that the relationship was not going to work anymore. Twelve years is a good run for any job. She’ll do a great job for someone.” According to Musk, he offered Brown another position at the company. She declined the offer by never showing up at the office again. Musk gave her twelve months’ severance and has not spoken to her since.”

Former employees found that Elon’s harsh, too. He would fire someone whom he think being an obstacle.

However, most of people, including me, found that it was not because Elon is a major league asshole. More like because he’s so driven that he knows what to do and sweep away the gravels from his road. Besides, when you work at the company who wants to move humankind to a new planet, which CEO would love to see you be a laid back person?

I found it funny and feel honored when Musk said that Artificial Intelligence is a threat to humankind, this may not be widely covered in the book but, my bachelor thesis covered that same concern, too. Yet people still being pessimistic and skeptical about that. I was wondering why, but now I know.


For those who wanted to get motivation on business and previously feel like “okay, this idea is not gonna work”, I’d recommend this book in any given day for your panacea. The only flaw of this book was you’d feel like you read a writing of someone who has a crush, fangirling/fanboying. But I jumped on the bandwagon, too. I couldn’t help but be a cheer squad for Elon.

This is a book that I would read more than twice, because it is my surefire panacea for being insecure about starting a business.

Apa Yang Menarik dari 300++ Halaman Kertas Tanpa Gambar?

Dulu, pre-kuliah, buku yang paling seneng saya lihat (dan baca) adalah ensiklopedia buatan Time tentang dinosaurus, yang isinya 80% gambar, 20% teks. Ensiklopedia itu berjasa mengisi otak saya dengan pengetahuan tentang Allosaurus yang dielu-elukan sebagai saingannya Tyrannosaurus Rex. Diplocaulus (bukan DJ) yang kepalanya segitiga. Plesiosaurus yang lehernya panjang dan musuh paling ngeselin di Dino Crisis 2, dan lain-lain.

Kurang lebih begini bentuknya

Kuliah semester 2, saya mulai baca buku yang porsi gambarnya lebih sedikit dibanding tulisan. Mau tahu apa? Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw. Mungkin itu buku pertama yang saya baca dengan 217 halaman. Isinya sendiri enggak ada serius-seriusnya. Cukup miris juga, waktu itu hampir 18 tahun umur saya tapi enggak pernah baca buku selain Biologi Kelas 1 SMP/SMA. Paling mentok? Bagaimana Cara Menjadi Cepat Kaya Dengan Beternak Kecoak Madagaskar. Enggak deng, boong.

Setahun setelahnya, di semester 4, tepatnya tahun 2014, saya mulai baca-baca buku yang teksnya penuhin satu halaman dan tebalnya bukan main. Waktu itu, saya sering disuruh baca buku-buku hubungan internasional karena mahasiswa hubungan internasional senjatanya hanya baca dan nulis. Enggak gampang, karena terbiasa lihat gambar-gambar lucu, sekarang disajiin gambar korban perang dan paling mentok, diagram hutang luar negeri.

Pelan-pelan, saya mulai terbiasa baca buku-buku yang teksnya banyak karena terdorong kewajiban kuliah. Ditambah, saya enggak mau kuliah hanya untuk mejeng tanpa sadar duit orang tua udah kekikis. Jadi ya mau enggak mau harus baca.

Di tahun yang sama, portofolio buku bacaan saya mulai nambah pelan-pelan. Dari baca buku melankolis kaya The Fault in Our Stars, sampe buku filsafat seberat The History of Sexuality karya Michel Foucault. Banyak waktu saya mulai keambil untuk baca. Di TransJakarta, di kampus, di kelas, di rumah, dan termasuk, kamar mandi.

Salah satu sensasi yang paling memuaskan dari membaca adalah, perasaan masuk ke dunia dan pandangan orang lain.

masa sih? Itu kan cuma tulisan doang?”

Ada beberapa kutipan yang sejalan dengan apa yang saya bilang:

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

–Neil Gaiman

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”

–Vera Nazarian

“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.”

–John Green

“A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it or offer your own version in return.”

–Salman Rushdie

Sensasi yang paling kuat saya rasain waktu baca buku-bukunya Haruki Murakami. Murakami dikenal sebagai penulis yang karakter-karakter di bukunya selalu sendiri, pendiam, enggak tertarik dengan apapun, dan berlatar belakang agak sedih. Uraian kata-kata yang ia tulis selalu membuat saya rasanya ada di dalam dunia yang Murakami tulis, lengkap dengan suasana yang digambarkan oleh Murakami di setiap tulisannya. Dan ini adalah bagian yang paling saya suka dari membaca buku.

Oke, stop ngomongin tentang apa yang saya alami. Rasanya terlalu narsistik kalau ngomong tentang diri sendiri.

Di Indonesia, buku jadi salah satu hal yang paling ditakutkan. Kalau diurut, mungkin begini:


  1. Kecoak terbang
  2. “Ada yang pengen dibicarain”
  3. Anak Jalanan/Tukang Bubur Naik Haji tamat
  4. Buku
  5. Raffi Ahmad – Nagita Slavina cerai

Buktinya, ada di beberapa artikel ini The case of reading and preserving Indonesian literature90 persen orang Indonesia tak suka baca buku, dan Why Indonesians Don’t Read More Books.

Dari artikel di Jakarta Post, menurut studi yang dilakukan oleh Central Connecticut State University di Amerika Serikat, Indonesia ada di urutan 60 dari 61 negara dalam minat membaca. Mau tahu di bawah kita siapa? Botswana.

BotswanaBot-swana. Bot-swa-na.

Bukan berarti Botswana jelek lho ya (meskipun masih sering ada gajah nyebrang jalanan), tapi, Botswana?

Hal itu yang bikin saya merasa agak miris, sebenarnya. Karena ketidaksukaan membaca ini ngaruh ke banyak hal.

Salah satunya, adalah kurang berwarnanya pemberitaan di Indonesia, terutama di kolom-kolom yang harusnya berisi berita menyenangkan.

Kita banyak juara olimpiade fisika, matematika, robotika, dan -tika -ika lainnya. Beberapa kali orang-orang kita dikirim ke luar negeri untuk belajar, ikut ini-itu, dan banyak lagi.

Tapi hanya sedikit dari pemberitaan di Indonesia yang meliputi anak-anak yang inovatif, kita pernah ditiup angin segar dengan hadirnya Esemka, baru-baru ini Pesawat N219 yang bakal mulai mengudara April nanti di Makassar.

Enggak sampai di situ, dulu kita punya Laras dan Luthfia yang berhasil membuat tusuk gigi pendeteksi boraks. Lalu ada juga senjata elektrik tanpa suara, penyaring udara dari kotoran sapi, canting batik otomatis, detektor telur busuk, dan lainnya. (Ini sumbernya)

Kemana itu semua?

Berita hari ini lebih banyak bicara soal Anak Jalanan, Tukang Bubur Naik Haji mau tamat, segala hal berbau “mantan” (Seriously guys, it’s overused.), om telolet om yang mendunia (selama beberapa hari), sampai Raffi Ahmad.


Karena permintaan pasar. Media juga cari untung, dong. Alhasil berita yang dimuat harus bisa menjual ke orang-orang yang membaca dan menonton. Sejauh ini, berita yang dimuat terus-menerus soal artis yang selingkuh, dan politik yang enggak ketolongan bikin enegnya. Artinya? Orang-orang masih banyak yang menikmati hal-hal itu.

Ya, kita masih senang melihat Stefan William berakhir dengan Celine Evangelista, bukan Natasha Wilona. Dibanding khawatir dengan kondisi dunia yang begitu cepat berubah (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous (VUCA)).

Kita masih lebih sedih lihat Anak Jalanan tamat. Dibanding berpikir soal solusi macet Jakarta yang enggak ada selesai-selesainya.

Kita masih lebih tertarik dengan menghujat orang-orang yang sekarang lagi bermunculan di TV. Dibanding berpikir gimana cara jadi Steve Jobs atau Elon Musk selanjutnya.

Kalau melihat daftar 30 under 30 dari Forbes, saya suka minder sendiri. Seumuran saya rata-rata udah bikin produk yang seengganya mengubah hajat hidup orang jadi lebih mudah atau baik.

Minimnya niat membaca juga berpengaruh ke buku-buku yang dijual, karya orang Indonesia, di toko-toko buku terdekat.

Banyak tulisan-tulisan yang incredible. Eka Kurniawan, Tere Liye, Ika Natassa, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Andrea Hirata, misalnya. Belum lagi kalau menghitung yang enggak keliatan di permukaan.

Sayangnya, buku-buku bagus ini seringkali ketutup sama buku-buku yang–dengan 900++ halaman–membicarakan soal iluminati, atlantis, Rothschild, dan buku-buku konspirasi lainnya.

Meskipun jumlahnya enggak keterlaluan banyak, tapi ini juga mencerminkan keinginan pasar yang cukup tinggi atas buku-buku senada Garut Kota Illuminati.

Buku-buku yang diterbitkan karena penulisnya terkenal pun marak. Jadi, kadang enggak perlu perhatiin kontennya, karena terkenal, ya pasti banyak yang beli. Jadi urusan konten urusan belakangan.

Selanjutnya, kurangnya minat baca juga bikin kita kekurangan bahan obrolan, referensi data, kesempatan untuk keliatan geeky, dan, enggak ganti-ganti candaan selain soal mantan dan om telolet om.

Kalau mau bukti, coba ketik “mantan” di Google. Hasilnya kaya begini:


Dan soal om telolet om, I hate to rain on your parade, but this is…… embarrassing.


Inilah kenapa kadang rentang waktu candaan kita lebih panjang…..

Selain itu, seperti dilansir di Harvard Business Review, dalam artikel berjudul The Business Case for Reading Novels, ada satu kalimat yang berbunyi:

It’s when we read fiction that we have the time and opportunity to think deeply about the feelings of others, really imagining the shape and flavor of alternate worlds of experience

Artinya, kalau kita mbaca buku (terutama fiksi), kita jadi bisa lebih memahami perasaan orang lain dengan menempatkan kita di posisinya.

Di satu media berita terbesar di dunia, Line Today, saya nemu satu berita yang berjudul “Pakai Apple Watch, Ketua MK: Jam Rp13 Juta Sudah Cukup”. Bagi warga Indonesia, komentar apa yang Anda kira akan muncul di kolom komentar? Ya, kurang lebih komentar yang bernada iri-ditutupi-sarkastik macam begini

Ayolah. Rp13 juta untuk jam buat sekelas pejabat eselon atas bisa dibilang masih murah. Nih ya, untuk referensi, salah satu merek terkenal yang biasa dipakai banyak orang-orang kelas atas:

dan ini barang second.


Jadi ya… Kalau ditanya Apa Yang Menarik dari 300++ Halaman Kertas Tanpa Gambar? Jawabannya bisa diambil kesimpulan oleh masing-masing dari sepotong uraian yang saya tulis di atas.

Saya sendiri belum begitu banyak baca buku, per buku saya bisa habis 3-4 minggu. Cukup lama, tapi masih bisa ditingkatkan. Warren Buffet, investor terkenal dan pemilik Berkshire Hathaway, setiap hari baca 500 artikel setiap pagi. Mantan Presiden Amerika Serikat, Theodore Roosevelt selama hidupnya baca lebih dari 2000 buku (itupun yang dia ingat), Steve Jobs pun terinspirasi dari buku (14 books that inspired Steve Jobs), begitu pula Elon Musk (The Transformative Effects of Reading + Elon Musk’s Reading List) (P.S. Elon Musk tahu cara bikin roket karena baca buku).

Mengambil kutipan dari salah satu artikel di atas, yang diambil dari penulis Nora Ephron di buku “I Feel Bad About My Neck”

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”

Review: Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami


After a quite rocky start in Hear the Wind Sing, Murakami finally did some justice in his second novella that came right after that.

Firstly, I have this strange aficionado towards a novel with unique title that doesn’t tell the big picture of the book content. I mean, somehow I feel annoyed by a novel title that clearly tell the reader in only one glance. You know, something like “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” or “Hunger Games” or “Mr. Mercedes” will not catch my eye unless highly recommended. Probably irrelevant with the content, though. But that’s just me.

I’d prefer a book with mysterious title and a good wordplay, “Slaughterhouse-Five”, “A Clockwork Orange”, and of course, “Pinball, 1973” are the kinds of title I would fall for, the kinds of novel I would take a look at when I’m at a bookstore. Mysteriously, these titles gave me a sort of proud sensation when people ask me “what are you reading currently?” then I can vehemently answer “Pinball, 1973”.

Okay, enough with the strange favorite.

I have to say the novel gave me the same sensation and feeling like when I read Murakami’s later works. The joy of being lonely, the joy of listening to old jazz, the overly-accurate description of almost anything. Murakami’s ability of describing things is probably on par with that of a poet. I mean, I can vividly imagine what he describe.

That overly-accurate description of things can be seen in this novel. Like a plane that just about to take off, 45 degrees bending its body towards the sky, you can feel that there are a change in how he describe things, compared to Hear the Wind Sing.

It is the pleasure I always feel whenever I read Murakami. You can almost feel that you live in the book, especially knowing that the character doesn’t have a name, if it has, you probably end up feeling like you are always beside the main character, observing his/her life.

Plot-wise, unlike its predecessor, Murakami stitched the plot in a careful fashion, you can see the flow clearly, how the narrator tells the story about him and The Rat and J’s story alternately. From a translator that lived an abnormal days with a twin girl we never know to how the narrator ends up being in love with an inanimate object, a pinball.

The Rat’s story is somewhat interesting, too. Sadly I didn’t put that much amount of attention towards his story line.

Unfortunately, the novel didn’t 100% live up to its name, “pinball, 1973” because the pinball-human love story just started at page 1-2 and 80-ish, the page between them rarely mentioned about pinball, rather than a quite long introduction to narrator’s life and about The Rat.

But overall, I found it delighting reading Pinball, 1973. Why? Because when I read it, I find myself sinking into the novel and lost from my world to that world. I almost didn’t feel I was on a motorcycle because I was too focused on reading it.

For Murakami fans, this book shows exactly the transition from a mere writer to a great writer of our time.

Review: Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami


If you are a fan of Haruki Murakami’s writing and happened to be inspired by how he creates a wholly new and strange world, this should be included in your mandatory reading list.

This very book is the first ever novella written by Murakami himself as a reaction to his sudden epiphany while watching a baseball game. That sudden epiphany was written in the prologue section. In that section, Murakami tells us readers a story on how he got into the world of writing.

I believe I wrote a bit about that in this post. Briefly, Murakami attended a baseball game and right when a batter hit the ball thrown by the pitcher, that exact moment Murakami told himself “I think I can write a novel” and that became a drive for Murakami to write novels up until now.

(if you are curious with the complete passage, go here)

As common for the first-timer, this novella hasn’t show the signature Murakami strange-world-plot where Colonel Sanders can give an advice how to get girls or your bestfriend accused you of raping them in a dream. Instead, what you get is a confusing plot. Suddenly there’s a radio broadcast which you (at least me) will never know what connects with that, plus several pretentious (at least in my view) dialogue and words. Plus several cliffhangers for the bonus.

You can see, however, a spark that leads to present-Murakami in this book. The start of a scene where the protagonist naked with unknown woman on his side and meticulously-described sex scene; The lone ranger who likes old jazz and read books voraciously; Mysterious personality of the protagonist who likes answering people with one or two liner.

This novella could somewhat relieve people who dreams on becoming a writer as prolific as Murakami in terms of making words flow like a diarrhea, because the novella (plus the prologue) gave you a picture of how Murakami starts with nothing than a sudden epiphany with no empirical evident. Murakami didn’t know a lot of vocabularies, even grammar.

But for those who are about to start reading Murakami, I don’t recommend this novella as a starter, read his latest but light novels instead. I started with Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore, successfully gives a kick to read more from him. Because you might end up not liking him due to his first book