When you neglect reading novels in your native language


As a non-native English speaker, preferring reading novels in English Language is like holding a double-edged sword. People praise me for my knowledge about the foreign language. They wonder how I can speak so fluently. A lot of friends often ask for advice related to English Language. They want me to share some tips to be good at grammars. They wish they were able to speak in English smoothly.

A close friend of mine recently wants to meet me because she wants me to help her writing in English Language. Every time people ask for suggestions how to master English Language skills, my answer is very simple: practice, practice and practice. I tell them that I have learned the language since I was a small kid, probably 10 years old. What they regard as amazing thing is an ordinary one for me because I have grown up learning the language. It is the skill that I have developed entirely out of curiosity.

For a kid growing up in a remote area, very far away from Indonesia’s capital, what I have experienced with English Language is weird. It was love at the first sight. The first time I knew the word ‘the’ my eyes sparkled. I and the language have entwined an intimate relationship since then.

My love for the foreign language has grown deeper when I was accepted as a university student majoring English Literature in 2002. Studying for almost five years in a culture city namely Yogyakarta, I found ‘my tribe’. I have made good friends with classmates, lecturers, seniors, juniors and fellows from other majors who encouraged me loving culture, language and social sciences in general. Spending years in academic environment that puts more focus on math and physics from elementary until middle levels, what I obtained during the college years is enlightening.

If you think my connection with English Language always brings nice stories, let me tell you that is not always the case.

After years reading novels in English Language, especially books from Victorian Era, I now forget how to enjoy reading books in my own language. As strange as it may sound but I can’t ‘read’ books in Bahasa Indonesia or Indonesian Language. Each time I try reading books in Bahasa Indonesia, I can’t put my soul into it. I find a lot of words or expressions that are strange or illogical because my mind has been too westernized.

I limit myself to read short stories in Bahasa Indonesia. I can no longer enjoy digest thick novels. I have spent years reading books by John Steinbeck and Thomas Hardy but not those by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesia’s most leading novelist. Not only this makes my understanding about local literature is very narrow, I, too, find it difficult every time I attempt to write my own novels in Bahasa Indonesia. How would I write books in Bahasa Indonesia if I knew I wouldn’t enjoy doing it?

The picture is taken from this.

“Emma” by Jane Austen

emma woodhouse.gif

For Emma Woodhouse, her entire life is all about caring the people who are very dear to her heart. After her mother passes away and her sole sister, Isabella, marries to Mr. John Knightley, Emma focuses her life taking care of her father, Mr. Henry Woodhouse and her governess, Miss Anne Taylor. Given her situation as ‘the only child’ in the house for Isabella leaves the residence, Emma grows up as a blunt, sometimes selfish, independent woman. She is also very smart.

Miss Anne Taylor gets along with her very well, much like a friend instead of a governess. Things turn a bit sour for Emma when Miss Anne Taylor marries with Mr. Weston partly thanks to Emma’s matchmaking plans. At one point, Emma is joyful that her former governess is now happy as the wife of a respectable man like Mr. Weston. But on the other hand, she and her father feel lonesome. They miss her in their house again for Mrs. Weston is like part of the family.

As such, when Emma meets Harriet Smith, a 17-year old, unspoiled, kind-hearted girl, her heart melts. Emma loves her from the start and she wants the best for her, including in terms of Harriet’s love life. The successful matchmaking story between Mr.and Mrs. Weston inspires Emma to do the same thing for Harriet.

Philip Elton is the targeted man for Harriet, Emma says to herself. He is a fine, good-looking, rich young man, about 27 years old. Harriet would be a perfect match for him and the other way around. And so Emma starts encouraging her friend to consider developing special feeling to Mr. Elton. While on the way of working this out, Emma is astonished to have known that Mr. Robert Martin proposes Harriet. Emma doesn’t bluntly oppose the marriage proposal but as the back of her mind wants her friend to marry Mr. Elton, Emma opts neutral, leaving Harriet to take her decision. Emma says Harriet should be her own best judge.

Harriet, who is just 17 when at the start of the novel, says ‘no’ although truth to be told, she is a little bit unsure of that. On the plans Emma putting into work, Mr. George Knightley, the brother of Mr. John Knightley, warns her that Mr. Elton actually likes Emma, not Harriet. Emma despises the opinion, resume the plan of uniting Harriet and Mr. Elton. Things go smoothly until Mr. Elton confesses to her that his feeling is for Emma. Harriet is mere a friend to him.

Emma despises him then feeling guilty of Harriet. She believes she plays a part on her brokenheartedness.  Harriet is such a loving person, fortunately, that she slowly heals from the pain without any slightest suspicions that Mr. Elton has a crush on Emma.

While Harriet is on the process of moving on from Mr. Elton, something shocks Emma; Mr. Elton is bound to get married! In just few weeks after Emma rejects his love. He marries to Augusta Elton, whom Emma judges as finical woman who seems to know everything. Although at first Harriet is sad, she quickly moves on from Mr. Elton.

While Mrs. Elton is busy introducing herself to the public, one of which is by setting up gatherings, here comes the much-awaited gentleman: Frank Churchill, the son of Mr. Weston but carries the name of his uncle’s family who doesn’t have any children.

For Emma, Frank infrequently visits his family in Randall because of his ill-tempered aunt. But this makes no sense for Mr. George Knightley who believes it is Frank who can’t make up my mind. He is old enough to determine whether or not he is supposed to make time for his father and step mother.

Emma and Frank gets closer quickly. Emma falls in love with his good-looking, easy going personality. They can communicate very well. On the other hand, Mr. and Mrs. Weston does wish they both get married someday.

It seems that Emma leaves Harriet when Jane Fairfax visits her aunt, Mrs. Bates and Miss Bates. Jane gets a permission from the Campbells who adopts her when she was young. Jane stays for a little while with the family of her late mother. There, Emma recalls the days when she envies her for she is beautiful and smart. In between her schedules to get closer to Jane as the former realizes she no longer envies the latter and Frank, Harriet occasionaly appears.

Mr. George Knightley always what lies behind closed door. He suspects Frank and Jane have secrets that no one knows, a prejudice that meets opposition from Emma. Emma, on the other hand, continue develops feeling for Frank. Once she gets her heart broken when she feels something romantic is going on between Frank and Harriet. Though Emma feels sorrowful she supports the scheme anyway for she knows Harriet is a devoted woman, she is nothing as compared to her friend.

Emma starts encouraging Harriet to have feelings for Frank. As this begin rolling on, Emma finds herself get even closer to Frank. But this doesn’t last for too long. Some occasions make Emma starts disliking him because of his unlikely manner. For instance, Emma can’t believe how Frank behaves so unfavorable after arriving to a gathering after a very hot journey. He curses, he acts so childish.

While Emma begins distancing herself from Frank, she expects Harriet likes Mr. George Knightley after watching the two walking closer together. To this, Harriet agrees. Somehow, Emma feels something uncomfortable happening inside of her heart when Mr. George Knightley bids farewell.

From that moment on, Emma is certain she likes Mr. George Knightley. She, again, is so down knowing that Harriet is fond of him, too.

Jane is unwell. Emma visits her but to no avail. Jane rejects her coming and presents. With the help of Mrs. Elton, Jane is about to be a governess. Something that quite shocks Emma. Another news that shocks her as well is when Mrs. Weston informs her that Frank and Jane are engaged!

Emma is surprised by the news but she is no sad at all. She tells the Westons that she is no longer love Frank a few months before the information comes up. In short, the Westons finally accept Jane.

Emma sends Harriet to her sister so that she can be alone with her thoughts about Mr. George Knightley. It is known that he has loved her since Emma was 13 years old. It doesn’t take a long time to get everything’s settled. The problem is on Emma’s father who wishes Emma won’t get married as he doesn’t want to be left alone.

As this is resolved at the end, Mr. George Knightley brings news that Harriet is going to get married to Mr. Robert Martin. Emma and Harriet eventually reconcile. They marry the men whom they admire and feel comfortable with, respectively.

The picture is take from this. Thanks for providing it.

I no longer read Indonesian novels

picture source: readinglessonsforchildren.com. thanks a bunch for the picture!

picture source: readinglessonsforchildren.com. thanks a bunch for the picture!

I can no longer read Indonesian novels, by heart, although I am an Indonesian and Bahasa Indonesia or Indonesian language is my second mother tongue after Javanese language. I can’t remember the last time I complete reading an Indonesian novel. Years ago I suppose. On my daily basis, I do read a few of Indonesian articles but mere articles which are less than 10 pages. Sometimes I write articles in Bahasa Indonesia, but mere short writings. Not novels. Not yet. And sometimes I feel sorry for myself for not wanting to write any Indonesian books. The thing isn’t because I don’t have any ideas or don’t know how to start. But the obstacle is how can I write a book if I don’t even want to read the stories that I will create?

Because of this, I have missed some good opportunities out there, for instances, short stories writing competitions or simply submitting my stories to magazines or publications. The problem with an idealist like me is that no matter how golden opportunities others may think, if I don’t want them, then I won’t ever go for that. And vice versa. If people say what I do may be useless, but if I put all the love into what I currently do then I’ll stick to what I believe.

Sometimes I blame my addiction to reading and writing in English language. I sometimes think I should haven’t read or written too much in English language. Occasionally, I think what a shame that I haven’t read novels by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesia’s greatest novelist, or the works by my friends. Some of my pals are authors, they produce amazing works. But I know I can’t force my feeling. If it says no then I won’t do that.

So here I am, still reading books in English language while occasionally reading articles in Bahasa Indonesia. It would be fantastic if my heart would be shifted at least to have willingness reading books in Bahasa Indonesia. But while waiting for the change of the heart, I keep doing what I love, seeing whereas my hobby may one day bring me career opportunities. Right now I still focus on Victorian Literature but I’m planning to shift my focus on another era or may be books from various countries.



This is how literature changes my life

literature 2

the picture is from quotesgram.com

When I was a senior high school student, I underestimated the importance of reading novels and poems. At the back of my mind, reading novels, fictions or poems would be a useless activity because it wouldn’t make me earning money. I couldn’t think of earning money by reading fictions.

Who would never thought that I was later accepted as a student of the English Literature where reading canon literature works was my daily activity. In the first four semesters, however, reading literature works was mere obligations from lecturers. My understanding was only skin deep. What I knew back then was only limited to plots, characters, social context, etc.

Thankfully, after I have graduated from the college, got a good job my reading habit never stopped. I even started viewing reading as a refreshing activity. And that was when the light shed on.

The first book that has uplifted my reading understanding then carried me to a whole new level was “The Picture of Dorian Gray“. The novel did not only lead me to have eventually learned the beauty of reading but also the most essential benefit of doing it.

While reading the title and others from the American and Asian literature has already boosted my reading experiences, those from the Victorian Era has given me more than that.

Literature has changed the way I feel about human beings. Because of reading a few number of great works from the Victorian Era I have loosened up myself from being a judgmental person. I become more tolerable. I now view people not as wholly kind or bad but in between; that people have good and bad sides. And if they do something ugly, they have complicated factors that make them doing so.

Literature has shown me that human beings are beautiful creations by Alloh swt. Their life stories are amazing, be they mostly about sadness or happiness. But when we disassociate from that labeling, each and every human experience is so worth it to be told, passed on.

Literature has shown me how society plays a very great role in shaping who we really are. Every human being is inseparable from where they grow up and live; and they are the product of those surrounding them.

Now, I come to the belief that reading novels, the best ones in particular, is all actually about reading human beings; upgrading, refreshing my views about people. And by the end of it all, I become amazed on how beautiful we are with all stories, journeys that each and every of us has passed through.

Four reasons why I don’t read e-books


paper books vs ebooks

thank you blogs.discovermagazine.com

Are you like one of those who remain faithful reading paper books despite the fact that you can actually buy a Kindle, download e-books available for free in the internet? While the world gets more and more dependent upon technology, I and may be you remain closely attached with printed books instead of being glued at gadgets for reading.

While some may argue that I’m an old-fashioned reader, I personally have four reasons why I don’t e-books at least until now:

  1. Which one is more eyes-friendly?
    While scientists say reading on-screens do not necessarily cause eye strains, I myself find my eyes get more easily tired reading on-screens than reading actual books or papers particularly when the materials I currently read are hundreds of pages. If you have time to read information in this link: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/do-e-readers-cause-eye-strain/?_r=0, you will find that e-books have display technologies that make them more friendly to the readers’ eyes. On the other hand, not all types of papers are good to the readers’ eyes. As I always attempt to nurture my mind and nourish my body, reading actual papers is the one that’s good for my health.
  2. Not easily get distracted
    Reading actual papers make my focus is solely on one thing: the book itself. Reading via screens make my fingers are so itchy to not open another websites or browse something. I also feel that reading actual papers as much as writing by hands helps me memorizing what I read and write better than if I read on screens or type.
  3. Something magical coming out from papers
    If you read the ‘About Me’ section in this blog, I put a quote that speaks so well about me: “Many people, myself among better, feel better at the mere sight of a book“. For me, even books exterior; cover designs, colors; look so magical, not to mention what I feel every time I open pages. And if the books are really great, closing their very last ones will leave me with mixed feelings; feeling joyful but sad at the same time.
  4. More proper treasures for my children
    What would my children say when one day they ask for my book collections and all I would give is Kindles or laptops? While some of you may not consider this as a trivial thing to be put in this list, I believe physical books are way more proper to be left as legacy than mere gadgets. Papers, if we can treat them well, will not be quickly faded away. Moreover, we can be more creative by rearranging bookshelves so as they can beautify our homes or rooms.

Bus ride reading time

I can’t exactly remember when I start reading books during bus ride that carries me from my boarding house to office and vice versa. The thing is it has almost been an obligatory for me to bring books whenever I go. Sometimes I may not read them but most of the times I do. One thing for sure, every time I carry books I feel I have best companions with me. Whenever I get bored during trip, I can just open their pages and let time slip away.

Public transportation in Jakarta is very unreliable even for Transjakarta bus that has been given special lanes. I can still wait up to 40 minutes for this kind of bus. It’s so damn emotional to wait for such long time. That’s the main reason on why I bring novels wherever I go although sometimes I admit the books may add extra weight to my bag. But I just can’t let them being left at the boarding home. Doing so, I may feel so lonely.

From being the best pal during a possible long bus wait, now reading books during bus ride or bus moment turns out into a very exciting activity. I have completed reading the very thick The Mill on The Floss while taking Transjakarta bus. I don’t remember other titles. Currently, I apply the same method for finishing reading Adam Bede. It’s funny now to see that I prefer reading books during hectic moments in the bus (sometimes I manage to read novels while standing, by the way) to read them during weekends when I have so many spare times.

I have tried reading Adam Bede after I reach the house but I give it up after a few pages. May be I get too tired or too sleepy or perhaps the so-called bus ride reading moment has dominated my overall reading mood that I find it difficult to spend much time reading in another place than bus. Oh nooo.. I hope that is not the case!

All in all, it’s fascinating I am still able to absorb story lines from all novels that I read amidst crowded bus situation. I salute my brain for being able to fully concentrate on the novels’ plots even in noisy conditions. No, I don’t mean to show off. I wish only to say that I am glad that I can always allocate time for reading, the best hobby God has been given me in my life.

You know you’re a self-proclaimed bookworm when…


  1. You only think of what titles you’re going to buy every time payday arrives no matter how urgent a party gown or office dress for you is. Then, you will curse yourself after not knowing what to wear to attend formal events. By the time you realize this, your money runs out. But mind you.. for you keep doing this all over again.
  2. A perfect weekend means spending a few hours reading a novel, sipping a cup of tea or coffee while sometimes listening to a good music. When some people say that is a smart choice of spending some days off you will respond it by saying, “I’d prefer to make use of my spare time with my boyfriend of husband if I have one, actually…”
  3. While another bus passenger click, browse their smartphones, you read novels instead. People may say you’re unique for keep reading paper-based books but deep in your heart you’re gonna admit that you don’t have enough money to buy those sophisticated gadgets. Or, the gadgets are affordable but they are too brilliant for a tech-illiterate like you. So, physical books remain the best pal during hectic journeys.
  4. You don’t mind being called as a geek for laying down in a grass while reading a novel while your office mates have a good time posing for narcisstic pictures. When they may pity on you, you firmly say, “Oh, that’s all right. I myself have best time with my own world.”
  5. Visiting a bookstore is a monthly must. Even if you have no money or bunch of unread books, you keep coming to the place. Once you get there, you inspect the titles of the books then leave them in the shelves. This has satisfied your curiosity.
  6. There comes a time when your reading desire is overwhelming. You opt to read tons of online articles in the internet despite the fact you still have some unread thick books. Even after you are done with the online articles, you end up rereading old stories from tabloids that you bought years ago. What about the thick books? Don’t worry, they are still in the bookshelf. You just don’t know yet how to regain the spirit to complete the reading or the heart to abandon them forever.
  7. You are reluctant to visit an eye doctor to get your eyes checked because you are afraid to may hear an ugly truth: that your eyes are now minus or that your minus may add because you read too much.
  8. Every morning you wake up feeling so joyful looking at the books filling up the shelves in your room despite the fact that you don’t really read them all. May be 75 or 80% but not 100%. You believe that they are the best treasures your grandchildren will inherit someday.

Source: personal experiences…