THE READING LIFE ... Owen YAP
CELEBRITIES AND READING
There’s more to their pretty faces, arresting vocals and admirable achievements. Here’s proof that even celebrities turn to good old books to keep learning about the world around them. ERIC FORBES takes a respite from reading and talks to famous Malaysians in the entertainment industry about their favourite books and how they find the time to read despite their busy schedules. THIS INSTALMENT: OWEN YAP
OWEN YAP reads 8TV’s prime time Mandarin news when he isn’t abroad on work assignments. He also emcees events and hosts television shows. The personable and trilingual Seremban-born newscaster, last seen hosting NTV7’s popular Mandarin game show, Deal or No Deal, is an avid reader whose literary preferences run the gamut from Mitch Albom and John Grisham to Milan Kundera, Haruki Murakami and Gabriel García Márquez.
Interview by ERIC FORBES
Photograph courtesy of OWEN YAP
Where do you find the time to read with your busy schedule?
I think reading is a good way to relax, so I always try to squeeze in some time to read no matter where I am.
Do you think reading matters?
Yes, it does. As the saying goes, one reads in order to live.
What kinds of books did you read when you were growing up?
I read lots of books, from comics to fables, fiction, almost everything, really.
Who are some of your favourite contemporary writers?
Haruki Murakami and John Grisham, who is well known for his legal thrillers.
What are some of your favourite contemporary books?
Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Do you have an all-time favourite book? Why do you enjoy reading and rereading it?
Forrest Carter’s The Education of Little Tree, which fits the quote by Canadian novelist Robertson Davies to the fullest extent: “A truly great book should be read in youth, once again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.” I go back to it every now and then, and every time I do, I discover something new about it that makes me like it even more.
Assuming you enjoy reading fiction, what are the elements in fiction that take your breath away? In other words, what do you think are the essentials of good fiction? What distinguishes the great novels from the merely good?
An intriguing start that gets the reader hooked from the very beginning, a creative plot that’s anything but a cliché, and an ending that unravels itself only at the very end.
What are you reading at the moment?
Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith; his previous books, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day captivated me.
Reproduced from the April-June 2010 issue of Quill magazine