THE READING LIFE ... Lina TEOH
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: LINA TEOH
FORMER MISS MALAYSIA/Miss World 1998 LINA TEOH has over 15 years’ experience in the Malaysian entertainment and television industry as a TV presenter, scriptwriter, actor and radio presenter/producer. In the past 4 years, she has focused her attentions mostly in the production of documentaries and is involved in many aspects of the production process, including research and development, producing and directing. Teoh, who began her career in the fashion industry as a model at the age of 17, recently produced Among the Great Apes with Michelle Yeoh, a 50-minute documentary for the National Geographic Channel. Other production credits include Smart Tunnel for the National Geographic Channel (associate producer) and The Lion Dance King for the Discovery Channel (writer/producer/director).
Interview by ERIC FORBES
Photographs courtesy of LINA TEOH
How do you find the time to read with your busy schedule?
I actually have to read a lot for my work on a daily basis but on a leisurely basis I don’t read anywhere as much as I’d like to! It’d be great if there were more hours in the day! I tend to read on planes and before I go to sleep. Reading a good book while on holiday by the beach or the pool is one of my most favourite things to do. I almost always have a book with me just in case I get the odd moment to read.
Do you think reading matters?
Reading always matters! Without it we know nothing about the world or life and our lives would remain very sheltered. Of course, it goes hand in hand with writing which is equally important. Literature has been used from the beginning of time to share stories, information and knowledge. Reading opens our minds and allows us to learn about many different things. Today, with the Internet, we are now able to transfer knowledge and stories so much faster than ever before, so yes, I believe reading is even more important than ever today.
What kinds of books did you read when you were growing up?
Well, my mum says that I just loved to read from a very early age. I learnt to read before I went to school and have always just loved books. My whole life, I have never gone anywhere without bringing something to read. My whole childhood I wouldn’t go anywhere without a book under my arm. I loved reading adventure stories and was a big Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl fan.
Do you have an all-time favourite book? Why do you enjoy it?
I’m afraid there’s far too many to single out one!
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? (If you prefer reading nonfiction, tell my why. Perhaps you enjoy reading both fiction and nonfiction?)
I actually enjoy reading mostly nonfiction books. I love autobiographies because I love reading true stories about people’s lives. We all have such different experiences in life and I feel by reading about other people it gives us more compassion and creates a greater understanding towards our fellow men. And I always feel so inspired when I hear of the challenges people have overcome in their lives. It always makes my problems seem so insignificant. I also enjoy reading inspirational or motivational books.
What are you reading at the moment?
I have been reading lots of books on Japan in preparation for a holiday in Tokyo! Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia and Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose are also current favourites.
Reproduced from the April-June 2010 issue of Quill magazine