Best Books To Read Before The Shark Gets Me

About ten years ago, when I was living in Hong Kong, I consulted a Chinese fortune teller or ‘Astrologer, Geomancy Consultant’ as he preferred to call himself. It was the start of the new millennium and at the time I was thinking about migrating to New Zealand so I thought it would be good to get an opinion on my future from an expert. I am not normally a big believer in fortune telling, but he came highly recommended so I approached the consultation with an open mind. What he told me came as something of a shock.

He said that I am going to die when I am 67. Not just any old death but a rather grizzly one. I will be travelling on a boat which will sink or I will fall overboard and I will be eaten by a shark! I am not making this up, I promise. I still have the tape recording of the consultation as proof. My friends and relatives found it quite amusing and I suppose, since we all have to go somehow, it is an interesting way to die. I started to think about the implications of this prophecy.

Knowing when you are going to die is not such a bad thing. I’m 54 now so I have 13 years left. I need to make sure that I spend the next 13 years fruitfully and don’t waste a single day. If the fortune teller is wrong and I get an extension of years it will be a  bonus but I’m planning on the basis that he is correct and I’m going to spend my remaining time doing worthwhile things that I enjoy. I have certainly made a lot of changes since hearing the shark prediction. I quit my well paid but tedious and stressful banking job, and I have pursued various interests and business ideas that I had always been meaning to do one day. I have spent more time with my family and on hobbies such as reading. I enjoy a good book. The problem is, I’m really quite a slow reader, I’m lucky if I finish one book a month. It’s not that I’m incapable of reading faster – it’s just that when I read, the words trigger trains of thought and I allow my mind to wander. It might be several seconds or even minutes before I return to the next sentence in the book. I don’t mind this drifting off – in fact it’s this guided day-dreaming which makes reading such a pleasurable and relaxing experience for me. You can’t do that when you are watching a film.

Anyway, returning to my situation, if I have 13 years left to live and I can only manage one book per month, it means I have time to read about 156 more books before the shark gets me. I want to make sure that these 156 books are great ones. I have no time to waste on reading trashy books or even just average books. So if there is anyone out there reading this blog, I would appreciate your suggestions on which titles I should include in my 156 book reading list. Perhaps something uplifting, inspirational or life-changing would be appropriate, even spiritual given that I will be meeting my Maker before too long (I’m reading ‘The Confessions Of Saint Augustine’ at the moment).  I  Googled ‘100 best books of all time’ and there are plenty of websites listing great literature. These are are a good place to start for ideas but the pages and pages of comments on the websites show that people feel strongly about the subject and there is a good deal of dispute about what should and what should not be included on the various lists. I ‘ve read quite a number of these classics over the years but I cannot always share the opinions of the critics. James Joyce’s Ulysses for instance is near the top of most critics’ best book lists but I found it virtually unreadable. I suppose that makes an ignorant peasant. 

Well that’s enough from me. My time is strictly limited as you know! Any suggestions from you would be most welcome. In the meantime I’ll be consuming as many bowls of shark’s fin soup as possible in the hope that the shark becomes extinct before I do.

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6 Responses to Best Books To Read Before The Shark Gets Me

  1. Bonnie says:

    Nice travel blog you have here!
    Could I ask why you were thinking of moving to NZ? I’m living in Australia… but was originally from HK.
    Also, would take this fortune teller’s prediction with a grain of salt!

    • Thanks Bonnie. There were lots of reasons why I was thinking of moving to NZ – greenery, fresh air, space, good schooling, low property prices (at that time) and so on. In the end I decided against it – too far, too quiet, too dead after 5pm. Coming from HK I am sure you can see both sides of the argument.

  2. Razlie says:

    I agree with u about New Zealand. Too far/quiet/dead after 5pm. based on comments fr a few of my friends who hv been there.

    Back to the book list.
    – You being a brit, of course the first one has to be Richard Branson – “Losing my virginity” 🙂
    – Being a malaysian in MM2H now, the second book i suggest is “My Story” by Lim Goh Tong (Genting)
    – The third that i am still reading now is Arnold Schwarzenegger – Total Recall
    – (ive picked up the habit of reading biographies of prominent & famous personalities since last year. it is very rewarding… it makes u feeling great, positive, happily immersed in your own world, yin yang (whatever it means) etc… 🙂

  3. Sheila says:

    Hi David;
    Have you read “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee? Or maybe “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein, consisting of short, funny poems, more for children maybe. My husband owns this book and I started to learn of its existence after our first son was born, he would read it to our son. I enjoy reading those poems even just by myself, for myself. That said, I am ashamed to say with new year I vow that I would read ‘this’ book but the year ends and I am yet to buy the book! I can’t bring myself to finish “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, could not enjoy any of Hemingway’s, but read a lot of Danielle Steeles but I am afraid none of hers would do for you, though there were some that I thought was quite good, but, in your case, not good enough to spend what might be the remaining of these last 13 years on. Which brought me to the next subject … I hope that none of what he said will come true, that you will live a healthy and happy life past 67 and will not die in such a fashion. Having said that, I visited a fortune teller once. He was a very old chinese man, stationed on the 2nd floor of the Central Market building in KL. It was many, many years ago, at that time he was already so old, to me he looked like “Gandalf – Played by Ian McKellen” in Lord of the Rings, so, I am sure he is passed away by now. He was quite famous, if I am not mistaken, he sometimes had a spot in the New Strait Times featuring his bits. My co workers insisted we went to see him when they found out that I was leaving M’sia, just for fun and that was the only reason I went, otherwise I don’t think it would be something that I would have indulged in. I remember that it was quite expensive, but my co workers insisted that they would pay for it so I was game, and I chose for him to tell me about my future love life – hah. He took my palm, can’t remember which one but, what he said were still fresh in my memory and get this, it may be all coincidence, but, all of them had come true….. ! It would cost more to tell about my future wealth so I said No, since I didn’t want my co workers to pay on something I thought was full of doo doo and silly. But now I can’t say that I did not regret it though….

    • Hi Sheila,
      Thank you very much for your suggestions and kind thoughts.
      Next time I am in Central Market I shall look out for your fortune teller. If he is still there I shall ask him for a second opinion.

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