Editor’s Top Art & Music Books This Season

Editor's choice Books at Music Press Asia

Music Press Asia and its staff has been reading some latest release of books in Southeast Asia, we’ve come out with this list so you don’t have to. Enjoy it!

by Sehee BAEK / Anton HUR (Trn.)

The South Korean hit therapy memoir recommended by BTS’s RM [Hardcover]. The phenomenal Korean bestseller translated by International Booker Shortlistee Anton Hur

Psychiatrist: So how can I help you?

Me: I don’t know, I’m – what’s the word – depressed? Do I have to go into detail?

Baek Sehee is a successful young social media director at a publishing house when she begins seeing a psychiatrist about her – what to call it? – depression? She feels persistently low, anxious, endlessly self-doubting, but also highly judgemental of others. She hides her feelings well at work and with friends; adept at performing the calmness, even ease, her lifestyle demands. The effort is exhausting, overwhelming, and keeps her from forming deep relationships.

Baek Sehe book to read. Music Press Asia
[Baek Sehe’s newest book is translated by Anton Hur]

This can’t be normal. But if she’s so hopeless, why can she always summon a desire for her favorite street food, the hot, spicy rice cake, teokbokki? Is this just what life is like? Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a 12-week period, Baek begins to disentangle the feedback loops, knee-jerk reactions and harmful behaviors that keep her locked in a cycle of self-abuse.

Part memoir, part self-help book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness. Riveting and full of cultural catchphrases much needed in our Asian diaspora. Besides taking a break to try any Korean meal we could get hold on, we can’t seem to put this book down.

by Ganesh BALA

Ouch Academy publish Malayan Songbook326. Music Press Asia
[Ganesh Bala’s (OUCH Music Academy) The Malayan Songbook is released in 2022.]

A selection of 20 contemporary Malay music scores by composers Ahmad Jaafar, Ahmad Wan Yet, Yusof B, P.Ramlee, and some Malay folk tunes are in the songbook. Also included are studies, biographies, and essays about the people behind these tunes that offer glances at Malaya’s golden age of music and entertainment.

The Malayan Songbook, published by OUCH Music Academy, took 5 years of research, audio restoration, music transcription, and arrangement prior to completion. According to the book producer, Ushera Yusof, a halt in production due to the Covid-19 pandemic was fortunately avoided as the project was supported by the Creative Industry Recovery Grant under Literature & Publishing, a PENJANA initiative managed by MyCreative Ventures.

Read more: The Malayan Songbook: A Revival of Pre-Independence Music of Malaya


[Marco Ferrarese’s tells a tale of three worlds that collide infinitely through metal punk music.]

A Euro-Fool’s Metal Punk Journeys in Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia. Between 2010 and 2015, travel writer, author and metal punk guitarist Marco Ferrarese was the one and only ‘white elephant in the room’ of the Malaysian metal punk scene. A European inbred metal punk fool stranded in a globalised world of transnational extreme music chop suey.

In this highly electric and graphic memoir, Ferrarese tells you how it was to play lead guitar in Penang’s thrashcore band WEOT SKAM, negotiating flimsy stage set-ups and shady promoters in order to gel into a developing world’s music scene. He takes you on a no-frills road bonanza scouring for sonic extremities across the whole length of Malaysia and Borneo.

He chases down long-haired metal punk descendants of Iban headhunting tribes, scrawny Bidayuh anarcho-punk rockers, Kadazan-Dusun activist artists, skullcap-toting Muslim death metallers, and gets you a seat in WEOT SKAM’s rickety van for a DIY sleigh ride through the bowels of Jakarta and the vulgar, bogan-filled streets of Bali. Will your seatbelts fasten quickly enough?

by Malaka GHARIB

Malaka Gharib Graphic Memoir 326. Music Press Asia
[Malaka Gharib writes extraordinary memoir that exudes graphically intense imagery where emotions tells a moral story.]

Imagine arriving in a country where you don’t understand the language, culture, or religion. Nine-year-old Malaka Gharib arrives in Egypt for her annual summer vacation abroad and assumes it’ll be just like every other vacation she’s spent at her dad’s place in Cairo. But her father shares news that changes everything: He has remarried. Over the next fifteen years, as she visits her father’s growing family summer after summer, Malaka must reevaluate her place in his life.

She learns that Nirvana isn’t as cool as Nancy Ajram, that there’s nothing better than a Fanta and a melon-mint hookah, that the desert is most beautiful at dawn, and that her new stepmother, Hala, isn’t so different from Malaka herself.

by Monisha RAJESH

[Monisha Rajesh has the world under her feet. Read more about the adventures where the train departure and arrival are equally gratifying.]

Monisha Rajesh has chosen one of the best ways of seeing the world. Never too fast, never too slow, her journey does what trains do best. Getting to the heart of things. Prepare for a very fine ride’ Michael Palin From the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet’s Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Around the World in 80 Trains is a celebration of the glory of train travel and a witty and irreverent look at the world. Packing up her rucksack – and her fiance, Jem – Monisha Rajesh embarks on an unforgettable adventure that takes her from London’s St Pancras station to the vast expanses of Russia and Mongolia, North Korea, Canada, Kazakhstan, and beyond.


A New Perspective on Music’s Mediation: Contemporary music, like other arts, is dealing with the rise of »curators« laying claim to everything from festivals to playlists – but what are they and what do they do anyway? Drawing from backgrounds ranging from curatorial studies to festival studies and musicology, Brandon Farnsworth lays out a theory for understanding curatorial practices in contemporary music, and how they could be a solution to the field’s diminishing social relevance.

The volume focuses on two case studies, the Munich Biennale for New Music Theatre, and the Maerzmusik Festival at the Berliner Festspiele, putting them in a transdisciplinary history of curatorial practice, and showing what music curatorial practice can be. Brandon Farnsworth, born in 1991, works as an independent music curator, and as a research associate at the Zurich University of the Arts, where he also studied classical music performance and transdisciplinary studies.

He pursued his doctoral degree in historical musicology at the University of Music Carl Maria von Weber Dresden, and was an affiliated researcher with the joint »Epistemologies of Aesthetic Practice« doctoral program at the Collegium Helveticum. His research focuses on the intersection of performance and curatorial studies, and strives for a global perspective.


[Sesame Street ‘s Music book is a collaboration between Farrah McDoogle and Joe Mathieu.]

This best-selling title has a refreshed cover to celebrate Sesame Street’s 45th anniversary. Celebrate Sesame Street’s 45th anniversary with this special-edition Music Player Storybook. Inside, preschoolers will find a delightful mix of stories, lyrics, and popular beloved kids’ tunes. Featured on the four play CDs are favorite instrumental songs from the TV show (“Rubber Duckie,” “C Is for Cookie,” “Sesame Street Theme,” and “People in Your Neighborhood”) plus 20 popular kids’ songs. With fun instrumental tunes like “The Muffin Man” and “Five Little Ducks,” this deluxe set will keep kids singing and dancing for hours.


[Leemei Tan-Boisgillot’s Asia-Pacific culinary journey is music to everyone’s ears, especially those who dare to call themselves a foodie.]

This book brings together all the best home cooking, street food favorites, healthy fakeaways and crowd-pleasers in one award-winning collection. Over 110 modern, delectable and easy recipes meet any craving, from Korean fried chicken, a warming Bibimbap, spicy Dan Dan Noodles, a hearty Beef Rendang, a zingy Papaya Salad, Banh Mi on-the-go or satisfying Masala Dosa to share with friends. This is the fully updated edition of the award-winning Lemongrass and Ginger.

by Jeevan VASAGAR

[Lion City is authored by Jeevan Vasagar.]

Singapore and the Invention of Modern Asia: Lion City tells the extraordinary story of Singapore – the world’s most successful city state. In 1965, Singapore’s GDP per capita was on a par with Jordan. Now it has outstripped Japan. After the Second World War and a sudden rupture with newly formed Malaysia, Singapore found itself independent – and facing a crisis.

It took the bloody-minded determination and vision of Lee Kuan Yew, its founding premier, to take a small island of diverse ethnic groups with a fragile economy and hostile neighbours and meld it into Asia’s first globalised city. Lion City examines the different faces of Singaporean life – from education and health to art, politics and demographic challenges – and reveals how in just half a century, Lee forged a country with a buoyant economy and distinctive identity.

It explores the darker side of how this was achieved too; through authoritarian control that led to it being dubbed ‘Disneyland with the death penalty’.

Jeevan Vasagar, former Singapore correspondent for the Financial Times, masterfully takes us through the intricate history, present and future of this unique diamond-shaped island one degree north of the equator, where new and old have remained connected. Lion City is a personal, insightful and definitive guide to the city, and how its extraordinary rise is shaping East Asia and the rest of the world.

Do you have a book you’d like to recommend to us? Send us more information or book releases to

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