My 2014 in Books

The list of books I read in 2014! My Goodreads Reading Challengen was set to 12 books, but I read 42 books instead. Here they are, along with a short review.

1. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Review here.

2. Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer
Review here.

3. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Review here.

4. Why I Left Goldman Sachs by Greg Smith
Review here.

5. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
This is why I have to read outside of my comfort zone. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have read this book! I like how she incorporated her Indian roots in such an American novel. It gives me hope that other writers of color can go global too. Not to mention the story itself is good.

6. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Review here.

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Review here.

8. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’m not a fan of this book. All that I remember is it’s about a smart, virgin girl with an obsession of giving a guy a blowjob.

9. Under the Dome by Stephen King
I read a critic somewhere that King’s best craft is in depicting human nature, but not in resolutions. Under the Dome releases the monsters inside us as we crumble under pressure. A small town is trapped under a mysterious dome and everyone goes bananas. I love getting to know the characters and how they deal with the situation. The ending is not as epic as I’d like it to be, but the story is good, so I don’t really care.

10. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
It’s about a war veteran with PTSD. To be honest, I didn’t really get it. I have to read it again.

11. Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Biography by Lemony Snicket
Another puzzle in the mysterious life of Lemony Snicket. I love catching glimpses of his whole self in all of his books.

12. School of Fear #1 by Gitty Daneshvari
This book is too young for me. Maybe if I read it in elementary school, I would have liked it.

13. Entertainment Law in A Nutshell by Sherri L. Burr
Best introduction to entertainment law I’ve ever read so far. Very useful for students and entertainers who want to know more about the subject.

14. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Now I know why this book was recommended everywhere in 2013. It’s that good and such a mindblown. I didn’t know that we could write a novel this way.

15. The Circle by Dave Eggers
This book is definitely talking about Google and its good & evil potential in the society. I like it best because it’s not quite a dystopia story. The story tells a period when people is getting to the peak of making the world a better place, but they don’t see that once they reach that peak, they’ll decline into a dystopia.

16. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Nah, not my Gaiman favorite.

17. Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome by John Scalzi
I love it. It’s so interesting reading a history of how a certain disease has changed the face the world. It’s funny too!

18. Airframe by Michael Crichton
Crichton never disappoints. Airframe makes a fun and fresh leisure leading. It’s light but still mindboggling.

19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Nope. Nope. Nope. I honestly don’t understand what the hype is all about other than it captured the hedonism of the roaring 20s.

20. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Scalzi, funny as always. I like the point of view too, sending our senior citizens to war and defend humanity. I rarely see stories like this.

21. Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
EPIC. The resolution of the first Formic Wars. The characters that were indifferent to each other in the first two books set aside their differences to save the world. I love it. ♥

22. Gloriously Bright by Orson Scott Card
It’s practically a rereading of Xenocide. Not bad as its own story.

23. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I LOVE IT. And jealous at the same time. How could a man weave words so beautifully?

24. The Jacatra Secret by Rizky Ridyasmara
Please don’t waste your time reading this book.

25. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Basically the same as the movie, but with more elaboration on the characters’ state of minds leading up to their deaths.

26. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
I like it best for its tribute to great SF/F works that have contributed in making SF/F a more popular genre ♥ and yes, Joe Hill is such a good writer.

27. Rahasia Menulis Kreatif by Raditya Dika
So far, the most useful writing advice book I’ve ever read. Raditya Dika is simple, systematic, and straight to the point. He tells you what you can do and why you should do it.

28. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
I still don’t know what to make of JK Rowling’s detective series. She’s really good with characters, and this book is all about character development. The case itself is not so interesting.

29. World War Z by Max Brooks
For a portion of 2014 I was obsessed with zombies. This book is good. I love the report style it uses to tell the story. It’s not really about zombies either, but it’s how people rally in the face of a common enemy, and I love the book for it.

30. Lock In by John Scalzi
The worldbuilding is interesting and the story is funny. But it’s kind of predictable and the case is not that hard to solve either. I think it’ll make a good series though.

31. Schroder by Amity Gaige
It hit me straight in the chest at some parts, but other times, it’s meh.

32. How to Set Up and Run A Fashion Label by Toby Meadows
The title is self-explanatory. Very useful for beginners.

33. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
I fell in love with Hadfield because of this book. It’s like he’s lending me his eyes to see space and what we can do out there. Of course, I, the astronaut wanna-be, totally fell for it.

34. Gelombang by Dewi Lestari
Review here.

35. The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner (3 books)
Nope. I know that the movie is praised, but the books are typical young adult, and it’s not that epic either. The resolution is so disappointing. In the end, this trilogy talks about nothing.

36. Shouldn’t You Be In School by Lemony Snicket
It’s in this book that I finally appreciated how great a writer Daniel Handler is. He knows his words and what he’s doing with them. I’m jealous.

37. Attack on Titan #13 by Hajime Isayama
I only keep reading cos I want to know the ending. It’s so draggy up to this point.

38. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
The blurbs all say it’s funny, but I’m afraid my Indonesian humor doesn’t really get Semple’s American humor. It’s still a fun reading. I can relate to Bernadette and her anti social tendency.

39. Hidden Agenda by Jacob Julian
Along with The Jacatra Secret above, this book is proof of how poor our publishing is. I’ve seen so many poor Indonesian books, I can’t even blame the writers anymore. It’s because of the poor editing. We should raise our standard and actually demand our writers to be fluent in written Indonesian.

40. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
It raises immigrant issues in the USA, so no, I can’t really relate to it. The protagonist sounds whiny too. I don’t like him that much.

I don’t have a picture of the books I purchased in 2014 cos there are so many of them. But I always post my new purchase on Instagram under the tag #utislibrary. Credit card will be the death of me, you know.

Last but not least, my personal awards for my 2014 reading list.
– Best Book of the Year: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
– Worst Book of the Year: The Jacatra Secret by Rizky Ridyasmara
– Best Fantasy Book of the Year: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
– Worst Fantasy Book of the Year: The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner
– Most Recommended Book: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
– Most Recommended Collection: Lemony Snicket books
– Most Overrated: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
– Most Underrated: Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer
– Most Favorite: Rahasia Menulis Kreatif by Raditya Dika

I set my reading goal to 20 books this year. I’m not going to make a new wishlist cos I still haven’t fulfilled my 2014 one. I should really count how much I spend for books. This will dig a hole in my pocket.

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I passed the bar exam!

I was on my way to this Halloween party when Huda texted me, “Congrats! You passed the bar exam!” I called him immediately.

“Do not shit with me, young man.”

What followed was thirty minutes of trying to open the ever-so-slow Peradi’s website, calling Tami to confirm and convey the news, calling Huda again to ask for screencaps of the announcement.

Whoa, I really passed the bar exam.

Then a flood of relief washed over me. I didn’t realize I’d been that worried about this bar exam. Now that I’ve passed it, it feels like my life is going according to plan. After this, I can be sworn in, in 2 years, and I can pursue my Master’s degree by 2017 as planned. And not only that. I’ve been (sort of) promoted in the office, which is totally unexpected. My life’s going really well right now, I honestly feel like I almost believe in God again.

That night, the Halloween party was not scary at all.


I'm supposed to be a flower. #lazycosplayer

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The Bar Exam

In order to be an advocate (barrister or litigation lawyers), there is a few steps to be taken. You must be a Bachelor of Law, you attend the training program for a couple of months, pass the bar exam, then do an apprenticeship for 2 years, where you assist a teaching advocate in 6 civil and 6 criminal cases.

Bachelor of law, got it. Training program, got it too. Then the bar exam happened last Saturday.

You’ve probably known by now that I have a conflicted feeling about my profession’s association. I just feel like there’s a lot of shady stuff in it, especially when it comes to the billions of money they collect from training programs and bar exams. The training program fee increases anually. Last year was 5 million IDR, this year it’s 6 million. The bar exam registration fee itself is 1 million. The training program offered me nothing new, and I could learn the topics myself at home, because everything was about textbook reading. No practice. Then there’s the bar exam.

I can go on and on about the bar exam. Truthfully, I didn’t study much for it. I was not motivated at all. I took a look at previous years’ questions and everything was about memorizing the textbooks. There’s no question that demands your analytical skill. There are always 2 essay questions, each for arbitration and civil, and you only answer one. The popular question is the civil one, because it’s relatively easier. Usually it asks us to draft a power of attorney and a lawsuit application. Furthermore, I have another reservation about this exam. I’m so against closed-book legal exams, because that’s ridiculous. There are so many procedures and articles to memorize! And when we apply it at work, we have all the material that we need, so a closed-book exam is a weird concept. But that’s what happens here.

Anyway, I took my bar exam and out of 120 multiple choice questions, I was only certain I answered 40 questions right. The next 40 were probably right, and the last 40 were guesses. You should know that there was one question about how many buttons there are in a lawyer’s robe. These people have gone mad. My weakest questions were those regarding the association. I didn’t study the subject much because I still don’t see how it’ll benefit me in the future. They’re always fighting within themselves anyway. The essays were considerably easier than last year’s questions. The arbitration question was theoritical, and the civil one only asked us to draft a lawsuit.

Oh, and there’s also the matter of the answer sheet. They still use that computerized answer sheet, where you circle and blacken the letter of your answer and you got to keep the paper clean. You have to circle the letter fully and color it really black, without coloring it outside of the line, so that the computer won’t miss it. My generation is familiar with this answer sheet, cos we’ve been using it for all national exams. The older ones though, they were having a hard time doing it. We had 2 hours to answer the questions and coloring our answers needed more time than that. So there was a case of this senior lawyer who failed to answer the exam properly because it was difficult for him to circle everything. What if he answered everything right and he failed cos of this answering method?

Announcement is in November and I’m not entirely sure I’ll pass it. I’m going to admit that I wasn’t ready for the exam and I still think it’s ridiculous. The only reason I want to pass it is so that I can get it over with. If I don’t, well not being an advocate is fine too for me.


Tami and I before and after the bar exam

In case anyone from the bar association is reading this, I’m not insulting nor defaming you or anything. This is a review, and you have a lot to fix.

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Indonesians are social media exhibitionists and we can all go to jail for it

Florence Sihombing has rocked the country’s boat with her Path update that allegedly insulted Yogyakarta, the city. As the news report, a number of offended local communities and/or NGOs reported her to the police. This incident has made us social media users buzzing, because let’s admit it, we talk trash on Twitter, Facebook, and Path all the time. I, myself, don’t think the social media part makes much of a difference. When you insult someone and that person takes offense, that person can charge you under the law, regardless of the media platform. But there’s something interesting about Sihombing’s case, which I’ll get to below.

Now, the news report hasn’t really said anything about which law articles specifically that Sihombing is being charged with. My assumption is she got charged with the defamation article in the Indonesian Criminal Code:

Pasal 310

(1) Barangsiapa sengaja menyerang kehormatan atau nama baik seseorang dengan menuduhkan sesuatu hal, yang maksudnya terang supaya hal itu diketahui umum, diancam karena pencemaran dengan pidana penjara paling lama sembilan bulan atau pidana denda paling banyak empat ribu lima ratus rupiah.

Here’s a translation by

Article 310

(1) The person who intentionally harm someone’s honor or reputation by charging him with a certain matter, with the obvious intent to give publicity thereof, shall, being guilty of defamation, be punished by a maximum imprisonment of nine months or a maximum fine of four thousand five hundred* Rupiahs.

The keyword here is seseorang (someone) in “kehormatan atau nama baik seseorang (someone’s honor or reputation)”.

In a criminal trial, we will break down the article above word by word, phrase by phrase in order to prove whether the defendant meets all the conditions/situations in such article. If it is proven that she meets the requirements in the whole sentence, then she shall be proven guilty. Let’s try to break down the first part of the sentence:

Barangsiapa sengaja menyerang kehormatan atau nama baik seseorang dengan menuduhkan sesuatu hal, …
The person who intentionally harm someone’s honor or reputation by charging him with a certain matter, …

Barangsiapa (The person) = Florence Sihombing
sengaja (intentionally) = referring to the her intent, but this part will always be debatable, because in the end, who knows what goes inside someone’s mind?
menyerang kehormatan atau nama baik (harm honor or reputation) = her Path updates
seseorang (someone) = Yogyakarta, the city
dengan menuduhkan sesuatu hal (by charging him with a certain matter) = calling the city poor, stupid, and uncultured

All of the above must be proven. And now my question is, how are you going to prove the seseorang (someone) part?

From my understanding, she called Yogyakarta in its context as a city or its people/residents in general. And in her Path updates, that’s who what Sihombing insulted. Therefore, my big question is how are these ‘local communities’ going to justify themselves representing the whole people of the city, or even the city itself? If indeed she offended the city and the city wanted to fight back, I think Yogyakarta could be represented by its mayor, but even then it’d still be legally questionable, not to mention politically.

Even Yogyakarta governor asked the so-called local communities to take back their charge, but these people refuse on the ground they don’t see a reason to. I still don’t get how they justify themselves taking offense for the whole city when even the governor wants to let it go. The defamation article above can only be processed under the offense complaint (delik aduan), meaning the case will only be processed if someone makes a complaint about it. That also means that the case can be dropped as long as the complainer withdraw her report. Since the particular local communities refuse to withdraw their complaints, there’s a possibility the investigation might continue to trial. And I’m pretty sure Sihombing’s lawyer would attack the legal standing of these local communities.

It’s tricky, but interesting. I’d really like to see how it goes, because if this continues to trial and the legal standing of these local communities go undisputed, there goes all our critics to government in general.

Anyway, please correct me if any of my analysis above is wrong.

*I edited the mistake in the translation.

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Introducing: “The Professionals”

I have a new feature on my blog! And I’m calling it:


It all started when I got a lot of questions regarding career advises on my I tried my best to answer the questions, but I was aware of my limitations due to my particular professional background and experience. So then I thought, hey, I have a lot of friends. Why not ask them to share? And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

In The Professionals, my friends will talk about their various professions, what they do, and what they like as well as dislike about their jobs. With this feature, I hope it can help the fresh graduates in preparing themselves, or even those who want to have a leap of career! All they need is just a little nudge. This feature, The Professionals, will be that nudge.

However, please note that in the end, The Professionals is only one man’s opinion, and there’s also a possibility that she might be biased towards the job she’s describing haha it never hurts to have more references, so don’t be lazy to look for other information too!

The Professionals is open to all kinds of professions, no matter how peculiar it may be. I’ve been asking my friends to contribute and I will publish their writings once a month. However, if you want to contribute, or if you know anyone who wants to or might make a great contribution, please let me know. You can email me here:

And to start this feature, let me tell you about what I do.

Legal Officer for A Plantation Company by Fallissa Putri

Even long before I graduated from law school, I was already involved in natural resource cases. I had an internship in a law firm whose core business was mining and forestry. My graduation thesis was related to forestry, and after I graduated, I worked in a government project related to forestry. It seemed to be only natural to follow the specialization path that I’ve taken, so now I’m working in a palm oil plantation company.

I’m working as a legal officer in this large plantation group. Out of all the plantation concessions we have, I am responsible for those under two out of five regions. This responsibility includes drafting and reviewing daily plantation contracts, and overseeing the land compensation activities in my regions. Other than that, I am also responsible for the corporate legal matters of the group, including dealing with permits (which means you’re going to have to deal with public officers), legal documentation and administration. You may ask what’s the difference between a legal officer in companies and lawyers in law firms. Well, after working here for a while, I can tell you that the only difference is being a legal officer, you only have one ‘client’, which is your company. The rest is pretty much the same except for the intensity.

Back then, I took this job mainly because I was desperate to work after being unemployed for a few months. But I also applied because it was an industry that I understood and the workload was friendly to my extracurricular interests. And I was right! It didn’t take me long to adjust to the then new job and I worked from 8 to 5 (9 to 6 now). With those hours, I have a lot of time for myself and my social life, something that was difficult for me to have when I was still a lawyer in a law firm. My bosses also encourage me to have extracurricular activities, including pursuing further study for my personal and professional development, which is always a plus for me (not all bosses are this supportive), because I get bored easily. I have to keep distracting myself with new stuff, thus I have to make sure I have a job that can accommodate it. So, on the big picture, my job is perfect.

But nothing is perfect. Whatever you do, there’s bound to be things that put you down. I’m not going to lie, but sometimes I wish I’m paid as much as I used to be paid in law firm. It was a sacrifice I had to make in taking this job: a salary below expectation in exchange for more personal time. Working in a company is also not as dynamic as in a law firm, so for people like me, you’re going to get bored a lot. Not to mention the kind of cases you deal with every day is generally the same, so you don’t really grow in terms of knowledge and skills. In the end, it’s all about priorities, and my priority is to not live my life at work. I embrace the many hours I have for my personal satisfaction and I will make something great out of it.

It’s the kind of job that obviously requires a legal degree, so non-legal people, don’t even bother to apply. Sometimes exceptions are made for legal-related diplomas, which is rare, and even then they’ll mostly be doing the administrative stuff. You have to be familiar with contracts, especially in how to draft and execute them. You also have to develop your social and negotiation skills, because those are the two things that will help you in obtaining crucial permits. There isn’t any legal research, not much anyway, because everything is very practical, and even if you need to research, the company will usually consult a lawyer. But your legal documentation must be immaculate, because those documents are the lifeline of your company, so don’t you dare to lose, or worse, scatter them around.

Does it sound difficult? It all depends on the case. Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping like getting through hard cases alive. But don’t you wish for hard cases either, because what kind of employee wishes her company harm? xD If you’d like to know more, email me at or drop a question at my ;)

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