(This essay is translated from zh-CN)

Author’s note : On July 1, 2023, I started my first overseas trip from Hong Kong Airport. A very important goal during the trip was to understand English podcasts. Intensive listening to Chinese podcasts over the past few years has had a huge impact on me. I’m curious, what inspiration will the world of English podcasts bring me? I have switched most of my daily information input to English. This series serves as a monthly review of English input and recommends some of my favorite podcasts and texts from the previous month.

Here are my favorite podcasts and texts from November:

1. Podcast: Evening Mist Garden

Tan Twan Eng Special - The Garden of Evening Mists

In 2023, the 51-year-old Malaysian Chinese writer Tan Twan Eng won his third Commonwealth Booker Prize for his third novel. He worked as a lawyer for five years, fulfilling his parents’ expectations of him, and then quit his job to write full-time. At the age of 35, he published his first novel and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His parents were relieved.

This podcast from Malaysia interviews the author and talks about his second novel, “The Garden of Evening Mist”, which was adapted into a movie. This novel tells the story of how during World War II, the Japanese army established a concentration camp in the rainforest whose location was unknown in Malaysia. After World War II, the only survivor of the concentration camp, in order to fulfill her sister’s last wish—to build a Japanese-style garden, commissioned a design for the emperor. The Japanese gardener of the garden became his apprentice. It was a period of civil strife in Malaysia and the British had not yet ended their colonial rule. Forty years later, before the memory disappeared, the protagonist returned to the garden and began to recall the past stories.

The story is interspersed in four languages: English, Cantonese, Malay, and Japanese. The protagonist Yunlin is a Bay Area Chinese who cannot speak Chinese ( Strait Chinese refers to the former British Bay Area colony established in 1826-including Strait Chinese). (Melaka, Singapore, Nanyang Chinese), introduced the historical background and social life of Malaysia at that time through her perspective.

The English accent of the Malaysian and Singaporean podcasts is very standard, close to the British accent. Their chat content contains many fragments of Chinese lifestyle, so it sounds very friendly.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Tai Pudu Village, Sanjiao District, Penang (Picture note: The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Tai Pudu Village, Sanjiao District, Penang was built in 1882. During the civil strife after the Japanese occupation, the British colonial government established fenced villages and restricted the contact between Chinese and Communist rebels. The villagers came and went, and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Christ was abandoned and destroyed in disrepair)

2. Text: Navarre’s View of Happiness


The most important themes in life are health, wealth, and happiness. The last issue recommended Navarre’s view on wealth, and this issue recommends his view on happiness and wealth. This is a 40-minute podcast transcript. Here are some snippets:

  • Money cannot buy happiness, but money can buy freedom and time, which can support you to stay away from things that make you unhappy.
  • Health is the cornerstone of everything. A healthy person has a thousand wishes, but a sick person has only one wish.
  • Individuals seek truth, while collectives seek compromise. Often what society wants you to do is not the best choice for you personally.
  • Pursuing the truth can help you lead to happiness. I often think about whether the social consensus is right and whether it is suitable for individuals, such as “rich people are not happy” or “school is a place for education.” Guilt is society programming you so effectively that you censor yourself. (When I was in college, it took me a long time to overcome the psychological reflex of “feeling guilty if I don’t study.” Now I think about it, this is also an acquired social programming mode)
  • The pursuit of happiness means the pursuit of peace. The pursuit of peace requires getting rid of self-conflict, and self-improvement is a self-conflict in disguise. We even have to let go of the idea of ​​self-improvement, and instead pursue our natural curiosity to see and understand the truth of the goal we want. After understanding, the result of self-improvement will appear naturally.