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  • Writer's pictureRiver Valley Student Editorial Club

Teachers’ Day 2023: Teachers’ Favourite Songs, Books, and Movies!

Teachers’ Day 2023: Teachers’ Favourite Songs, Books, and Movies!

By: Xiao Xuan

Class: 23J19

In the ceaseless onslaught of lectures, assignments, and tests, it is easy to forget that our teachers are human, too. Now, I’m sure many must be relieved by the Teachers’ Day holidays (and perhaps the September holidays combo).

While we take this time to catch up on work and studies, find reprieve and that urgently needed sleep, come find out more about our beloved, hardworking teachers! Hopefully, this reporter will do their secretly passionate souls justice, and shine a new light of down-to-earth fun upon them!

And who knows, you might even find out that you and your teachers aren’t so different in artistic tastes after all.

Teachers featured in this article:

  1. Mr Tan Boon Jong

  2. Ms Chitra Jenardhanan

  3. Ms Amanlia Toh

  4. Ms Candida Ho

  5. Mdm Ang Gay Leng

  6. Ms Jael Tan

  7. Mr David Toh

  8. Ms Wee Xinyan

  9. Mr Nazri Bin Eddy Razali

  10. Mr Alvin Lam

  11. Ms Stephanie Chua

  12. Mdm Sim Lea Kheang

Mr. Tan Boon Jong (Chemistry Department)

  • Favourite music group: Khruangbin

Khruangbin 🎸🥁 Image credit: UTR

Khruangbin is an American musical trio known for concocting atmospheric tracks out of many genres such as classic soul, dub, rock, and psychedelia (put simply, a trippy, otherworldly musical aesthetic).

According to Mr Tan, Khruangbin’s “largely instrumental tracks, driven by electric guitar melodies”, always “[remind him] of jaunts on a warm and lazy weekend afternoon. Ideal for a long bus ride.”

  • Favourite movie: 3 Idiots

Movie poster for 3 Idiots. 🍰🎂🧁Credit: IMDb

“I love the Hindi movie 3 Idiots which is a comedy about three friends managing the competitive demands of school, expectations imposed by others and finding their true calling in life. Even though the movie is almost three hours long, I will highly recommend this Bollywood hit.”

  • Favourite book: Man’s Searching for Meaning by Viktor Emil Frankl.

Man’s Searching for Meaning book cover. Credit: Amazon

According to Mr. Tan, “It’s a sombre but riveting account of surviving a Nazi concentration camp. I found the author’s clarity of purpose under those extreme conditions to be deeply humbling, inspiring and uplifting. It is a reminder to all of us that we can all exercise agency and choice when faced with even the most miserable of circumstances.”

Ms. Chitra Jenardhanan (English Department)

  • Favourite music genres: Heavy metal and Rap, specifically those about social commentary! 📣🔥🔥🔥

  • Favourite book: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things book cover. Credit: Penguin Random House Canada

The God of Small Things is a family drama novel revolving around the story of two twins, whose lives and family are impacted by the times they are in—1960s India, during which “Love Laws” were prevalent.

Add this to your book list if you would like to witness circumstances and history, through the eyes of ordinary people with their blazing thoughts and hearts, alongside the exploration of themes such as Love, Madness and Hope.

  • Favourite movie: Knives Out

Knives Out movie poster.🔪🔪🔪 Credit: IMDb

When a movie’s themes include Crime, or when it is a psychological thriller, Ms Chitra will likely love it!

Ms. Amanlia Toh (Economics Department)

  • Favourite song:

Ms. Toh doesn’t have favourite songs; she sings whatever comes to her mind. Interestingly, she also sings nursery rhymes to her dog.

  • Favourite movie: Inception

Inception movie poster.😵‍💫💤 Credit: IMDb

Ms. Toh has watched Inception at least ten times!

“I dream a lot, and remember my dreams every morning when I wake up. I keep a dream journal as well. That is why the concept of dreams is very fascinating to me,” said Ms Toh.

“And to know that you can hack dreams or other people’s dreams — I think it’s something I would like to see or even participate in.”

Then, she jokes mysteriously and conspiratorially, “We’re all in a dream right now.”

Ms. Candida Ho (English Department)

  • Favourite books:

1. A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles

Credit: Goodreads

What is the book about?

Ms Ho: “So it coincided with the Russian Revolution where the aristocrats in Russia were either executed or sent into exile or they were stripped of their powers. This particular fictional character was consigned as a prisoner in a hotel for the rest of his life.

The entire book was based on his life in that hotel. [It was about h]ow he built friendships with the workers in the hotel, the food that he enjoyed, how he had communist friends who visited him and one even left their child with him, and how he grew up with that child, and how that child had to leave the hotel because she had to grow up. So the premise of the story is that he couldn’t leave the hotel. He would be shot [if he did].”

Why does Ms. Ho love the book?

“I love that book because it talks about a very positive character who decided to live on and live well despite a very constricting circumstance. To me, that book was life-affirming. Especially for historical realism and social realism, it’s not hard to find books that are very bleak, that are quite cynical [and] open-ended in a very empty way. So this book was very nuanced, very rich in character development, very rich in descriptions, but most importantly it was just life-affirming. I felt that the author was a really great role model for me.”

2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Credit: AbeBooks

What is the book about?

"The other one is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It’s a very thick book. So the book was supposed to be a biography of him and his family, but interestingly, the story is not about that, it’s about the lives of his neighbours; he and his family were just incidental. They appeared, but the entire story was about his neighbour who had a very 'roller coaster' life."

Why does Ms. Ho love the book?

"—The thing about John Steinbeck, [is that] I think he is a product of his time: he’s a bit of a misogynist. His female characters are either very weak or evil; they fall into certain stereotypes. But his male characters are so rich, so nuanced, so gentle and strong despite hardships. And John Steinbeck himself, he’s a very lyrical writer: when you read aloud the description of the landscape, it just rolls off the tongue. So he is generally a very good writer."

  • Favourite singer: Elton John

When asked to recommend her favourite songs, Ms Ho admitted, “I’m not really a music person. I don’t have a favourite song but I do have a favourite singer, Elton John. I like some of his songs like ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, ‘That’s Why They Call It the Blues’. —Do I sound very old to you now?”

“I don’t know anything you’re talking about,” replied the interviewer, laughing.

  • Favourite movie: The Shawshank Redemption

“It is based on a story by Stephen King. Unlike most of his books which are about horror, it is not about horror. Human horror, yes. Shawshank is the name of a high-security jail. There’s this idea about how some of the prisoners are redeemed in their time in prison. So the idea of redemption, goodness outweighing evil and the triumph of the lowly. And it has an awesome ending. You should watch it.”

Mdm Ang Gay Leng (Chemistry Department)

  • Favourite singer: Jay Chou

  • Favourite (Most-frequented) genre: Non-fiction (Is Non-fiction a genre? 🤔)

“I read mainly non-fiction. Just bought Atomic Habits by James Clear. Hope it is as good as shared in book reviews.”

Ms. Jael Tan (History Department)

  • Favourite genres of shows: Chinese period / fantasy dramas

At the time of the interview. Ms. Tan was in the midst of watching a ‘Xian-Xia’ genre drama called Till The End Of The Moon. It’s available on Netflix!

Show Poster. Credit: IMDb

  • Favourite author: Cecelia Ahern

“I like her books because they’re very interesting: some parts of them can be very cliche, but there are deeper meanings and life lessons to be learned from them, which I think is very nice.”

FYI: Cecelia Ahern is an Irish novelist who writes romance books for young adults. Some of her books have been adapted into films like P.S. I Love You.

Credit: Kobo Books

Mr. David Toh (Geography Department)

  • Favourite song: “Sunrise” by Mt. Desolation

“Sunrise” is a song about remembering hope and passion amidst murky sadness, about healing whatever pain from hardships life has left us with. Give it a listen when you’re feeling down, so that its gentle, soothing tunes can remind you of the light that will soon come!

  • Favourite book: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Credit: Amazon

Never Let Me Go is a beautiful and moving literary novel fusing mystery and love into a critique of human arrogance and indifference towards the alienated and ‘different’ in society.

Ms. Wee Xinyan (English Department)

  • Favourite song: “Mathematics” by Mos Def (Oll Zen remix)

The cover of the album ‘Mathematics’ belongs to. The album is called Black On Both Sides. Credit: Soundcloud

Do not be scared by the title! “Mathematics” by Mos Def is actually a cleverly written rap revealing and criticising society from many angles, such as social immobility, mass communications surveillance, and racism. What’s better is that it’s got some sick beats and insane bars to link it all together into a rap masterpiece!

  • Favourite book: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Front and back cover of the book. Credit: Pinterest

A Wizard of Earthsea is a coming-of-age fantasy novel first published in 1968, and is regarded as a classic in the genre! Its story unfolds around Ged a.k.a. "Sparrowhawk" who has to embark on a treacherous journey and grow both in power and character after tests and trials, to undo a great terror he mistakenly unleashed upon the world. Some readers have commented that what sets this particular book apart from others in its genre is its beautiful, fairytale-like and meaningfully philosophical narration.

Mr. Nazri Bin Eddy Razali (English Department)

  • Song recommendations!

1. "Late Night Request" by The Great Spy Experiment

2. "Sogyeokdong" by IU

  • Favourite books:

1. The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel)

Cover of The Sandman Book One. Credits: Penguin Books Australia

Through hauntingly stunning art, packing endless, brilliant symbolism and framed in purposeful panels, The Sandman is a story about dreams and stories, and how Dream/ Morpheus (the Sandman) learns that sometimes, change is inevitable.

Mr. Nazri: "I absolutely love Neil Gaiman! His works are amazing because they can be read literally (especially his children's books) or they can be unpacked for heaps-worth of literary analysis."

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera


This book is set in Prague in the late 1960s, when the Czech Republic was still called Czechoslovakia and part of the Soviet Union. It is a story about the lives of two couples during/after Prague Spring*, about their struggles against the circumstances, and about love.

Mr. Nazri: "I think love is one of the most complex emotions that we can experience. Milan Kundera does a great job at capturing the infinite moments that are at once fleeting, yet universal and relatable. Good stuff."

*Prague Spring was a period from January to August 1968 characterised by mass protests calling for (partial) economic reforms and democratisation. It came to an abrupt and violent end with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Mr. Alvin Lam (Chinese Department)

  • Favourite song:《我很好骗》(Pinyin: wǒ hěn hǎo piàn) by 动力火车 (Power Station)

Single cover. Credit: Line Music

Mr. Lam accurately joked that the song was “basically an anti-[love] scam theme song”. You can, alternatively, listen to this song by searching its translated name: ‘Love Me True’ by Power Station.

  • Favourite movies:

《无间道》Infernal Affairs (2002);《食神》The God of Cookery (1996); John Wick

Internal Affairs movie poster. Credits: IMDb

A scene in The God of Cookery. Credit: Far East Films

JW4 movie poster. Credit: Fandom

  • Favourite book:《弱水三千》(Pinyin: ruò shuǐ sān qiān) by 梁文道 (Leung Man-tao)

Picture of (the cover of) the book. Credit: Carousell

Ms. Stephanie Chua (English Department)

  • Favourite book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

It’s a 1985 military science fiction novel. Credit: Rakuten Kobo

Ms Chua: “I found it quite a memorable read because of the premise and the twist at the end. I haven’t actually watched the movie adaptation.”

  • Favourite song: 'The First Time I Loved Forever' by Lisa Angelie and Ron Pearlman

“The song that always takes me to another place is ‘The First Time I Loved Forever’ by Lisa Angelie and Ron Pearlman, framed so beautifully by the poem ‘somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond’ by E. E. Cummings.”

Mdm Sim Lea Kheang (Science Department - Biology)

  • Favourite author: Amy Siu-Han Cheung 张小娴

“I don’t really have a favourite book, but I do have a favourite author — 张小娴.”

FYI: Amy Cheung is, according to Wikipedia, “one of Hong Kong’s most popular writers, well known throughout the Chinese-speaking world for her books on love and relationships.”

  • Favourite song: 细水长流 (Pinyin: xì shuǐ cháng liú) by 梁文福 (Liang Wern Fook)

Album cover Credit: Spotify

“细水长流” is a Chinese song about the journey of life and the lasting friendships that accompany us along the way. It is written, composed, and sung by Singaporean artist Liang Wern Fook, who was one of the pioneers in the Xinyao (Singapore Chinese folk songs) movement in the ‘80s and ‘90s.


And that's the end of the article! Did some of the teachers' tastes and recommendations surprise you?

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