If You Feel Too Much

If You Feel Too Much coverIf You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkowski
Publisher: Tarcher
Number of pages: 208
My copy: ebook, advance readers’ copy from Netgalley/Publisher

In 2006 Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” about helping a friend through her struggle with drug addiction, depression, and self-injury. The piece was so hauntingly beautiful that it quickly went viral, giving birth to a non-profit organization of the same name. Nine years later, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide prevention and a source of hope, encouragement, and resources for people worldwide.

Jamie’s words have been shared hundreds of thousands of times online. They’ve shown up on T-shirts and posters and even tattoos. Now, for the first time, Jamie’s writing is available in the form of a book. If You Feel Too Much is a celebration of hope, wonder, and what it means to be human. From personal stories of struggling on days most people celebrate to offering words of strength and encouragement in moments of loss, the essays in this book invite readers to believe that it’s okay to admit to pain and it’s okay to ask for help. If You Feel Too Much is an important book from one of this generation’s most important voices.

I first heard about Jamie Tworkowski from my friend Isa, after she shared with me this quote:

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that i don’t like love. i love love – i think it’s the best thing that happens on the planet. It’s the biggest dream inside me. But i bought a lie somewhere along the way. i bought the lie that says i’m not alive if i’m not in love. i bought the lie that says if i love someone but then they stop loving me or they start loving someone else, then i must have no value or power or worth. i bought the lie that says if i’m not in love, then i’m as good as dead.

I had no idea who he was until then, until I found out that he is the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), “…an American non-profit organization that aims to to present hope for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide while also investing directly into treatment and recovery.”1 I found out about TWLOHA back in college, I think, because some of my favorite bands (Switchfoot, Anberlin, Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, etc) support the organization. That’s the most that I knew about Jamie and TWLOHA, and I was vaguely aware that there was a book coming out. When I received an email from the publicist asking if I wanted to review the book, I immediately said yes because if most of the book contained nuggets of wisdom like that quote that Isa shared to me last time, then I definitely want to read this book.

If You Feel Too Much is, at its core, a collection of Jamie Tworkowski’s blog entries through the years. The topics range from work, family, friendships, romance, love, addiction, depression, self-injury, and brokenness. That’s a lot to digest, but since these came from blog entries, they’re really easy to read. If you’re reading this as a memoir with a chronology of events, you might get a bit disappointed because some of the chapters feel a little bit disjointed, and sometimes some of them seemed to carry the same thought. Some of them may even be seem too short, but that’s easy to overlook because the everything here is full of heart. More than being readable, this book is super relatable. It doesn’t matter if the context of the entry is different – there’s some sort of universal truth that makes the reader connect to the things you read in this book.

Jamie’s thoughts focused a lot on reaching out, on being a friend, on opening up to people and offering love. Inversely, he also talked about how if we don’t have the strength to reach out and to offer love, then it’s okay. We don’t have to be strong all the time — sometimes, we need to be on the receiving end, too. If You Feel Too Much does not just tell its readers that we are not alone, but more importantly, we all have a part to play in this life. As Sierra De Mulder (who was mentioned in the book, too) wrote: your voice is someone’s favorite voice, your face is someone’s favorite face. 

If You Feel Too Much is all about the pain and beauty and loss and hope that makes up our being human. If you feel too much, too, then this is the book for you. Read it all in one sitting, or read it bit by bit – if only to remind yourself of the truths that we often forget about ourselves.

If you feel too much, don’t go.

You are not alone in these places.

Other people feel how you feel.

You are more than just your pain. You are more than wounds, more than drugs, more than death and silence.

There is still some time to be surprised.

There is still some time to ask for help.

There is still some time to start again.

There is still some time for love to find you.

It’s not too late.

You’re not alone.

Rating: 

Number of dog-eared pages: 42

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Your heart is writing a poem on the world and it’s being turned into a thousand songs.

That guy with tears in his eyes and ghosts in his heart. He loved her, and you could see it. You could see it and you told him it wasn’t his to carry. You told him about grace, and you told him about the song. And you believed it. You were certain of it. So if it’s true for him, isn’t it also true for you?
Wake up. You’re alive.

And that diamond ring. I know you think about it a lot. That ring does not define you. It never did. Then or now. You can wear it around your neck. You can throw it in the sea. It doesn’t matter. It’s not your name. You are free.

Love is a thousand things but at the center is a choice. It is a choice to love people. Left to myself, I get quiet and bitter and critical. I get angry. I feel sorry for myself. It is a choice to love people. It is a choice to be kind. It is a choice to be patient, to be honest, to live with grace. I would like to start making better choices.

If you do some losing or you walk with someone in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. It is a middle finger to the darkness.

If you love somebody, tell them. If there is conflict, let it go and fight instead for peace. Break the numb false silence and break the distance too. Laugh and cry and apologize and start again. This life is short and fragile but friendship is among the greatest miracles.

More than anything, my wish for you is this: that when hour awful darkest days come, you will know you’re not alone. Pain will tell you to keep quiet, but that’s a lie. Life is fragile and we all break in different ways. I hope you know you can be honest. I hope you know you can ask for help. Did you catch that? It is absolutely positively okay to ask for help. It simply means you’re human.

About the Author:
Jamie Tworkowski, credit Jonathan FrazierJamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and thoughts of suicide. TWLOHA has one of the largest online audiences of any non-profit, and Jamie has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, CBS’s Sunday Morning, andRolling Stone magazine, among others. He is the only nonmusician to win an MTVU Woodie Award. Jamie speaks frequently, telling the TWLOHA story and encouraging audiences at universities, concerts, and music festivals. A proud uncle, Jamie lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida, and loves surfing, music, and basketball.

Pre-order/order the book here!

  1. Source: Wikipedia []

Buqo YA 4: Heart Choices Blog Tour – Guest post from Fay Sebastian

So let me take a step back here. This is the fourth blog tour for this, and there are 5 bundles, and in each bundle, there are 6 stories. That’s 30 new YA romances by Filipino authors, friends. That’s a lot. Now when will I have time to read them all is another thing, so now instead of blabbing about that, let me welcome one of the authors in the 4th Buqo YA bundle over to the blog. Here’s Fay Sebastian, author of Waiting for Whatever, talking about her writing playlist. :)

buqo YA 4 banner

 

Hello! I’m so excited to share my playlist while writing my #buqoYA story, Waiting for WhateverWaiting for Whatever is about Denise, who was waiting for true love since the time when she first experienced heartbreak. Denise soon learns that she already met her true love, but is surprised to find out that he’s actually someone who broke her heart before.

THE SONGS AND WHEN TO LISTEN TO ‘EM

Waiting for Whatever has three POV’s: Denise’s, Seth’s and Robin’s. However, the POVs don’t follow a specific order (e.g. Denise-Seth-Robin) and they were arranged in a way that I felt most appropriate for the story.

While writing this story, I needed all the feels that I can get. So I added a song even if I used it to get feels for just one paragraph.

Someday by Nina

Denise’s song for every guy who broke her heart. [Listen to this every time there’s a heartbreak]

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It Might Be You by Stephen Bishop

Denise’s theme song for Seth. You know, before he broke her heart and when things are still okay. [Listen to this every time you find yourself rooting for Seth and Denise]

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Continue Reading →

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

colorlessColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Knopf
Number of pages: 386
My copy: hardbound, borrowed from Ranee

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel– a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan–from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami.

Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

I’ve been wanting to read a Haruki Murakami novel for the longest time, but I can never choose which book to read. Everyone I ask seemed to have too many different recommendations, and some of them even hesitate because they know that there were some things in Murakami’s books that aren’t really my cup of tea. Then someone recommended Murakami’s latest book (at least, at that time) then, because I liked collecting train maps. But of course I didn’t get a copy, until I borrowed a copy from a friend.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (which I will call Colorless Tsukuru from here on out) is about Tsukuru Tazaki and his four friends – or at least, the story of their friendship, and how they just stopped wanting to be his friend. His friends’ abandonment hurt him deeply, and he carried this all the way into his adult life. Then he meets and dates Sarah, who forces him to confront his past for his own peace of mind.

Colorless Tsukuru is a surprisingly easy read. The prose was fluid, and it had some sort of dreamlike quality to it. There was a time when I stopped reading for a long time, but it wasn’t because I found it boring – it was just plain busy-ness. But when I picked it up again, I read through it so quickly and found myself so invested in Tsukuru Tazaki that I rooted for him.

There’s a lot about Colorless Tsukuru that resonated with me, and made me feel strangely sentimental. It’s not just his fascination with trains that got me — I like train maps and riding trains, but not necessarily how trains work — but more of Tsukuru’s friendships and how he lost them. I think that was what saddened me the most, how there were some things that you just couldn’t bring back, and the hard choices that people make for the sake of friendship. There’s a lot of sadness and regret here, and when the reason why all that happened was finally revealed, I was even more saddened to realize that it was an even harder situation. As expected, closure isn’t really as clean as we all wished it would be.

There’s something about being young and having friends and witnessing the changes that happen to all the people in the group that makes one a little nostalgic, yeah? But if anything, it made me think of my own friendships, and I can’t help but utter a little prayer that what happened to Tsukuru and his friends won’t happen to my own friendships.

I really enjoyed my first Murakami, and I’m glad that this was the first one. The book lingered with me even after I read it, and sometimes I still sigh a little when I think of Tsukuru Tazaki. I’m still undecided if  I will start working on reading Murakami’s other books – maybe I will, someday. But now, let me just savor the feeling and the memories of this book.

We truly believed in something back then, and we were the kind of people capable of believing something – with all our hearts. And that kind of hope will never simply vanish.

Rating: 

Number of (imaginary) dog-eared pages: 17

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Still, he had a constant nagging fear that someday he would fall away from this intimate community, or be forced out and left on his own. Anxiety raised its head, like a jagged, ominous rock exposed by the receding tide, the fear that he would be separated from the group and end up entirely alone.

You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them. If nothing else, you need to remember that. You can’t erase history, or change it. It would be like destroying yourself.

Unless you take the leap, you can’t prove it. And once you actually make the leap, there’s no need to prove it anymore. There’s no middle ground. You either take the leap, or you don’t. One or the other.

If something is important enough, a little mistake isn’t going to ruin it all, or make it vanish. It might not be perfect, but the first step is actually building the station. Right? Otherwise trains won’t stop there. And you can’t meet the person who means so much to you. If you find some defect, you can adjust later, as needed. First things first. Build the station. A special station just for her. The kind of station where trains want to stop, even if they have no reason to do so. Imagine that kind of station, and give it actual color and shape. Write your name on the foundation with a nail, and breathe life into it. I know you have the power to do that. Don’t forget – you’re the one who swam across the freezing sea at night.

You don’t lack anything. Be confident and be bold. That’s all you need. Never let fear or stupid pride make you lose someone who’s precious to you.

Buqo YA 3: Finding Fairytales Blog Tour

buqoYA-3Buqo YA 3: Finding Fairytales
Publisher: Buqo

We all want the happy ending, the dream come true. But what if it doesn’t happen? How far would you go to get that “ever after?” Would you change who you are? Would you swallow your pride? Is the story really going to be as perfect as you think? Follow the path of these characters and see where they lead.

Stories in the bundle:

  • Fall for Grace by Anne Plaza
  • Just the Way You Are by Kat Sales
  • Love In the Time of Viral Videos by R. Linea
  • The Path of Us by Cassandra Javier
  • The First Time They Met by Ana Valenzuela
  • When Cocoy Became Kikay by C.P. Santi

It’s another blog tour week for #buqoYA! Can I tell you something not-so-secret? I really like the title of this bundle. It must be the fairy tale fan in me, or the romantic, because whenever someone says “fairy tales,” I think of happily ever afters. And those are really fun to read, yes?

So for this stop, I shall share two excerpts from the stories in this bundle. I have a copy of this bundle waiting in my phone, and from the excerpts, I cannot wait to settle down and read them. :) Enjoy!

The Path of Us by Cassandra Javier

“I’m sorry, okay? But Clara, you’ll do great. You’ll do amazing things because that’s who you are. You’ll manage out there because this is what you’ve always wanted, right?”

He went on, “And you know what’s even better?”

She looked at him and waited for what he had to say next.

“You’ll finally be able to get away with Pink or Purple streaks on your hair or whatever.”

She found herself laughing despite of herself. “Without you ratting me out?”

It depends.” He quipped, smiling. “I might see you in college.”

“Oh god no.”

They laughed. “See? You look so much better when you smile.”

“I still hate you.”

He laughed. “If you say so.”

She didn’t know what came to her mind right at that moment but she found herself inching towards him. In a span of seconds, she was planting a kiss on his lips. It didn’t last long—just a few seconds or so, and she wanted to bask in that moment, feel the butterflies in her stomach, the warmth of the air, the romance that the light of the fireflies gave, but she remembered that a) she had a boyfriend, and b) she hated Andrew—this shouldn’t be happening.

“Clara—“

“I’m sorry.” She said. “I shouldn’t have—“

“No.”

Please.” She said with finality. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.”

She then ran away, leaving him and High School behind.

About the author: Cassandra Javier
Cass is a cat lady who graduated with a degree in Broadcasting and has worked as a copywriter, a researcher in an IT company, a call center agent and was even a trainee for a time in a television network. She writes articles for a living. When not writing articles, she writes novels, fanfiction, short stories and whatever she may think of. She loves TV series, movies, music, and is a very big bookworm. She’s also addicted to butterflies, faeries and Ice Cream.

When Cocoy Became Kikay by C.P. Santi

“Since when did you start having a lablab, Coy?” Dags lifted a brow.

So much for keeping secrets. “So I like someone. Big deal.”

“Is . . . is it a guy or a girl?” Paulo asked tentatively.

I turned incredulous eyes toward him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Dude, whichever way you roll . . .” Dags shrugged.

Oh, c’mon. True, I was a T-shirt-and-jeans kind of girl and I hung out with guys, but that didn’t automatically translate to such gender assumptions. Sure, I loathed boy bands. And I loved basketball, camping, and shooting more than the average girl should. Living with my dad hadn’t exactly encouraged girly pursuits. But still.

I sighed. “Dude, if I were gay, I’d tell you. But I’m not.”

“So, who is it? You have to tell us,” Paulo protested. He stood to tower over me, arms crossed over his chest.

“Aw, Coy, aren’t we friends?” Dags cajoled as he strummed the first notes of “Maalaala Mo Kaya.

I sighed. Paulo, Dags, Joel, and I had been friends for years. The four of us were the only ones crazy enough to take up a dare issued by our neighborhood playmates—to see if a manananggal indeed left the lower part of its body at the abandoned Siangco house on Lilac Street.

Over the years, our friendship had been further cemented by bruises and scraped knees, basketball games, camping trips, fish balls, turon, and buko pandan royale, day-long village-hopping bicycle trips, and innumerable fries and Coke floats.

I never kept secrets from them. Usually.

“So who is it?” Paulo asked again.

Fine. I cleared my throat. “It’s . . . it’s Jaime.”

I counted five seconds of absolute silence.

Dags frowned. “Jaime?”

“Jaime Arguelles?” Paulo bent over, laughing. “Cocoy, you are so predictable!”

About the author: C.P. Santi

C.P. Santi is a Filipina author based in Tokyo, Japan. She is a wife to an engineer/musician/jokester and a full-time mom to two energetic boys. She loves cooking and baking, and enjoys feeding people, gorging on chocolate, watching J-doramas, belting it out in the karaoke box, and running around the house playing tickle tag. She also loves dreaming up stories about the people she meets.

In another life, she is also an architect and academic.

Her first book, Be Careful What You Wish For, is a contemporary romance based in Tokyo.

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High Fidelity

High Fidelity by Nick HornbyHigh Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Number of pages: 323
My copy: paperback, bought from D’s Books in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films (Reservoir Dogs…); top five Elvis Costello songs (Alison…); top five episodes of Cheers (the one where Woody sang his stupid song to Kelly…). Rob tries dating a singer whose rendition of Baby, I Love Your Way makes him cry. But maybe it’s just that he’s always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think (awful as it sounds) that life as an episode of thirtysomething, with all the kids and marriages and barbecues and k.d. lang CD’s that this implies, might not be so bad.

I’ve been wanting to read Nick Hornby books for a long time, but I never found a reason to pick any of them up. Sure, he was on my radar, but every time I’d be in the bookstore to get a new book, I just don’t stop by to check his books. Maybe it’s because I have a bias for female contemporary (romance) authors, or you know, I just never had a reason to, until now.

So we discussed this book last April in the book club. I started reading this as soon as I finished the previous book, and when my friends started finishing the book ahead of time, I wondered if I was having a hard time reading it because I was busy, or because I was just disinterested.

Don’t get me wrong – High Fidelity was very entertaining, and I thought Rob was a bit of an adorable music dork who was just starting to group. I liked the setting, and while I wasn’t super enamored with his friends, I thought they provided a pretty fun cast of characters. The song references weren’t exactly my cup of tea, but somehow all of them made me imagine this in a movie (even if I didn’t actually go and watch the movie version of this book).

But at the end of it all, I felt pretty apathetic over Rob. Perhaps it was his whining that got to me, which I tried to understand because I knew I also did that (and sometimes I still do that). Maybe it’s because of how he treated Laura, except Laura wasn’t so great either. I wish I can say that I couldn’t relate to him, but I have had my share of disappointments in romance – perhaps not like Rob’s, but don’t all romantic failures have some kind of common vein in them? I didn’t exactly dislike Rob like some of my other friends did, but I didn’t like him so much, either. I had no strong opinions about him (or his story, for that matter), which kind of made me pretty much apathetic to the book.

The ending was okay, and okay, I liked how there was that some sort of turnaround there for everyone. But I think that’s the extent of care I could give to this. Maybe I should watch the movie version of this for better appreciation? I would try to read another Nick Hornby book, but perhaps not anytime soon, and I would probably only do it if I was given a more compelling reason. Don’t take all of my words, though. I think it just wasn’t for me, and like Rob’s other relationships, I think that’s okay.

The best part of the book, IMHO, was the discussion. My adopted little brother did an excellent job with the discussion, and I actually bought a faux leather jacket to follow his whims as the moderator. ;)

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

…sentimental music has this great way of taking you back somewhere at the same time that it takes you forward, so you feel nostalgic and hopeful all at the same time. (p. 63)

…he’s worried about how his life is turning out, and he’s lonely, and lonely people are the bitterest of them all. (p. 151)

Rating: 

Other reviews:
marginalia
It’s a Wonderful Book World