Favorite Books as Gifts

The other weekend was the first Filipino Book Bloggers meet-up for the year 2011, which was also the first Flips Flipping Pages meet-up for the year, and the first one I attended with them. It’s always fun to spend time with fellow book-lovers discussing books and I liked that we discussed our best and worst reads for 2010. It just goes to show how different everyone’s choices are.

Anyway, there was a book swap after the discussion, and we were advised to bring our best or worst book for swapping with other people. Since my worst book is an electronic copy, I decided to bring a brand new copy of my best book (one of them, anyway — Feed by Mira Grant) so other people can read it. I figure if a blogger gets it, then a book about blogging (and zombies) should be in good hands, right?

I realized then that I’ve been giving books as gifts ever since I can remember. I don’t always receive books as gifts (with the exception of last Christmas and my 18th birthday — bags of books there), but I know that I always go to books whenever I’m giving gifts way back. I think that was before I really knew about the concept of gift certificates (sorry, I was way younger then and I never thought of GCs), and I always found it difficult to get clothes for someone else. If the recipient of the gift isn’t a reader, then I would resolve to getting her* pillows, stuffed toys or candles.

I find it kind of funny that I tend to give specific books as gifts, especially for people who don’t have wish lists. You know how when you spot a copy of one of your favorite books in the store, and for some reason you want to buy another copy even if you already have a copy (or multiple copies of it). It’s like, you want to buy that copy and give it to someone who you know will appreciate the book in the same way as you did. Like you’re saving the book or something. That’s how I feel, anyway. :D It’s almost like getting a pet for someone who you know will take care of that pet the way you would. Did that make sense?

I’ve been keeping count of the books that I loved and gifted/gave away to other people. So far, they are:

  • Feed by Mira Grant – 3 copies bought (1 gift and 2 for give away)
  • Paper Towns by John Green – 2 copies bought (1 gift and 1 for give away)
  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – 1 copy as gift
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – 2 copies bought for give away
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – 1 copy as gift
  • Naermyth by Karen Francisco – 3 copies bought (1 gift, 2 give away)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – 1 copy bought for give away
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – 1 copy as gift
  • Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti – 1 copy as gift

Most of those books are my favorites, or if they aren’t in my list, they’re books with good reviews. I find it funny that I have bought so many copies of Feed and Naermyth and Paper Towns — promoting much?

What about you? Do you have specific books that you give as a default gift? How many copies of your favorite books have you bought as gifts for friends or for giveaway?

* I say “her” because it’s very hard to shop for some guy friends who are not readers. It’s not like you can give them something generic like bathroom faucets or something. Anyone who agree with this, say aye!

The Reread Factor

One of the things I learned about myself and my reading habits in the past year is how critical I’ve become when it comes to books. I used to be very easy to please when it comes to books. When I started my book blog, I hardly rated anything below two stars, and I always feel guilty when I give books low ratings. Now the first month of 2011 is barely over and I’ve already decided not to finish a book and gave my first negative review for the year.

This brings me to something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. You know how sometimes you love a book so much on the first read that you’ve elevated it on your most favorite books list? Then a few years later, you decide to pick the novel up again and reread it, and you realize that it wasn’t as good as it was when you first read it. Has that ever happened to you?

I named a lot of books as my favorites last year, but their reread factor kind of worries me. I wonder if I would still love them again if I reread them a few years later? Some of the books that are my absolute favorites have that re-read factor. They’re the ones I consider as timeless books, the ones I know I will re-read every now and then and emerge loving it still. For the others…I’m not quite sure yet. In a way, I’m afraid to reread some of them because I’m afraid to lose my love for them. I know I will never know until I do so, but I guess I don’t want to lose my initial enchantment over them. Is that weird? Maybe it’s a sign of growing up?

Some books that has passed the reread test for me, off the top of my head, are: This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Fairy Tale Fail and My Imaginary Ex by Mina Esguerra, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (this is a classic, so I think this shouldn’t count?).

What about you? What books have you reread and still loved? Do you have any books that you ended up not liking on a second read?

Filipino Friday: Goals and Resolutions

Filipino FridayI meant to host Filipino Friday last week, but all the hoopla and celebrations for the turn of the year caught up with me and I totally forgot about it. Ooops. Sorry Chachic!

But anyway, here I am! To those unfamiliar, Filipino Friday is a weekly (or sort of weekly) discussion among Filipino Book Bloggers about anything book or book blogging related. I’d like to start off this year’s discussion with something that I am sure everyone did or is still doing now that the new year is upon us: reading goals and resolutions.

I’m fond of setting goals and resolutions, because I believe in the power of setting one. That’s one of the big reasons why I love the new year because it allows people to start with a blank slate and leave whatever they don’t want to bring into the new year from the past there. I am also slightly nuts about setting challenges for myself, so I am always open to joining challenges that I like, or even some challenges that I am not sure I like them just so I can try to go outside of my comfort zone. So here’s this week’s question: what are your 2011 goals and resolutions as a reader and (Filipino) book blogger? Do you plan to read more books from last year, or do you plan to concentrate on a certain genre only? Do you want to up your stats, your comments or network more? Are you joining reading challenges or are you winging it? Do you plan to buy more books or less? Do you have a reading order ready for the books you will read for January, or even in the next months or the whole year?

I’ve already posted about joining the TwentyEleven challenge, which I hope helps me try new books and genres that I haven’t read before. I’ve also decided not to put a number on the books I plan to read this year after I’ve reached 100 last year — although I wouldn’t mind reading more than the number of books I read last year. I have set other goals for myself, though:

  • Read 5 classics – I’ve been setting a 10 book goal in a year, but I know that I will never reach that number because I read classics too slow. I read 3 last year (5 if you count the C.S. Lewis books, which I am not sure are classics), so this year, I’m aiming for a lower number from 10, but higher from the total I read last year. :)
  • Read at least 20 books by Filipinos – I really enjoyed Project 20:10 last year, and even if I didn’t reach the target 20 books, I’m happy that I tried. I have discovered many good Filipino fiction last year because of that challenge. I want to do that again this year.

As for resolutions? I haven’t set a final list, but here’s what I have from the top of my head:

  • I will embrace my Mt. TBR. No more stressing over the number of books I have or will have. Sure, I still think I have too many, but I will not stress over it anymore. I figure, as long as I can read and love reading, I will not stop getting books, so why fight it?
  • However, I will avoid impulse buys. I am very bad at impulse buys. Book buying is my kind of retail therapy, so whenever I am sad or angry or emotional, I tend to get more books. :P I will try to stop doing that…by doing what, I am not sure yet. But I will avoid impulse buys as much as possible.
  • I will allow myself not to finish books. Best example is the book I posted about yesterday. However, I will only probably do this for review copies, if I really cannot stand it anymore. I will still attempt to finish the books I bought with my own money, no matter how much I end up disliking it. I have very high tolerance, anyway. :P And while review copies are nice (and free), I will not force myself to love the book or finish it if I have lost interest.
  • I will keep on writing honest reviews and find ways to improve my reviewing. I know I tend to ramble on my reviews, so this year I’m going to work on that. :P
  • I will clean out my shelves twice this year. No, not dusting or re-arranging (although I would do that), but I will weed out books that I know will find better homes somewhere. If I know I won’t re-read it anymore, then I can give them to someone who will love it more than I do.
  • I will attend more bookish events this year. I think this is self-explanatory? :)

So what about you? What are your reading/blogging goals and resolutions this 2011? I know some of you have already posted your goals and challenges in your blogs, so feel free to leave a link for them below and I can do a round up here, too. :)

I’m sure most of us agree that 2010 has been a good year for us Filipino Book Bloggers, so here’s to hoping 2011 will be an even better year. :) *cheers*

Deciding when it’s over

According to my reading history, I realized that I rarely do not finish books. There are a few books that I remember not finishing and I can count them on one hand. Right now I don’t have any standards on when I decide not to finish reading a book, because I feel like I should always finish reading one. I don’t know why, but I just feel like I owe the book that much to finish it up to the last page even if I was already having a hard time reading it.

Image from Pittsburg Photographer Blog

Of course that means that it would take me time to finish reading a book. Perhaps I may even take a break from reading it and resume it at some point, but I still try to finish before passing judgment. I think I started doing that after I finished reading How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo. Halfway through the book and I hated all the characters. I was more than ready to give up reading it, but I pushed myself to read up until the end. While I still didn’t end up liking the book overall, I thought the last two pages kind of saved it.

I guess what I really want to say is there are some books that take the first page to be really interesting while others get better as you move on. Some have a shaky start but then become deliciously amazing at the end. Of course, the reverse can be true, too. I know some people who have mountains and mountains of TBR books who can decide not to finish reading the book because it’s a waste of their time, and that’s pretty understandable. My TBR is still pretty manageable, so right now I’m willing to give all the books I’m reading a chance and read up until the end because I hope the book can still prove my initial impressions wrong.

So my question is: when do you decide when it’s over? When do you decide that you don’t want to finish the book anymore because it’s not worth it? How many chapters or pages do you allow the book to woo you and reel you in? First 100, 150? First 5? Does it depend on the thickness of the book? Or are you like me who give the book up until the end to prove itself?

The Best Friend and The Other Guy

I finished reading The Iron King by Julie Kagawa last night and found myself surprised at how I enjoyed reading a paranormal romance novel again. I’ve mentioned it many times already that I have started avoiding paranormal romances and some contemporary romances because they always seemed to have the same thing: girl meets guy with a secret, they fall for each other, but girl has a guy friend who is also in love with her and is always the safer choice. Or roles can be switched too — guy meets girl, guy and girl fall in love but there’s a girl best friend who knows the guy better. And yes, I understand, there are other variations, so I’ll let you guys fill that in.

Photo by iann7 – from deviantArt

A bit of a spoiler for The Iron King — the same kind of love triangle is also there, although it wasn’t that pronounced yet in this book. I have a feeling it will be expounded on the next book, though, and right now I already feel sad for one of the guys because I am sure who the heroine would end up with. I realized then as I was reading that for fictional love triangles, I always seem to side with the best friend. I never really declare my “teams”, but I always find myself more sympathetic to the plight of the best friend. Case in point (slight spoiler warning for the books listed):

  • Twilight – I liked Edward in the first book, but when Jacob Black made his presence known, I liked him more. In the end, though, I felt that Bella did not deserve Jacob, so I wasn’t really rooting for Jacob to win in the love triangle but to be able to move on. Still, on the overall love triangle arc, I liked Jacob more.
  • The Hunger Games – I have no problems with Peeta, but I liked Gale more. Sure, Peeta is the golden boy and I liked him as he was, but I honestly thought Katniss and Gale was the better pair. But as I always say whenever people asked me which team I was for in The Hunger Games, I never made a real choice, except that I am just partial to the best friend. Come to think of it, that just meant I’m Team Gale. :P
  • Song of the Lioness QuartetAngela asked me about who I wanted for Alanna while I was reading the books in the series, and I said I was for Jonathan, who ended up as Alanna’s best friend. I liked who she ended up in the end of the quartet, even if I liked Jon more than who she chose.
  • The Mortal Instruments – A bit of difference for this one, since I actually liked Jace for Clary. I did feel a bit triumphant for Simon when Clary paid more attention to him that is not platonic. Although I didn’t root for their love team as much, I don’t think I would have minded if Clary ended up with Simon.
  • Privileged (TV Show) -While my friends and I agree that Will (played by gorgeous Brian Hallisay) is extremely hot, I felt myself gravitating towards Charlie, Megan’s best friend, who has always been in love with her. And true enough, I was heartbroken when Megan told him that he’s just a friend. :( (Note: the book that the TV series based on has no love triangle, so I had to specify the TV show)

And finally, The Iron Fey. Like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen in The Iron Daughter since I haven’t read it yet, but I have a feeling that the love triangle will be explored more here. And I already feel bad for the best friend.

I don’t really know why I favor the best friend in the fictional love triangles I read/watch, except maybe because I am kind of sympathetic to the best friend plight. I can’t say I have been in an almost similar situation before (maybe, but since I am a girl, I doubt it’s as painful as the ones I have read). Or maybe it’s just because I tend to gravitate to the underdog because I always hope they’d win somehow? Or maybe it’s just because I always thought that a boyfriend who is your also your best friend is a really good thing?

But then again, what do I know about that? I’ve never been in a relationship before. *shrug*

What about you? Do you “fall” for the other guy, or do you find yourself siding with the best friend?

Edited to add: I just realized there was one love triangle that defied my “best friend” example – Brigan, Fire and Archer in Kristin Cashore’s Fire! Although I thought Archer was a pretty sweet and charming guy, I was for Brigan and Fire all the way. :P