Required Reading: May 2014 + April Recap

Why is it already May? Why is it already the fifth month of the year? Why.

April was interesting, because there were so many holidays and I had a lot of reading done. I actually spent a lot of quality time with Hannah the Kindle that I felt like my print books were all screaming out at me to read them, read them! But fear not, I did make a dent in my print TBR. (Of course, I didn’t blog that much again, but why are we even surprised about that?)

Here are the books I finished for April:

  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr (3/5) – Mystery, murder, and psychology. This reminds me of Smaller and Smaller Circles by FH Batacan, but set in historical New York. It was fun, but after some time I got a little impatient to get to the end. I love the psychology there, though. It reminded me of those days when I wanted to study Psych in college. Also reminded me of Criminal Minds. :D
  • The Best Man by Kristan Higgins (4/5) – Love love love Kristan Higgins. I enjoyed this one so much. :D
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (4/5) – So much beautiful writing, but quite sad. But really so beautiful.
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5) – I picked this randomly on my shelf and finished it within three days. I was surprised at how readable this is, and how much I loved the Aglionby boys and Blue. I liked this so much that I immediately started reading the next one.
  • The Light of Faith (Lumen Fidei) by Pope Francis (5/5) – Read this during the Holy Week, and I loved it. Simple language, deep stuff, and a lot of light. This made me want to read all the previous encyclicals by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope St. John Paul II. :)
  • Blast From Two Pasts by Kristel Villar (3/5) – #romanceclass’s latest! I read this in a day and enjoyed the light romance between Cara and Lucas. The fulfillment of childhood crushes, hihi.
  • The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins (3/5) – My second Kristan Higgins in a month, and the second in the Blue Heron series (first book being The Best Man). I liked this, except not so much as the first book, or the other Higgins books I read. I don’t know, I just didn’t feel this as much as I did the others. Too bad, because the lead interest is British.
  • If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (2/5) – Our book club’s book of the month, and it was an interesting read. And confusing, too, because by the middle of it, I was tempted to trash it. Funny how I finished reading it about ten minutes into the discussion. Haha. The discussion proper was fun, though. :D

See, that’s 8 books. That’s a lot. I am currently 12 books ahead of my reading goal this year, and I’m tempted to up it to 75 again, but I realized that if I do that, I will probably slow down and try to catch up with the rest by the end of the year. So…no. Maybe I’ll go reach 52 first. :D

Required Reading: May 2014

For this month, I realized that I might have made a mistake with some reading plans. I called for a buddy read for a classic, forgetting that our book of the month for May is a difficult book. But oh well. No turning back, I guess. To counter that, I picked two YA titles off my shelf, just so I won’t get lost in the stream of consciousness in one of the books I will be reading. :D

That is, you know, if I don’t become terribly busy with other life stuff this month.

rr-may2014

  • Something new and borrowed: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – borrowed from Kai. She had a WTF moment after reading this, and I told her that it wasn’t surprising because that’s E. Lockhart, and her books are really smart. And also because of her WTF moment, I borrowed the book. :D
  • Something old and bought: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston I bought this book on a whim in 2010. That’s four years ago. It’s been on my shelf since then, and I wanted to read something that I bought from years ago, and this jumped out at me.
  • Something even older, and free: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – I said I’d read an Austen every year, but I didn’t read any last year, so now I’m picking it up again. This is a buddy read with some book club friends, which we started before April ended. I am surprised at how readable this is — see how far along I am in the dots? I wonder if this is really just more readable, or maybe I’ve adjusted with reading Austen? But anyway, I like this so far, and I can’t wait to read more. :)
  • Something even older, and free (also, difficult): To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf – Well several lists said this is a difficult book. Our book club’s book of the month, and I have no idea how I will go about in reading this. But I will try, and if/when I finish this, I will consider it as 2014’s major reading achievement. ;)

There you go. I have a trip coming up this month, and possible job changes so I won’t pressure myself to read all this (except maybe To The Lighthouse). Then again, my upcoming trip has long bus rides there, so yeah, more reading time (as long as I don’t fall asleep).

Oh, and April is also our book club’s 4th year of existence. We started the month with a (wickedly fun — although some might say it’s just wicked :D) April Fools’ Joke, and ended it with a discussion + Amazing Race. Fun times. :)

#TFGat4 (Photo from Ella)

#TFGat4 (Photo from Ella)

See those lovelies? I missed them a lot. :)

Required Reading: February 2014 + January Recap

Hello, and happy February! How was your January? I hope it was filled with joy and lots of good books. :)

Before I go to the books I read in January, and the books I will read for February, let me talk about some things first. You know, for a change, to shake things up. :D

First off: the Bloggy Birthday Giveaway Winner!

I meant to announce this earlier, but life and work got in the way. Eeps, sorry about that! But thank you to everyone who greeted and left recommendations in my blog’s birthday post. You just made my wish list longer! :) Here are the recommendations:

  • From Goldie: I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman, Airport by Arthur Hailey, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella, and The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • From Maria: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
  • From Louize: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • From Bennard: Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
  • From Monique: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • From Lynai: Hinds’ Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard
  • From Tin: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • From Chris: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • From Kat: The Devil and Miss Prym by Paolo Coelho

Thanks so much for the recommendations! :) I will find a way to read all of sometime (probably not this year, but I will find a way :P). Thank you so much for the well-wishes for the blog, too.

And now the winner, thanks to random.org:

Chris

Yay, congrats, Chris! I will send you an email about this soon (and figure out what will go in the package :D).

Second: First Book Club Discussion for 2014 + Book Club Feature

Our book club had our first discussion for the year last January 18. We talked about The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and we dared each other to read books. It was a fun afternoon, as always, except that my immune system gave in the middle of the discussion, so I started to get sick by the end of it. Massive headache, followed by my voice going away, perhaps as a sign not to speak! ^^;

TFG's F2F25 - Photo c/o Joy

TFG’s F2F25 – Photo c/o Joy

Thanks to everyone who attended, and thanks to The Appraisery in Cubao X for the venue! :)

Speaking of the book club, we were featured in Wanderrgirl! :)

TFG at Wanderrgirl

TFG at Wanderrgirl (And that photo there is so family-ish)

My friend Isa asked if I could write about the book club for Wanderrgirl last December, so of course I said yes. :) It was an absolute surprise to see it posted yesterday. Click here to read the entire post (and yes, I may have gone a bit sappy there :’) )!

Third: January Required Reading Recap

I did say that I read more in January, and true enough, I finished 8 books. 10, if you count the rereads. Of course, two of them were pretty short, but still. :) I was quite surprised that I finished two nonfiction books, too. And wrote a bit more reviews than I did in the past months. :D

  • History in English Words by Owen Barfield (3/5) – My first Barfield was an interesting reading experience. I promised I’d write a review, so I’ll save all other thoughts for that. :)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (5/5) – just as lovely as the first time.
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown (4/5) – So, so powerful. This made me laugh, nod, and cry at so many parts.
  • The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (4/5) – I really missed reading contemporary YA, and I’m so glad I had Sara Zarr to fall back on. Really liked this one. :)
  • Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (3/5) – A fun romp back into Kate Daniels’ world. :)

I’ve managed to get ahead with my quantity reading goal, so I can sort of rest easy for a while. I think. :D

Fourth: February Required Reading

February 2014 Required Reading

And now we go to my February reading list! I used to always go for the love theme for February, but this year I sort of decided not to go too much into it. Oh, there’s still love in some of the books I will read, but I won’t go all sappy and read too many romance novels this time around. Like I said, just to shake things up a little. :)

feb2014books

  • The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson – I’ve tried to read this before in previous challenges but I never picked it up because I lagged behind from the other books. Oops. :D
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver – Our book club is reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Love this month, but since I’ve already read that, I thought of picking up this book instead.
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – And there’s my “love” book for February. I’ve heard rave reviews about this book from book club friends, so I’m pretty sure I will be in for a treat.

And there you go. This is quite a long post! I hope you all have a delightful, love-filled February. :)

Happy 3, TFG, Part 1: Outreach Activity

I meant to write about this activity sooner, but as always, I wasn’t able to because I have too many things to do after this event happened. It’s kind of good that I got stuck in a reading rut now, so I have some time to blog. But since I don’t feel like writing any reviews just yet, I decided to go back to my recap of this because I want to remember this event, too.

So last April, our book club, The Filipino Group on Goodreads (GR-TFG) celebrated its third year of existence.1 In the past years, we had an extra meet-up time for the anniversary, but this year we decided to do it a little differently because we had too many activities planned and too little time. We decided to move our book club’s outreach activity from February to April, so we’d have more time to prepare and because anniversaries are the best time to give back to the community, right?

This year, our group decided to adopt another community and help build their library. We wanted to focus on teens, and we wanted to share with them our passion for reading by providing them books and spending a day with them. We decided to team up with Kaibigan Ermita Outreach Foundation (KEOF). KEOF is an independent, non-profit NGO that works on taking care of and the development in the urban poor areas in Manila. They have various communities all over Manila, and last April 20, our book club had the chance to meet teens from these areas.

Image from KEOF website

Image from KEOF website

But before that — we had to do a lot of book collection first. I wasn’t with them on their activity last year because I was out of town, so I so I was organizing this without prior knowledge of how it was done before. We formed committees in the group, had several meetings and started collecting books from our members that we will donate to KEOF. So one of our first events was an afternoon of book-covering, since we wanted to make sure the books will last so more kids can read them.

Some of the books we covered that afternoon. :)

Some of the books we covered that afternoon. :)

Our group collected 374 books to KEOF. :) I love how everyone had books to give away, and some of them were even brand new.

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  1. By “existence”, it was more of an offline existence — the club has been alive since 2007 or something, but the first official meet-up happened in April 2010 []

A Very Bookish TFG Year

Last Saturday, our book club had our last face to face book discussion for 2012, as well as our Christmas party. It was another awesome event, and really, I never expected anything less because weekends with my book club friends were always the highlight of my month. I’ve always meant to post about every meet-up like this, but I never got to, obviously (save for one post on my personal blog). I figure the year-end is always a good way to make a recap, so here we go. :)

tfg logo

 

Oh but wait – look we have a new logo! Thanks to Angus for bugging his friend to make one for us. :) Isn’t it purty? :D

A little background: our book club started out as an online book club that discusses books online but meets offline. When I joined, we didn’t have any book discussions offline, because our meet-ups weren’t always too many. We had about 3 big meet-ups every year from 2010, and then during those meet-ups we just talk books and gave away books and stayed together till everyone needs to go home. Late in 2011, someone came up with the idea to have a 100 Favorite Books List, which birthed the idea of finally having face to face book discussions.

I honestly wasn’t sure if it would fly. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go to the first one because I was a bit busy then, and I was going through some personal stuff. But because I was made a moderator by late 2011, I felt that I was obligated to join them for that, even if it was my real first time to join a discussion. But again, we weren’t really sure if we could sustain the momentum, because a monthly meeting almost felt too much, especially coming from the meeting every quarter (not counting the smaller random meet-ups we have). I didn’t want it to die down, but I wasn’t really expecting it to really, really grow into a big event every month, you know?

But boy, was I surprised. :-)

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ReaderCon 2012 Filipino Friday 4: Books and Friends

Filipino FridayHappy Friday everyone! It feels like I’m waking up from a long, kind of unpleasant dream today, with the rains and floods that’s happened in Manila lately. I hope everyone’s okay, though, or at least, recovering well!

On another note, it’s a little over a week till the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon! Ahh, I’m so excited! Are you? :) It will be a very busy day for me, but I won’t mind. It’s going to be on August 18, at the Filipinas Heritage Library — if you haven’t pre-registered, make sure you do so now so you can secure your slot!

I also really like this week’s Filipino Friday topic — enough of the rambling now, let’s answer it. :)

August 10Books and Friends. We will have book discussions hosted by several book clubs during the ReaderCon, so to prepare us for that, let’s talk about books and friendships and book clubs. Are you a part of a book club? If yes, what made you join one? What’s your favorite activity that you have with them? If you’re not a part of one, will you consider joining one? Why or why not?

Or if you’re not (yet) a part of a book club, do you have friends who share the same passion for books as you do? Do you have a “bookish” best friend? If yes, tell us about them! How did you become friends? What’s your favorite memory with them?

I’ve been a part of Goodreads – The Filipino Group since late 2010. I’ve talked about the first meet-up I attended on the blog before, and like what I’ve kept on saying, it’s really one of the best decisions I’ve ever done. I’m a social person, and I really want to share the things I like with people who has the same interest. My online communities often die because I end up lurking forever, so I was kind of expecting that it would happen with this, too. But I guess meeting people in the flesh makes it different because ever since that first meet-up, I’ve been meeting with them quite regularly, and I can say that they really are my friends. *sniff*

gr-filipinos

The first meet-up I attended with TFG

It’s been two years since that meet-up, and we’ve done so many things as a group. We used to have palengke meet-ups, or just informal meet-ups where everyone talks and exchanges books and all that. We watched movies together, hunted for books together, attended conferences together, partied together, and even went on some trips out of town with each other. Our big meet-ups used to be four times a year, but just recently, we’ve been meeting more often because of our monthly face to face discussions.

*cue photo dump!*

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