2013 Mid-Year Report

I saw some of my friends do a post similar to this, and I was checking my archives and as it turned out, I haven’t really made a list like this in my past years of book blogging. Since this book blog has been feeling a little bit lonely lately, So I figure I’d write something like this. And yeah, maybe do a check on my goals, too, to see if I am still sort of on track. :)

Image from we heart it

Image from we heart it

Best Books of 2013 (So Far):

In no particular order:

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel: “The ending left me…reeling. A friend told me about the twist in the story, but I wanted to be surprised and boy was I surprised. I couldn’t wrap my head around it for a while, and I had my first case of a book hangover for the year, which was extended right after watching the movie.”
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: “One last thing: I hope that when Death comes for me, he’ll find my soul sitting up.
  • Iscariot: A Novel of Judas by Tosca Lee: “Would there have been redemption for Judas, if he had just waited? Could he have become someone like Peter, who denied Jesus but accepted mercy which led him to become the great church leader that he is? If he had just waited until Sunday, would he have believed that Jesus was indeed the person he had been waiting for his entire life?”
  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff: “If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver: “Because really, what do people talk about when they talk about love? My friends and I do this a lot, and while we all have these ideas and dreams and everything, I don’t think we will ever grasp what love really is about. The best we can do, I think, is try.”
  • Icon of the Indecisive by Mina V. Esguerra: “Let’s just say this book had me…er, squeeing more than half the time. Hee. There were many, many things I wanted to ask at the end of the second book, but I’m very glad to report that this third book delivers.”

Honorable Mentions:

2013 Goals Checkpoint:

  1. 52 Books – upped to 75, when I realized that I will probably reach 52 a bit earlier. Then I got into a reading slump. Heh. But I am at 38 books now, and Goodreads tells me I am 1 book ahead. So yay.
  2. 5 Classics – 1 out of 5. Eep. I have to catch up.
  3. 4 Chunksters – 2 out of 4. Reading my third this month!
  4. 20 Filipino Books – 10 out of 20. Good job, self. *pats*
  5. Required Reading – I am surprisingly managing this well. There were some books that I postponed reading (for the future (hello, May books), but other than that, I think I hit my monthly goals quite well.
  6. The Reread Factor – I’ve reread several books but I didn’t get to review them. Oops. Maybe next time. :)

I don’t review all the books I read now because sometimes I get too lazy to review and by the time I realized that I should review it, it’s been too long and I can’t remember what to write anymore. So…there. But don’t worry, this blog isn’t going anywhere. :D I’m just a little busy with other life things. :)

Happy reading for the rest of 2013!

Ghostwritten

GhostwrittenGhostwritten by David Mitchell
Publisher: Vintage
Number of pages: 426
My copy: paperback, bought from Manila International Book Fair

David Mitchell’s electrifying debut novel takes readers on a mesmerizing trek across a world of human experience through a series of ingeniously linked narratives.

Oblivious to the bizarre ways in which their lives intersect, nine characters-a terrorist in Okinawa, a record-shop clerk in Tokyo, a money-laundering British financier in Hong Kong, an old woman running a tea shack in China, a transmigrating “noncorpum” entity seeking a human host in Mongolia, a gallery-attendant-cum-art-thief in Petersburg, a drummer in London, a female physicist in Ireland, and a radio deejay in New York-hurtle toward a shared destiny of astonishing impact. Like the book’s one non-human narrator, Mitchell latches onto his host characters and invades their lives with parasitic precision, making Ghostwritten a sprawling and brilliant literary relief map of the modern world.

* * *

This is a very, very, very late review, and I am sorry. What was I doing the past months? I don’t know, except that I was busy,and I was reading and not reviewing.

But let’s not get to to that.

When I finished reading my first David Mitchell book, Cloud Atlas, one of the many things I felt after reading that was: I’m so happy that he has other books I haven’t read yet. It’s a bit rare for me to find an author whose back list I would gladly read, all of which were praised by my friends. I was really excited to get back into David Mitchell’s writing when I picked up Ghostwritten earlier this year.

Ghostwritten, much like Cloud Atlas (but also not quite) is a collection of short stories of different, seemingly unconnected people from different parts of the world. There’s a terrorist in Okinawa, a young, half-Filipino record shop clerk in Tokyo, an British financier in Hong Kong, a woman running a tea shack in the mountains of China, a gallery attendant moonlighting as an art thief, a drummer, a physicist in Europe, a radio DJ in New York and even a strange little entity that jumps from one person to another in Mongolia. They all have their own stories, vastly different from one another…and yet, they’re all somehow connected — only in the way Mitchell can weave tales.

It took me a while to finish this, not because it wasn’t good, but I was reading this alongside Les MiserablesThis wasn’t the kind of book that I wanted to rush through because I wanted to see all the connections that I can possibly can in the stories. There’s no fancy story format in this, unlike Cloud Atlas, but there’s the smooth transition from each character’s story. Okay, maybe it’s not that smooth, but the voices were so distinct, that sometimes it feels like it wasn’t just one writer writing all of them.

Thinking about this book now reminds me of this line I heard from watching researcher storyteller Brené Brown’s TED talks in the past days — how stories are data with souls. In Ghostwrittenwe have several stories that span across the globe, with different characters and different settings, and Mitchell connects them with a slight phone call, an accidental crash in the road, or even just in passing. It’s interesting how these connections somehow changed the life of each character, in good ways and in bad ways. I liked how the author put it with this line: “The human world is made of stories, not people. The people the stories use to tell themselves are not to be blamed.” Just like in Cloud Atlas, this book reminded me of how our actions can affect one another, and how each encounter with someone can alter our lives in ways we cannot even imagine.

Another note on the book — I read Cloud Atlas with a bunch of people from the book club, and somehow it left me with a notion that reading Mitchell’s books should be a shared experience with other readers. I didn’t have buddies to read Ghostwritten with, but I stalked my friends’ buddy reads thread in our Goodreads Group for the book every time I finished a story, because I wanted to see if I missed anything. It’s not as fun as actually having buddies, but it was quite helpful to note their observations as I read the book.

I think I like Cloud Atlas just a tad more than I did Ghostwritten, but it may just be because of the style of the former. But Ghostwritten is a very good book — to think it’s Mitchell’s debut. Color me amazed. :) Like with Cloud Atlas, I can’t wait to read Mitchell’s other books. But I’m going to pace myself because I kind of don’t want to run out of his books in my TBR too fast.

Rating:

Required Reading: January

Other reviews:
Book Rhapsody
marginalia

Required Reading 2013: February

As always, I owe this blog a couple of reviews, but it’s not that big of a backlog just yet so I will get to that before I traipse to another country next week. But look, it’s a brand new month, and suddenly it’s February! How can January go by so fast again?

I don’t mind. I find that I am actually starting to like February. When I was younger, I kind of didn’t like it because I swallow a bitter pill every February with all the love in the air. But then I realized I should stop being like that and you know, just bask in the love.

But that’s for a post on the personal blog. A new month means another time for Required Reading! Before I go with my February list, though, here’s a recap of January:

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel (5/5) – I really, really liked this, and I really liked the movie, too. It was a great book to start the year, and I have collected a sizable amount of quotes from this book. Plus, Richard Parker is just …rawr. :3
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (3.5/5) – I normally don’t give half stars, but I’m sort of conflicted between a 3 to 4 for this book, so I will settle for a 3.5 for now. I liked the book a lot, but I realize I may not be totally amazed with it. We had a very great discussion about this, though, and it was a great start to our book club’s year. :)

I’m still reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (p. 1110 out of 1463 — almost done!!!), and Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, so I’m bumping them to February as spillovers. I would’ve just read them in another month but I already started, so let’s just continue reading.

Required reading - February

Now for February, I’ll be moderating our book club’s discussion for the month. It was our first moderator’s pick, and I realize that February will be quite a busy month, so I didn’t want to pick something thick or too challenging. So I went for the easiest pick (for me anyway): romance. Okay fine, it’s not like I’m expert with that genre, but I didn’t want anything too heavy so let’s go for those quick contemporary romance novellas, right? Interestingly, a short story won in the polls, so this month, we’re discussing Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez.

Since it’s just a short story, I wanted to add a bit more challenge in the group, so I came up with a mini challenge — and of course, the theme is still romance. I was kind of surprised with how enthusiastic everyone was and now everyone’s recommending books and movies and TV shows to one another. Oh so much love in the air in our book club!

And so, if it’s not obvious yet, my theme for this month’s Required Reading is love. <3

Required Reading February books

  1. Fourteen Love Stories edited by Jose Dalisay Jr. and Angelo R. Lacuesta – I’ve been eying this book since I saw it on my friend’s shelves, and because it had Dead Stars in it. I wanted this to be our book for discussion, but I had a hard time looking for print copies, so I decided to just go for an ebook copy. It’s been a while since I read an anthology and this seems fitting this month. :)
  2. Every Day by David Levithan – I’ve heard so many good things about this one, so I’m excited about this. I haven’t read all of Levithan’s work, but I really liked The Lover’s Dictionary. We’re buddy-reading this in the club, and I’m really liking a lot of lines in this book.
  3. Boundless by Cynthia Hand – my good friend Kai lent me the ARC because she knows how much I’ve been waiting for this. Liked Unearthly, loved Hallowed, and I am really, really hoping that this book won’t break my heart too much.
  4. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – I kind of doubt that I’d have time to read this, but I figure I’d throw it in in case I find some time. This is a retelling of my favorite Jane Austen, Persuasion. :)

And again, there are the spillovers – LesMis and Ghostwritten. I have no idea how much I’ll finish this month, but I will try! :) Love, love, and more love, yes? :)

I hope you find lots of love in the books you read this month, too! If you’re participating in this challenge, leave a comment below so I can link you. :)

My friends put up reading lists, too!

Required Reading 2013: January

Aaaaand we’re back! It’s that time of the month were we pick books that we want to read for the rest of the days until the next month comes in. :) With that, I bring back my personal reading challenge, Required Reading. Yay!

Required Reading is a reading challenge that is really about getting some books off the Mt. TBR. Just as the name of the challenge meant, Required Reading is about choosing some books that must be read within the month. It doesn’t have to be the only books you read in a month, but they should be read (or at least, started) before the said month ends.

I had some rules on this last year that really applied to me, but in case other people want to join me, here are the rules:

  • Books chosen for the challenge should be in the current TBR pile as of the month of the Required Reading post. So if you decided to join at March, the books you choose for the month should be in your TBR pile as of February.
  • Galleys and ARCs can be included.
  • Posting reviews aren’t necessary (but don’t you want that out of the way, too?).
  • I’ll be posting a theme every month but you don’t have to follow that. You can choose a theme for yourself if you want to — what’s important is the books that you put there are books that you want to get to reading.
  • Lastly: have fun. If you don’t finish a book, it’s okay! If you finish it, then…feel free to reward yourself with something. Like a new book. :D

Feel free to join anytime, or skip months if you may. This is just a fun challenge, and nothing to be pressured about. Okay? Okay. :)

Required Reading: January

I feel like January is the best time to set reading goals and pick books to read, and I honestly had to resist the urge to pick the 52 books that I plan to read for the rest of the year and go do other things, like check the best selection of custom lapel pins. I felt like choosing them in advance since 52 feels like an easy number compared to say, 100, and I kind of like being OC about it. But since I also like winging it, I had to stop, and had to be content with choosing books for the first month.

I wasn’t so much in touch with the blogging world at the last part of the 2012, but I was in tune with what my friends in the book club are reading. So for January, I’ve decided to go for a Recommended Books from several friends for my list. I trust their tastes, so I’m hoping I would like these books too.

rrjanuary

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Recommended by my book club. This is our group’s book of the month. It’s going to be fiery discussion, yes?
  2. Life of Pi by Yann Martel – recommended by several friends in the club who liked it. Also reading this now to prepare for the movie. I’ve been wanting to read this one since college but I never got myself a copy. I’m honestly looking forward to getting to know the tiger.
  3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – You know, I wouldn’t have decided to read this if our book club did not put up a Support Group for this chunkster. I was checking the threads one day and I saw bits of their discussion, and I felt inclined to join. Angus gave me a copy, so there is no turning back. I’m pretty sure this will spillover to February. Also, yes, I am reading this for the movie, but like I said, I don’t think I’ll finish it on time. :D
  4. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell – Recommended by the Mitchell Mafia in the book club. :D I really enjoyed Cloud Atlas last year, and I’m really looking forward to reading more Mitchell this year.

I wanted to add a fifth one, but I realize that Les Miserables will probably take up most of my time, so I will take it easy. :) I’m reading three at the same time, and I hope I don’t get lost! :D

Share your reading list for January (or posts to your January reading list) in the comments! :)

Say hi to the Required Reading Gang! :D

12 Best Books of 2012

So the 2012 reading year was interesting because I think this is the most I’ve explored different genres. I blame my book club for this, especially with our monthly discussions and their book recommendations. As a result, I didn’t reach the 150-ish book goal. However, I did enjoy exploring these other books that I wouldn’t normally read, so it’s still a pretty good year reading year.

I’ll talk about my reading stats more on another post. First, let’s get the best list out. 12 Best Books for 2012. Let’s get at it, shall we?

  1. Angelfall by Susan EeGruesome, creepy and scary but absolutely fun. I read this book because of all the good reviews I read from my Goodreads friends, and I devoured it in several days. I loved Penryn the kick-ass heroine and the equally bad-ass angels who caused the apocalypse. When is the sequel coming out again? Please make it soon?
    Angelfall by Susan Ee Continue Reading →