Required Reading: April 2014

You know what? My decision last March not to set any reading lists was actually one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my reading this year. It was actually so nice not to worry about what I will read, or if I will finish anything that I set myself to read. I picked up whatever book I wanted and read at my own pace. That was definitely refreshing.

So here’s what I read last month:

  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (5/5) – Definitely one of my favorite reads so far. So many gems in this one. :)
  • The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding (3/5) – Fun contemporary YA, with theater and musicals and a writer mom.
  • Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins (4/5) – Heee so much fun and swoon! You can never go wrong with a Kristan Higgins.
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver (3/5) – Finally finished this! I wasn’t as in love with this as I was with What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, but I really liked the longer version of Bath, entitled “A Small Good Thing”, here.
  • Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (3/5) – Still magical and still lovely. I want to go and be lost in Lost Lake, too.
  • 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley (5/5) – This is a retreat book, so I started this on February and ended on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Definitely life-changing. To Jesus, through Mary.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (reread) – A reread because I was asked to moderate a book discussion about this. I liked it better the second time around. :)

See, I read a lot last month! (And of course, I wrote zero reviews for them. Haha)

But now it’s April, and it’s sorta back to the reading list reality. Sort of. I have a reading list, which I bet I wouldn’t be able to follow as strictly because I always get distracted by other shiny books nowadays and I am just a slow reader now, so there. :)

Required Reading 2014 - April

Holy Week falls on April, and I’ve always tried to have a Holy Week theme for my books whenever it rolls around because it sets the right mood. I realized that I didn’t have fiction that’s good for Holy Week this time around (I had the last two Narnia books in 2012 and Iscariot in 2013). But now that I seem to be taking a liking to some non-fiction books, and we keep on talking about some of these titles at SFC meetings, so I figured it’s time to actually read things that the Pope wrote. (And Pope Francis is cool.)

rrapril2014

  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino – our book club’s book of the month. :)
  • The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) and Lumen Fidei by Pope Francis – because like I said, Pope Francis is cool. And it’s about time I read some encyclicals. And The Joy of the Gospel has joy in it, and it’s my word for 2014. :)
  • Illusion by Frank Peretti – This has been on my TBR for years, and it’s kind of suprising because I love Frank Peretti. I should have started reading this ages ago. :)

I also plan to read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, but I didn’t put it here because I’m pretty sure I won’t finish it this month. :P

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!

Reading for the fun of it (aka My Ten Teen Reads)

I remember one of the conversations I had with some friends about how some do not review the books they read. Some of them admit that they’re not that good with writing, while other people said that they didn’t want to feel obligated to think about having to write something, and instead just read the book for fun. Now, being a writer and a talkative person, I never felt the burden of writing reviews for the books I read. Yes, sometimes I don’t review a book, but lately I’ve been enjoying writing notes about the books I read so much that it’s never been a burden for me to write.

Taking a cue from Honey’s latest post, though, I like the tag line of this year’s Teen Read Week: read for the fun of it. While I have always been reading for fun, but sometimes I tend to forget and I put too much pressure on myself when I write a review or finish a book. Looking at my TBR mountain, I know I feel pressured to finish most of it, so I tend to read and read and read and worry about how I can make the mountain smaller (and also finish off my challenges).

Which brings me to my Ten Teen Reads! I don’t know how it connects exactly to what I wrote up there, but I thought I’d also list the books I loved to read as a teen. Note that they’re not exclusively YA because I hardly picked up YA fiction, then. I’m not really sure what kinds of books I used to read then actually. Hrm. Anyway.

  1. This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. I discovered Frank Peretti through my friend Pau during freshman year in high school. She told me about it, but I only got to read it by junior year. When I finished reading it, I didn’t want to give it back because I loved it so much. I loved the storytelling and the story itself, especially the angels and how they get their strength from the praying people. :) The sequel I read when I finally got my own copy of the book and there is this scene that always always makes me cry. These two books pretty much started my love for Peretti.
  2. Eating Fire and Drinking Water by Arlene Chai. I think I read Chai when some blogger friends (back when blogging was really just journaling online) started recommending her. It’s really one of the first few serious novels I read that’s set in the Philippines. I loved Eating Fire and Drinking Water for reasons I really couldn’t point out. I think I would have to revisit this book again to find out.
  3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Now this is really YA. I got this book when I was feeling stressed from school, and this one saved me from totally exploding. I loved every bit of this novel — I wanted to be Stargirl! This remains to be one of my comfort reads until now. :)
  4. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. I bought this the same day I got Stargirl. I think I’ve said enough about how much I love this book, and I am really sad that they delayed the showing of the movie here. :(
  5. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I think I first read this in Grade 5, and that’s really before I hit teens. This is one of the classics that I have re-read more than twice. My review says a lot about it already, and I think I need to find a hardcover version of this book so I can preserve it. :D
  6. Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt. This little gem I found in Book Sale, and I’ve lost count how many times I read this, too. This is one of the best middle grade books I read when I was in high school. So glad I bought it then. :)
  7. The Nickel Plated Beauty by Patricia Beatty. My mom bought me this book, at first this wasn’t really one of those books that I read. However, when I read it, I couldn’t put it down. I loved how all the kids worked hard to get that “nickel-plated beauty”, and I wanted to write a similar story. :P
  8. Best Bet Gazette by Linda Gondosch. This one tickled all my writing fancies. When I was younger, I used to write “newsletters” for distribution, which of course were never printed. I loved this because it involved writing in a newspaper, and there was a serious part in the book, too. :)
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Anne Shirley is one of my heroes. I wished I had as much imagination as she did, but alas. I love all the names she thought of (White Way of Delight!), and all her adventures. Finally, a name: Gilbert Blythe. Swoon.
  10. Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. I must not forget the only sci-fi series that I grew up with. I learned of this series from my best friend, and at first I thought it was more of a fantasy series. where the kids have extraordinary powers with no real need for it. To my surprise it wasn’t — it was darker and grittier and it had deer-human-scorpion aliens! I remember scouring the bookstores every month for the new books. It’s just sad I kind of lost interest in it so I haven’t collected all the books. Now I’m on the lookout for the books I don’t have.

And plus one, because I can’t not write this:

  • Sweet Valley series by Francine Pascal. When I was in Grade 3, a classmate brought a curious colorful little book to school. It was my first introduction to Sweet Valley, and reading. I never really got to read Sweet Valley High because my mom didn’t want me reading that (long story), but I loved Sweet Valley Twins, The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley Junior High. If I had to thank an author for getting me started on reading, it would have to be Francine Pascal (and all her ghost writers). :)

And because of this honorable mention, I must also mention this: the cover for the newest Sweet Valley book, Sweet Valley Confidential is out:

Doesn’t this bring back awesome memories? :) Is it too early to beg for ARCs, if they are releasing them? But either way, I will get this book anyway — should be a fun read. :P

I don’t think I’d be the same person today if it weren’t for the books I read when I was young. So to teens out there: read, read, read! Read whatever you get your hands on! Turn off the TV and computers, pick up a book and read! I promise you it’s going to be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. :)

BTT: Unknown Favorites

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question is interesting, and a bit hard — at least for me:

Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

Okay this is just kind of hard. I feel like most of my favorite authors are known authors, but maybe it’s because I’ve been reading them for so long and I found some people who also love the books that I love to read, so it feels like a lot of people read it. Did that make sense?

But I think it would be awesome if more people read:

  • Frank Peretti – author of This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness to name a few, and one of the best Christian fiction that I’ve ever read. I’d like to think his books are not only for the Christian people, because it’s really awesome. :)
  • Camy Tang – I only discovered her about two years ago, and her chick lit books remain a favorite on my shelf. I always recommend her to friends who are looking for good, quality (and clean) chick lit, and she’s a really nice person, too. :)
  • Tosca Lee – I was blown away by her book, Demon, and even if I haven’t finished Havah, yet, I know from the first few pages of it that it’s also a beautiful book. I can’t wait for her third novel that comes out in 2011 — the story of Judas Iscariot. Don’t you think that’s just yummy?

I think that’s it. More people should read their books, really. It would make the world a better place (and maybe I’m not kidding there hahaha).

On another note, not really related to BTT. Earlier today we dropped by at Fully Booked during afternoon break just for kicks, and I got caught in a book splurge again. *headdesk* I was only intending to look for Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth to make sure it’s still there, waiting for me to buy it next Friday. (It’s not.) What I found instead, was Shelley Adina‘s final book in the It’s All About Us series, The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth. And there’s only one copy left.

Ugh. I hate it that I could have bought Carrie Ryan’s book last Friday, only I didn’t because I wasn’t in the mood to buy a hardcover book. I wanted to buy it last Sunday, but I didn’t because I was waiting for the sale in Eastwood. AND NOW…it’s gone. :(

Alas. Maybe the paperback is meant for me.

But I’m happy to find Shelley Adina’s book because that meant my collection is complete. My wallet isn’t so happy, though, and this means I may have to bring lunch to work for a week to compensate. :P But I can’t wait to see what happens to the protagonist and the antagonist, and if she and the guy from the first book will finally get together. I was planning to read it after Persuasion, but alas, it cannot wait. So sorry, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth, you’d have to wait a bit. This won’t be long. :P