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!

Required Reading: June 2013

May felt like a long month, don’t you think? Well, there were 31 days in the month, so I guess it was long, but it felt like I was out for so many things, and I did so many things…but also wasn’t able to.

So a few things I did in May, which I hope will explain a bit of my absence here:

  • I attended two weddings – one for my brother’s best friend and another for my college roommate. I love weddings. :)
  • Book discussion, as always, and several movies. It was a chill month for the book club, partly because April was so darn busy, but overall, it was a good time to be relaxed.
  • I started (and finished) watching Firefly. And why did I wait this long to watch this series?!
  • I busied myself with writing my novel for Mina V. Esguerra’s romance writing class (aka #romanceclass). I wrote about writing middles and how I kind of hate it, but I reached THE END the other day, and I’m all squee. <3

The reason I wasn’t able to finish all my books for May even if they were mostly thin books is because of the last item in my list — I got so consumed with writing that my mind refused to accept anything that isn’t contemporary romance. So, there. But I did finish most of them!

  1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (5/5) – Lovely, lovely book about people who became friends over books. :)
  2. Smaller and Smaller Circles by FH Batacan (4/5) – A reread, and I liked it as much as when I read it the first time. :) The discussion was really fun, too. :)
  3. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver (5/5) – Love, love, love. <3 I want to read more Carver after this.
  4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (4/5) – My second chunkster! I liked how this ended. :)

Four out of six. Not bad.

And now let’s go to June.Required Reading: June

June feels like that kind of month. I don’t know, but I just don’t feel like reading. I feel like it’s a spillover from the last month, and my brain still needs a rest from all the writing. I intended to read two books this month — thick ones, too! — but I decided to push the other one to the next month and just concentrate on our book club’s book of the month:

junerr

So for June, I am only requiring myself to read one book. (If I finish more, then yay)

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

My good friend Tricia is moderating this discussion for the book club this month, so I am pretty excited. Now if I can only start reading this…

Check out my friends’ reading lists for June, too!

84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Publisher: Penguin Books
Number of pages: 97
My copy: borrowed paperback, TFG’s traveling book

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

* * *

Here’s a little fact: I love snail mail. I love letters, specifically. I think it started when our third grade teacher taught us about letter writing, and we had to pick pen pals within the class. I loved getting letters in the mail, but since my classmates and I live close to each other, it’s not really that practical to be pen pals with them. When I was in sixth grade, though, my best friend from elementary school moved to the United States. We didn’t have much contact when she left, until I happened to get her mailing address from a common friend and I sent her my first snail mail letter. This had us sending letters back and forth for the next two years, until email came and we switched to that.

Reading 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is almost like a trip back to memory lane on those days when I would spend so much time writing letters to my best friend who lived in the other side of the world. This thin volume is a collection of letters from Helene Hanff, a screenwriter in New York search of second hand books to a bookstore in 84, Charing Cross Road in London. This sparked the friendship between Helene and the staff of the bookstore, one that consisted of letters, books and gifts and spanned for decades.

84, Charing Cross Road is a little gem of a book for book lovers, and it’s most appropriate that the copy I read is a shared copy from our book club. We call it our own traveling book, and it’s gone through several readers before it landed in my hands. It’s a quick and funny read, and I finished it in a few hours — smiling, laughing, and then sighing at the end. Helene’s letters were witty and sarcastic most of the time, and Frank Doel of the book shop were always formal and proper, yet still filled with warmth. Pretty soon, the rest of the staff were writing letters to Helene, too. I find myself checking the dates in the letters every now and then, and I can’t imagine the time that pass before the letters get to the recipients. My own mail takes two to three weeks before it arrives, but some of them span months in the book. I guess it meant that they were more patient back then, whereas I get so miffed sometimes when I don’t get a reply to my email or my text message within the day. But true friendship transcends time and distance, right?

This book is very reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, with the letters shared between book lovers. I love that 84, Charing Cross Road has that same warmth I got from the other book, even if the ending was slightly different. But I liked the latter more because it’s a true story. I think that’s the reason why I added one more star in my rating — there’s something about knowing how all of this is real that makes it even more charming. It’s too bad that the actual bookstore doesn’t exist anymore, but I would love to see where the building stood and imagine what the people inside were doing, and how excited they were every time they received Helene’s letters and packages. And maybe, even do what Helene asked her friend to do:

If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll stock up on my stationery so I can go write some letters again. Anyone want one? :)

Rating:

Required Reading: May

Other reviews:
Book Rhapsody
It’s a Wonderful Book World
Angieville

Required Reading: May 2013

Wow, where did April go?

April was, in a word, busy. I was out every weekend, and I was on midshift at work, too, so I was always home late and up late, too. Everything was a whirlwind last month, and my personal life was also like that, too. So I think I made the right decision to choose just two books to read for my April reading list, because I only finished…one.

  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (4/5) – our book club’s book of the month, which I really liked. I found it slow, but it was the right kind of slowness that made it beautiful. :)

I’m have about less than 200 pages to go for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I think I’ll be able to finish that soon since things are finally picking up. :)

Required Reading: May

May is still a bit busy but not in the book club sense. I have two weddings to attend to this month, and my dad’s going to be home, plus a bunch of birthdays, so…yeah. But it won’t be as busy as April, so I picked a few more books than the usual. There’s no theme this time, except maybe that the books are roughly around the same length. And that I didn’t spend for any of the books on my list. :D

Required Reading for May 2013

  1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – our book club’s traveling book, which has been passed around since last year. It’s finally my turn, and I’m really excited to read it since everyone seemed to have good reviews for it. It’s pretty thin, so I’m pretty sure I’d be able to finish this in a day. :)
  2. Smaller and Smaller Circles by FH Batacan – our book club’s book of the month. I read this one back in college so I’m really just rereading it now to refresh my memory. I won this during our book discussion last Saturday, where our moderator gave away two copies. Also speed reading it now so I can pass my copy to other people in the club. :)
  3. The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder – I got this one from DC, who recommended the book to me last month, and provided a copy so I can read it. This is supposed to be passed around in our book club, too. So whoever wants to line up for this, let me know! This is technically my first Gaarder, since I didn’t really finish Sophie’s World when I tried to read it in college. ^^
  4. Essays In Love by Alain de Botton – Borrowed this from JL. I’ve been wanting to read a book by the author ever since I followed him on Twitter, but I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction or philosophy. But the topic of this book is too irresistible, so I’m glad that I have a friend who reads these kinds of books. I know this is more apt for February, but I figure since I’m attending two weddings this month, I could read it now. :)
  5. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver – Borrowed from Angus just last Saturday when I was able to check out his shelves after our discussion. He had a rave review for this, and again the subject is something I like reading about. Plus, again, weddings this month.
  6. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – spillover from April. Again, I have less than 200 pages left. I should be done with this soon. :)

And so, there. A lot more books than my usual list, but they’re all less than 250 pages (save for the last, but I’m counting the pages I have left to read) so it should not be so hard to finish, yes? I realize how different these books are now, and I don’t even have a YA book here. Looks like I really am expanding my reading horizons, yes? I should blog about that.

So, what are you reading this May? :)