Required Reading 2013: September (and then some)

Hello folks, look at that – it’s September! In the Philippines, Christmas preparations start as early as today so I will go ahead and say: Merry Christmas! :P

On another note, August has come and gone, and I read a lot of books this month (compared to last month, anyway) because there were several long weekends in the month. :) I wasn’t able to finish all August books, though, because I got distracted by other shiny little books along the way. Still, no regrets. :D

  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay (4/5) – the reread was as charming as the first time. We had our discussion yesterday and it was filled with warmth, especially with all the sibling stories we shared. :)
  • No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (3/5) – I didn’t like some of the stories, but there were others that were really good ones. Here’s to trying to find time to blog about it soon.

I didn’t touch Jasper Fforde’s book at all, or even made really good progress with A Clash of Kings. Well. But I’m not hurrying anything, so…let’s go to September. :D

Required Reading: September

No particular theme this month, except for that spillover from July. I’ve tried to balance out the serious and lighter books but I don’t even know if I will be able to read them all. Heh. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to try. :D

September 2013 books

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – our book club’s book of the month. I hope I’m ready for this. XD
  2. A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin – it is my hope to finish this soon, except that I’m still at page 250ish. Not that it’s boring — it’s not. I’m just not in the mood for it for some reason. Oh well, I must soldier on!
  3. The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson – something light to offset the first two. :)
  4. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente – just because the main character’s name is September. :)

Now we go to the “and then some” part of the post. I haven’t really been blogging, obviously, and I think I found out why: I’m not too interested in it anymore. This doesn’t mean I will stop blogging, though — I think maybe I just need a little change. I think I may have outgrown the “One More Page” aspect of this blog.

SO…I am going to apologize in advance if I don’t really blog yet anytime soon, but trust me, I’ve got something going on for this blog. It may include a blog facelift of sorts and even a name change, something to reflect my new reading habits, among other things. :) This won’t take too long, I hope! (Maybe by mid September? :D)

Have a happy reading month, you guys. :)

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
Publisher: Picador
Number of pages:  636
My copy: paperback, bought from Avalon.ph

Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.

* * *

I have a feeling I will be a part of the unpopular opinion for this book. We picked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon for our book discussion last June, and I was  looking forward to it because it seemed like it had an interesting premise. But wait, let me be honest. The only thing I knew about this book before then was that it was a book about comic books. I don’t collect comic books but I read them every now and then, so I figure this should be something I would really enjoy, right?

Joe Kavalier is a young Jewish artist who was given a chance to go to the United States and escape his Nazi-invaded hometown. But because things were always unpredictable back then, Joe couldn’t get to the US in the conventional way. He sought help from a friend, who taught him the art of escaping ala-Houdini, and Joe makes it to his cousin, Sammy Clay’s place in Brooklyn safely. Sammy is a guy looking for a partner he can create stories with — heroes and stories, in the form of a comic book, which was a novelty thing in America in that time. Sammy teams up with Joe and creates a band of superheroes, where they put their dreams and fears, with Joe maybe having more at stake in the stories than his cousin has.

So this book was an utter challenge to read. Perhaps the book came at a particularly slump-y month in reading, and it was 600+ pages thick…but really. Talk about really slogging through the book. It was the first time I actually went to a discussion without finishing the book. (I finished it the following day, though :D) I was curious enough with the story to keep on reading, but the writing made it a little difficult to just keep on reading. The writing reminded me a little of that one Biology class in college where if I lose just a few seconds of focus from what our professor is saying, I lose everything completely. There’s a word in one of the reviews of this books in Goodreads that’s pretty much the right word to describe it: bloated. There’s so much being said about so many things, but it doesn’t really add anything to the reading experience as far as I’m concerned. The only thing that really kept me from skimming parts of the book is the thought that maybe there’s something in this part that I will need to know in the later parts. I had the same mindset in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, too, but I remember being a little more satisfied when things started to come together for JS&MN.

Then again, I probably shouldn’t compare a fantasy novel to a historical novel.

There were some parts that I really liked, though, and I felt somewhat invested in the characters (I really liked Luna Moth :D). My heart went out for Joe especially, after that thing happened to him that made him almost lose it. And there was that scene with the dogs, too! (Oh those dogs!) I liked how the story stressed a lot on just how it is to be in a “free” country while war is happening in other parts of the world. There were good points in the novel, and I really appreciate it, but I’m afraid some of it may have gotten lost in all the layers of text that I had to wade through.

That being said, even if I didn’t really like this book so much, I can still see why it’s an award-winning novel. Joe and Sam’s story is a story of love at its core, all wrapped in the complications of life, war and comic books. The comic book angle is one of the brilliant parts of it, IMO. Like I said, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is still a pretty good book, really…but perhaps it’s just one of those books that’s not really for me.

Rating:

Required Reading: June

Other reviews:
marginalia
Book Rhapsody
In Lesbians with Books

Required Reading 2013: July

June felt like a short month, which is kind of strange because there were days that I spent at home, writing, which should be slow days. Or maybe it’s because I was on a mid shift schedule so my days were faster? Either way, I really was in a reading rut last month because I didn’t feel like reading much, except maybe something light and romantic. Still, I managed to finish the only book in my reading list for June — a day late for the discussion, but still, I finished!

  • The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (3/5) – It was fun in some parts, but also equally not fun in other parts. It was a lot of parts dragging, though. Maybe Chabon isn’t for me? Or maybe I should try another Chabon book? I had a lot of fun during the discussion, though, so I did my best to finish the book even after. I am keeping my copy on my shelf because it looks nice there. :D

Required Reading: July

We are now at the second half of the year, eep! A bit of panic mode, but not really with reading, because I find that I am still on track with my reading goals (the 52 books challenge is upped to 75, btw). I think I am out of my reading rut. I think! I hope these books really bring me out of it!

Required Reading for July

  • A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – Finally moving on to the second book in this series. I don’t think I will be able to do a marathon reading for these books, so one a year should suffice? :) Reading this with some buddies, and I’m expecting it to be as fast-paced as A Game of Thrones was, so this shouldn’t take me that long to read it, right? :)
  • The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen – Ah finally. Some good old contemporary YA from my favorite contemporary YA author. I started this already, and it’s nice to go back to Dessen’s writing. :)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Our book club’s book for discussion this month, moderated by our book club’s canon couple, Bennard and Rhena. :) This is my first GGM, and I don’t really know what to expect. I read the first few pages of this earlier and I like the opening line: It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Well that was quite a beautiful (and sad) picture.

I hope July will be a good reading month for everyone. :) Happy second half of 2013!

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 []

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!