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 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!

Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Publisher: Walker
Number of pages: 352
My copy: Paperback, bought from National Bookstore

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, it is my pleasure and honour to present to you:

THE PI PATEL, INDO-CANADIAN, TRANS-PACIFIC, FLOATING CIRCUUUSSSSS!!!

Take one sixteen-year-old boy and cast him away at sea in a lifeboat with a large (and seasick) Royal Bengal tiger. Imagine the scene 227 days later.

Now read Life of Pi and change your imagination.

* * *

I’ve had Life of Pi by Yann Martel on my radar since my senior year in college, but I never got it because I couldn’t really afford it on my allowance back then. Later, much later, there were many, many times I could have bought it but I prioritized other books so I didn’t get it even then. One time, during a book club meet-up, some friends were talking about this book so I asked them if they think it was something I would like. I remember someone telling me that I might be bored with it, so I decided to just borrow instead of buy. But alas, I never got to borrow it even after. It still wasn’t in my priority list, up until late last year, when my friends were talking about the books that will soon become movies. I figured, since I was starting to explore outside of the genres I usually read, that maybe it’s finally time to read it.

That, and there was the tiger.

rylietiger

My laptop’s wallpaper after watching Life of Pi. :)

I love tigers. Tigers are some of my favorite animals. If I could own a tiger for a pet, I would do that in a heartbeat. Tiger photos are an automatic reblog in my Tumblr, and I swear, I could stare at them for hours on end. So a big part of my wanting to read and watch Life of Piwas because of the tiger in the story.

Piscine Molitor Patel — Pi, for short — is a teenage boy whose family owned a zoo in Pondicherry, India. Pi has lived an interesting life, one that made the author seek him out so he can write his book, intrigued by the idea that Pi’s story can make him believe in God. Life of Piis really, well, Pi’s life, as he grew up surrounded by animals, his quest for (three) religions, growing with his belief and of course, his 227-days in the middle of the ocean after the ship carrying them to Canada sunk, leaving him on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, which probably helped me appreciate it. I just knew about the shipwreck and the tiger, but I didn’t know what was supposed to happen around it. I liked Pi’s voice, his boyishness that was slightly tinged with pain of recollection, since the story was being told from the point of view of the older Pi. I liked the lush atmosphere of Pi’s life in the zoo, and all the animal behavior lessons that he shared. It reminded me a bit of all the animal lessons in Animorphs by K.A. Applegate, my favorite scifi series growing up. This made me want to go visit a zoo and observe the animals for myself.

I also really liked Pi’s journey into religion. Or religions, rather. I think this is a part that people either really get or don’t get in the book. I don’t claim to get it all completely, but I appreciated Pi’s attempts to find God, even if it meant going to the other religions. It was more of a spiritual journey rather than religious, really, and there were several things that he learned from all three religions that I felt applied to life in general. I liked how Pi learned about God willingly, and I am pretty sure his earlier spiritual journey helped him in his predicament later on.

I realized while watching the movie that being stuck in the middle of the ocean with no sign of help or no land is now my worst nightmare. When I am island hopping on vacations, I am always the one wearing a life vest, because I am not the strongest swimmer. In the book, I cannot envision how the ocean can be merciless because I kept on thinking of it as a calm ocean since they were in the Pacific, right? Then I watched the movie and oh my Lord, I never want to be in that situation ever. Especially with a bengal tiger, even if I love that animal.

I found Pi’s adventures in the middle of the ocean very interesting and I was really, really rooting for him to live. Or rather, I am really, really hoping Richard Parker the tiger would live in the end. I can just imagine the tiger in the story, and the visuals in the movie (even if the tiger is completely computer generated) helped me love Richard Parker more. Pi’s adventures in the ocean had the most meat in it, I think, and there were so many, many things that got me even if I wouldn’t even dare to be stuck in the middle of the ocean like him. Some of my favorite passages:

It begins in your mind, always. One moment, you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy…
So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.
(p. 161, 162)

Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed…The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving. (p. 209)

It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse. (p. 285)

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.

I’m really glad I started the year with this one. Life of Piby Yann Martel is a beautiful book. It’s not often a book leaves me with a delicious hangover that leaves me thinking and talking about the book after I was done. While it didn’t exactly make me believe in God more than I already do, I think this is a book that speaks of hope and belief even in the most impossible situations. :)

I meant to rate this four stars, but I am giving one full star for Richard Parker the tiger. Just because. :3

Rating:

Required Reading: January

Other reviews:
Code Name: Blue
It’s a Wonderful Book World
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac

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

What I Read (3): Maria

What I Read

What I Read is a semi-regular guest feature in One More Page allows them to talk about what the title says: what they read. I believe that every reader has a unique reading preference and no reader is exactly the same. What I Read explores that idea, where I let the guests talk about their favorite, genre preferences, pet peeves and everything else in between. :)

So…it’s been a while since my last What I Read post. Apologies — it’s been…well, slow, and busy and quite honestly, I forgot about this feature for a while. I meant to have one a month for this, but alas, I’ve missed two months. Oh well. I did say this is a semi-regular feature, right?

Now that the apology is out of the way, it’s time to catch up! For the third installment of the What I Read feature, I have one of my book club friends with me here once again. A year ago, she sent me an email for an interview in her blog during Armchair BEA week. I don’t think we’ve met in person back then — I just knew her from Goodreads and her blog. I got to know her better during one of our book club trips, and we have pretty similar tastes in genres (but not necessarily books). :D I thought of featuring her this month too because she’s the moderator for our Fellowship of the Ring face to face discussion next week.

So without further ado, let’s give it up for Maria! :)

Maria and Jane Eyre

In ten words or less, what kind of books do you usually read?

Books that are adventurous, mysterious, suspenseful, and yes, a little romantic. :D

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