Beach and Books

Hello, I’m back!

I wasn’t able to leave a notice that I’m going away for a while, because it wasn’t really such a long time, anyway. I wanted to leave some scheduled posts, but of course I didn’t get to do that. :P Anyway, just where was I exactly last weekend?

Finally a reading picture by the beach!

I was with my Goodreads friends for a weekend of books, drinks and beach! Much thanks to our moderator, Kuya Doni, for hosting us in his hometown. I didn’t get to finish reading anything because I was hardly able to read except during that long jeep ride to this beach. I don’t mind, because it was so much fun being around some of my favorite people. :)

The book I’m reading there is The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, one of my Required Reading books for October. It’s not exactly very scary, but it’s creepy. Especially when you’re reading it while you’re in a semi-remote province where there are no tubs. :P

And as expected, too, I went home with a bunch of books. Oh, TBR pile.

Anyway, posts will resume soon! Let me just get them written down, of course. :D

In My Mailbox (17): Goodreads Meet-Up

A day and a year ago, I met some of my now favorite people, the Filipino Group from Goodreads. Back then, we were just 12 in the meet-up:

gr-filipinosYesterday was the 5th meet-up of the group, and it was…well, monumental. I mean, compare the number last year to this year (thanks to Book Elf for the photo):

Class picture? :P

It was loads of fun, as usual, and like all other meet-ups, we were all crazy talking to each other and grabbing books everywhere. I was a zombie that day because I just came from night shift, but that didn’t mean it was less fun. I was just a bit lot loopy while it was all happening. :P We ended up staying until closing time in SM Megamall, and then some more walking after that before I finally crashed at my brother’s place to sleep and prepare for the 10k race the next day. See why I’m so sleepy now? :D

But I digress. As with all Goodreads meet-ups I’ve been to, there is always a rainshower of books. I don’t have a picture of the stash, but it was huge, to the point that some people don’t want to take the remaining ones anymore. And to those who got so many were all complaining of heavy baggage. :P

Anyway, I really liked my book stash yesterday. All of them were books that I really wanted to read:

  • What is Goodbye by Nikki Grimes – thanks Kuya Doni!
  • Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell – I don’t know who put this in the book pile, but thank you! I was already eying this one during the interview with the guests, and when our team won in the literary quiz, this was the first book I grabbed. :D
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – I don’t know who put this in the pile either, but I didn’t see it. Monique saw it, though, and she was kind enough to grab it for me. :)
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – thanks again to Monique! :) She saw this in Book Sale just as I put it on my wish list and got it for me.
  • The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty – from Aaron. He was putting this up for swap, I think? I used my “charms” to get it from him instead. LOL.
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley – borrowed from Chachic. I cannot wait to read this. :)
  • Pink by Lili Wilkinson – borrowed from Celina. Yay Aussie YA. :)

I also finally got to meet Mina V. Esguerra in person, as well as Samantha Sotto, who will launch her debut, Before Ever After, this week. I got my copy of My Imaginary Ex signed by Mina (someone has a picture of us somewhere, so I’ll get that when they post it :D), and while I wasn’t able to get a book signed by Samantha, I’m definitely picking it up soon. :)

Oh, I also got some ebooks this week, and again, they’re books I am really excited about:

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca LeeSaving June by Hannah Harrington

  • Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington

I still badly need sleep now, but this weekend is definitely one for the books — literally, and figuratively. ;)

I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Have a great week everybody! :)

A Very (Epic) Bookish Christmas Party

There are parties.

There are epic parties.

And there are epic bookish parties. Those are the best kind, you know. ;)

So my friends in Goodreads and I have been planning our third meet-up / Christmas party since November. The last official meet-up was in July and while there has been many smaller meet-ups and dinners and movies and drinking sessions in between, it’s been a long time since we all saw each other and met some newbies together as a group. However, everyone seemed to be busy up until December (my brother’s wedding and NaNoWriMo ate my life late October to early December), so we settled on the weekend right before Christmas.

And man did that day take too long to arrive. I was excited because it’s been a long time since I had a very bookish meet-up, and I’ve just really missed my friends from Goodreads. I missed them so much that I committed to spend the entire day with them, declining invitations to five other parties on that same day. Yes, five, and yes, our parties/meet-ups in Goodreads tend to last the entire day. :P

So despite the stress of the shopping, exhaustion from commuting and all that, I arrived at UP Ayala Technohub all chipper and excited to see old and new faces from our band of bookworms. :)

And imagine the smile of those bookworms with these many books are up for grabs:

And more:

Book heaven? Probably. :D

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A Grief Observed

A Grief Observed by C.S. LewisA Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Harper, 112 pages

Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moment,” A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: “Nothing will shake a man — or at any rate a man like me — out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.” This is a beautiful and unflinchingly homest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.

Just yesterday, I was chatting with one of my best friends who is also my old household head in Youth for Christ (YFC). She was telling me about her latest Kindle purchase (if you’re curious, it’s Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel). I told her about how I was reading A Grief Observed in my Kindle, and added that I wanted to buy other C.S. Lewis books there, too, because I realized that his books are a bit too expensive if I buy it here in full price, and I don’t really have the patience to dig for them in bargain bookstores. My friend laughed (as much as you can online, anyway) and she said she’s not ready for C.S. Lewis, at least not yet now. This is coming from my friend who would spend her spare time watching Hillsong United worship videos, mind you.

Today I realized that I’ve read so many Christian books but I’ve never really read any of C.S. Lewis. It’s not that I don’t have his books, too. I have Mere Christianity and the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia but I haven’t finished any of them. Strange? In a way, yes. But thinking about that and my conversation with my friend yesterday, I think it may not be that strange, because I realize that I may have not been ready to read C.S. Lewis’ books back when I first got them.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t have gotten A Grief Observed if it wasn’t one of the books for discussion in our Goodreads group. It’s been a long time since I actually cracked open a non-fiction book, and whenever I do, I never finish them. Another reason why I would not have gotten this by myself is because I can’t relate to grief, at least, not yet.

I am a stranger to grief. Sure, I know some people who have passed away and I have shed tears for them, but I have never really felt the same kind of grief that I know other people have felt. The last closest relative I know who passed away was my maternal grandmother, and that’s ten years ago, and all the other deaths I’ve heard about is not close enough to me for me to actually grieve the way other people do.

But I’m not taking this one lightly. I still feel afraid, because I know that as I grow older, the closer I am and everyone I know and love and care for is to death. It’s a fact of life. And then I remember: it’s not a matter of growing older. Everyone is close to death, myself included. No one can escape it, and the only question we can ask (and will probably never get the answer until we are right there at that moment) is When?

A Grief Observed doesn’t have an answer to any of what I said, unfortunately. I knew C.S. Lewis was a great writer, but this book is not like any book I’ve read before. I can’t empathize because like I said, I haven’t lost anyone very close to me to death just yet (and I’m very grateful for that of course), so I read this as if I was a spectator. It almost feels like I was intruding into something very private, as if I wasn’t supposed to be reading them. These are the thoughts of a man who has lost the love of his life to something he can’t fight. These are the ramblings of a man who has a solid foundation for his faith yet he couldn’t find foothold now that he experienced this big blow. This is a man who is grieving, period.

I don’t think anyone can ever explain how it is to grieve. I believe, like falling in love (yes, I have to connect it to that), everyone has their own process of grieving. Crying, writing, hiding yourself — what works for you. Like death, no one is exempt from grief, but I think we do have a choice on what to believe while we grieve. Do we believe that the other person is already in a better place? Do we believe that he/she is at peace? Do we believe that God has them? Do we believe that death actually exists? What would you believe in?

I’ve written so much, but I think this is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. There’s so much in A Grief Observed that can be said, that can be quoted, that can be criticized, even, but not so much words to write on what it is really about.  It’s unlike any other non-fiction book I read, and maybe this is because it’s raw, and it really comes from the author’s heart. This is probably the first book that I couldn’t really relate to, yet I also could at the same time. Perhaps C.S. Lewis wasn’t just grieving about his wife, but maybe he is also grieving about his faith, and his primitive notions of how he sees God and His love? I’m just speculating. But if that is right, then I also grieve with him for the same reasons.

Kuya Doni is right: this book is heartwrenching. I’m glad I read it.

Rating: [rating=5]

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 77 out of 100 for 2010

My copy: Kindle version from Amazon Kindle store

Cover & Blurb: Goodreads

Comic Books and Launches

So it’s been a pretty eventful week for me, but not in blogging because I didn’t really post that much this week compared to last. For a change, I was busy reading, squeeing about certain books, and talking to people face to face.

Yes, I still have a social life, thankyouverymuch. :)

So, what’s been happening the past week (and a day)?

Metro Comicon

Saturday last week, I ventured into the city and out of my comfort zone to tag along with some of the boys from my Goodreads group to attend the Metro Comicon at SM Megamall. Now, I’m really not a comic person, but I recently bought Happyface before that Saturday, so I thought…why not look around? Plus, I was also hoping I’d find a copy of AEIOU or An Easy Intimacy of Us by Jeff Brown (one that I started to want to have after I read the review at Pinoy Pop) there. I have zero knowledge about other comics, but I figure it shouldn’t be that different from when I go and look at books, right?

Well, it wasn’t, really. I didn’t find AEIOU, and I ended up not buying anything after. I still had fun, though, if only because I got to watch some of the boys look like kids on Christmas morning as they had their favorite comic books signed by the writers and the artists. Ace and I were just watching them, then — he was just there to have his friend’s copy of Trese signed, and we were amused at how Jzhun and Ariel looked like how we do when we see books we love and all that. Ah, bookworm quirks. :)

This picture is a bit blurry, but trust me, their eyes were sparkling. ;)

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