Iain Banks, Pat Barker, and My Backsliding into Buying Books

I feel as though I am no longer a book teetotaler, anorexic, or shopaholic because I’m now in the habit of buying books every Saturday again ( just when I have enough money). I have abstained  from this uncontrollable behavior for almost two months because I realized then that there are still a great deal of books I have not read yet. Besides, I thought that they are a waste of money because some of them are now getting ” blighted” despite that they are safely stored in two big boxes. Their pages are getting  withered, blotched, dappled, dotted, eye spotted, flecked, mottled, patched, speckled. Oh, I’m now hyperbolic. I can’t stand being obsessed over them changing like that. In fact,I am now persnickety about book covers. I enjoy reading books  more if they are in pristine conditions.

Even so, I was at ease for a short while  because I could save money unlike before despite that I had this persistent withdrawal-symptom-like situation. I tried to restrain myself from dropping into the book store. The idea of dropping into that place was always haunting me like a ghost  appearing out of nowhere. Indeed, I’m sick. It was just as well that I was engaged in a charity event every Saturday- my moral compass.

However, I could not stand my impulse any longer. I had the chance to visit it when I didn’t have classes at night during the typhoon last week. There I was, after two months, surrounded with the stacks of books higher than me. I basked in their musty musk ,and was riveted on their iridescent covers. I was like a book vulture again, scavenging on a heap of second-hand books. I was making sure that the names of the authors still sounded Greek to me. Usually, I read my list of the best novels in the world before I go to that book store, but I didn’t do so since it was a capricious decision.

The outlet of the book store has not changed yet. Luckily, there were a few customers at that time , so I didn’t need to elbow myself through the crowd . The cashier is still working there who must be familiar with me already. I was reading his mind .

“Look, the bizarro man is back. I’m sure he will be staying here until we are closed.”

As usual, I am familiar with one distinct pattern of behavior common among us bibliophiles- to look after the books you have found or you will pore over whether you will buy them or not.

As a matter of fact, little did I know that the book store was selling on sale. So, eventually, I bought four books , 3 of which have the same author- Iain M. Banks

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I bought Canal Dreams, The Player of Games, and The State of  the Art . Each was only 35 pesos.

I decided to buy  Iain Banks’s works not only because he impressed me with his The Crow Road ( 5/ 5 stars ), The Bridge ( 5 stars ), and Dead Air ( 3 stars ) , but I was enchanted by their book covers given that I wasn’t cocksure if they are included on my list. Uh-oh, I’m a different book beholder. And my gut feeling was right upon checking them on Goodreads. I could  include them in my required reading this year.However, all of them turned out to be the sequels of the first books. Alas!

Book:Canal Dreams by Iain Banks

Paperback: Abacus Fiction, 275 pages
Published :1990 by Abacus (first published 1989)

 

Synopsis: Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. By the end of her journey she had ignited one soldier with an oxy-acetylene torch, stabbed another through the chest with the spike of her cello, clobbered a guard with the butt of a rifle and raked terrorists with machine-gun fire before frazzling the survivors in an oil-covered sea.

 

Book:The Player of Games (Culture #2) by Iain M. Banks

Paperback: 309 pages
Published :August 10th 1989 by Orbit (first published August 1988)

Synopsis: The Culture–a humanoid/machine symbiotic society–has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel & incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.

 

 Book:The State of the Art (Culture #4) by Iain M. Banks

 

Paperback: 216 pages
Published: May 27th 1993 by Orbit (first published March 1991)
Goodreads Synopsis:

The first ever collection of Iain Banks’ short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast.

The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks’ staggering talent.

To dissipate my frustration,I am just souring grapes that I will still read them. I’m curious about their stories since Iain Banks is considered as one of the best imaginative writers in his generation. The Bridge and Dead Air which I have read can bear witness to this. Much more of his The Wasp Factory which catapulted him to fame.

The other book that I bought was The Ghost Road by Pat Barker  which also turned out to be a sequel to  Regeneration . But I thought that I was still lucky to buy this, apart from the fact that it was cheap,  because I had a hard time finding other Pat Barker’s works. I have found some but  they were in bad conditions. Besides, I have always been curious about P.Barker’s works. Why is he so a buzzword among readers? I will find out sooner or later.

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Book :The Ghost Road (Regeneration #3) by Pat Barker

Paperback: 278 pages
Published : 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1995)
Synopsis:

The final book in the Regeneration Trilogy, and winner of the 1995 Booker Prize

The Ghost Road is the culminating masterpiece of Pat Barker’s towering World War I fiction trilogy. The time of the novel is the closing months of the most senselessly savage of modern conflicts. In France, millions of men engaged in brutal trench warfare are all “ghosts in the making.” In England, psychologist William Rivers, with severe pangs of conscience, treats the mental casualties of the war to make them whole enough to fight again. One of these, Billy Prior, risen to the officer class from the working class, both courageous and sardonic, decides to return to France with his fellow officer, poet Wilfred Owen, to fight a war he no longer believes in. Meanwhile, Rivers, enfevered by influenza, returns in memory to his experience studying a South Pacific tribe whose ethos amounted to a culture of death. Across the gulf between his society and theirs, Rivers begins to form connections that cast new light on his–and our–understanding of war.

Combining poetic intensity with gritty realism, blending biting humor with tragic drama, moving toward a denouement as inevitable as it is devastating, The Ghost Road both encapsulates history and transcends it. It is a modern masterpiece.

Another thing that was added to my disappointment was that I regret not having bought a critically-acclaimed book because of its bad condition,The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers; it has been scrawled with some comments which must have been done by a literary critic, and two books which may be popular among the literati because of their compelling reviews at their back covers:Pure by Andrew Miller  and One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow .I hope I can still find them. Better luck next time.

As long as possible I want to avoid splurging on books I will just store for a longer period of time. Besides, I realized that I can only buy a new one  if I have almost read half of the books I haven’t even laid a finger on, especially if  that one is  rare. What an oxymoron resolution!How about challenging myself to read  them within a year? In a pig’s eye! 

Just god’s will!  I will just read  and read and read. Hahaha

How about you, buddies? What books have you bought recently? 🙂

Happy Reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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JANUARY BOOKS 2016

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Today, my  fellow Filipino-Chinese countrymen and the  Korean community living in the Philippines have been painting the town red in observance of the New Year according to the lunar calendar. In fact, our President declared Monday, February 08 as a non-working holiday -a long weekend for those who had  no office work this last  weekend , and especially for those voracious readers- to give respect to their most celebrated tradition. Unfortunately, our academy was open ,  par for the course conforming to Korean’s“ workaholic” culture-a custom I have almost adapted to. If I we didn’t have classes, I would definitely   have holed up in my library house the whole day. 😛 I  just want to keep up with the books I have laid on my table for a long time, the wrapped-up books  I scavenged on last year.

With no  further ado, here are the books I  ENJOYED in January because I gave most of them  high ratings:

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Book: The Professor’s Daughter

Genre: Comic

Author:Joann Sfar

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts: I liked its concept of the story- a dashing  mummy  Imhotep IV  fell in love with an Egyptologist’s beautiful daughter. Besides, its ending is unexpected without clinging to the reality.

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Book: Salu-Salo Para Kay Kuya

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: Ergoe Tinio

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts: A very touching story  that everyone who has the same experience can relate to.

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Book: Tolits

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: Genaro Gojo Cruz

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts:  Another Gojo Cruz’s masterpiece which has proved his skills in being a children raconteur.

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Book: Man in the Dark

Genre:  Dystopian Novel

Author : Paul Auster

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: Auster’s book that endeared me to him more. I want to read his other works more.

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Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

  Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: I belong to the readers who claim his  being a gifted writer. I will re-read it in  paperback.

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Book: Bread Givers

Author: Anzia Yezierska

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: A toes-curling but important book  we should read to understand immigrant life as well as ridiculous customs we should no longer observe in our modern daily life.

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Book: Crossing the Water: Eighteen Months on an Island Working with Troubled Boys- A  Teacher’s Memoir

Genre: Memoir

Author: Daniel Robb

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thought: A worth reading for educators and an eye-opener for narrow-minded society.

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Book: The Mercury Reader

Author: Pearson

Rating: 5/ 5 stars

 Thoughts:  A collection of gifted writers’  essays which  can move the world. Follow up with my review of it next week.

In this month, I will try to finish two voluminous novels ( when my tight schedule  permits)  that have still been collecting dust bunnies on my currently-reading shelf: Moby Dick ,The Last of the Mohican ,and S. Vagus’  Kasma Forma.  Probably, I will read at least one of them depending on my   reading condition. But I am determined to read S. Vagus’s ( Grammarian, don’t be confused about the possessive form. I just prefer William Strunk Jr.’ s The Elements of Style.) because I have been enjoying  it so far, especially it is somehow light,  and interestingly, has something to do with philosophy.  In addition,  there are some books in my huge tinned  “ baul” I found more  tempting to read.  Gee, little did I realize that I have been hoarding  a great deal of   books . Most of them   still look new since I no longer desire to read an old, tattered one. So, before they become  as crispy as dried leaves , I have to  keep up with them before the year ends.  Batman ( God ) willing!

Kung Hei Fat Choi, buddies! 🙂

 

A Giveaway On My List

A book came all the way from the U.K. Yippee! Thanks to the author. It is a dubious honor to read and review his first novel.

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The  genre of the novel is fantasy. What I liked about it is its  cover- mystically enchanting.

Here is the description of the book on Goodreads:

Kasmah

A series written for those who enjoy discovering a world,
its mythos, characters, and story threads both big and small,
come together over multiple books.

Forma

In the scorched lands of the Maharaan lives a dark-skinned girl soon to become a woman.
Capable and strong, confident and caring;
all she has known is peace, all she has known is purpose.
All she will bring:
Death.

On the icy plains, beyond the Gadori forests, lies a dead boy.
Forgotten by the world and himself,
he is about to be given the hardest challenge of all:
Life.

In the center of Kasmah one sits above all, the Integra Divinitas.
Beyond the trappings of the common, bound to mankind by responsibility.
A burden that, should any Divinitas fail, could bring the worst fate of all:
Chaos.

All promises must be fulfilled.

For Kasmah… will grow.

 

Although there are still some books in line I have to keep up with before the year ends, I cannot resist the excitement and temptation to   bury myself in it.

Happy reading, buddies! 🙂

My Top 13 Books In October 2015

Let me play. At this time, I will rank the books  I read within the month of October  based on my subjective judgment. No need a rubric  system.  My ranking  depends on the impact of the book  upon me as a voracious reader. My rating  following   Goodreads’s systems can still be applicable.

So , here are my top 13 books in October  with my brief  insights into  them :

  1. wastedblog__97037_07e64de2-de48-4b14-ad47-79826a0475cc_grandeWasted by Jerry Alanguilan ( 5/ 5 stars )
“  Its themes are  heart-trending and idealistic, but they can happen in real life. Also, I liked the illustrations.”

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  1. A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela ( 4/ 5 stars )
“  Mandela taught  me the real meaning of JUSTICE.”

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  1. The Martian by Andy Weir ( 4/ 5 stars )
“  We should  teach ourselves to  be scientists  .”

  1. Thinking by John Brockman ( 3/ 5 stars )
“  Life is so complicated that  I even wanted to beat my head against a wall.”

  1. The Egg by Andy Weir ( 3/ 5 stars )
“ Life comes  from an egg”

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  1. Diary ng Pangit by HaveYoueSeenThisGirl ( 3/ 5 stars )
“ We can all be ugly in some aspects. You may not be aware of that.”

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  1. Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs ( 3/ 5 stars )
“ Words are not enough to scare the living day out of me. I am a visual learner.”

  1. Ang Mahiyaing Manok by Rebecca T. Anonuevo ( 3 / 5 stars )
“Timidity is an illusion.”

  1. The Nichomachean Ethics by Aristotle ( 3/5 stars )
“ Psychology is the begotten son of Philosophy. Gocha!”

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  1. Every day by David Levithan ( 2/ 5 stars )
“ I wish I were in  the body of  the famous Filipino fashion designer, Francis Libiran. :P”

  1. Alamat ng Ampalaya by Augie Rivera ( 2/ 5 stars )
“  You taste bitter if you are jealous of  others.”

  1. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata ( 1/ 5 stars )
“ I wish there was snow in the Philippines. I could meet my soul mate. ”

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  1. Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav ( 1/ 5 stars )
Love is like a book. :P

Whoa, tempus fugit!  I can’t believe that it is November now. How many days left before the most- celebrated shindig ?

My plan  is to complete my reading goal on Goodreads by December. Unfortunately, I predict that I  can’t make it to 200; rather, to 150   books. I want to spend my time in December, aside from reading the other books left  on my table, writing the reviews of the books I have finished and backlogged since January. Besides, I’ll be busy with my  teaching again.

Within this month, I hope to read  more than 13 books. ^_^

Happy reading, buddies! ^__^

9 Books in September 2015

September was the month when I was quite busy, so I did not have enough time to read and read and read.  Although it’s been my habit to read anytime and anywhere, my  bod can’t abide by my mental desire.  Besides, I don’t want to appear to be derelict in my job.

Most of the reads I dabbled in are more on poems by Lewis Carrol and Edgar Allan Poe, some Roald Dahl’s short stories, a memoir, and a non-fiction:

  1. Taste by Roald Dahl ( 1 star ): I promised to read Roald Dahl’s short stories .  Unfortunately, I got on the wrong foot; I did not like it much. Maybe, I want to read something  as morally  adhering as his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Nevertheless, I  have proven that he has these skills in  twisting a short story as what readers and fans of his put.

2. Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol ( 5 stars ) A poetic short story beyond my imagination and understanding because of its Shakespearean-like  style of writing. Lewiss Carrol created  the words  students in this generation may not be familiar with. Cool! I love this kind of story.  ^__^3. The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe ( 5 stars ) Another poem by Edgar Allan Poe that impressed me  because of its onomatopoeic content.  I enjoy reading   poems with imaginative sounds. Clang! Clang! Clang!

4. Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman ( 4 stars ) I was impressed by how Max Shulman wrote a story using the  different kinds of illogical fallacies. It’s WOW! I love LOGIC 101. As a matter of fact, it has been adapted for a movie. Ooh la-la!

5. Man from the South by Roald Dahl ( 3 stars ) My third short story by Roald Dahl. At this point, he  has knocked me dead. I loved how he made this suspenseful and full of intense. However, I was disappointed at the ending.  Sorta leaving a reader hanging in the air. Just that!

6. Jungle of No Mercy : A Memoir of a Japanese Soldier  by Hiroyuki Mizuguchi( 5 stars ) The author’s spectering  experiences make it an easy read. In addition, it  has something to do with Filipino life during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, so I can relate to the author’s accounts. I doubt if it could be adapted  for a movie as sensational and critically acclaimed as Heneral Luna.  ^_^

7. The Soldier by Roald Dahl ( 2 stars ) Its outlandish story could be impressive had Dahl not written it with sprawling plot. In the end, I got lost. What was it? May be  I have gotta read it again!

8. My Lady Love, My Dove by Roald Dahl ( 2 stars ) My fourth short story by Dahl that made me stop my reading marathon. (sighs) Ok, taken that he is indeed skillful in writing stories but  I guess I am no longer a child or teen-ager to buy this story . Hmmm… I’ll take it into account next time. @_@

9.The Republic by Plato ( 5 stars ) The first book  of the Philosophy Book Club which  I joined recently . Whoa! Upon reading it, I was like a Greek scholar in the past boggled at the philosophical topics discussed by Plato.  Nonetheless, I  enjoyed ;and at the same time, was challenged by the wide-range  contents. I can do it more! The next book for the month of October is The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle. @_@

So far I have read three books which  I will be posting next month. I am more passionate about reading this month. Also, I am raring to finish the books on my currently-reading-shelf which for sure have been collecting dust bunnies . Gee!

Happy Reading, buddies! ^__^

 

 

Local Books are Now on My List

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Definitely, my big, big frustration   since   the day I discovered my penchant for reading books is to buy  not only  new best-selling  international books but also local ones written by award-winning Filipino writers. (Who wants to get stuck  in a time warp? ) I still cannot afford their astronomical prices despite that I’ve got my job , so I just slobber over them  in book stores while thumbing through their  appealing paperbacks.

I rarely splurge on one book when I have enough budgets. Poor old  me!  I could be kleptomaniac for sure. Jeez whiz!  In fact, I could spend 350 pesos , the common price of the books , on more than 7 imported books at  a second-hand book store. At least they are on the list of 1001 Best Novels of All Time. Bitter!

Green with envy , I leave the book stores  chanting yada yada yada  in the  chambers of my mind, hoping   that the pantheistic forces   conspire with me that those books I crave  be on sale.

Eventually, my silent  wish has come true. Recently, when my friend fond of reading Philippine books had told me about the local books the National Book Store branch is selling on sale- it may be  part of its yearly clearance -I marked it on my plan last Saturday. I was aware of that I had to scrimp and save, but  this  desire  had kept on eating me.

1. Bulosan : An Introduction with Selections by E. San Juan , Jr.

If someone asks me what  Filipino classic  he/ she wants  me to  recommend, definitely, so far, Carlos Bulosan’s  America is in the Heart. This  novel  is  based on   his life story as a countryside  boy and eventually as an  immigrant in America    during the  American colonialism. So, his accounts are heart-rending  and inspiring , for Bulosan showed his determination and hope he had showed from being a farmer boy to a writer  despite the travails he had gone through.

Bulosan mentioned in his book the stories and essays  that redounded him to fame. I can read some of them in this book. I can’t wait.  ^^

 2. Jungle of No Mercy : Memoir of Japanese Soldier by Hiroyuki Mizuguchi

I love reading memoirs. When I  found out that it has something to do with a Japanese soldier’s memoir in the Philippines , I remembered my a-la-Lola-Basyang  grandfather who always told us about his juvenile life during  the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. So,this book could be a time machine I could ride back to the past. Yaahaa!

3. The Secret of the Cave and other Stories for Young Readers by Ed Maranan

Its  paperback picture is so intriguing that I was like a child eager to know what the  aboriginal boy draws in the cave wall  all about. I read and rated it with 3 stars. I’m still assimilating  it.^^

4. Danton Remoto’s books

I am now a big fan of Danton Remoto. Before I disliked his ways of publicity in the media  considering that his advocacy is about our rights, but  upon reading his  Gaydar,  there is a method to his  madness after all.

a. Pulotgata: The Love Poems

I want to explore  Remoto’s godsend talents more.  I read and rated it with 4 stars. I’m still assimilating it.^^

b. Bright, Catholic- and Gay

Reading Remoto’s essays on social issues , notably homosexuality in the Philippines is addicting. I am currently reading it now. But I still can’t somehow bring myself to read it  on the bus to work since its  paperback is about two Davids holding hands with  wings flapping. ( Blushing)

c. Gaydar

My friend only  lent me this  , so  I want to have my own copy since  Remoto’s writing skills struck me in awe.

I’m enjoying reading local books now which I , of course,   must do  to show our  nationalism. Actually, my desire to read  books on spirit of  nationalism  has been awoken  since I read Celso  Al.  Carunungan’s Like a Brave Man ( Alas,   I dunno where  on earth it has been . Besides,  Goodreads does not have  its records) ; then, Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story.

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There are some  books  in National Book Store  I wish to read  more beyond  exorbitance. As of now , all I have to do is to bind time.

“ When you want something, all the universe conspires…”

-Paolo Coelho-

Happy reading to everyone! ^__^

tall story

New Books On My List

Book Collection

A bad  habit that I find unbreakable is  my  unruly  desire to  drop into the  bookstores on Saturdays when  I can take my sweet time  hunting the books  on my list until I realize that time  gets late although I still want to stay in that place in a little while more.  As I keep on doing it, I tend to mass a large stack  of books that tend to   collect  dust  , for I have not finished  the ones I am still reading.  I am worried that this mania can for sure lead to filling my house with the  books to the rafter.

Since I’ve got my own blog, I take a pleasure in sharing the books I splurge on.

The new books  are included  on the list of  1001 Best Novels of All Time .

1. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

At last I bought this book. I always hung back whether I had to buy it or not whenever I  spotted it  dirty cheap before , considering that it is  included on my list. I guess   its  simple paperback  is not that appealing as the others’. As a rule, we judge the cover rather than  its content.  Eventually,  when the National Book Store launched its new copies again, I became obsessed   then.  I made  sure that it was one of  the books I  had to dig out at Book Sale  branches .  Fortunately, the universe conspired with me.

2. Man in the Dark by Paul Austere

Paul Austere’s Timbuktu  dropped my jaws. I was fascinated by his writing styles- the story could be simple but absorbing .  Thereafter,  I long to read his other works; I  wonder if he has the same manner of writing.

3. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Last year, Philip Roth announced in the news that he had lost his passion for writing. Aware of his immortality among the literati, I searched his works on Goodreads along with their reviews from  the GR community . I was surprised that he is considered as an exceptional writer. No wonder most of his works are rated with between 4 and 5 stars.Frankly speaking, although I enjoy historical novels, the paperback of this novel is intimidating. You know what I meant. I don’t want to get in a conundrum again.

Threesome, but, dear me! I’ve been a ” book fly” since I got a job and discovered Book Sale. It’s gonna be my  deep-rooted habit till  Kingdom come.

A pang of guilt  has been coming over me! (laughs)

Happy Reading to everyone! ^_^