My Reading Goals in My 30’s

My Facebook  wall  has still been  inundated with a spate of  heart-warming greetings from my families, friends , and the people I am acquainted with  since Tuesday ,reminding me of that it is now my 30th years of existence in this complicated world.Gee, I am now  in another passage of rite  where every aspect of life may be beyond control. Thus, aside from the fact that it is the time when I have to consider my health, career, and marriage life- if the universe conspires with me – I look forward to reading more books that are more meaningful, more life-transforming.

Ever since I was such a simpleton,  it was typical of me to to be observed in the corner of the living room burying myself in pieces of paper  people might have found academical. If only they knew. I would read any books at my disposal: textbooks, old newspapers, brochures, magazines, notebooks disposed of by a student, bibles- anything I could read. But I never had a good  chance of reading the literary books every child must read such as Hans Christian Andersen ‘s fairy tales, Lucy Maud Montgomery ‘s Anne of Green GablesAlexandre Dumas The Three Musketeers , Shel Silverstein‘s The Giving TreeRudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book, to name a few. Nor was I brought along to a book store where I could have been encouraged to choose ones I would have loved to read. Our life at that point was still a hand to the mouth.

My 20’s was the stage of my life when I  took the chance to read the books I could afford. I have got a job which gives me access to this epistemological obsession given the fact that my profession is paid peanuts. Thanks to book stores selling second-hand books. Besides, my enormous enthusiasm for books  has groomed me to be a trying-hard literary critic. I have discovered some famous writers  I wish to have known when I was still   very young, whose works have shaken the world history.At the same time, I wound up in some book club sites where I have met many  book monsters like me who give me ideas of how to write, of how to mold the potentials I had been shrouding in the darkest nooks of  my unconsciousness

In my 30’s, I look ahead to  having crossed out all the books in the 1001-best-books-you-must-read-before-you-die list suggested by  an online  magazine, The Guardian  before making the transition to mid-life crisis. Click here for the list. I fancy having  aged out of  this life period  like a well-read person, young at heart. At that time, I would be such a consummate book bore you might turn your back on. In addition, I will try to be well-versed in other major forms of literary genre I  have not explored yet such as academics since there are many things in the world I want to know more, poetry since I want to write a ala Lang Leav poems you might wince at, dramas since I  could be a masquerader, commentaries since I am a social activist, and what not.

Also, in my 30’s ,I hope I will be able to keep this blog updated, available  till kingdom come . I  will try to be more dedicated to and enthusiastic about writing and sharing all my idiosyncratic and hyperbolic ideas. Most importantly, I hope  I will be able to accomplish my own masterpieces , somehow as critically acclaimed as an immortal writer’s. I am an ambitious frog. Fancy that!

For the meantime, another special friend of mine sent her  love with a  book gift. It is Will in the World.

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Goodreads Book Descriptions:

Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 4th 2016 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2004)

A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world’s greatest playwright.

Also, I  was deeply touched by a special letter from my Korean student. This is one of the best letters I have received thus far.

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People say that life  is the thing , but I prefer reading. – Logan Pearsall Smith-

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables #1) by L.M. Montgomery: A Book Review

12959529_10206307364744801_1558231329_oI was just a plain simple-minded student, ignorant of the things existed around me; I did not understand why I was in school . Day by day, I began to understand that I was there to study because someone was teaching us how to count 1, 2, 3 and how to read A,B,C . But still I sat there with my mouth agape, wondering why I had to study, staring at my other classmates how come they were so good at answering the questions traded by our teachers, why they were at the top of the class and  lauded by a faculty of teachers and a circle of unknown friends. I even thought then that my presence with my classmates inside the classroom was enough to complete the day. Eventually, I realized that I had to read , memorize, and partake in the class. Otherwise, I would have been ridiculed by the haughty students and abominated by the self-proclaimed highly educated teachers who ostentatiously displayed their credentials. In the end, I had  discovered what I really was in the eyes of the society:  I was an average student or less than that after all. Overtime, laced with the concept of the educational system, I tried to explore the uncharted territory of  how to develop myself intellectually. I tried to read, but it happened that way. I just wanted to read whatever reads at my disposal. When I got tired of the same books, I would borrow my friends’ or visit anyone I was acquainted with whose house was furnished with bookshelves. I would stay in their houses the whole afternoon after my school, rain or shine. However, despite my full effort, I still did not know then how to study nor write an essay efficiently. Fortunately, at that time, some Philippine TV stations capitalized on broadcasting Japanese animations. One of them was the adaptation for Anne of Green Gables. You know what happened? You might call me shallow or puerile then, but I don’t mind. In light of this animation, I decided to help myself on how I should be a good student. I tried to do the tricks as what Anne Shirley does, and which my bright classmates may have done scrupulously. I had to read the books in advance and commit their contents to my memory. Consequently, I could keep up with my classmates after all. I could answer my teachers’ questions because I had studied them. Thanks to the sympathetic character of Anne Shirley. My study tactic then was Anne-of-the-Green-Gables Approach.(laughs)

Anne of Green of Gables is a beautiful story. Through the character of Anne Shirley, the loquacious orphan who happened to be adopted by Mr.and Ms.Cuthbert, either young or adult  readers  can learn a great deal of things about life. Not that you will become as talkative as she is. Not that you will become as exaggerated and hyperbolic as she is , for she always imagines  everything around in different perspectives. As you know her favorite philosophy is, “ There is scope  for imagination.”  And not that you will learn not to be content with your physical appearances ,for she hates herself like her name  being spelled Ann without e,  her sharp elbows, freckled face , and  “carrot hair” as  her future husband Gilbert Blythe puts it. Not that you will be as clumsy as she is, for she has done many mistakes. Not that you will be as cowardly and pessimistic as she is, for she cannot face the reality of life.

Instead, Anne Shirley , during my feminine teenage,  taught me how to break the old tradition when children had to hold their tongues. There is nothing wrong if you reason out as long as you do it politely. However, applying it directly to my parents did not work; they were sticks-in-the-mud and the avatars of old traditions.  (laughs) In addition, Anne Shirley taught me to appreciate all the beautiful things in the world. When I look at a tree, it is not just the idea of the fact that it is a tree, but its state of being a tree. When I see a lake with its sparkling reflection, I don’t just describe it beautiful, but in its degree of beauty. When I wake up in the morning, I do not just think of its real existence as it usually happens every day; instead, I feel its connection to my existence. Can I just call her Monet-ian? ( giggles) However, it is sad to say that we are now living in a revolutionary era when the old patterns of beauty are overlapping with the beauty of technology. We can no longer distinguish what is beautiful in our environment.

Anne Shirley was one of the   influential   literary characters in my teenage life. Her character as an eager and enthusiastic learner proves that everyone, no matter how average your IQ is , can be a bright student if you are motivated to teach yourself. So, it has been my philosophy in education that all students have the potential to excel in any academic subjects. Everyone is special. It is just a matter of perseverance. However, in the context of psychology, it cannot happen without the ensuing moral support of the significant others.

As a matter of fact, Anne Shirley taught me to be no slouch when it comes to writing an essay in English. I was not confident enough about it yet. I tried to write and write in my own style despite my limited English vocabulary. I was even weaned on her quixotic style of poetry.

Another thing that I will not forget about this animation is its sentimental  theme. Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert, both sister and brother who  have been stuck in a time warp, will be emotionally transmogrified by Anne’s  delightful presence at the Green Gables. Ms. Cuthbert is known for being a stickler for her lifestyle while Mathew,a shy old man who seems to have never been used to socialization. Anne Shirley is the iconoclast in an idyllic  place that has left behind the modern era.

Finally, as what we teenagers who watched its Japanese adaptation  in the 1990’s, all the rage to the story is the intimate friendship between Anne and Diana  Barry and the suppressed but irresistible promising  romance  between Anne and Gilbert Blight.

Aside from its themes, what I liked about the book more is its well-written prose. All the sentences of how the author describes, narrates the story  are  perfectly matched with Anne Shirley’s exaggerated characters. I tend to cringe at the author’s intention, but it makes sense. Probably, L.M Montgomery   represents Anne Shirley because , apparently, she based this novel on her said rural life experience.

Whenever my college friend and I dropped into a second-hand bookstore before, the first thing she would ask the cashier about was  its sequels. She would not buy anything except this because she wanted to finish all the series first. So, after reading it, I understand now why she is so fond of it.  Now, it is my turn to do the same way. In fact, I have still been looking for them:Anne of Avonlea #2, Anne of the Island #3, Anne of Windy Poplars #4, Anne’s House of Dreams #5, Anne of Ingleside #6, Rainbow Valley #7, Rilla of Ingleside #8

When I have finished them all, for sure, I could join The Anne of the Green Gables Club out there. Could you let me in? 🙂

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee: A Book Review

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“Truth is not spoken in anger. Truth is spoken, if it ever comes to be spoken, in love. The gaze of love is not deluded. It sees what is best in the beloved even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light.”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man

This is my first book of JM Coetzee. I found it impressive, for he was able to put his themes into a genre with beautiful sentences and vocabulary, intended to spin your mind around, to ponder over the enigmatic scenes, to lead you to the plot until you get sick and tired of it. In other words, it is a matter of deeper concentration. If I were a writer, I would write such a novel. In fact, this book reminds me of one of my favorite novelists, E. L. Doctorow. It may be the reason why Coetzee  has won Booker  Prize twice and Nobel  Prize for Literature as well. I am now more curious about his other best-sellers.

Coetzee’s book basically deals with what kind of life it is in your 60’s. It can give you the realization that life is a matter of choice. While you are growing up, explore the needs which can mold your self-fulfillment before you reach your 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s when you ask yourself what kind of life you have had . In SLOW MAN, Paul’s life is full of questions- regrets, disappointment, and immorality. Therefore, while you are still young, do now the fundamental needs in our life: affiliation needs and achievement needs. ( smiles)

Despite the fact that the book is steeped in beautiful sentences- I did not even notice the author himself use constructed sentences- the sequence of the stories becomes self-righteous and somehow monotonous. To read the beginning is page-turning until you reach the climax where you get tired of the quizzical argument between Paul and Costello as though I tried to make it through the ending which is so disappointing.

Aside from the moral lessons on existentialism, I learned from this book more that there is no such perfect person. Who are you to judge the people around?

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s ok.)

The Pearl by John Steinbeck: A Book Review

pearl“For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.”
– John Steinbeck, The Pearl

I hung back a few times whether I had to give it five or four stars on account of the Goodreads members’ opinions. I was wondering why. For me, I wanted to give it 5 stars. First of all, since it is a novella, I was not expecting something unnecessary puddings to make it Pulitzer-prize winning. The story is neat and organized- suitable to John Steinback’s goal, enough to give a moral lesson that materialism brings about EVIL. I learned that he had a hard time finishing it, which is normal among writers. It could have been as great a novel as his other works. Nevertheless, he paid off. ^^

It reminded me of its excerpt we studied in high school literature. Alas, I did not take it seriously. Neverthess, its caricature, of a man holding the pearl up in the sky while floating in the sea is still marked in my memory.

It is subject to different interpretations because of the symbols Steinbeck used such as the Song of the Family, the Song of the Evil, The Pearl, and so on.

What gave me an impact was when the jewelry dealers examine the pearl whether it is valuable or not. It is up to you if you think the three jewelry dealers cheat on Kino, the protagonist. But their opinions might dwell upon your mind, for they have something to do with what the PEARL as the symbol of materialism is all about.

For me, since I read John Steinbeck’s biography in Wikipedia, the crux of this novella is that CAPITALISM is the root of evil. Do you think so? ^^

If I read his immortal novels The Grape of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, would I regret having given it 5 stars? If I had read them, in comparison, I would say they were better than this one. Since I haven’t read them yet, it is just my first reaction to this novella – amazing! ^^

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It is amazing.)

Home (Gilead #2) by Marilynne Robinson: A Book Review

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“You must forgive in order to understand.” Marilynne Robinson, Home

There may be different kinds of readers. Readers who read something exciting that you almost tear or crumple the next page, something intriguing which  scenes or characters dwell upon you, something compelling that you would be keyed-up about and share with your friends, or something that you are excited to wait for its sequel. I may be this kind of reader. However, it has always occurred to me how a reader puts up with something quiet, something that does not show liveliness among the characters in the story, and something that a writer intends to tell in a smooth, calm voice, and something that can make you throw it up in the air, for you find it so boring. HOME by Marilynne Robinson is the one that could be mistaken for. Nonetheless, there is something far different about this book, something newer, more unparalleled than I had expected.

This book does not only beg the question of what HOME is, but also this is conducive to catharsis. If you have these pent-up emotions, reading it can somehow soothe you. You might not help yourself holding back your tears, welling up in your eyes. If you have been nursing a grudge against your father or even against any member of the family- brother, sister, or mother- you might cave in to forgiveness. You may not harbor ill will toward them. In fact, this book is reminiscent of your childhood. You might remember all the moments you spent with your family at a place you considered your HOME, and now they are gone. So when you read this book, you might have these indescribable feelings whenever you turn each page as though you are being healed, for you may relate to the story. But I believe whoever reads it can be vulnerable.

This book, no doubt, won the 2009 Orange Prize  for fiction, Long  Angeles TIMES Book Prize  , one of the “100 Notable Books of 2008” by The New York Times, one of the “Best Books of 2008” by The Washington Post, one of the “Favorite Books 2008” of The Los Angeles Times, one of the “Best Books of 2008” of The San Francisco Chronicle, as well as one of The New Yorker book critic James Wood’s ten favorite books of 2008. (Source: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact that its author has received a good deal of prestigious awards and is well-known for her other critically acclaimed novels such as Gilead  and Housekeeping, I had not  laid a finger on nor given a thought of buying it even though it is almost dirty cheap in BOOKSALE branches . In addition, its common cover in any publishing edition, illustrating a rocking chair, known as Morris chair in the story, had given me an idea that this book might have been monotonous. But not at all! This turned out to be a good read and I would highly recommend it to everybody.

Mmm,I want to get healed more by Marilynne Robinson by reading her Gilead which is a companion to Home. Although I should have first read the Gilead,giving it 4 stars is reasonable; I really liked it.

I can predict that M. Robinson will be one of my favorite writers. ^^

Rating : 4/ 5 stars  ( I really liked it. )

Endgame by Samuel Beckett: A Book Review

endgame“HAMM: We’re not beginning to… to… mean something?
CLOV: Mean something! You and I, mean something!
(Brief laugh.) Ah that’s a good one!”
Samuel Beckett, Endgame

It is my first book of Samuel Beckett, and I intended to read a thin one in order to get an idea of how remarkable the writer is since I have read a plenty of positive feedback about his writing styles from the literati . Unfortunately, this one is soooo confusing to make out. I cannot get at the sequence of the story- the characters just seem to talk incessantly. There are apparently two characters who seem to talk to one another philosophically; then, another characters appear out of nowhere making a la cameo appearances. I said to myself , “ What’s going on in here? “ (laughs) Still, I kept on going. But when I looked it up in Wikipedia, I found out the real concept of the play: I was impressed. I have never seen nor read such kind of play that two characters have conversation next to their own habitats- dustbins. What an out-of-this world scene!

The play has just four characters: Hamm , unable to stand and blind; Clov , servant of Hamm; unable to sit; Nagg , Hamm’s father; has no legs and lives in a dustbin; and Nell , Hamm’s mother; has no legs and lives in a dustbin next to Nagg.

In the end, I am still boggled at the philosophical discourse among the characters- a challenge I might get through in an attempt to read his other books, particularly his trilogies.

“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that… Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it’s always the same thing. Yes, it’s like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don’t laugh any more.”
Samuel Beckett, Endgame

Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at the Dutchess Theatre in 2009 ( Photo:ALASTAIR MUIR)

If I watch its stage play, I will enjoy it more.^_^

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s ok. )

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien: A Book Review

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“They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity.”

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

I had just finished reading All  Quiet On The  Western  Front by Erich Maria Remarque ( 4 stars ) when I decided to dig it out although my mind was almost riddled with bullets of war stories , but this collection of stories by Tim O’Brien has awoken me more to the real miseries experienced by soldiers in the battle. Unlike E. M. Remarque’s- neat, moving, and straightforward without any padding pettifoggery, Tim O’Brien’s is steeped in war experiences –deeper, more pathetic, miserable, and  detailed. On the other hand, the thing they have in common with is that both of them made writing as the instrument of releasing their pent-up feelings the war brought about.

Tim O’Brien’s stories – not to mention about his fellow soldiers in the war- stuck in my throat. I could not express how sorry I am for how burdensome the things they had to carry. Also, I could not help imagining the brutal, “man-made” miseries befell him, along with his fellow soldiers. I was very, very sorry for them. In fact, reading his stories seems like listening to a soldier undergoing a cathartic therapy, smoothly narrating his traumatic experiences.

I liked Tim O’Brien’s craft of writing. The only problem with it is that some stories are redundant. They have been mentioned in the other stories.

If I were a soldier, aside from the things indispensable in the war, a bookworm like me would not mind adding to my load the following items such as: my very thick and hefty Longman Dictionary; my favorite books; my own toothpaste and toothbrush; and my mosquito net. Gee, my life getting drafted into army would turn to hell.

As far as I remember, I read from BOOKRIOT that it is one of the books young adults must read in their twenties. Yes, we must.

Once again, my sympathy goes out to all soldiers around the world. I am NO TO WAR .

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )