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! 🙂

 

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster: A Book Review

3136288It is weird that when I see Paul Auster’s works included on the list of best novels of all time according to a magazine site, I have the compelling hunch that they are nifty reads.Also, when I see his images on Google, his physical aura of literary skills , his deep stare at the camera tends to pierce me as if everything stops moving just like the two of us in a motionless world. It is as though staring back at him renders me powerless, frozen in awe. Thereby, I start having been borne upon the idea that whenever I spot his books heaped on a mountain of books, there is a feeling that the author is a sacred cow to whom every book vulture should pay homage. And me? I am wildly and outrageously glad to jump at them as if I should kowtow to them even if all book vultures milling around the place cringe at my losing sense of decorum. What do they know? They may be in the dark that the books I long to gorge myself on are freshly nutritious. How do I know? They may not know that I have wolfed on one of his works- Timbuktu. ( The title has nothing to do with the title of my blog.) The book gave me the appetite that Auster is a gifted writer. There is something in his style that left a good aftertaste in my mouth then. So, no need to wonder why perhaps I am one of those book vultures who bear that desire to scavenger on his other works.

In his Timbuktu, the first thing I noticed was his light sentence structure- very well-written and prosy. At the same time, the concept of the story is philosophically interesting. I apologize for the spoiler. Timbuktu is a dog who has deeply intimate relationship with a hard-pressed, terminally-ill writer. At the end , I assure that you will find it heart- breaking . Alas, I never got the chance to write my review of it ; at that time , I still was not active on Goodreads and was ignorant of blogging. You may find the story common, for you have seen it in movies or TV dramas, but you will be amazed at what I call ‘ Auster’s simply brilliant work’. If you have not started reading his other works yet, I believe that Timbuktu is the springboard for discovering his talent. Go for it!

Now I have given a try at his Man in the Dark. I was a little astonished to find out that his writing style in this novel bears complete resemblance to his Timbuktu. I do not have the foggiest idea if his other works do likewise. Here I felt the lightness of his sentence structures, how he must choose the right words, phrases, or sentence structures ditto. So I enjoyed reading the novel without cease, without putting it aside if there were odds and ends I had to futz around first. When I was done with them, I would throw myself into it forgetting the world I was in. No wonder I did finish it all at once given the fact that it only consists of 180 pages.

Concept of the story:
August Brill is a seventy-two-year-old widower. He recovers from a car accident at his daughter’s house in Vermont. To kill time, he watches films which he criticizes since he is a retired book critic. He does it with his granddaughter who has the same interest. When he cannot sleep, he lies in bed in the dark staring into the ceiling and trying to tell himself stories. At the same time, in doing so, he cannot remember his wife and the heinous murder of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus.

I may be familiar with the setting that there is “a minor story in the story”, but for me, I do not look at that perspective; rather, I find the essence of the story mind-boggling. For instance, what is the relevance to the dystopian settings that the World Trade did not fall apart, that the U.S did not fight with Iran, instead the 2000 election results caused secession, that the state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war broke out? I mused over this essence, on the way to work by bus, during my 10-minute break in school, or even during my processing inside a john. That is why it took me a few days to review it. Unfortunately, I was at my wits’ ends. Sorry, folks, I even have my hands full. Maybe you could help me squeeze it out of me. You may claim it not to be a brain surgery at all. ^^ Anyway, I may come to that literary epiphany sometime in the future. For this reason, therefore, Auster injected this enigmatic idea into this story that only he could expound what those ideas in question mean all about. Indeed, he is remarkable. I wish I had attended his launching this book ( Man in the Dark ) if I were American. In a pig’s eye!

Given that I found “the minor story” somewhat bothering, I could not divert my emotional attention from the main character’s role which may be the crucial part of the story. In that part, I immersed myself , feeling my tears welling up in the cups of my eyes, reminding me of two people whom I deeply love: my mother who already departed the world and my father, a widower too, whom I have been cold with. Likewise, in the end, it is all about life, life, life as famous writer Ethan Hawthorne’s sister Rose Hawthorne put it, “ As the weird world rolls on.”

Now I have devoured two of Auster’s books although I am still assimilating their substance thoroughly. When I visit the heap of books in the mountain, I will not hesitate to scrounge on his other works, notably The Book of Illusions and The New York Trilogy. I can’t wait for them! ^^

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

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My own paperback copy  published by Picador ^^

23 BOOKS IN JULY 2015

Last year, I managed to read 100 books . It was  an  astounding and fulfilling  experience I had not expected . It just so happened that I had  rude awakening  in that mid-year when I found out that Goodreads, the biggest book club site in the world , has this  challenging goal for its members including myself. You can set a reading goal as many as you can. The site monitors how many reads you have done so far which I am a little quite pressured about. However,  I realized that you don’t need to keep up with the goal. Just enjoy the book. You can  understand it more.

Since I  just created my own book blog  in March this year, it is now too late for me to share the books I  have read  for the past 4 months. So I will just share the ones I read in July, the month when  I was so   obsessed with reading more books.

Supposedly, I must read only the books on   my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads. However,  I  drew my attention to the local  books   I bought on sale. Well, that’s the way a bookworm and book lover  is.

The books are more on poems, LGBT, essays, children books, novellas, and short stories.

 

1. Human Decency by Gong Ji Young ( 3/5 stars ). One of the Korean fictions my nun student gave to me as a pasalubong ( gift ) coming from her country. I liked the story because its plot is quite enigmatic and misleading.

2. Saling Pusa by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz ( 1/ 5 stars ) I had had a hard time looking for its copy at National Book Store branches .

Not much satisfied with its story but I was glad to have read one of Genaro Cruz’s children books since I am now his  avid fan  upon reading his YA Connecting the Dots: Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay.

I  have still been  hunting his other works such as Si Tolits, Jeep ni Mang Tomas, Ang Bahaghari, Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa,Pitong AngelAng Aking PamilyaHello, Tatay!Ang Asul na KaritonMalaking Malaking BahayAng Kamisetang Dilaw. and Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting

I am now a Genaronian. (laughs)

3. Nanay Coring by Yvette Hernandez ( 2/ 5 stars ) A simple story – enough to educate children how the National Book Store reached its apogee under the indefatigable determination of Nanay Coring

4.Angkas by Aris Santos ( 3 / 5 stars ) An LGBT short story which opens narrow-minded individuals’ eyes to the real internal feelings of a gay toward a straight man.

5. Hangganan by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) Another eye-opener LGBT short story. The story is realistic that only LGBT community can understand.

6. Best Man by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) It could be my most favorite work of Aris Santos. I cringed at the story , but its concept bespeaks that there is such thing Love Triangle  between a gay and man and a woman. Enough said!

7. A Dwarf Launches a Little Ball by Cho Se-Hui ( 3/ 5 stars )  Another story  that illustrates what a really knitted Korean family looked like  when Korea was still a poor country.

8. Father Solo and other stories by Isagani R. Cruz ( 5/ 5 stars ) Thanks to Isagani . I have now the confidence to write.

9. The Soul Mate Meets its Mate by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) I did not like the story- ill-thought and slapdash. It could be a chit-lit. Nevertheless, I admired Bala’s craft of writing.

10. Ang Kwento ng Manok at ang Asong si Patty by Arch Bala ( 4/ 5 stars ) Among Bala’s works, it is the only one that astounded and proved me wrong that he has what it takes to be a good writer. Encore, Arch! I liked this kind of story. It could be your trademark.  ^_^

11. Sapatos by Arch Bala ( 2/ 5 stars ) What happened? The beginning and the middle part are almost cliff-hanging and at the same time impressively adulterated with  the  beautiful sentences. However, its ending seems like the author was at loss for   another ideas.  God willing! Sayang!

12. Hope by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) It just so happened that I am not Kapampangan. I had these stuffy feelings.

13. Bulosan by Carlos Bulosan ( 5 / 5 stars ) Another remarkable collections of Carlos Bulosan.

14. The Landlady by Road Dahl ( 1/ 5 stars ) The longer I read Road Dahl’s stories, the more I come to realize that I don’t enjoy his works much. I still have some of his other short stories, but I will still hang in there.

15. Bight, Catholic-and Gay by Danton Remoto ( 4/ 5 stars ) I admire Danton Remoto’s writing styles. He is one of the writers along with Doris Lessing, and Isagani R. Cruz who made me muster enough confidence that I CAN  write.

16. The Secret of the Cave and Other  Stories for young  readers by Ed Maranan ( 3/ 5 stars ) Light and typical of Filipino writing

17. Ladlad 3 by Danton Remoto ( 5/ 5 stars ) At last I have completed this classic LGBT literature. I hope to read its new edition.

 18. Sugar and Salt by Nichotchka Rosca ( 5/ 5 stars ) Rotska has this gall to experiment a literary work. It is a W. O.W.!

19. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White ( 3 / 5 stars ) A philosophical book that an average young reader might not have an idea of what this book is really all about.

20. Pulot Gata by Danton Remoto ( 3/ 5 stars ) Read between the lines. ^^

21. Twisted Travels by Jessica Zafra ( 3/ 5 stars) Now I understand why Jessica Zafra is an immortal writer.

22. Gaydar by Danton Remot ( 5/ 5 stars ) Danton Remoto said , “ You CAN write after all.”

23. Where the Boys Are by Richard Labonte ( 3/5 stars ) An erotica which narrow-minded , or to put it bluntly, hypocrite, readers might cringe at.

I haven’t written my reviews of the books above yet   on account of my demanding job.  I need enough time to do so.

In this August ,  I will be clearing out  my currently –reading shelf on Goodreads. The books have been collecting dust bunnies and mice.

  1. Moby Dick by Herman Merville. I miss reading a classic steeped in old English words.
  2.  A Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I want to understand Nelson Mandela’s fighting spirit again.
  3. Thinking by John Brockman . It is  mental calisthenics.
  4. Dead Air by Iain Banks. I learned that it is not a good read, but still I will give it a try.

When I am tired of their hefty contents, I might turn  to:

  1. A Man in the Dark by Paul Austere.
  2. Jungle of No Memory: A Memoir of a Japanese Soldier by Hiroyuki Mizuguchi.
  3. Spartacus by Howard Fast . Little did I realize that I am fond of reading books on ancient military.

So far I have read 2 book for the first week of August.I am now kicking to  bury myself in those  above-mentioned  books.  ^^

Happy Reading to everyone! ^_^

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! ^_^

The Call of the Wild by Jack London: A Book Review

jackWhile reading this, there were four things bubbling in the chambers of my mind:

(1) Charles Darwin’s idea of “survival of the fittest”
(2) Nature vs. Nurture in psychology
(3) The vampire movie I have seen.
(4) Timbuktu, the dog in the novel of Paul Auster

Buck is accustomed to living in an uncivilized place where he has no idea of how horrible life is, for his masters are indifferent to him. Unfortunately, exposed to the law of club and fang, he needs intestinal fortitude, ignoring his ‘pure conscience “; rather, he will learn to follow his “primordial instinct” to fight off the biological motives. Apparently, Jack London anthropomorphized the dogs to illustrate how a man’s moral is developed. In fact, I learned that Jack London was primarily influenced by Charles Darwin‘s The Origin of the Species; and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. By virtue of these books, he may have had an idea of how to put his experiences in Alaska into such an unforgettable classic.

Since I have background in psychology, the ad infinitum debate about whether a man is developed by Nature or Nurture appears to be one of the themes of this novel. In the story, Jack London may have wanted to expound that a man, in the image of Buck, is built; that a man could be a blank sheet; that a man could be barbarian in origin. Buck in the story is dictated by his primordial instinct. In fact, London seemed to have used symbols to represent two kinds of dogs: uncivilized hard dogs in the North and civilized soft dogs in the South.

Absurdly speaking , the book reminded me of vampires, especially the Filipino movie” VAMPIRA” . In the movie, when the moon is full, the protagonist played by a famous actress transforms into a vampire whether she likes it or not. Her vampire instinct to eat flesh of animals including human is unruly. In the novel, the moon could be the symbol of his primordial instinct. Since Buck has been civilized by the virtue of his new master’s genuine love, there are times, however, that the “call of the wild” still specters him. Once to be tempted, he will overcome it for the good memories of his new master. Unfortunately, at the end, Buck backslides to his past when his “civilized community “is “annihilated’ by a group of Yaheets. Does it mean that under dystopic or disintegrated circumstances, a man could forget his feelings in the name of survival? Gee, this classic could be an interesting term paper in the context of other fields of studies. I believe that Jack London missed something.Nevertheless, I appreciated it a lot. ^^

Literally, the novel must deal with what a world of dogs is like, for us to come to the realization that dogs are not far different from us. They should be treated like a human being. (Uh-oh! I believe some readers have had ideas of dog life, so I recommend TIMBUKTU by Paul Auster. )In the Philippines, we have the laws on animal rights- which particularly put a great deal of stress on domesticated animals- strictly prohibit any body to make bad use of them. On the other hand, I guess in Alaska at that time may not have been aware of this reality, for dogs were used for sledding. But what struck me at the end is that LOVE is such a powerful element to make a big difference to our lives. ^___________^