Archive for the ‘literature and Fiction’ Category

Don’t you just love those shiny plastic cards in your wallet that would allow you to go places and enjoy? Wait a minute. Before you think of using those credit cards in your wallet, think about this. I am not against using one (I have one in my wallet too) but you must learn to use it to your own advantage.

It’s the start of the BER months and some people are quite excited to make their list, looking for bargains (be it on travel, or gifts for families and friends). It is quite easy having a credit card because you won’t have to carry cash when you shop. You just have to present it and voila, everything  would be easy. Right? Wrong (sometimes).

A few years back,  I blogged about the advantages and and the setbacks of having a credit card. I can easily relate to it since I was a banker for more than twenty one years. I am sharing them again here. Some people think that having a credit card is some sort of  status symbol, when you have that shining plastic in your wallet, you could go anywhere you want, buy an item at the spur of the moment or eat at some fancy restaurant. When the billing statement comes, that’s when you scratch your head thinking where to get the money to pay  your bills. Credit card approvals are quite easy to get nowadays and the credit card limits,once you start using them are considered short loans from the bank and have fixed rate of interest if you opt to pay them the minimum amount stated on your bill. Once you make a default payment, surcharges are slapped on your next bill. Do you know that you could turn it to your advantage if you are a full payor? Being a full payor means you pay the full amount stated on your bill and you don’t need to wait for the due date to settle it. When you are short of cash and you want to have a month’s leeway in paying your bills, by all means do so and it would be to your advantage. How? You’ve used the bank’s money for a month without paying interest in return. Get what I mean?

Paying in cash of course is the easiest you can do because you would not need to worry about monthly credit bill payments. You won’t have to worry about surcharges too but if you know how to use your credit card properly, it’s like carrying cash in your hands without the fear of being robbed in the process. The best way to do it is pay via credit card for your purchases and pay the credit card company before your bill is due. You can enroll your accounts online including your utilities and you won’t have to leave your chair to pay them outside, a convenience right in your own home.

Cash or plastic? Take your pick.

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I recently visited (crossover, hahaha) some blogs at Blogger where I follow some Filipino book bloggers who also belong to my book club, Flips Flipping Pages. Most of them are not my friends but their blog posts about books are a joy to read. For the past six or seven years, I haven’t attended their monthly discussion but I get updated through FFP’s page on Facebook.  Then I saw this list somewhere, BBC’s top 100 books you have to read before you die. I wonder why there is that phrase “before you die”, I am not in a hurry to read books just because it is a must to read them before you take your last breath.  I read books because they give me that endless joy and discovery about other people and other places. I’ve seen similar list of places you have to visit before you die.  I think this is BBC’s latest list because prior to this they have included the titles of the seven Harry Potter books.  Blame it on how curious I am if  I made a dent on their list. Twenty seven books and if I were to add the other six books of JK Rowling which they have listed as a series, that would be 33 total. Not bad, not bad at all. Here’s the list I copied from a site (I could not remember now) on BBC’s top 100.  Some books I have highlighted are mine and some were borrowed from the UST Library and read them when I was still in college. Harry Potter’s hardbound copies are Nissa’s collections.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible (still reading it daily)

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott – on my TBR list

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald – on my TBR list

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy – on my TBR list

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy – in the middle of reading it

32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34. Emma -Jane Austen

35. Persuasion – Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving – on my TBR list

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery – read three volumes

47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding – on my TBR list

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan  – couldn’t get further than chapter 2

51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel – watched the movie adaptation and was not inclined to read it

52. Dune – Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon – on my TBR list

57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66. On the Road – Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72. Dracula – Bram Stoker – haven’t finished reading it yet

73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses – James Joyce

76. The Inferno – Dante

77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession – AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom – on my TBR list

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (In French)

– read it several times but not in French

93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94. Watership Down – Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

If you ask me,  I would not even include Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code on the list and Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones would not even make it to the top 500 but that’s me talking.

How many books have you read on this list?

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“I have a surprise for you”.


It was quite a surprise alright. My daughter’s family visited us yesterday and it was a day full of happy moments, exchanging ideas, talking about a small business which Kev has started, delving on life’s angst and yes, our talks were mostly about food.

The Kite Runner.

Back in 2003, Nissa and I encountered a new author with an equally lovely and beautiful book called The Kite Runner. The author Khaled Hosseini was born  in Kabul, Afghanistan and his family sought political asylum in the United States where he earned a medical degree. The Kite Runner, his first book was published in 2003 and has become an international bestseller and a beloved classic. Nissa bought me a copy. It was my first time to read an Asian author from war-torn Afghanistan. They released a movie adaptation back in 2007. Nissa and I watched it on the big screen when it was shown in Metro Manila and cried unashamedly while we watched it.  I remember giving the book  five-star on Goodreads.  To summarize it briefly, it is a heartbreaking story  of  friendship between  a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant.  It’s a story of redemption, friendship, betrayal and lies set against the political turmoil in Afghanistan.

And the nice surprise? Nissa gave me an original DVD copy and I am so excited to watch it again. Hosseini published two more books which are both equally good, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And The Mountains Echoed. If you  haven’t read nor watched The Kite Runner yet, perhaps you can give it a go and you will surely enjoy it.

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…”

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completedHow’s this for a first post this month?

When I started this reading challenge this January, I was not even sure if I could finish 50 books in a year because sometimes, lulls in reading are more frequent than the number of times I  hold a book in my  hand. It’s a great leap from the 35 I managed to read in 2014.  Goodreads says, “You have read 50 of 50 books in 2015.” Chick lit, YA, fiction, a memoir, some inspirational books and contemporary stories made up my reading list for the challenge. And it helped that I have my new tab because I could read at night without interruption. Now it’s time to concentrate on the classic books that I wanted to read for a long, long time but didn’t have the time to start. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is on the list, so with the L.M. Montgomery series ( I love Anne of Avonlea), Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, my new and still unopened  copy of The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde  (the complete plays, poems and stories  including The Picture of Dorian Gray and De Profundis) and maybe cap it with the Outlander Series  (a re-read) by Diana Gabaldon before the year ends.

There is this sweet lady I follow here on WordPress.  Lately, she was able to publish a book based on the series of books and authors she has read in a year. Her blog is aptly called A Year of Reading the World. She sourced books from different authors in different countries.  I dream of doing that too, some day, not the publishing of a book but reading several authors like she did. I love this quote from William Styron:

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.

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It’s good to be back.

I haven’t been feeling well the past days so blogging has taken a back seat. Arrggh…the aches and pains of getting old. It’s quite nice to read other people’s thoughts  once again and  look at the lovely photos after a self-imposed absence from blogging.  Sometimes, I feel so lazy to even boot the computer and  check my e-mails.  I just checked my stats and saw some previous posts which kept appearing on my most read/top posts.  This blog entry is actually my 1675th one.  I think I’ve already covered almost every subject that I wanted to share in cyberspace.

In between taking naps now and then and drinking lots and lots of water and buko juice (young coconut juice), I’ve finished three books in four days. I would have wanted to visit Nissa’s family last  weekend but I always find it a challenge to commute on my own.  Nate had fever too, so with Nissa so we survived on Viber, Skype and text messages. Thank God we are okay now. Hopefully, we could be together either on Saturday or Sunday to celebrate Josef’s 31st birthday.

A friend recently commented on one of my notes at FB about the books I have on my list. I couldn’t remember how many books I’ve read before including those  of Nissa’s  that she used to collect (Charmed series, Sweet Valley High and Sweet Valley University).  You would probably classify them  now as YA books, chick lit or contemporary ones. I grew up on M & B  when I was in high school and all books were borrowed from the library. I have some all-time favorites though. They taught me so many things. Here’s my short list:

1. Markings – Dag Hammarskjold
2. Seasons in the Sun – Rod McKuen
3. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten – Robert Fulghum
4. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery
5. The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
6. Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
7.  Letting Go – Morrie Schwartz
8. The Heart of Loving – Eugene Kennedy
9. Gift from the Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
10. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
11. Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am – John Powell
12. Simple Moments – Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD
13. Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
14. I Like You Just Because – Albert Nimeth, OFM
15. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
16. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
17. Embraced By the Light – Betty J. Eadie
18. It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It – Robert  Fulghum
19. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
20. Grow Something Besides Old – Laurie Beth Jones

I actually blogged about this on 15 Books, 15 Minutes  years ago (list of 15 books you can recall in 15 minutes). I hope  you’re not getting bored  reading a blog post all about books. I just started on my second book of Lisa Genova called Love Anthony and it’s about autism. Remember Still Alice?



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Maybe I am lucky or perhaps I am really blessed.

When I was working as a student librarian back in college, I was assigned to this lovely section of the UST Library called Humanities, that’s where you find all those books on Philosophy, Ethics, Psychology, Literature, Fiction and all the lovely reading materials that encompass what humanities mean. Nowadays, some  people might think that it is a boring subject and has nothing to do with Math or Science but it adds life to one’s existence. It allows you to see the beauty of how to feel and see the beauty of your thoughts and relate to such experiences by others in a world where it is undoubtedly dominated by science. I had a book buddy who used to say, nobody reads anymore. I don’t agree because some people couldn’t live without books, I am one of them.

I digress.

There was this Arts student who used to borrow books by Sylvia Plath. He would come to the library either to renew the due date of a book or borrow another one, all of Sylvia Plath. I got curious so I tried to read one of her books.  I remember reading Ariel  and learning that we had the same birthday. It’s sad though that her life has to end at a very young age of thirty. Such a tragic death for one so gifted. All these years, I looked for her most popular work called The Bell Jar. It’s been on my wish-list for quite sometime now. She is not exactly a favorite but I love her words.  I was lucky to find a copy of her book, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. I cannot wait to start reading it as soon as I finish the two chick lit books that I am enjoying at the moment. I am curious why she committed suicide at such an early age. I am curious why people still read her works until now. Here is a quote that garnered more than 10,000 likes in Goodreads.

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.”

Maybe I am  just lucky or perhaps I am really blessed to find her again.

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Finally, finally, I am back.

I’ve missed all of you guys. I’ve missed reading your blog posts  the past days. I’ve been busy with household chores, gardening and organizing my book shelves.  Funny how, there are books from my favorite authors in which I have two copies.  I gave some paperback copies to a friend. There is another friend I know who intentionally buys two copies each of her favorite books, one for reading (usually a paperback) and one kept inside a glass book shelf (either a trade paper back or a hardbound one). One thing I lack though is enough space for our books, Nissa’s are mostly hardbound, Josef’s books take up space too. We have a big Lexicon that weighs a ton.  I have to list those earlier finds that are now classic books. I’m 60% done with my 2015 reading challenge on Goodreads and I  am planning to save the best for last – memoirs and classics.

The carabao grass needs trimming so instead of waiting for Josef to have his days off, I started it three days ago. I only garden early in the morning while the sun hasn’t shown its face yet, an hour or two but not beyond two hours at the most.  Can’t stand being outside at 8am (it’s really hot) so I have to wake up early to water the plants, trim the grass and do a little deadheading of my Gardenia blooms.  I can’t exactly remember now but a few months ago, our neighbor gave me a little pot of Ginseng plant.  It has tiny red buds now about to bloom. I know it is a medicinal plant and I can’t wait to see its flowers in bloom.

Last Friday, I bought my first ever tablet (My Pad 4/Tierra).  Lucky for me, it was on sale and I bought it for a lot less than it cost two weeks ago. It’s a 7.8″ Android tab with 3G, an 8MP autofocus rear camera and a 5MP front camera and an 8GB built-in memory. It has an expandable memory up to 32GB.  Josef bought me a 32GB micro SD, a jelly cover and a screen protector along with a new SIM card and prepaid  card too. Since I intend to use it mostly for my e-books, I installed the Aldiko e-Reader (it is the most user-friendly I guess). I tried the Moon + Reader too on my other phone.  If you ask me which is more convenient, nothing can compare to the smell of new books and lovingly turning the pages while you discover a different world out there but having e-books is okay too especially when you read at night because you can always adjust the brightness and the font size plus there is a night mode  too. For now though, I am loving my e-books conveniently arranged alphabetically on my e-reader.  I can’t wait to read Charles Dickens’  David Copperfield (the last time was during my college days), William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to name a few and all the lovely chick lit that makes me laugh and cry a little.

I couldn’t ask for more.

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