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Archive for the ‘literature and Fiction’ Category


I have a library of books I have read which I have uploaded on Facebook via Goodreads app. I could not count the times that I blogged about books and reading and occasionally post bits of book reviews all these years. I used to update my books at shelfari.com, an online library where I personally met my reading buddies through a book club.  Since our well-loved books were destroyed by typhoon Ondoy back in 2009, I  got lazy updating the site and forgot those thousands of book titles that I’ve uploaded there. Lately though, while I was updating my journal I found a printed copy of all my books there. Yes, back then, you can easily print a list of books you have in your shelves.  I even have a wish list printed too.  I have marked those I have finally found while browsing at Booksale and getting copies of those hard to find  titles which a generous friend  brought home.

A friend got curious and asked me what my favorite books are so I am reposting this list of old-time favorites. They are just twenty  titles,  some of which  I have reread over the years. I bet if you are a reader, you have some of these in your shelves too.

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.

A few minutes ago, I saw a picture of Viktor E. Frankl on Brain Pickings. He was  the author of that riveting  and profound  book called  Man’s Search For Meaning. He  was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor.  I read it twice, once when I was in college and again when the kids were growing up.  It’s about his personal experience as a concentration camp inmate during the Holocaust.  I marked it as five-stars on Goodreads.  Maybe, reading that somehow shaped my views on history because until now, I am still  reading fiction and-non fiction books on  WW II.  Finding the Diary of Anne Frank cemented it though. I read Schindler’s List a few years ago, followed by another favorite entitled The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I collected books by Leon Uris too and most of them were all about Poland and WWII.

I digress.

I remember  copying lots of quotes from Frankl’s book and seeing him featured today on Brain Pickings  made me search for my three notebooks on quotations.  Weird? Maybe to some but I chronicled all those inspiring words religiously.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

And  the following line is  my favorite.

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”  
Here’s more.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.”
I probably might not  have answered the “why”. Suffice to say, I love visiting places and knowing how it is to live on the other side through books.
Today is Resurrection Sunday. May you all be blessed.

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That’s the funny thing about writing your life story. You start out trying to remember dates and times and names. You think it’s about facts, your life; that what you’ll look back on and remember are the successes and failures, the timeline of your youth and middle age, but that isn’t it at all.

Love.

Family.

Laughter.

That’s what I remember when all is said and done. For so much of my life, I thought I didn’t do enough or want enough. I guess I can be forgiven my stupidity. I was young. I want my children to know how proud I am of them, and how proud I am of me. We were everything we needed – you and Daddy and I.  I have everything I ever wanted.

Love.

That’s what we remember.

When a book makes me cry, I give it five stars. Yes I know, the quotes sound cheesy, it’s a YA book after all.  Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah in one such lovely read. It’s my 17th book on Goodreads’ 2016 Reading Challenge. When I review a book, I don’t summarize it for other people to read, it’s more like sharing what it made me feel. Was I inspired with the story? Was it interesting enough to recommend to other readers who love stories on life-long friendship and family and how  genuine love plays through it all?

You can always read the summary and some book reviews on Goodreads, some maybe disappointed, some find it wonderful.  The story line is such that it made me cry. When I started college life, I worked in the university library for almost three years and there I found true friendship with some of my colleagues. We’ve been friends since I was seventeen and the three of them are still my friends until now. We don’t normally get to see each other but we get in touch despite the distance.  Thea is now a Franciscan nun, Grace has migrated to another country and Precy is a successful businesswoman.  Except for Grace, the three of us experienced life-threatening ailments that made us closer together. Precy once said that we had to undergo the same kind of pain that cancer brings.

Near the end, Firefly Lane delivers such painful reality of losing a mum, a close friend, a daughter and a wife. It pains me to remember the agony of being not 100% fit,  and I do remember vividly what it was like going thru chemotherapy .  Sometimes though, life let us experience something that makes us stronger, ready to accept the ugly realities and grateful for the blessings in between.

Really, when a book makes me cry, I give it five stars.

 

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She hides her pain beneath the smiles

But her eyes show  a different world

thinking of the ‘might have been, the ‘what if’,

the little things that makes life the way she dreamed of.

Life is not perfect, life may be full of angst.

She stays…waiting.

Someday maybe, she’ll show that genuine smile again

The blessings and lovely memories will overcome

the pain in her eyes.

 

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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”.

“Hint?”

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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