Posts Tagged ‘book of poems’

I promised myself to read more this year and make a review of some books I have encountered.   Last January, I started making a list of the books I have started  reading  and clearly forgot to update it.  It’s somehow pathetic that I was not able to keep my promise to read at least three or four books a month.  I feel lazy at times  to  hold one, but I still regularly go to bookstores to buy more books. We are slowly replenishing the books we have lost  during the  flood  last year but I still can’t find some good replacements for my collection.  At least now, my daughter and I have become more selective, choosing hard bound copies over mass market read.

1.  The Mermaid Chair –  Sue Monk Kidd  (Midlife crisis and self-awakening)

2.  The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett (historical – 12th century England)

3.  Mr. Write – M.D. Balangue  (local chick lit)

4.  The Breakup Diaries – May Calica (local chick lit)

5.  King of Torts – John Grisham (legal/suspense novel)

6.  The Secret – Rhonda Byrne (the secret to prosperity, health,relationships and happiness)

7.  Candle Creations – arts and crafts

8.  Between Blinks – Jim Paredes ( insights, poetry, stories)

9.  Love Rosie – Cecelia Ahern

10.  The  Thorn Bird – Colleen McCullough  (my third copy, I think, the first two were borrowed and were not returned).

11. Love  the One You’re With – Emily Giffin ( have you ever thought of the one that got away?)

12. Gone Baby Gone – Dennis Lehane (thriller)

13. Sundays at Tiffany’s – James  Patterson

14. Sam’s Letters to Jennifer – James Patterson

15. The Valley of Light – Terry Kay

16. Girl With A  Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier

17. Loving Through Heartsongs – Mattie J.T. Stepanek (book of inspirational poems, made a review of this earlier).

18. How Do You Know If Your Pearls Are Real? – Barbara C. Gonzalez (family relationships)

19. Grace – Richard Paul Evans

20. The Interruption of Everything – Terry McMillan

21. Under The Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes

22. Resistance – Anita Shreve

23.  Cause Celeb – Helen Fielding (read some chapters by candlelight because I could not put it down)

24.  Sail – James Patterson

I will update this from time to time and here’s a list of the unread ones:

1.  Critical – Robin Cook

2.  Coming Home – Rosamund Pilcher

3.  Cell – Stephen King

4.  A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

5.  Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

6.  Julie and Julia – Julie Powell (watched the movie but half way through reading it, I got bored)

7.   Atonement – Ian McEwan

8.  Favorite Poems of Emily Dickinson – ( I read the poems at random)

9. If Life Were a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits- Erma Bombeck

10. From Beginning to End – Robert Fulghum

11. It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It – Robert Fulghum

12. Coraline – Neil Gaiman

13. Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson  (can’t wait to read this one)

14. Ilustrado – Miguel Syjuco (and this one too)

15. The Glass Castle – Jeannette Wells ( a memoir of resilience and redemption)

16. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte ( a reread)

17. The Prophet – Kahil Gibran (lost my first copy to flood Ondoy)

18. Irish Linen – Andrew Greeley

19. Judge and Jury – James Patterson

20. Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler

I’ve meant to update my virtual library at Shelfari.com but just thinking of removing the titles which are now gone sort of depresses me.


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The title caught my eyes, Loving Through Heartsongs.  I found it in my forays at  the bookshop at Metro East Mall. Yes, hubby, my daughter and I went back to the place after the 9am mass last Sunday to buy some groceries.  What a perfect time to visit Booksale again, after having been there last Friday.

I never heard of Mattie J.T. Stepanek  before but the short write-up about him says that he has been writing poetry and short stories since the age of three. He has actually published five books all entitled Heartsongs.   It is  disheartening to learn though that he died before his 14th birthday last June 2004 but he left a legacy – reflections about life, loving, illness, death, family, country and most of all faith in God. I was so moved while reading his poems that I cried.   His idea of happiness is clearly depicted in one of his poems simply called About Happiness.

To me,

Happiness is traveling.

Not really “me” traveling.

But my Heartsongs traveling.

When the songs in my heart

Travel out and around the world

In the things that I say and

In the poems and stories that I write

And in the prayers that I feel to God,

And when the letters and words

Of those Heartsongs bring some

Peace to the countries and people

Who have war in their lives,

That is real happiness

To me.

He struggled with a rare form of  muscular dystrophy which also claimed the life of his three siblings.  I think this was his last book in the  Heartsong series.  The selections were divided into “Finding Love From Lessons”, “Witnessing Love inCreation”, “Sharing Love Through People”, Keeping Love Amid Challenges”, and Learning Love for the Future”.  It’s love everywhere for this young poet who shared himself to the world through his poems.  In his poem  Gift-Rapt, he has this to say:   “Let us think gently, speak gently, live gently….and the world may be blessed gently with the greatest gift of all…Faith.”  So true, when everything fails, it is our faith in God that will carry us through.  I remember my own struggles being a cancer  patient.  “It is truly impossible to learn nothing when you believe”,  because life is a constant learning experience, it teaches us lessons that decide how strong we are  when confronted by and faced with situation that is beyond our control.   He is matured beyond his years.  And here is what he says  About Promises:


Should be

Taken seriously


They involve


that will



The future

Of some life.

Some people are not good at keeping promises.  These lines somehow remind me of our present political situation.  I don’t want  to explore this much-hyped scenario, that is why I seldom blog about politics.  We should learn a lesson from this 13-year-old.  He  surely has too much love in his heart and sincerity in his soul to be able to write passionately about life, sharing his thoughts, reaching out to people belonging to an older generation like us.

Kudos Mattie, I am inspired discovering your poems.

Photos courtesy of Mix 107.3/WRQX-ABC Radio.

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One thing that makes me so happy nowadays is what I call “my nothing to do” days meaning that I could read, blog, stay on the net for hours, or watch DVDs (not necessarily in that order) to my heart’s content. So many books to read, so many thoughts playing in my head, they really compensate for the times that I could not tend to my gardening jobs, hours solely spent for personal pursuit.

Nissa and I have lots of TBR books filing up. Just this morning, they went to the mall after the 9am mass to buy some groceries and as I have always said, the trip won’t be complete without visiting NBS. Nissa came home waving a copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffinegger (it’s now a major motion picture) and another book by one of our favorite suspense authors Nelson de Mille. I don’t know if Up Country is as good as his other books. Josef bought another Calvin and Hobbes’ book entitled Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow  Goons. What a mouthful for a book title.  Sometimes I could not really understand his fascination for comic books, they are more costly than your average bestseller. Why, I could buy at least five or more books at Booksale with that price tag. I’ve just read Sophie Kinsella’s  The Undomestic Goddess, a genuinely funny chick lit, and recently started with Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed , hopefully finish it in  two days. I don’t know why I am repeatedly drawn to chick lit nowadays, they really make me laugh and they are light reading. Anyway, I digress!

Zen Inspiration, now, this is what I call inspired reading and I was lucky enough to buy a copy at NBS several months ago. The paintings and the beautiful and superb calligraphy alone would make you really sit down and savor every page but what kept me arrested were the poems, haiku, koans, etc. Open your heart and let the quiet wisdom seep into your soul. As the cover says, Zen Inspirations “offers a selection of the great Zen texts that bring insight and contemplation to busy modern lives”.

I Make my Home in the Mountains – (Li Po 701-762)

You ask why I live alone in the mountain forest

And I smile and am silent

Until even my soul grows quiet:

It lives in the other world,

One that no one owns.

The peach trees blossom.

The water continues to flow.

This poem was accompanied by a beautiful picture of a dense forest with the sunlight seeping through the pockets of windows among the leaves of the trees. And here’s another one,

Lute – (Po Chu-I 772-846)

My lute set aside on the little table

lazily I meditate on cherished feelings.

the reason I don’t bother to strum and pluck?

There’s a breeze over the strings and it plays itself.

Beautiful! I could imagine the serenity of the scene, the peace it brings to the soul, the quiet and unspoken thoughts of the author, gosh, I can feel the raw emotions there.

Mountain Dwelling – Ch`ng Kung

Things of the past are already long gone

And things to be, distant beyond imagining

the Tao is just this moment, these words:

plum blossoms fallen;

gardenia just opening.

How I wish I could write beautiful poems like these. Oh, they just remain, “wishful thinking”.

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I’ll catch the sun
and never give it back again
I’ll catch the sun
and keep it for my own
And in a world
where no one understands
I’ll  take my outstretched hands
and offer it to anyone.

– I’ll Catch The Sun
Rod McKuen

The first time I encountered Rod McKuen’s poetry, I was hooked  and that was almost thirty years ago.  A singer, a songwriter, a poet!  He was part of my days and nights of finding myself, searching for a lost love, maybe, just maybe,  it wasn’t there at all but the poetry of Rod McKuen was.

Seasons in the Sun was one of his popular books and he  was a friend, a companion during dark nights and an imaginary shoulder to cry on.  He speaks for a generation with gentle and always intelligent poetry . In vain, I am still trying to find some of his books and they are still included in my wishlist at Shelfari.

I would ask of you
that you ever be warm
willing to be kind
not letting me forget
that kindness is the passport
and the proven way
for two to journey through
a lifetime, each other,
or a single summer’s day.

Simple lines, the meaning of which touches you to the core.  I’ve spent some of my younger years wishing that I could put my thoughts on paper as sensitively as he does.  I’ve spent some of my youngers years wishing that I could reach out through poetry too just like he does, but that will never be.  Ambitious thinking!

And in my heart, I truly believed in finding one true love.  And  somehow I was brave enough to give it a try.  Listen to this:

Cloud formations
on a give day
and wondering
if you’d seen them too
are enough to make
a morning pass for me.

was your day
filled with wanting
or the needlepoint
of knowing that I waited

I did
I do.

Rod McKuen! He still could turn my days into sunshine and  makes me appreciate the times that certain rain must fall.

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