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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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It’s 3:45 am  on a Monday morning.

One feels that inner peace and quiet at this time of the morning.  I’ve been awake since 3am. My eyes got used to waking up early again. It’s nice to sit here in front of my PC  while having a hot cup of coffee.  Drinking coffee has become a temptation again. Argh!

I’ve just checked my stats and I was surprised to see these figures – 346,061. It may not be that significant to other bloggers but it matters a lot to me. I haven’t been posting regularly like I used to, sometimes once or twice a week is enough but I am grateful to my loyal readers who still visit and read my older posts. It’s been six years and one month since I started my journey here and it is truly an amazing feat that I have reached these numbers. I may not have  a lot of followers  but I appreciate those comments and likes  from a few who read my posts. No matter how we deny ourselves that these numbers are not that important, to me, they are. Reaching out, touching a bit of some people’s lives, inspiring a few and  learning from some made blogging truly worthwhile. This is my 1,699th post per WordPress’ count. I remember those days when I was just starting here and was brave enough to join the 2011 Post A Day challenge, when every post you make, WordPress has a lovely word to describe it. I miss those days but I doubt if I could challenge myself to do another one again.  You can’t force yourself to write when you don’t even know where to start, right?  I’ve always said, time and again that blogging has somehow become a way of life, just like craving for a hot cup of coffee early in the morning, the day is not complete without it. Having lots of followers or a significant number of visitors are a bonus.

This is a bit funny, I’ve been on a reading marathon the past few days and in between finishing Anna Karenina, all the books I’ve read so far are about food, chefs and cooking. It’s not by choice, they just happened and now I am craving for upside-down cake. And it should be not just any fruit, it has to be those sweet pineapple rings  on top of it. Back in high school, this was the only cake that I bought in our canteen. It’s been years since I’ve tasted a slice. Josef suggested that I buy a loaf but I told him I’ll bake my own one of these days, that is. See what a book can do to influence one’s life?

Finally, my gardening task is finished and the garden looks pretty now with the stepping-stones highly visible among the cut carabao grass. We still have to tackle the vacant space outside though, the grass grows there by leaps and bounds. It rains everyday now so it is quite hard to garden when the grass is wet. The life of a reluctant gardener…..sometimes.

I am having a problem with Firefox but it’s hard to navigate other browsers that Josef uploaded on my PC. It’s hard to learn something new when you are not that decisive to do it so Chromium and Opera would have to wait.

Good morning, have a good day :)

 

 

 

 

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July is getting to a close and it was so uneventful it was kind of boring month. I spent a big chunk of it taking care of Josef for a few days then I got sick too and it was kind of hard to get back to normal.  I don’t usually complain about the weather but it was also  weird that this month was like summer, so hot during the day and there is the usual thunderstorm in the afternoon or early evening.

My plants are probably getting confused although they enjoy the afternoon and early evening shower. A week ago, my lone gardenia shrub started blooming again after it showed its last bud second week of June. If there is one thing that gave me joy in this dull July month, it was the flowers blooming in my garden. My rain lilies are showing off and my Vinca/periwinkle plants are showing a lot of blooms too. One good reason to visit the garden. We haven’t trimmed the carabao grass for more than a month now. I get lazy just looking at it and keep postponing the hard job of weeding and trimming. I need a gardener to replant my peanut grass in front of the house.

My July blooms...

My July blooms…

I had a lot of time to catch up on my reading. I am half-way through reading one of the classics Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy but in between I read contemporary and chick lit novels. I am finding it hard to pronounce all those confusing Russian names in my head. Last night, I opened the five-books set from Nissa, all by John Green. Except for The Fault In Our Stars (which I have watched  on Nissa’s phone) and made a short review here, I am not familiar with the other four although I heard that there is a new movie adaptation of Paper Towns, a coming of age story that belongs to the set. I’ve been looking for more books about cooking (not necessarily cook books) but novels about chefs will do. I found this intriguing title on Goodreads, Incidence of Coconut Cake. I can’t wait to finish the book and search for a recipe using coconut cream which we have plenty here. Who knows, I might be able to come up with my own bars and cookies using this ingredient.

How time flies!  July is ending and another month is coming near. I am praying the month of August would not bring too much rain and typhoons. I hope it would be a happy month. How was July for you?

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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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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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That gentle calm you experience listening to good old music and re-reading some lines from a book of poems. I’ve often blogged about books and music together. They go hand in hand when I want to  just relax my mind from the topsy-turvy world of the living.  Believe me, there are moments when you just want to listen to the soothing music of yesteryears – be they be instrumental, ballads, slow rock , mellow touch, it doesn’t matter much as long as I could divert my attention for a while but of course it is better when  you listen to old-time favorites.  There are times when singing along is the best way to do it or otherwise I let the music flow from one end to the next.

Ah, Rod McKuen.

You may not be familiar with the man  but he was so popular back in the 70’s. Years ago, I  found two of his books  (Alone and Seasons In the Sun) that I treasure until now.  He was an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet.  His words  (he wrote about solitude, spirituality, love)  sometimes make me cry.

“It’s nice sometimes to open up the heart a little and let some hurt come in. It proves you’re still alive.”

“Eternity sneaks in her arms full of wild promises.”

No speeches have been written for us and so we never speak.

But still they move in front of me.

Unmet.

Detached.

What common language could we know

I wonder

What words of sensibility are left?”

One other small volume that I keep re-reading is Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Finding words of wisdom , the profound need sometimes to be alone and reacquaint and listen to your inner voice, the voice that you sometimes hear but refuse to understand.

“Don’t wish me happiness I don’t expect to be happy all the time… It’s gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all.”

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”

The innermost pain is most felt without crying, it’s the pain that comes from the heart.  You feel alone but the soothing music lifts you up and those lovely words make you smile.

(WordPress says this is my 1,673rd post)

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