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Posts Tagged ‘books’


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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6035141 Seldom do I finish a book in one sitting but this one had me mesmerized from page one. It it my first time to read a book written by a Japanese author. I don’t even know who Banana Yoshimoto is but her words, her words get to you in a way that you could relate.

It’s a story of two good friends who both lost their mothers and how they coped with  life without their treasured parents by their side. Two vastly different people living different lives but finding each other in their hour of grief through a window. Standing not quite far, looking at the silhouette of someone who has the same fascination watching  the open window right across the street.  That’s how the story started…so far.

One thing that I noticed about this author is her simple writing style but it moves you to feel and experience what she wants to convey. It’s like describing  a good conversation between two close friends, sharing past heartaches,coping with pain  and having enough confidence to share what one has been through that changed one’s perspective in life somehow.  I wrote down some wonderful quotes from the book. I am not sure if you will agree with me but they speak of the simple truth on what life sometimes deals us and though it is a work of fiction, it’s like reading your own story somehow.

“But I have my life, I’m living it. It’s twisted, exhausting, uncertain, and full of guilt, but nonetheless, there’s something there.”

“When someone tells you something big, it’s like you’re taking money from them, and there’s no way it will ever go back to being the way it was. You have to take responsibility for listening.”

“Everyone knows that hidden pull is there, but we go on living our lives, pretending we don’t. We keep our gazes fixed, day after day, on the things we want to see.”

“Things look different depending on your perspective. As I see it, fighting to bridge those gaps isn’t what really matters. The most important thing is to know them inside and out, as differences, and to understand why certain people are the way they are.”

Life is not perfect. We are not perfect but we could motivate and inspire someone who is as broken as we are. It makes you realize that it is the simple things that give life’s meaning  and worth.

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It’s another “it’s been a while” post that you would probably get from me from time to time.  It was a busy weekend and another busy day for gardening. I am taking advantage of the cloudy afternoon skies and the cool early morning breeze.  We have occasional thunderstorms lately but PAGASA says it is not yet the official start of the rainy season.  It has become even more humid in fact so the afternoon showers are welcome.

Gardening is hard, who says it is not? I have to dig and uproot stubborn and unwanted weeds, trim the Green dust plants, do a perfectly imperfect round shape of  my several Fukien Tea plants and dig, dig some more. I am getting good at it…haha!  To think I haven’t even started  trimming our carabao grass but at least the concrete stepping-stones are now  clear of unwanted  overgrown carabao grass. It is hard to maintain a garden no matter how small it is. One has to invest one’s time  and extra effort to make everything grow. If the weather permits, I’ll be harvesting Calamansi  (Philippine lime) this afternoon.

One thing good about gardening is the time you spend  by yourself, alone in your thoughts. You let your mind wander and you can even create a nice story while looking at your fingers full of dirt and stain.  It is all worth it though, gardening is a job that you have to do and happens to enjoy (not all the time).

I’ve switched back to another reading genre.

I’ve been reading so much chick lit the last few days, funny and sad stories of women from wonderful authors that I’ve  seen on Goodreads. This time though, I found two books by Michael Palmer, an American author who is also a doctor. I’ve read one or two books of him before  when I was searching for ways to cope with the boredom of being bedridden for half a year. I love medical thrillers and the jargon is quite familiar. There was a time when I was obsessed collecting all the books by Robin Cook, another American novelist and doctor whose writings deal with medicine and  other such topics affecting public health. If you have seen the movie Outbreak,  he is the author of the book where it was lifted from. It’s nice to read fast-paced stories again. I haven’t taken a single picture lately but I found a lovely shot which I took several years ago while traveling North to our hometown. would love to share it in another post. By the way, thank you for continuously visiting my blog, reading old posts that I have somehow forgotten. I was thrilled to find that my stats have reached an amazing 335,461 at the moment. Thank you, thank you so much.

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