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Posts Tagged ‘books’


Allow me to borrow a book title for my blog post today. I have just finished reading this, a book about a family’s struggles while fleeing war-torn Afghanistan. I have just encountered Nadia Hashimi’s book, my first one of her actually but based on Goodread’s  short bio about her, she is a very gifted author. This book  was simple but so elegantly written that I can’t help but fill my small notebook with quotes that ring and vibrate throughout the story.

I never base  my reviews on book summaries but how it affected me while reading it. This is one of those books that is comparable with the works of  another Afghan author that I admire so much, Khaled Hosseini. Don’t ask me why but ever since I started reading I have always been fascinated by history and historical novels.  I think I am old soul. I am reminded of those times when I searched and bought almost all of Leon Uris’ published books and reread  Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.

One learns a lot when you read about other people and other countries’ cultures.  You learn how their lives are shaped by their beliefs and their love for their families. You learn that everywhere, there is something similar about the culture you grew up  in. Family represents a binding force always. And lest I forget, let me quote some of those words I’ve jotted down while reading this book.

  • – Love can grow even in place where there is hardly air to breathe.
  • There are truths and lies and there are things in between, murky waters where light gets bent and broken.
  • Love grows wildest in the gardens of hardship.
  • – Some things are clearer from a distance.
  • – It takes a lifetime to learn your parents. For children, parents are larger than life. They are strong arms that carry little ones, warm laps for sleepy heads, sources of food and wisdom. It’s as if parents were born on the same day as their children, having not existed a moment before. As children inch their way into adolescence, the parent changes. He is an authority, a source of answers, and a chastising voice. Depending on the day, he may be resented, emulated, questioned, or defied. Only as an adult can a child imagine his parent as a whole person, as a husband, a brother, or a son. Only then can a child see how his parent fits into the world beyond four walls.

There are more  wonderful quotes that I’d like to share with you but these will do for now. Next on my list is a book about Lou Gehrig’s disease. The last time I encountered ALS ( Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) was when I read Tuesdays With Morrie several years ago. I hope I won’t cry as much as I did when I read Mitch Albom’s book. I remember giving copies to my two doctors when I had sigmoid surgery. It is a gift to know that you can be strong even if you are dying.

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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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I know, I know, you would probably say, life is not simple. Maybe, just like those Facebook profiles that say, “it’s complicated”,  it means a lot of things to different people.

You can be happy with a lot of things (that’s temporary) but it’s the simplicity of it which sometimes put a smile on your face. Yesterday was one such day that made me pause for a while and just  savor the hours that passed. My son is on a two-day team-building trip somewhere in Cavite and the house was so quiet except for the occasional barking of our three rambunctious dogs. They think they own the garden and one of them doesn’t know what to do every time he sees some passersby close to the fence, he probably thinks they are a threat to the peace and quiet of the afternoon.

I love that corner of the garden where I could put my feet up and read or sip a hot cup of afternoon coffee giving half of the bread to our dogs.  Every Sunday afternoon, there is this program in the AM band where they play old songs from the 60’s and 70’s but mostly from the 60’s. Yesterday, it was a two-hour feature of the Beatles. This group has been a part of my growing-up years and when my son was in grade school, we used to watch a test broadcast of Beatles songs and movies.  Sometimes I am surprised to listen to some downloaded songs on his MP3 with several Beatles songs. I smile and he laughs and we would begin to reminisce about those days.  The joys of a simple life.

I got myself engrossed reading a book with a different setting and a one-of-a-kind story. It’s my first encounter with the author Marilynne Robinson. 20575411

Lila is a fascinating tale of a homeless child,  “story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.”  A limited vocabulary but full of thoughts and wonders about life  and  existence, such is Lila.  It’s a wonderful story of redemption, full of Biblical quotes that seem so essential in the story and in Lila’s quest on the meaning of grief and happiness. I understand this a trilogy, I haven’t read the first two books but this is a stand-alone story.  By the way, it’s my 21st book on Goodread’s 2016 reading challenge.

“If you think about a human face, it can be something you don’t want to look at,so sad or so hard or so kind. It can be something you want to hide, because it pretty well shows where you’ve been and what you can expect. And anybody at all can see it, but you can’t. It just floats out there in front of you. It might as well be your soul, for all you can do to protect it.”

Yes, I have started collecting quotes again, copying them on my little notebook. Back when I was in college, I have filled up three journals just on quotes alone. The beauty of a simple life.

18666006I have just started a new book, another new author in my list. Based on the summary it says,” Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves.”

“A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date – breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.”

I wonder if this would deliver, I am just on the first few pages. Seventy nine more books to go, this one included.  Such is the beauty of reading, you are sometimes transported in a world completely unknown to you.

Did a say, it is a simple life? But it is a life that is happy.

 

 

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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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Back in 2015, I committed to read at least  50 books and by July, I successfully finished the reading challenge  at Goodreads. The official count was 79 books but based on my own list, I almost read a hundred. I forgot to  update Goodreads  with some of the titles that I read, some chick lit and Ya books  which one could finish in a day or two. Unaccounted were some book of poems that I don’t need to finish in one  reading. There are books that truly inspire and I usually read them again and again. This year  I am challenging myself to read 100 books, an eclectic mix of poems, historical novels, fiction, memoirs and some classic books that I found last year. I have just finished Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and in the middle of  reading the third book of the century trilogy  by Ken Follett entitled Edge of Eternity. It’s a tome, maybe an equivalent of three romance  books or chick lit. I love the story though, it happened at the time Kennedy was the US president and when Martin Luther King was a revered figure of the black population in America. It happened when East Germany put up a dividing wall preventing its  population to cross West Germany.  I guess this is the best of the three books. It’s really hard to put it down.

If you find some words here that are clearly misspelled, blame it on the autocorrect feature of my tab.I am really finding it hard to publish a new post  and check the blogs I follow here.  Hopefully, everything goes back to normal in  a month or two. Who am I kidding, I wonder if I could last that long without eyestrain.

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The other day, I was updating my journal, transferring some quotes and one-liner words that I have accumulated in my thought box when I saw this printed list of books that I have culled from my account at shelfari.com, the first virtual library that I have painstakingly updated when I started using social media (think Friendster and Multiply) several years ago. I could no longer access my account there since I have already forgotten my password. When most of our books were destroyed by typhoon Ondoy last September 2009 I haven’t visited the site as much as I wanted because it pains me to  see the titles of those volumes  and book titles. It makes my heart bleed just seeing that all those lovely books that I have collected over the years are now gone. The Shelfari site was where I met book nerds not just here in the Philippines but from some other countries too. From there a friend created a book club which is still active until now though I haven’t attended the monthly sessions for a number of years.  When I got sick, I stopped joining the group in their book discussions but I follow a number of those who have separate book blogs  both at WordPress and at Blogger.

I now keep tract of the books that I’ve read and the books that I want to read via Goodreads. My wish list back then was quite long but I have found several books through the years of searching for those copies either at National Bookstore or at Booksale. There is nothing like finding one particular book in your list when you least expect it. Here is my updated wish list for 2016. It would be nice if I could find even half of the remaining ones that I haven’t read yet.

  • Ada by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Caught In The Quiet by Rod McKuen
  • Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin
  • Hello From Heaven: A New Field of Research-After-Death communication by Bill Guggeinheim
  • I Am David by Anne Holm
  • If Not Now, When? (Penguin Twentieth-Century classics) by Primo Levi
  • In Search Of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  • In The Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton by Thomas Merton
  • Looking For A Friend – Rod McKuen
  • Love’s Been Good To Me – Rod McKuen
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • Rites Of Passage by William Golding
  • Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Christmas Box Miracle: My Spiritual Journey of Destiny, Healing and Hope by Richard Paul Evans
  • The Devil In The Flesh by Raymond Radiguet, Alan Sheridan
  • The Graduate by Charles Webb
  • The Heart Of A Woman by Maya Angelou
  • Honorary Consul by Graham Greene
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  • The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka
  • Too Many Midnights by Rod McKuen
  • Traveling Light by Max Lucado
  • Watch For The Wind by Rod McKuen
  • West Wind by Mary Oliver
  • Witness To Hope: A Biography of Pope John Paul II
  • Your Name is Renee: Ruth Kapp Hartz’s Story As A Hidden Child in Occupied France by Stacey Cretzmeyer.

And last but not the least is P. Anciers’ Libertine’s Destiny. I read this when I was in college and the only copy of  UST’s Main Library was never in the shelf. Back then, when somebody returned the book, there was always someone who wanted to borrow it. The story started in Germany during WWII. If I were to rate it now, I’ll give it five stars. There is a discussion group on Goodreads about this book and some have sourced different libraries in the US to no avail.

What about you, do you have a favorite book that you want to reread and makes you smile just remembering  it?

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.–Neil Gaiman

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Soaked in the quiet of the early morning.

My son just called from the airport a few minutes ago and said, he is excited. This is actually his first long vacation after so many days and months of stressful work.  He, his girlfriend and three friends are going to Boracay  for a week-long stay. White sand,  pristine beach, lovely sunrise and sunset and amazing dream of a place for vacation. I wonder though if that still holds true because in the last few years, local and foreign tourists alike visit the place in droves.  I haven’t been there  so I could not aptly describe how it looks and how it feels staying there for a while. If you ask me, I’d rather spend a much-needed vacation in a quiet place, communing with nature without the noise of night parties and beach dancing. Palawan maybe would be best, my daughter  raved about the place when she went there with some friends years ago.  This is off-season though so probably Boracay is not that crowded compared to the summer months. I still dream of going to the northern part of the Philippines and Batanes is still number one in my bucket list and next to that would be Calayan and Ilocos. Each of us has preferences where to go, what to see and discover. He asked me what I want so I said, “find me some seaglass and a lovely key ring”. I hope my son would enjoy his vacation before he starts with a new job at JP Morgan Chase in over a month. He told me he will file his resignation in his present job when he comes back.  I really prayed for this, that he really finds another job with added financial renumerations and perks to booth. The stress at work will always be there but the new work environment is something to look forward to and the new job is something that would add up to his experience.

The silence quiets the mind.

And the world is quiet here except for occasional barking of the dogs and noisy motorcycles that pass by. Khaled  Hosseini couldn’t have described it best when he said and I quote: “Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it.” That’s a quote from his book, The Kite Runner. I am almost done with The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. I enjoyed this book tremendously compared to the first two books that I’ve read before by the same author. I  so love the character of Kwan. Maybe in a month or a few days, I would be able to finish Anna Karenina, I’ve set is aside temporarily to read other inspiring books. Don’t ask me why, it’s an excellent classics but sometimes my eyes get tired of those long and hard to pronounce characters.

It makes you a bit introspective.

Ah,  so I won’t have to set the alarm clock to wake up early. Plenty of time to read and to garden in between.  The  mind is busiest in these quiet moments and  you can hardly keep up with the chasing thoughts that you would want to put on paper or the many stories playing in your head that you would want to relate and share. Here are some quotes that I hastily jotted down while in the middle of reading Amy Tan’s book.

“Everyone must dream. We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”

“Too much happiness always overflowed into tears of sorrow.”

“The world is not a place but the vastness of the soul. And the soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless, all that moves us toward knowing what is true. . .And believing in ghosts – that’s believing that love never dies. If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses. ”

Have a nice weekend everyone!

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