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Posts Tagged ‘books’


WOW!

If there is a rating more than five stars, I’ll give this book a six. It’s one of the best books I’ve read to date, my 70th out of the 100 books I challenged myself to finish for  Goodread’s 2016 Reading Challenge. I am afraid my review would not be enough to describe the beauty of this book, how well-written it is so I won’t even attempt to write one. Suffice to say, this book is beautiful, inspiring, awesome…..beautiful, inspiring, awesome. Truly a masterpiece. Lisa Wingate is a gifted writer.

prayerbox-standingcover I didn’t know I was on the last page when I read these lines.

“None can contain the magnificence of a wave kissing sand or the perfect spiral of a shell drying translucent in the sun or the fire of morning over endless water.

Or the beauty of a hummingbird as it hovers just an arm’s length away, mysteriously out of season on the day before Thanksgiving, it’s wings stroking air,rapid, invisible, powerful. Frozen in time for only an instant.

And then it flies away, growing smaller and smaller against the blue of an endless sky. Until finally it disappears into heaven.”

There are so many lovely quotes that I found in this book that  I copied  to my journal.  The prayer box reminds me of another blog post I wrote exactly a year ago. My  thought box is a discarded chocolate tin which contains  square  scratch papers of different size and color (filled with words, quotes, single lines, messages and reminders) which I have to sort out again  whereas the prayer box is a treasure trove of  inspiring words and letters religiously documented over the years.

When a book touches  you where it matters the most, it is certainly a winner.

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Oh my gosh, 62 books out of 100. I really can’t believe that I am 11 books ahead of schedule on my 2016 Goodreads Reading  Challenge. And before you say I have lots of time to appreciate the written word, it rains a lot every day so gardening is always relegated to the back seat and sometimes reading takes priority. I was able to start trimming the carabao grass this afternoon  (a back-breaking job every month)  but the sudden shower made me run indoors.

To discover new authors, what bliss! Goodreads provides a list of new books every month and a list of all time popular books but what I appreciate most is discovering new authors who are just as good and as talented like your favorite writers. One such author is John Hart. Where were you all this time John?

I seldom give five-stars to the books I read, just maybe about 6 in 50 books but Redemption Road  had me from page one, a gripping page-turner from beginning to end.  I don’t normally summarize a book as a  kind of review, it’s up to the other readers to find out. Well, I’m back to chick lit and memoirs and historical novels.

Did I say reading Redemption Road is worth your time?

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“I guess that’s all forever is…Just one long trail of nows. And I guess all you can do is try and live one now at a time without getting too worked up about the last now or the next now.”— Nicholas Evans (The Horse Whisperer)
“Sometimes what seems like surrender isn’t surrender at all. It’s about what’s going on in our hearts. About seeing clearly the way life is and accepting it and being true to it, whatever the pain, because the pain of not being true to it is far, far greater. “— Nicholas Evans

I am looking for that last book published by Nicholas Evans. It’s now on paperback. I  wish I could visit National Bookstore soon and buy a copy. I have copies of his four books published earlier than The Brave, have re-read them all because I simply love the stories.

theBraveNew

Nicholas Evans was born and grew up in Worcestershire, England. He studied law at Oxford University, graduating with first class honors.  He is one of my favorite authors.

 

 

 

 

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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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