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Posts Tagged ‘literature and Fiction’


I am excited. Truly.

A few days ago, I saw this on Mary Oliver’s timeline. Her new book Upstream will be released in a month and I just hope this time I would be able to find a copy.

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It’s the newest collection of Mary Oliver’s essays.  I’m always on the lookout for Mary Oliver’s quotes online  and luckily I found one on Blogger. Would you believe, the author quoted  a poem of Mary  every day for a year and did a short write-up of what those words meant  in  her life?  I am still on the first few entries but I was able to find some poems which are not included in the only two books I have of Mary Oliver, New And Selected Poems, Vol. 1 and the lovely edition of A Thousand Mornings.

Then I found these on her wall too and I was l smiling like crazy. Her words inspire me, lift me up and give me that boost I sorely need when I feel down. To appreciate  the beauty of the  natural world around us, what bliss!

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One of my favorite poems is this, The Wild Geese.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

 

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It’s a wet and cold morning and it’s been raining on and off since the start of the weekend.  Hanging habagat  (southwest monsoon) is definitely here. It was a busy weekend though. It’s a good thing we were able to finish some gardening chores early.

When you are forced to stay at home because of the weather, you either keep busy or you relax to your heart’s content.  I did both…haha! Aside from gardening, I was able to find time to read two books over the weekend and to watch two movies on YouTube.  Yes, you heard it right.  For the first time in so many years, I caught myself finding some inspirational movies that would lift the soul and strengthen faith. The Song of Bernadette did just that. I could not remember the last time I watched this movie. I found a version in Blu-Ray. The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 drama film that tells the story of Bernadette Soubirous, a young visionary of Lourdes  who later became a saint. From February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, she  reported eighteen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This  film is based on the true story of Bernadette Soubirous, and adapted from the book written by  Franz Werfel.  What a lovely, lovely way to spend two hours straight infront of my computer and see this film.

Lately, I was lucky enough to find more books on faith and redemption and how beautiful life could be  despite the treacherous journey  and the unfaithfulness of mankind.  Alicia Ruggieri  is new on my list  of authors  and I like her writing style. She writes grace-filled and Christ-centered fiction. If you have time, try to read her A Time of Grace trilogy. The first book made me really cry and think of life, it’s beauty and its angst. The Fragrance  of Geraniums is such a beautiful book.  I am in the middle of reading the second one entitled All Our Empty Places  which picks up the story where it left off in the first one. I wonder if I’ll be able to find the third and the concluding book in the trilogy. I am not really into trilogies but this one is worth it. There are those stories that make you feel they’re real and you get into them like you would a story of a friend or yours, you feel the sadness, the triumphs and the pain. You feel that hope is not a dead thing but a journey that makes you look forward to another day.

A friend  suggested another writer and poet. The blog is truly inspiring. I searched the link. You may visit it here.

It’s raining still  and I am caught with these words, we are all special in God’s eyes.  God’s grace overflows.

 

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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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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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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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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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