What’s the collective noun for books?

A collection? A shelf? A library? How about a discussion or a storytelling or a chapter or a paragraph? Whatever it is, I read a lot of books the past six months. Did I mention this is a (loooong) book post?

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Ready for their closeup. The books I’ve read the past six months; not included are the two I wasn’t able to finish. The funky wooden busts styled with them are from Bali

Over the years, right around April or May I used to take stock of what I’ve read for the past months. And the list would invariably show up somewhere — back in the day, it was in journals and then more recently in various social media, albeit in a more haphazard fashion. I don’t know why I do it really, maybe because I wanted to have a record of what I read and also because April and May evoked school vacations in the Philippines, a time when I could just curl up with a good book in the middle of a hot afternoon instead of taking a siesta (afternoon nap) as my parents wanted us kids to do (to make us grow tall, they said). Now of course, I am more likely going to choose the siesta than read a book, because I’m old(er). :)

But at the start of this year, I told myself I would jot down each book I read as I started it just so I have a record of my reading diet — you are what you eat or read, am I right or am I right? I wrote down the titles in my desk diary — literally, an actual diary on my office desk. I am not so particular that I wrote down the title on the actual day I started reading it. I basically scribbled on those blank spaces allotted for each week/month for the diarist to write down whatever existential thought or musing he or she has. I chose to write down what I read.

The results were interesting:

  • 23 books read, 2 unfinished; so 21 books actually read cover to cover.
  • 8 = most number of books started in a month (March). Note that I said “started” because I wrote down the titles as I started reading, but did not really write down when I finished the books. But given that I usually — not always though — pick up a book when I’m done with one, it’s safe to assume that I did finish all eight books in March. Even for me — a fast reader (D says I don’t take the time to savor the books and devour them like fast food, a claim I wholeheartedly deny) — this was, er, impressive… and a bit frightening.
  • 1, unfinished = least number of books read in a month (April). What was I doing in April?? A quick glance at my diary revealed that I was drowning in work that month, apparently.
  • Genres covered: They run the gamut, from historical romance, to thrillers, to a memoir. Was tempted to enumerate the books per genre, but after attempting to classify several of them, I ended up confusing myself and stopped. Let’s just say that many of them can be classified under different categories and I will never be a competent librarian, haha!

So what have I been reading? Here’s a list (as they appeared in my diary) and capsule reviews:

Continue reading What’s the collective noun for books?

The benefits of reading

This isn’t why I love to read — I read because it relaxes me, it’s pleasurable and allows me to travel to different worlds and realities. But it’s great that there are actually health benefits to one of my favorite activities. :)

[infographic borrowed from this link: The Benefits of Reading]

[UPDATED] Monday blues

… in which I log out of this blog and when I sign back in, my header image and front page menu have changed! I tried fixing it but nothing’s happening. So I decided to change the theme, thinking that’ll fix the issue, but still no go. Sigh. This isn’t earth-shattering in the great scheme of things, but it’s not helping my stress levels. I think I will go ask WordPress what’s what.

In the meantime, please bear with the changes. Will try to figure out what’s wrong with the site. In the meantime, do you like the new theme? I’m undecided. It looks too boxy to me. What do you think?

[UPDATE] Well, it looks like everything’s right with the world again. WordPress said that it was a system error and fixed the problem right away. But my forum post generated a lot of responses. It seems like that there was a lot of folks affected by the error. Like I said, it was not really a big issue in the great scheme of things, but why did it feel like it was? The influence of tech and social media into our lives is growing apace, it seems. Anyway, all’s well that ends well.

I also changed the theme so it’s neater and I don’t have to fuss about header images. What do you think of the new look?

While we’re on the subject of cycling….

…. here’s a useful link — Bicycling’s 50 Golden Rules. I’m a newbie, so it’s all I can do to remember the basic stuff. But yes, I need to keep all these in mind!

(image above: One of the deserted spots in Sentosa where we like to go cycling. The bike in the photo is Beast, D’s Specialized Stump Jumper mountain bike, so called because he is scary — to me anyway)

[EDITED] Lessons from falling off a bike

For a well-balanced life

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Kermit at rest. (I named my beautiful green Trek bike Kermit. I have a habit of naming some of my things. For example, my Mac has a name and now my bike. Why do I do this? I don’t know. Because.)

So there I was, nervously perched on top of a big green bike, seemingly miles off the ground, and navigating through Sentosa’s three beaches, which were filled with gawking tourists, trams — and horrors! — little kids in scooters and bikes and families with pets. Why oh why didn’t they all go home?? More to the point, why am I here? I could be home, reading a book instead of trying to navigate through Sentosa’s crowded beaches on a weekend! Instead, I still can’t believe that I am indeed riding a bike. On my own. Without training wheels…. How did I get here?

Continue reading [EDITED] Lessons from falling off a bike

Things I learned while I wasn’t looking

(A short word from the birthday girl — that would be me)

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That’s not my age, but it’s close enough. :) (Photo by D)

This birthday post was supposed to be published last Thursday, but I was off doing other things, so I’m publishing it today. Here are some things that I’ve learned/am still learning: I’ve learned to chill out. I can still get preoccupied about my looks, weight, whether people like me or not, but most of the time, I have grown comfortable with myself. Too much drama in life can be tiring. It’s great to be able to sit and read a book, but it’s also great to do something you haven’t done before instead of just reading about it. Pushing boundaries doesn’t stop when you become older. In fact, it becomes imperative because there are no more excuses. Just get on with it already. Your first grade teacher was right: It pays to read the instructions first and follow them. But sometimes, you need to know when to disregard the instruction book and just go by gut feel. Bravery means taking the first step. It always helps to talk it out. Always be polite. A smile always works wonders; but so does a raised eyebrow. Know when to keep your mouth shut but know when to speak up. Always be there for the people you care about and never take them for granted. I also thought I’d borrow from Amy Poehler in her book, Yes Please. She expressed it better than I could, anyway:

Continue reading Things I learned while I wasn’t looking

Buns, Balls, and Crabs (part 2)

… Or how I ate my way through Taipei and lived to tell the tale. Or, how I learned sharing is caring. (Second of multiple parts)

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Crab legs and claws, snails, shrimp and other drool-inducing delicacies at the Keelung Maiokau Night Market

Taiwan is not a good place for dieters. There is just too much delicious food. Our first afternoon alone, in the first three hours in Taipei, we have managed to eat mee sua, which is thin rice flour noodles in a thick broth/gravy with pieces of meat in it and flavored with soy sauce and vinegar. It was mouthwatering. Before that, someone bought a packet of fried chicken nuggets that were out of this world, which our group all sampled. I must say, the Taiwanese really know their street food. And almost anything can be considered street food, as I would later see as we visited the night markets — the first of which, I would be introduced to that first night.

I love traveling by myself and getting lost in a new place. But I must admit, for this first trip to Taipei, I’m glad that I had colleagues who have been here several times and can just guide us as to where to go. I suppose finding the night markets would be easy, for a newcomer. But finding the little stalls and carts that sell the best buns, for instance, is going to be a problem for newbies. There’s also the language problem. More people now speak English, especially among the young university students, but non-Mandarin speakers may still have a hard time getting understood. Still, that’s part of the beauty of travel, isn’t it? On this trip, though, we had a guide who knew her way around. That saved time figuring out how to get to the different places. And of course, the company had hired a van to take us to the more far-flung areas we wanted to go to, which again, saved us valuable time.

Continue reading Buns, Balls, and Crabs (part 2)