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?

Well, I’m back….

…. again. Captain “I am to misbehave” Mal (my mac; and yes, I name my macs) was sidelined for months. The battery died and swelled up and I couldn’t find a replacement for a long time, until D ordered one for me from London. So what’s been going on? in my side of the woods, I’ve had to deal with some major issues at work, the scope of which won’t appear on this blog, but suffice to say, the conflagration was hard to put out. Been trying to exercise more (largely D’s doing; posting more on my activities in this regard soon) and traveling more (yay!).  In the next few days — or ok, maybe weeks — will be busy posting more entries — starting with this!
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Accomplishment: Finished (finally — after three years!) Stephen King’s Under the Dome! Wrote about this in an earlier post and back then, I was telling myself I would finish it, but ended up shelving it for other titles. So I finally finished it. So how was it? Hmmm, not as good as some of his other works. I get the impression it was some sort of thought experiment that went on too long. I don’t really regret reading it, but I can’t help feeling that it was a bit of a letdown. Still, and all, that’s a book off the book debt — though I’ve racked up several additions to the pile in the meantime!

Continue reading Well, I’m back….

Geekery: 15-minute Game of Thrones preview

This totally made my Monday! I promised myself that will I stop posting the same thing on the different social media platforms I’m on (especially on my Tumblr, which I’ve hijacked for the 100 Happy Days Challenge), but I have to make an exception of this. I can’t wait for April!

And I need to get a move on with reading the books. Lordy….

The eternal boy-girl equation explained

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I detected instantly that she didn’t like me. It’s a fact of life that a girl can tell in a flash if another girl likes her. Feely says that there is a broken telephone connect between men and women, and we can never know which of us rang off. With a boy you never know whether he’s smitten or gagging, but with a girl you can tell in the first three seconds. Between girls there is a silent and unending flow of invisible signals, like the high-frequency wireless messages between the shore and the ships at sea, and this secret flow of dots and dashes was signaling that Mary detested me. — young Flavia Sabine de Luce, aspiring chemist and protagonist of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Bedside reading: The Fault in Our Stars

Augustus glanced away from the screen ever so briefly. “You look nice,” he said. I was wearing this just-past-the-knees dress I’d had forever. “Girls think they’re only allowed to wear dresses on formal occasions, but I like a woman who says, you know, I’m going over to see a boy who is having a nervous breakdown, a boy who’s connection to the sense of sight itself is tenuous, and gosh dang it, I am going to wear a dress for him.

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The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

I’m only on page 56 of this novel and I’m already loving it. Funny, irreverent, with a wide streak of sadness running through the narrative (it’s about teenagers who have cancer who fall in love — at least I assume; I haven’t gotten to that part yet), it’s one of the rare books that has made me laugh out loud in glee this year. I can’t wait to read what happens to Hazel Grace and Augustus. I am preparing myself for lots of crying before the story is over, but I’m rooting for the kids anyway.

Weekend reading: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

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Hmm, somehow it doesn’t seem the same, taking a picture of a book cover on an iPad screen — one of the drawbacks of not actually having the book. Oh well.

Started this book yesterday afternoon after I’ve finished reading Laurell K. Hamilton’s newest Anita Blake novel, Affliction (more on this in a future post). I heard so much praise about Ayana Mathis’ novel that I had to read for myself to see if it’s worth reading. And it is. First chapter and Mathis already rips your heart out and stomps it good.

Continue reading Weekend reading: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Under the Dome

Under the Dome

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Under the Dome is supposed to be one of Stephen King’s best novels in years. I’ve only ever gotten to around a third of it before other things distract me and I put down the book again! (It will get read sooner rather than later, I promise.) In the meantime, word is that CBS is planning an eight-part miniseries about it. To get people anticipating the miniseries, they made a creepy interactive promo where you input your address and watch as a “dome” encloses it. Try the link above and have fun! Bonus points for the creepy music too!

[image borrowed from remingtons.files.wordpress.com]

Excerpt and reaction: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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“That night at the Brooklyn party, I was playing the girl who was in style, the girl a man like Nick wants: the Cool Girl. Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

“Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men — friends, coworkers, strangers — giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much — no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be a woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version — maybe he’s vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t even complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: ‘I like strong women.’ If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because ‘I like strong women’ is code for ‘I hate strong women.’)

“I waited patiently — years — for the pendulum to swing the other way, for men to start reading Jane Austen, learn how to knit, pretend to love cosmos, organize scrapbook parties, and make out with each other while we leer. And then we’d say, Yeah, he’s a Cool Guy.

“But it never happened. Instead, women across the nation colluded in our degradation! Pretty soon, Cool Girl became the standard girl. Men believed she existed — she wasn’t just a dreamgirl one in a million. Every girl is supposed to be this girl, and if you weren’t, there was something wrong with you.” — from Gone Girl

I’ve always been suspicious of hype — and this book has a lot attached to it! It’s in practically all the “must-read” lists this year and with good reason. I picked it up because I was curious and I’m sooo glad I did! This is one of those books that marry high-brow literary-ness with low-brow storytelling. It’s taut, spare in prose, but still richly detailed, both in plot points and “navel gazing” psychological ruminations. Didn’t have high hopes for this when I started reading it, but it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read all year… OK, admittedly, it wasn’t a great year in books for me. But still.

The London Daily Mail called this “… a book you’ll be begging other people to read just so you can discuss it with them” and I can’t wait for friends to read this so we can all just freak out over the story — and I did a lot of freaking out and what WTF-ing while reading this, believe me!

Note: Hmm, it occurred to me that I’ve read a few outstanding books in 2012, so it’s a bit rash to call this “the best book I’ve read all year”… So post has been amended to: “one of the best books I’ve read all year.”