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?

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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]

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)

How to get flat abs, have amazing sex, and rule the world in eight easy steps

How to get flat abs, have amazing sex, and rule the world in eight easy steps

Since it’s a Monday and we all need reminding about how to live life the best way we know how. Read the link for the full list.

Some important ones for me, because these are the lessons that are hardest to follow:

2. Be happy now.

Not because The Secret says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture — but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.

3. Look at the stars.

It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily — it helps.

4. Let people in.

Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed — or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half way. Go all in — it’s worth it.

7. Practice gratitude.

Practice it out loud to the people around you. Practice it silently when you bless your food. Practice it often. Gratitude is not a first world only virtue. I saw a photo recently, of a girl in abject poverty, surrounded by filth and destruction. Her face was completely lit up with joy and gratitude as she played with a hula hoop she’d been given. Gratitude is what makes what we have enough. Gratitude is the most basic way to connect with that sense of being an integral part of the vastness of the universe; as I mentioned with looking up at the stars, it’s that sense of wonder and humility, contrasted with celebrating our connection to all of life.

Happy Monday!

Monday list

April always makes me think of summer, no classes, beach and just having all the time in the world. That is, of course, the April of my childhood and that hasn’t been the case with my Aprils since I was, oh, 18 maybe, back in the Jurassic era! But so what, right? I still can dream of my perfect April/summer season in which all I need do is…

… read and make inroads into my book debt. In the pipeline this year: Stephen King’s 11/22/63, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Unholy Night both by Seth Grahame-Smith, in which the three wise men are protagonists in a sword-and-sandals epic — here’s an excerpt.And yes, The Hunger Games trilogy is also in this book debt. Argh!

… try and live lightly. I need a change in mindset and the article “The Elements of Living Lightly” perfectly encapsulates what needs to change in me: Think of nothing that happens as either good or bad. Stop judging, and stop expecting. It may not always work, but can’t hurt to try. At the very least, it presents you with a clean slate.

… eat right. And I need these portion plates to do that. OK, I don’t need these plates, but they’re just damn cute!

… need to run and walk more, so I need these Japanese sneakers with baked on soles in my life. And these Skechers running shoes.

… go somewhere, anywhere — preferably to a beach.

… or failing that, hole up this Holy Week to watch Game of Thrones, season 2! Here’s a refresher course.

A list of lists

Another manic Monday, as the Bangles said. To get me through it, here’s what I’ve been reading/checking out:

I’m thinking of salads, why? I don’t know — maybe because these main course salads are so pretty and look damn delicious.

Despite my “no-rice” for Lent (two more weeks, please God!). I’m not really dieting, but this article on unhealthy healthy snacks caught my eye.

I’m the type who, after watching a movie, would include a comment like, “I love her wardrobe” in my critique about a film. I mean, sure plot and “overarching story themes” are all well and good (and necessary) but sometimes, you just want to talk about the clothes, so I really like this story on memorable movie dresses. One quibble though: Can Princess Leia’s slave-girl bikini even be classified as a dress?

I haven’t watched The Hunger Games yet and I haven’t read the books (yes, book debt!) — and I hardly know the story, except for the bare-bones plot. BUT! Vulture’s Hunger Games Name Generator is lots of fun! Embedded in the article is a link to figure out which District you belong so check it out. Oh, and my name is Terra Lockhearst, haha!

I like this cover of Cate Blanchett in Intelligent Life. She looks great without Photoshop! I am firmly on the side of retouching for magazines in the sometimes hysterical debate over it, but not to the point where you don’t recognize who the person is. The whole point of magazine profiles after all, is to get people to relate (aspire?) to be like their idols and who wants to see their idols have folds and wrinkles and spots and such? But having said that, it also doesn’t make sense for me — both as editor and reader — to render a subject too perfect. Our folds and wrinkles indicate a life well-lived and who doesn’t want that?

Speaking of interesting lives, musicians pay tribute to their favorite writers. Now I suddenly miss Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs!

I also miss The Wire. Mainly because I’ve been talking about it with a colleague! Maybe I should “re-up” and watch it again. In the meantime, there’s this: The Wire: 100 Greatest Quotes. Warning: Contains spoilers!

Here, an impression of moving street art (i.e., Manila jeeps) by a neo-newbie. Good stuff.

I remember my dad would come home from business trips with hotel soaps and shampoos from the various hotels he stayed in. I travel myself, and while I sometimes have the same habit of taking home hotel toiletries (especially if they’re by famous designers/brands), I usually leave them alone. I don’t even use them because I’d bring my own. Or if I’d use them, mostly it’s for washing hands. So what happens to all those unused toiletries or leftover toileties? Clean the World has an interesting — and enterprising — solution.

Big think of the week: Nothing is original — we all steal ideas from someone/somewhere else. But! And here’s the difference: “… admitting that yes, it’s true—nothing is original. Accepting that fact, however, is actually one of the first steps to greatness. ‘If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running from it,’ [writer Austin Kleon] writes, arguing that the idols and ideas you choose to surround yourself with only serve to make your projects more robust.” This quote is from an interview with the author, whose book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, says that poaching is essential for good ideas to flourish. I want this book!

And finally — things that I’m grateful for this week: I’m healthy, my family’s doing great, my friends are fabulous, my job allows me to be expand my creativity. If I’m down, there’s always a good book to read or a movie to watch. Sometimes it’s the little things that count. And coffee and alcohol, haha…

Happy Monday! 😉

[image from fastcodesign.com]