Recent Reads, July-August 2017

recent-reads-jul-aug-2017

Since my last trip to Zambales was a whole three months ago, I thought I’d share my thoughts about the last few novels I’ve been able to pick up (‘pick up’ is kind of an awkward phrase as I read mostly through a digital screen these days).

I read to relax, to escape from reality, to place myself in a zone that doesn’t require deep mental function. I would love to choose books with a more conscious effort to develop a new knowledge-set – I’ll get to that within this month, when I go on that break (frankly I’m a little terrified. I think of my thoughts and plans now, and they all end in that hesitant octave-higher lilt. “I think I’m still OK?” “I’m not sure what I’ll do next?” “But I’m not really going anywhere yet anyway, ha-ha?” Sigh.) Anyway, here goes.

Continue reading “Recent Reads, July-August 2017”

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My 2016 in Books*

For me there’s no debate between physical books and a Kindle. Under the most ideal circumstances, I would choose real books.

But this year, there was a dearth of ideal circumstances, i.e. quaint afternoons spent in cafes while sipping a warm latte and enjoying a view of trees or beaches. Because life in 2016 was, you know,  (there seems to be a consensus, LOL at our bandwagon sentimentality).

My heart will always crave books for their tactile pleasure. That’s what any self-righteous reader would say: that the joy of reading a physical volume can never be replaced by clutching a thin, flat plastic tablet.

Despite this presupposition, I read almost exclusively on my Kindle this year. To be quite frank, I didn’t miss flipping pages, nor the extra bag weight. It was different, but it still felt good. Because I got to read for pleasure, period.

In 2016 I read more than I’ve ever read in the last three years. I read in UV Express lines, while getting various pampering processes done, in between errands, in the toilet, before bed. I read to escape. I read to know new things. I read to get ideas and stay inspired. I read and read and read. And at the end of the day that was what mattered. That I got to enjoy a good chapter whenever I wanted to.

Anyway, this isn’t a love letter about my Kindle (although seriously guys I think it’s such a good investment). This note is about what I consider one of the most important milestones of this year – that I was able to read more books.

So here’s a list of places and stories I’ve been. In between memoirs and a brief nostalgic Nancy Drew spate, I read a lot of sci fi and spec. I failed to finish That Hideous Strength after repeated attempts. And I’m owning up that I’ve never actually finished a single Llosa book in my life.

My “Book Of The Year” would have to be SEVENEVES for its epicness. Nothing more fascinating than hard science fiction and a genesis account that covers almost the same timeline as the bible (please correct me if I am wrong on this one). My favorite author is Helen Oyeyemi for making me enjoy fairy tales, for her characters’ stream of consciousness, and for her skill in writing in so many diverse voices. Reading Patti Smith’s memoirs is like experiencing simultaneous deja vu and future visions – one of those writers who have already influenced how I will feel and think about things in the coming years.

This list is really for posterity so that I can be motivated to keep reading and to actually get back into actual books again in 2017 (but seriously you can highlight and make notes in a Kindle too and it’s so much easier to get your reader user data lolololol).

How can you utilize this list? I am underscoring recommendations.

*If you are a purist, sorry if my title is misleading :p

FINISHED (By order in which I finished them)
  1. In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
  2. Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
  3. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  4. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
  5. SEVENEVES by Neil Stephenson
  6. Nancy Drew and The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
  7. Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene
  8. Nancy Drew and The Bungalow Mystery by Carolyn Keene
  9. Nancy Drew and The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene
  10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  11. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
  12. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
  13. Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
  14. A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  15. Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame
  16. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  17. The Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
  18. Out Of The Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
  19. M Train by Patti Smith
  20. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
  21. Democracy by Joan Didion
  22. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and JK Rowling
  23. Infomocracy by Malka Older
  24. The Girls by Emma Cline
  25. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  26. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  27. Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor
  28. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
  29. The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay
  30. Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  31. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
NOT FINISHED
  1. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
  2. Room by Emma Donoghue
  3. A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson
  4. The Fabric of The Cosmos by Brian Greene
  5. Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
  6. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
  7. Feast of The Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA)

Letters to Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir

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“In which you were thin and pleasing, and it gave me quite a jolt – I’ve almost got tears in my eyes at the memory.”

I like “thin and pleasing.” It was the way he was too. And I feel for the memory, too. 🙂

Page: Purity by Jonathan Franzen

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Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

I like the buzz and debate that surrounded the publication of this novel. Here’s my pithy take:

Watchman hasn’t necessarily ruined Mockingbird for me. Clearly, it was an earlier version of Mockingbird, not a sequel. It was not supposed to see the light of day. That said, setting aside the knavish context of its “discovery” and subsequent publication, having read Watchman made me appreciate a) the wisdom of Lee’s editor b) Lee’s faith in the story and c) Lee’s talent for revision which was essentially a rebirth.

“As you please.”

Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee

I like the buzz and debate that surrounded the publication of this novel. Here’s my pithy take:

Watchman hasn’t necessarily ruined Mockingbird for me. Clearly, it was an earlier version of Mockingbird, not a sequel. It was not supposed to see the light of day. That said, setting aside the knavish context of its “discovery” and subsequent publication, having read Watchman made me appreciate a) the wisdom of Lee’s editor b) Lee’s faith in the story and c) Lee’s talent for revision which was essentially a rebirth.

“As you please.”

15 Thoughts since I started reading on a Kindle Voyage

I bought a Kindle recently. That’s what’s been up. I haven’t been growing or saving up and I’m still spending scarily huge amounts of money but – tadaaaaaaaa – I’ve been diving back into serious reading and getting better mornings and stuff because of it again. Reading long-form is helping my mind ease off short-form, photo heavy social media thinking and my thoughts are also easing back into self-aware, longish-form stuff if that makes sense.

Paperwhite vs. Voyage

1. It’s. so. beautiful. and. sleek.

2. I saved about P6k by asking my kind colleague to bring it home for me. But for just an extra P1k I could’ve gotten an iPad mini instead.

3. But how beautiful is the e-Ink. And how much lighter is this than an iPad. And I’m focusing on reading now.

4. *Adds 200+ books from current library.*

5. You mean I can now just *download* anything I want to read?

6. *Reads 5 books in 2 weeks*

7. *Feels better about long shuttle queue after work*

8. *Gets 20 more books*

9. Wait a minute this is too easy. Too fun.

10. I’m now questioning the payoff principle. By giving on to this, I cut out the entire segment of pleasure from the tactile act of reading – the page-turning, the spine-clasping, the paper-smelling, the physical heft of discovering something between lines of text. “Downloading freely” takes away the whole reward-earning payoff segment too. The whole thing is now pure information acquisition. I mull over whether I will consider this progress, or sacrilege to an act that I like more than writing or watching anything, an act that I freely consider as both work and passion.

11. *Highlights all the Didion quotables and marvels at how, now, they’re all organized and filed away and accessible anytime*

12. *Enjoys chapter-surfing: Austen, Didion, that Archie #1 comic. Reads so much much more at a better and more meaningful pace since 2015 started. Journal entries are also starting to improve and sound much more normal*

13. *Inserts worry about birth control here for good slippage measure to emphasize that my brain is thinking of a bajillion things at the same time*

14. I feel guilty about having so much to read at so little cost! So I proceeded to order a book legitimately just to check out if that feels right… book was Alexa Chung’s It.

15. … After reading It, I come to the realization that overall, I don’t mind the convenience, I don’t mind being able to read more anywhere and anytime and right before I fall asleep, I don’t mind not wasting money on things like Alexa Chung’s It ever again. So I reach this new internal resolution. I’ll read everything on my new Kindle, and proceed to actually buy and keep in my library actual copies of the ones I will fall in love with.

***

POST: Reading was all I ever did growing up when I wasn’t at school. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I love reading more than writing. I love fiction. I love YA but I’m actually also growing out of it. I prefer reading a book to watching a movie (even if Film is my MA major!).

Read Log, July 2014. Weekends and rush hour queueing are only pretty much good for easy-to-digest stuff (also the fact that reading time is usually only after 8PM and my brain is pretty much too fried to appreciate anything beyond adolescent sexual tension… huff).

Hello to July’s YA overdose (I think after Night Film, I needed several shots of sweet lady drinks to gain life back).

Also:

– Peter Nery’s poetry

– Work stuff (writing about Finance feels oddly comforting now)

– Plots plots plots

When school comes back, I’ll also revert to serious research again. And also probably write that 50,000 thing soon. So there, so there!