Sunday, January 13, 2019

My 2019 reading plans

I'm not doing the Goodreads reading challenge this year. Not coming up with any prompts for a Bookbed reading challenge, either. I won't be pushing myself to read new things this year at all.
Part of it is because I failed all my challenges for last year. Reading just wasn't a priority the way it was in 2017. I dove deeper into a new hobby, made new friends who shared similar obsessions, and took more pleasure in journaling than in reading.
Part of it is because I read David Cain's article about the Depth Year, and it resonated with me. I want to reread the books I've kept on my shelves and faithfully dusted for years; I want to burn my TBR pile to the ground.
Part of it is because whenever I'm upset or overwhelmed, I go to my bookmarks and reread the same 55,000 word fanfic I've been reading since 2016.(It's a rarepair, 6 works in that tag with 5 by the same author and the last one as a gift to that author. You're never alone in your obsessions, not on the internet.) I don't look forward to new books that much anymore; I want familiar, I want predictable, I want clear tagging and warning systems on every paperback cover.
For all this grumpiness, all these complaints, I still bought two books and a magazine on January 2 of this year. They're how-to books on creativity and journaling, and I've only finished the magazine so far.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Annotated TBR #5: 2018 Overview

(I came across this idea on Badass Romance.)
This is less of an update and more of a masterpost. Here's everything I bought in 2016 that I still haven't read, updated with books I bought in 2017 that fall in the same categories and books from before 2016 as well. So this is everything I own and need to get around to reading.

From chain bookstores:
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Way Things Work by David Macaulay, Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 
Here by Richard McGuire, The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

From BookSale, a secondhand bookstore chain:The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe, Blood Orange Brewing by Laura Childs, Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes, In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth, The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier, Mathilda Savitch, Remember the Tarantella, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Drive by James Sallis, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, Cherie

From other secondhand bookstores in the mall:The Runner by Cynthia Voigt, Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Penguin Little Black Classics hoarding:The Fall of Icarus by Ovid, Come Close by Sappho, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun by Emily Dickinson

Part of my efforts to buy more Filipino books:Macarthur by Bob Ong, Mythspace by Paolo Chikiamco, Mga Tala sa Dagat ni Annette Acacio Flores, Si Diwayen ni Augie Rivera, Ito ang Diktadura ni Equipo Plantel, Isang Harding Papel ni Augie Rivera, Gun Dealer's Daughter by Gina Apostol

Random campus secondhand bookstore buys:The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende,  A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

From Yumi Thrift Shop:Hardcover of How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (duplicate, I have a paperback)

From my beloved Little Free Library, which I feed with romance paperbacks from my aunt's collection:A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (currently reading)

Books I won in a giveaway:My Invented Country by Isabel Allende, The Accidental by Ali Smith, The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

Have you read any of these books? Would you recommend that I read any of them first?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017/2018 reading

According to Goodreads, last year I read 15,089 pages across 65 books. Pretty good, but a far cry from my personal best of 104 books. I split them into seven categories, and here are my two favorites from each:

Chick Lit (5)
Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Filipino (12)
Found by Isa Garcia
Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

Graphic-ish Novels (2)
Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
To Be or Not To Be by Ryan North

Nonfiction (8)
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
One Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman

Poetry & Classics (8)
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
I Shall Not Be Moved by Maya Angelou

Well-reviewed (7)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Young Adult (18)
Wonder by R.J Palacio
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

*there were 5 books I couldn't put into any category, but I didn't have any favorites from them.

My 2018 Goodreads reading challenge has been set for 40 books. There are 53 unread books from those I purchased in the last three years, and there are 6 other books I've committed to buddy-read with a bookish friend. I'm sure as the year goes on my TBR will just grow longer and longer, but this year I'm trying to finish those 59 books I've committed to, without any distractions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pulitzer Prize-winning Cat Meme and Dad Joke

I was struck by the way the light felt that afternoon. I have paid a good deal of attention to light, but no one could begin to do it justice. There was the feeling of a weight of light -- pressing the damp out of the grass and pressing the smell of sour old sap out of the boards on the old porch floor and burdening even the trees a little as a late snow would do. It was the kind of light that rests on your shoulders the way a cat lies on your lap. So familiar.

One of you asks, in a naive and fluting voice, AB, CD goldfish? And the other replies in the deepest voice he can muster, a voice full of worldliness and scorn, L, MNO goldfish! And then outrageous and extravagant laughter. (It is the L, need I say, that has disturbed Mr. Schmidt.)
I told Boughton about this, and he said, "I have ong fet that etter ought to be excuded from the aphabet." Then he laughed, tickled with himself. 

from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We went to a provincial branch of a chain bookstore that carried more school and office supplies than actual books, since those were what sold quicker, and because in this country "bookstore" is synonymous with school supplies. It was a two-floor shop, almost like a department store with stationery, Halloween costumes, UN Day props, blank trophies and medals, face towels and hand sanitizer, basically everything you'd need to survive a school year. The bookshelves were tucked away on the second floor, with two shelves of secondhand books nearest to the staircase, followed by brand-new bestsellers, classics and other required academic reading, and then children's books at the very back. After a quick tour, we sat down to talk with the owner, who'd arranged the visit and was asking for suggestions on how to sell more books to his customers. He said he wanted to improve his customers' literacy, particularly for the schoolchildren. School partnerships were mentioned, blogger partnerships, book clubs, stuff like that. And yet I felt like we were going about it all wrong.

Firstly, as I mentioned above, the books were tucked away on the second floor. Since it's like a small department store, I guess most shoppers only browse the first floor and make their way to the second floor only for specific items. A small display of interesting books on the first floor could generate a little interest. You could put spooky books (Goosebumps and the like) near the Halloween costumes, and change the display with each holiday/season. Second, the secondhand books were the bulk-purchased kind, a mix of familiar titles, more obscure overruns, and strange nonfiction.  I feel like secondhand children's books would sell more easily, or at least be a welcome addition. Third, they talked about book clubs - that there probably wouldn't be much interest in those, that it would be hard to organize those in each community. I think a flier near the cashier, or an equivalent photo on their social media page, could be enough to get one or two locals interested, and those locals could assist in getting in touch with other interested people. 

I think the bookstore already works closely with local schools near their branches, so they immediately thought of school-partnered book clubs. But I think here the perception of reading is that it's like additional schoolwork, not something you'd do for leisure. And telling people that reading is good for them, that it'd make them smarter - that wouldn't help, either. It sounds prescriptive and condescending, and just adds to the perception that reading for leisure is... not exactly elite/elitist, but people who read for leisure have a sort of exclusive club feeling. So personally, that approach doesn't work for me.

I'd love to push the "reading is fun" approach. Sell the cartoon novelizations, the books adapted as movies, with movie poster covers, sell those hard. If you feel like you didn't get enough of this, here's a book, it has more of the same, only with the character's inner thoughts. Sell character-driven book series, especially for children. Feature a different genre/theme each month, even just a tiny display. Hold storytelling sessions in whatever free space you have. And, this is my strangest suggestion yet, use cosplay. Get people to dress up as their favorite book characters, for a discount or something. Or someone dressed as a quirky book character could promote that book. I don't know. Make reading fun. They said they did arts and crafts activities for those communities; if you brought similarly-themed books to each event I bet someone would be interested in buying them. 

Most of these suggestions are for selling/pushing fiction, mostly to children. And this is just my word vomit, typed into a notepad file. I don't know. I kind of want to quit my research and just apply for a job at one of the bookshop branches. I want everyone, especially children, to love reading the way I do, to get to know the characters and worlds I love so much.    

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sept 12: Top Ten Tuesday: Throwback Freebie

September 12Throwback Freebie: Ten Books I Loved During The First Year I Started My Blog, Favorite Books Published 5 or 10 or 15 Years Ago, Ten Older Books I Forgot How Much I Loved, etc. etc. Tweak however you want!

For this week's list, I'm going with a very literal throwback: some of the oldest books I've read, based on date of publication, according to Goodreads. I didn't go with all of the actual oldest books, since most of them were classics I struggled through for school. These are old books that I enjoyed and would recommend to anyone. 

1. 1340: A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees by Kenko Yoshida 
This was an accidental philosophical read, full of nuggets of wisdom and beautiful words.

2. 1818: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I think this was the most "dated" of these books, but the terror and ethical dilemma of Frankenstein's experimentation is timeless.

3. 1835: It was snowing butterflies by Charles Darwin
This is just an excerpt from his diaries, and I'd love to get my hands on a full copy. If all naturalists and biologists wrote this beautifully, textbooks would be a breeze to read.

4. 1908: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne Shirley's appeal transcends time and location. For a Filipino kid growing up in the late 90's and early 2000's, she was the most relatable book character, equalled only by Lois Lowry's Anastasia Krupnik.

5. 1917: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
This also felt pretty dated at times, but Helen's spinsterhood and "fed-up-ness" fit in with today's issues.

6. 1931: Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I don't even have anything to say about how this is universal or relatable, or feels timeless or current. It's just beautiful writing. 

7. 1949: Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
These are medieval short stories that I think should achieve fairy tale/nursery rhyme-levels of popularity and ubiquity.

8. 1951: Fallen into the Pit by Ellis Peters
This Post-WWII mystery is what got me interested in what I call "old-timey detective stories," and introduced me to Agatha Christie.

9. 1952: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Another childhood favorite, this was a fun read and never felt stuck in any time period.

10. 1954: Half Magic by Edward Eager
I guess this is also dated for a children's book, but the premise is so, so good (your wishes only get half-granted) that it didn't matter to me.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Struggled to Get Into

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
September 5Ten Books I Struggled to Get Into But Ended Up Loving or Ten Books That Were A Chore To Get Through or Ten Books I've Most Recently Put Down (the theme is...books you had a hard time with...tweak it how ever you need)

1. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Honestly, I'm the biggest scaredy-cat I know. The mere mention of any unusual events that could be supernatural in origin had me putting this book down, taking a deep breath, and preparing myself for a fright. I don't even remember anymore what frightened me, but I remember having to take a lot of pauses before the action swept my fears away.

2.The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
There must be something about supernatural themes that make me have to brace myself. I already knew from Tumblr that I'd love the characters, but the graveyard...? setting of one of the scenes spooked me. I ended up giving this (and The Historian) five stars, so I guess I did get into them eventually.

3. One Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman
This one was a four-star read, but the premise of the book was so heavy, I actually felt it weighing me down emotionally. Eventually the beautiful words won over the unease and fear of the future, and I ended up speeding through the latter half of this.

4. Pirates of the Levant by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Alatriste books are generally easy to read in spite of the bloody subject matter, but something about the way the Moors were described in this made me uneasy and conscious of how xenophobia and racism still cause so much suffering today.

5. Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
I love epistolary novels (when they're written well), but I feel like they allow you to form ideas of different characters at different paces, if that makes sense. When a character is described, it's often in broad strokes of adjectives, maybe a fine brush for some interaction with the sender or the addressee, but the sender/narrator seems more like a negative space or silhouette. Still a fun way to read, but it slows you down a bit.

6. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This is cheating, a little: it wasn't a struggle because of the unusual format, or subject matter, it was a struggle because I wanted to copy out all the lines or poems I loved, which took me ages until I realized I'd be holding on to the book no matter what,

7. Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
The summaries and reviews I'd seen had only impressed on me that there would be a traveling bookstore. I was somehow surprised to see that there was a bit of farmstead drudgery and an awful brother before I could get to the action. Once it got rolling (heh), it was a wonderful ride (heh) to independence and love.

8. The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
The title managed to lure me into buying this without glancing at the back, where the mere mention of Zen Taoism would have scared me off. Nonfiction of any but the most straightforward kind intimidates me, but the philosophical insights in this book were sweetened by tea- or nature-related imagery that set the mood beautifully.

9. A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel
Again, nonfiction. When anyone holds forth on something dear to me (in this case, books and reading), I start off defensively, measuring their opinions against mine, begrudgingly accepting some ideas and facts. Once I set that aside, this was a lovely read (four stars).

10. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
This book was a struggle from start to finish. The words were lovely individually, and I did find myself saving a lot of sentences to copy into my notebook, but it was so emotional, so painful for me that I took breaks before difficult scenes, sometimes during them, and often walked off to get chocolate or candy to help me turn the page. (Still a four-star read.)

© Someday this will be a book blog
Maira Gall