Sunday, March 4, 2012

13 Books of 2011

Last January 2011, I promised myself that I would read 100 books for the whole year. I started great, but since I graduated last April and I took the board exam last August, I ended up reading only 13 books. Having not reached my target, I promised myself to write a blog about what I learned from the books, so as to feel great that at least, even though the number wasn't great, the values that I got were of quality. :D

So here goes my list in no particular order:

1. Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag by Edgardo M. Reyes. 

I finished the book for a Malikhaing Pagsulat 10 (MP 10) requirement - to read at least 3 books of the author our group wants to interview. I finished one. It was a short read; I read it for less than a day, but it got me thinking about it for weeks. It has a simple plot (, and most of the Filipino couch potatoes can say that they have seen one like it at Primetime Bida, etc. But it's the writing style that wowed me. Edgardo Reyes himself told us that topics for writing are everywhere and for everyone to use - use the most used topic in the writing world and it's fine; it's the writer's style that will captivate a reader. And based from two of his novels (I did not finish Sa Iyong Paanan), he practiced what he preached. As I was reading the novel, it felt like I was reading a song. I mean, I felt the rhythm in the words he used, and it was amazing especially because it was written in Filipino which is a language that is just romantically poetic (in my opinion). I was so entertained that I felt happy that I was obliged to read the book. If not for MP 10, I wound't borrow this from the Filipiniana Section of the Main Library of UP Diliman. My hope for the Philippine Literature was unearthed because of this book.

Gist: Classic. Epic. Recommendable. 

2. Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

I borrowed this from my orgmate Mel (Thanks!) and I had to finish this for a week so I camped out to McDonald's Philcoa until about 4am to finish the book . It's my first (and only aotm) time to read Palahniuk and it was a one of a kind experience. It is an epistolary novel and 'was written' by a 13-year old boy who wrote in broken English, was a trained operative disguised as an exchange student and based from the way he thought of Americans and their culture, was not trained to face normal people. I puked rainbows and laughed so hard as I was reading the novel. The eccentric views of an epitome of a teenage foreigner to the American life were a joyride. I loved the humor. Plus with existentialism as a theme, this novel got me thinking, what if it occurred to me, after religiously fulfilling it and making it as a base of my identity for a great deal of years, that I had a shitty purpose, how and what would I be? 

Gist: Joyride.

3. Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

I also borrowed this from my orgmate because everyone's talking about it, being an internationally acclaimed Filipino author and all. Sadly, I did not enjoy it as I thought I would be. But it gave me an insight on how an one views our history; it's written in the point of view of a person coming from an elite political family. So no farming and land problems, no psychological stress because of hunger and money. It's a good thing for me as a reader to experience a new point of view, but I learned that I am not ready for that view yet. The protagonist has problems like drugs, love and sex life, and traffic and barkada that I felt that story is wasted because of the identity of the protagonist. I mean, having an elite eyes in the story isn't the problem, it's just that I don't get why the bar scene with the drugs and the horny girl should be a part of the novel. If comparing the eyes of the book, I like Viajero by F. Sionil Jose better. But as justice to the book, it really has this twist in story telling that could (should?) be lauded for.

Gist: I'm neutral about this.

4. Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury

I bought this book because it's R.B., it's hardbound and it's only 50phph. I loved Fahrenheit 451, so I thought I would love this too. Lesson: Don't judge a book by its author.

Gist: I don't want to talk about it.

5. Sa mga Suso ng Liwanag by U Eliserio

Since Sir U Eliserio became my teacher in PanPil17, I had been intrigued by this book. So when I heard that one of my orgmates have this, I borrowed it. It's a fast read, and I don't know what to do about the whole thing. Well, I learned something from it though. It's that sex is good with condoms. Else, die worrying until the red days return.

Gist: Shocking sexual scenes are shocking.

6. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Reading Wuthering Heights and a Dostoevsky book consecutively or simultaneously is a bad bad thing to do, if you're not into heavy reading like me. I suggest one to read five or lighter books after Brontë before reading Dostoevsky. These books have characters that are too passionate: when a character is at rage, every being of that character spells rage. But because of that, I learned to seek what is inside a person before judging his actions. I had a peek of a dark person's insides because of this, and I'm glad I had one. 

Gist: Heavy.

7. Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I read this during my review classes, so I had to read it every break that I had. It was worth it. As the lender of the book described it, it was the book of all genres (not verbatim). If one had to read a book to Learn with the capital L, this is the book one's looking for. As I was reading the it, I wondered what kind of man Dostoevsky was to have that kind of mind. 

When I finished reading it, I missed the characters that I want to read it again if only I did not return it already. Who wouldn't miss the ever passionate Dmitri and his wild actions and decisions? I must have a copy of this. 

Gist: Please give me a hard copy of this.

8. The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem

Star Diaries by Stanlislaw Lem. I'm a sucker for otherwordly stories, plus I am in my phase of wanting to learn philosophy, so it was orgasmic/ecstatic for me to know Lem and his works. The Star Diaries presents other worlds in a way that one would contemplate in the condition of our world, of humanity. If copies of this book are easy to buy, I would give copies to my bookworm friends. And i would give myself one too. (As usual, I borrowed this book from a friend. i'm a poor poor miser indeed.)

Gist: WHOA.

9. Personal by Rene Villanueva

Personal. This is a collection of essays about the author's journey to adulthood - from being a tv addict without tv, to walking from his house to his school due to lack of pamasahe, to buying porn colection from porn hideouts. His essays took me to places where Philippine reality truly is, since majority of the Filipino population are the masses. It made me look back to my experiences growing in a province as a child exposed in a Filipino way of life. Plus, the essays are entertaining because of the details. One can taste, smell and feel the Laloma that he was born in.

Gist: Pinoy 'tong talaga.

10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I have heard of this book because it is being analyzed alongside my favorite dystopian novel of all time, 1984 by George Orwell (You are the dead.). Since dystopian novels have a special place in my heart (I love how the what ifs are materialized in a story), I felt that I should read the novel. Good thing his views are interesting; they had kept me reading it until the end. Plus there's Murugan. Brown and handsome Murugan. But it was rather a preachy ride.Quoting Virginia Woolf, it was "All raw, uncooked, protesting.”  And the ending is so-so. Maybe I just expected too much, but on the long run, I would say that I didn't regret reading it. 

Gist: Informative. 

11.  Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy by Jay Stevenson

For this year, the book that I enjoyed rereading the most is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philisophy. I read this book because  want to understand my boyfriend why he likes philosophy, Stanislaw Lem's Star Diaries and Kierkegaard. Now, I don't only understand them, I understand many things (including Jostein Gaarder's The Castle in the Pyrenees and I'm quite thankful to it) as well. If only I have the power to make everyone read this book, I would, so that many conflicts (e.g. religious, social) would be resolved immediately if not completely dissolve. Mikolaj Kopernik is the real name of Nikolaus Copernicus. This fact is one of the trivial things that I can't forget upon reading the book. Sometimes too many trivialities can lead into thinking more complex ideas.

Gist: Must reread.

12. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

For the third time, I read American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and that's the time that I truly understand the plot of the novel. I was amazed and it was info overload for me for the first time (I was in high school then and I only understood Sweet Valley and Animorphs at that time. Sorry for being a late bloomer.). For the second time, I focused on the myth part and completely forgotten that there's a story behind the gods. So finally, the third time's a charm. But anyway, I instantly became a Gaiman fan even at first reading because I love his world. 

Gist: Orgasmic.

13. Sophie's World by Joisten Gaarder
After reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philisophy, I decided to read Sophie's World. I'm glad I'm through reading many books and genres before reading this. If say I read this when I was in high school, I would not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed it irl because it was bursting with ideas, stories and all things that I would be too overwhelmed. I would conclude that to enjoy it, pefect timing was essential. And thank all deities that I picked the perfect timing there was.

Gist: A must-read-before-you-die book.

THERE. Must read more this year!

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