2020 Reading List

I have not blogged in so long so I will digress a bit and start with an unrelated introduction.

Last year, I actually wanted to take up blogging again.  Only my laziness hindered me.  Also, I didn’t know where to begin; I didn’t know how to set it up again to reflect my current tastes; and I wasn’t sure if I will be able to follow through.

I’ve curbed my social media use and am only down to Instagram, but even that I’ve tried to limit, successfully, might I add.  The only thing I found that forces me to go back is without an outlet where I may write thoughts and feelings weighing me down, it’s harder for me to move on from life’s challenges.  I realized that writing forces me to confront what’s bothering me and somehow make up my mind on how best to resolve my issues.  Even more, the act of writing itself is like the act of transferring my burdens from my mind and heart and onto the page I’m writing it on – it doesn’t make the problem go away, but it lightens up my load immensely.  And while journals exists for this sort of thing, “publishing” forces me to be more organized and ensure that what I put out there is readable.  By doing so, I tend to write in a more detached manner that helps give me perspective and helps put my problems in context, which makes it easier for me to move forward more easily.  If I don’t write, things tend to stay in my head longer and weigh down on me heavier.  If I don’t let it out, my brain tends to get muddled and I am unable to think sensibly of a good course of action to follow.  The longer it simmers, I tend to get depressed.

So I decided that I am going to write, really write.  But rather than writing random posts on Instagram – which I’m not promising I will never do – I might as well sit down and use what writing skills I have to come up with something sensible and presentable, sans Instagram character limit.

This blog is more for me than for anyone.  But if you find that it makes sense to you and helps you as well, welcome, friend, and please share your thoughts.

On the reading list…

The last time I made a reading list was in 2018.  I did not complete it.  2019 had no reading list but I still read a good deal.  By year-end, in one of those lulls during the holiday, I thought I’d confront my bookshelf and check on those books that have been there forever as well as the books that I bought on impulse swearing I needed them and will read them right away.  I decided that I will actively tick those titles off.  As I’m working and am also on a study schedule, I thought that I would decide early on what I’m going to read to prevent decision fatigue later trying to decide what to read.  The list is meant to limit my reading so I don’t stray and read other books that I might be tempted to that are not on the list.  It’s also meant to ensure that I don’t go for more distracting and low-value activities, like social media and computer games.

I’ve listed 36 books, which seems too much at first, but considering that I’ve read 34 books last year, 39 the year before, and 32 the year before that, it seems a safe number.  24 books are for leisure reading including fiction/non-fiction, essay, short story, play and poetry books; 6 are personal and professional development non-fiction books; and 6 books on a topic which I am keeping to myself for now.

The book list:

Leisure: Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Stories, Essays, Play and Poetry

  1. Swann’s Way.  Marcel Proust.
  2. A Streetcar Named Desire.  Tennessee Williams.
  3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Ken Kessey.
  4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  Anne Bronte.
  5. Midnight’s Children.  Salman Rushdie.
  6. The Portable Dorothy Parker.
  7. Death with Interruptions.  Jose Saramago.
  8. Kafka on the Shore.  Haruki Murakami.
  9. Dear Theo (An Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh).  Irving Stone.
  10. English Hours.  Henry James.
  11. 100 Love Sonnets.  Pablo Neruda.
  12. A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Khaled Hosseini.
  13. A Moveable Feast.  Ernest Hemingway.
  14. Life is Elsewhere.  Milan Kundera.
  15. Phineas Finn. Anthony Trollope.
  16. Volcano.  Shusoka Endo.
  17. The Republic.  Plato.
  18. The Eternal Husband.  Fyodor Dostoevsky.
  19. The Year of Magical Thinking.  Joan Didion.
  20. Art as Therapy.  Alain de Botton and John Armstrong.
  21. Letters to a Young Poet.  Rainer Maria Rilke.
  22. A Map of Days (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children).  Ransom Riggs.
  23. El Filibusterismo.  Jose Rizal.
  24. Beloved.  Toni Morrison.

Non-Fiction Personal and Professional Development Books

  1. How Not to Be Wrong, The Power of Mathematical Thinking.  Jordan Ellenberg.
  2. The Power of Habit.  Charles Duhigg.
  3. Deep Work.  Cal Newport.
  4. Imagine It Forward (Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change).  Beth Comstock.
  5. The Transitive Vampire.  Karen Elizabeth Gordon.
  6. Logic for Lawyers, A Guide to Clear Legal Thinking.  Ruggero J. Aldisert.

I’m re-reading Swann’s Way in preparation for reading the complete 7 volumes of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.  Phineas Finn is the second book in Trollope’s series of six books.  I was in love with the first book so I bought all the books in the series which I’ve only dented after reading one book.  Anne Bronte’s only novel is the last one that will finally complete my reading of all the Bronte sisters novels.  I also thought to list books famous authors Salman Rushdie and Haruki Murukami whose books I’ve never read.  The Portable Dorothy Parker is part of Rory Gilmore’s list.  I also wanted to make sure I read a Hemingway, a Kundera, and a de Botton this year, they are my “constants”.  Endo I chose to make sure I have an Asian book.  And Rizal’s El Fili to keep me rooted.  I threw in Didion for safe measure.  And included Dostoevsky to exercise that part of my brain that’s receptive to hard, Russian novels.  Speaking of hard, I also threw in Plato’s The Republic to truly test my abilities to read hard, philosophical books.  And finally, I thought I’d read Morrison and Kessey whose books are gathering dust in my shelf.

The personal/professional books are a no-brainer.  But I thought to limit them to six coz these books are like crack; I can never seem to stop reading them.

The other six books are on a topic that I’m keeping to myself right now.  They’re practical, non-fiction books and my reading them marks my readiness to enter into a new phase of my life.

If this proves to be my only post, I’ve at least got something to take up on for my year-end post.

Steinbeck

One of the best books I’ve ever read was John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. East of Eden is different but no less impressionable and profound.

I’m only on page 430/601.  This is so far my only book for February, perhaps my only book.  I’m taking my time with it.  Like Grapes of Wrath, I’m less likely to read this again, so I’m reading it deliberately and digesting it slowly.

I feel just as accomplished with this one book mid-way through February as I was with the eight books I read in January.  Books like this is a celebration of works of fiction.  Books like this is the reason why I love reading.  I love this so much I could not wait to finish to write about it because I feel like I will burst with too much emotion if I don’t share it with anyone.

Steinbeck, thank you for existing, for writing, for sharing your gift with the world.

 

January

52 books, 52 weeks. This is the challenge that I’ve set for myself this year, and I’ve never pursued a challenge with more zeal and enthusiasm.

I’ll be chronicling my progress here. I’m officially off the social media and finally have more time for writing better content.  I’ve also been wanting to revamp this blog.  Hopefully, I get to slowly clean-up and improve my site.  Meanwhile, my posts will be focusing on the books I’ve read in relation to this challenge.

I’ll try to give a frequent update, but for now, I think I can only do a monthly summary of the books I’ve read.

So here goes…

January.

Book #1 1.1.18 – A book you can read in a day: Aphorisms on Love and Hate. Friedrich Nietzsche.
Book #2 1.12.18 – A book recommended by a friend: Walden. Henry David Thoreau.
Book #3 1.20.18 – An e-book: The Big Leap. Gay Hendricks.
Book #4 1.20.18 – A book by a Filipino Author: The Woman Who Had Two Navels. Nick Joaquin.
Book #5 1.21.18 – A book about a topic you’re passionate about: Goodbye, Things. Fumio Sasaki.
Book #6 1.22.18 – A play: The Vagina Monologues. Eve Ensler.
Book #7 1.27.18 – A book borrowed from the library: Mirgorod. Nikolai Gogol.
Book #8 1.29.18 – A book about travel: The Happiness of Pursuit. Chris Guillebeau

If you’re thinking that this is a lot and what an amazing achievement this is, that’s because it is. I’ve never done this before. A combination of time in hands + achievement bug can do wonders.  When I reached the magic number 8 for the month, I could not help but feel so accomplished.  To date, this is my best accomplishment. I would give myself a plaque if I don’t think them a waste of paper and space.

Would I pursue the same number for February? No. I only read so much on January because I could.  I foresee months when I will be reading longer books and books that require slow reading.  For instance, I’m reading Steinbeck now, a book that needs whole-hearted attention.  With a goal of four books a month, I can afford to read one book this month as I’ve practically reached my quota for February.

This whole challenge thing is adding another aspect of fun to an already fun activity, reading. Yep. I’m nerdy to the extreme.

 

 

2018 Reading Challenge

In all my years of browsing the internet, I’ve only come across a yearly reading challenge this December.  I guess it’s because I’ve only taken Pinterest seriously this year.  As I love lists, this one got me hooked, and as soon as the idea entered my head, I immediately wanted to do it.

At first I wanted to follow a ready list, but I soon found there were other similar lists. After I got to comparing a few of them, I decided to “personalise” it.  It may seem like I’m not really taking on the challenge if I tweak it to suit my fancy, but in my defense, each list has at least a couple of items that does not apply to me. Also, I want to spend less money buying books when I have a perfectly good collection of books of various genres that I haven’t read. In any case, 52 books in 52 weeks is still a tough challenge in itself regardless of the titles.  The whole point of this exercise is not only to read as much books in a year but to read as many kinds of books you would not otherwise read if not for the challenge.

So, here’s the final list that I came up with two days before the new year:

o     A book by a Scandinavian author o     A book about a topic you’re passionate about
o     A mystery or thriller novel o     A non-fiction book
o     A Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel o     A book already in your bookshelf
o     A biography or memoir o     A book that was once banned
o     A trilogy o     A book originally published in the year you were born
o     A book you can read in a day o     A children’s novel
o     A poetry book o     A book about native Americans
o     A Pulitzer Prize-winning book o     A foreign book translated into English
o     A book with over 600 pages o     A book by a Nobel Prize-winning author
o     A book you’ve already read once before o     A book about travel
o     A book chosen solely by its cover o     A picture book
o     A book with a six word title o     A book with a colour in the title
o     A book set in a country you want to visit o     A book with the number ‘22’ in the title
o     A book with a green spine o     A book you started but never finished
o     A book of mythology o     A book by an author you love that you haven’t read
o     A book published in 2018 o     A fairytale
o     A book recommended by a friend o     A play
o     A book written in the 1800’s o     A book made into a movie / series
o     An e-book o     A book with nonhuman characters
o     A Young-Adults book o     A funny book
o     A book set in Africa o     A book about adventures
o     A Historical non-fiction book o     A book by Joan Didion
o     A book by a Filipino author o     A book borrowed from the library
o     A book of short stories o     A book on philosophy or religion
o     A novella o     A graphic novel
 

 

 

The Death of the Heart

IMG_20170814_132928_558

I think I need therapy after reading this novel. I’m all kind of mentally, psychologically, and emotionally confused. There were moments of greatness, but then on the whole, I wondered whether it was worth it. Maybe it was, who knows; the fact that it’s eliciting this kind of reaction from me perhaps shows that it is one of a kind.  Maybe I needed to read this now; to show, perhaps, that I’m not the only person in the world that overthinks.

oxford bookstore

image

I’m so happy that we got to spend some time driving around New Delhi before our flight back home.  It was such a busy time that I didn’t think we will still be able to see something of the city.  Thanks to our guide who took us to Connaught Place, and this bookstore which according to him is the oldest one in New Delhi.

I grabbed the opportunity of buying these books that have been forever on my list but never got.  Honestly, I’m proud of myself. Haha! Got books by Indians from India.  I’m sure not many could say the same.  As to reading these anytime soon, that remains to be a dream.

New Delhi, or India for that matter, is probably not the place I would choose to go to for leisure if it were up to me.  My experience there was not exactly the best.  The cuisine wasn’t a favourite, safety was an issue, and the general air not exactly for the faint at heart.  But then leisure was not the purpose.  I did what I went to do.  All in all it was a huge blessing.  I did experience India, the little I saw of its wonders was enough given the time and the pace of our task there.  That’s why I hold on to this moment I went to Connaught Place and saw two bookstores and got some books because this was one of the highlights of my trip.

I dunno if I will ever choose to go back on my own volition. Maybe. Given the money, time and a good country-side spot, maybe.  The air, without the pollution, is cool, and the people have this easy way of bouncing back from bad to good.  It wasn’t all bad, really.  If nothing else, it made me somewhat prouder of my own country.