Today is the exact middle of the year (check Wikipedia), and today I will present not only my June Report, but also my Mid-Year Report.
Here’s the June Report:
- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – 1 out of 5 stars. I’ve returned the copy to its rightful owner. 1/3 of my 2014 Dare Reads.
- The City and the City by China Miéville – 3 out of 5 stars. Our June book of the month.
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 4 out of 5 stars. Read this as fast as I can to catch the movie in the theaters. 2/3 of my 2014 Dare Reads. My copy is currently in the hands of my office mate.
- The Stories So Far by Jessica Zafra – 4 out of 5 stars. Finished this as soon as I bought it from the author herself. (Php 399, June 21)
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – Currently on page 74 of 709. After so many failed plans, I’m finally reading this. What’s more, I’m finally reading this along with Kristel, Maria, and Monique.
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – Currently on page 70 of 172. I paused because I ordered a new edition. I can’t resist the Vintage Classics Virginia Woolf series. (USD 6.26, The Book Depository, June 26)
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – Currently on page 61 of 470. This is our July book of the month. A difficult first chapter should be surmounted before the pages spin what seems to me a beautiful tale.
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Currently on page 211 of 604. I’m thinking of restarting this book.
- Embassytown by China Miéville – I won this from our book discussion raffle. Thank you! (from Gwaxa and Meliza, June 28)
- The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford – I would like to think of this as a belated birthday gift. Thank you! (from Huhi, June 16)
- The Summer Book by Tove Jansson – An NYRB Classic that has great reviews from some of my favorite reviewers. (USD 12. 04 less USD 4.5 partial refund, The Book Depository, June 26)
- The Waves by Virginia Woolf – The search for the meaning of life continues. (USD 8.64 less USD 4.5 partial refund, The Book Depository, June 26)
Here’s the Mid-Year Report:
2014 Fave List (4 and 5 star books)
- Atonement by Ian McEwan
- A Death in the Family by James Agee
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
- A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr
- The Stories So Far by Jessica Zafra
- Tenth of December by George Saunders
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
2014 Mid List (3 star books)
- The Alienist by Caleb Carr
- The City and the City by China Miéville
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
2014 Hate List (1 and 2 star books)
- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
- The Trial by Franz Kafka
I just joined this blogging challenge that would help me build, or rebuild, my blogging habit. That way, I can not only post these template-ish stuff, but also start, or restart, really blogging about books. I really do miss it. It’s just that I have so many lame excuses for not actually doing it.
Now I’ve got a reason to get back on the blogging train. Yay! But I have an interesting question: would Writing 101 work on a book blog? I’m not too sure, but here’s the first task anyway:
To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.
Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.
And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.
Stream of consciousness eh? Should be quite easy since I just finished reading, twice, a high modernist novel which is also one of the landmarks of the aforementioned narrative style. I should really continue here but no, this is a template-ish post and I must follow it despite the prompt. It’s getting a little streamy anyway, eh? I haven’t really stopped typing. I just hit the backspace for the random typographical errors. And I’m only five minutes into this. This should be interesting
So here’s my reading accomplishment, which would probably be a bit streamy.
- A Death in the Family by James Agee - 4 out of 5 stars. I can’t help it. It just kept calling out to me. Actually, I put it on a separate stack so it would stop winking at me. And it was a worthless effort. I just picked it and read the first page. There’s an author introduction where it’s stated that the author died in the same month. It was the first week of May then. Oh dear, is this coincidence? So I read it, but I read it only after I finished the self-required readings of the landmark novel that I mentioned above, which is the book below. A Death in the Family is a little difficult, what with some of the text in italics, which are parts of the original manuscript that were not put in order by the author himself. You see, Agee died before he actually finished this, but it looks like there was not a lot of editing that needed to be done. So the unordered text were published in italics, like the editors and publishers couldn’t make up their minds as to where to put those parts. But it’s fine, because it actually worked. It felt like the text in italics were dream sequences after each part. Yes, the novel is divided in three parts. And no, I should stop at this part because I’m not supposed to be writing a review.
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf – 5 out of 5 stars. Yes, I’ve already read this maybe two years ago and last April but I read it again last May because of my discussion leader duties at the book club and yes, it’s the same number of stars. I have to admit though that the magic of the first read is no longer there, which includes the falling of my tears before the actual wrenching of my heart at the thought of a disintegrating house with winds roaming around and asking the remaining furniture whether they would remain. We remain, the pieces of furniture replied. This third reread is more critical because I was hunting for questions that would make the members of the book club think. There were the regular plot questions, but I was more interested in themes. Questions on symbols and characters were necessary as well to fully understand the novel. I don’t claim to fully understand it now, but I understand it better than the first and second readings. I noticed new things on each pass and I never failed to notice the power of Woolf’s writing. Such a great prose-poem writer! I have become a fan. I think I’m going to collect her works, particularly the Virginia Woolf series published by Vintage Classics. And I’m in the middle of reading one of her novels, which is indicated below.
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – Currently on page 82 of 197. Oh, I just had to read this. I couldn’t get enough of Woolf. At this point, the novel is still promising, although I feel that there are more lovey-dovey scenes than To the Lighthouse. Is that what makes it popular? Oops. My twenty minutes are up. Now I’ll have more control of my writing after this point. Goodbye, streams!
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Currently on page 211 of 604. No touch. I promise to read this in June.
- The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace – a gift from my book club friend. I already have a copy of this but how can I resist it? Thank you! (From Doc Ranee, May 31)
- The City and the City by China Miéville – Our book of the month. Genre is new weird. What is new weird? Don’t ask me. (Php 449.10 Fully Booked – SM Mall of Asia, May 17)
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – A birthday gift, albeit belated, because it’s a future book of the month. Thank you! (From Gwaxa (and Meliza?), May 31)
- Troubles by J. G. Farrell – Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize and published by NYRB Classics and found in the sale bin and in mint condition! Yay! (Php 145.00 Book Sale - SM Mega Mall, May 16)
Would you believe that more than half of the books that I finished for this year were done in April? And they say that April is the cruelest month. No, it’s really T. S. Eliot who said that. And for once, I have to disagree with him.
Actually, my reading interest was in full blast thanks to the hashtag that my bookish friends came up with for the whole month of April. The group spirit was irresistible. Now I just want to read until my eyes bleed, and that just couldn’t be. May could turn out to be my cruelest month because of the tasks that I have to do, both in my literary and real life. After I finish my writing project, I hope to go back to book reviewing. If you’re still there, there’s something to look forward to aside from my quick updates and documentation of book club activities (I somehow ended up as a secretary).
So here’s my reading accomplishment.
- Atonement by Ian McEwan – 5 out of 5 stars. A reread via audiobook. First time I read this, I was wowed. I’m still wowed this second time. I merely eavesdropped on my bookish friends’ reading (eavesdropping is when you informally and casually join a buddy reading because a.) you’ve already read the book, or b.) you don’t want to commit yourself).
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino - 2 out of 5 stars. I wanted to at least like this but it just didn’t happen.
- Tenth of December by George Saunders - 5 out of 5 stars. We discussed this in The Folio Prize group that I created on Goodreads (join us for future discussions of The Folio Prize winners). All of us who participated love this collection of short stories.
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - 5 out of 5 stars. Our book of the month for May. I had to finish this ahead of everyone because I am the discussion leader (also for my own pleasure because subsequent rereadings will be for more uhm, academic purposes). I reread it on text and audio. Hmm, I am developing a love for audiobooks.
- The Trial by Franz Kafka - 1 out of 5 stars. All I can say is, I am finally done! Perhaps I should have read his Metamorphosis first?
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Currently on page 211 of 604. No touch. Maybe in June, when I don’t have a lot of things to do.
- The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro – A birthday gift because it’s on my wish list. Thank you! (From Miss Ronnie, April 26)
- Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – I have yet to finish Wolf Hall, and now this? I cannot resist it. It’s brand new and it somehow ended up on a sale bin. (Php 100.00, National Book Store – Robinson’s Galleria, April 4)
- The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih – A birthday gift because it’s an NYRB Classic. Thank you! (From Bennard, April 26)
WordPress tells me that today is my sixth anniversary as a WordPress blogger. This blog is only three years old. The excess three years were spent on a personal blog that I hid from everyone. It’s inactive, don’t worry, and I haven’t touched it ever since I chose to blog about books.
I don’t really have a point, but I’m thinking that the blogging years don’t matter. What matters in blogging is always now. In the world of blogs, one is only as good as his or her last post. A blog with no fresh content in spite of its age is practically dead. And what do we make of this blog?
You might have noticed that I haven’t posted a book review in nearly a year. I think I may have been jinxed when my bookish friends voted for me as their favorite book reviewer last year (aww, you guys!), which is very humbling. But after that, my book reviews have been scarce.
Don’t worry, I’m forever trying to figure out how to make myself go back to the art of book reviewing. For now, I have a huge book report, mostly on new books. Yes, new books, because I’m a stress shopper. Need I say more?
- The Alienist by Caleb Carr - 3 out of 5 stars. The only book that I finished this month. Copy was lent by Maria. Thanks! This is only the fourth book that I finished this year, and yes, it’s also the fourth borrowed book. I have a feeling though that I’m going to finish a book that I own in April.
- The Trial by Franz Kafka – Currently on page 163 of 216. I was going to finish it this month, but alas, I got held up with too many appointments.
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Currently on page 211 of 604. I didn’t touch it. I tried to but, oh well. I hope it doesn’t get stuck here for a long time
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Some of my friends recommend Atwood, particularly this novel. And it’s added to the recent edition of the Novel 100/125. (Php 175.00, March 19, Undertow Books)
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino - TFG’s book of the month for April. I’m glad to have found a copy because I gave my pre-loved copy to one of my favorite friends. (Php 485.00, March 17, NBS Bestsellers – Podium)
- Mr. Sammler’s Planet by Saul Bellow - A National Book Award winner. I haven’t read any Bellow book yet, and I have a number of them. (Php 90.00, March 19, Undertow Books)
- The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer - I lost my mass market copy to termites. I don’t mind that now because this trade paperback copy is nice. (Php 150.00, March 19, Undertow Books)
- Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White - A new writer friend recommended this when I asked him his favorite NYRB Classics book. He has another favorite but I have yet to look for that. (USD 21.03, March 25, The Book Depository)
- The Stone Raft by José Saramago - Saramago. Hello?! (Php 200.00, March 19, Undertow Books)
- Tenth of December by George Saunders - The inaugural winner of The Folio Prize. Now, let me proceed to shameless plugging. I started a book group on Goodreads dedicated to reading this and the future winners of The Folio Prize. In fact, we are reading this book starting today, which means I’ll have to eat my dinner after posting this and start reading the first story. If you want to check out the group and join, click this. (Php 629.00, March 19, Power Books – Shangri-la Plaza)
- Under the Net by Iris Murdoch - One of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Novels. I’ve read Murdoch before and she’s not bad. On the contrary, she’s very good. (Php 200.00, March 19, Undertow Books)
- Women in Their Beds by Gina Berriault - A Book Critics Circle winner. I have no idea on who the writer is. (Php 250.00, March 19, Undertow Books)
- World Light by Halldór Laxness - When I read the blurb, I made the decision to buy it upon reading that the protagonist believes that he will one day become a great poet. And that’s the first sentence. (USD 15.37, March 25, The Book Depository)
Hello there. Yes, this blog is still alive but barely breathing. How can a book blog survive if the blogger isn’t even reading? Last year during this same period, I was also in a terrible reading rut. Is it the weather? Not really. Last year, I was on an extended vacation hangover. This year, it’s the presence of so many distractions, like my anticipation of the Oscar winners, my procrastination with my writing project (yes, it counts), and my upcoming book discussion. In May. Yes, I can be exaggeratedly anxious over any matter.
But I’m back, and I’ll be around, and like I mentioned elsewhere, I’m still planning on how I could get back to reviewing the books that I read. If you have any suggestions about that matter, please let me know. You know I love hearing from you.
Now, let’s go ahead to what little I have in this report.
- A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr - 5 out of 5 stars. The only book that I finished this month. Copy was lent by Bennard. Thanks! By the way, the three books that I have read since the start of this year are all borrowed from friends. Hmm.
- The Trial by Franz Kafka – Currently on page 107 of 216. Yes, I managed to read a few bits at the beginning of February. And then.
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Currently on page 211 of 604. I may have given up all hopes of catching up with the buddy read with my book club friends Maria, Monique, and Miss Ronnie. But I’m still hoping I’ll finish this soon. I hope to cover even just a few chapters this month.
- The Broken Estate by James Wood - This is supposed to be in the earlier book report but I apparently forgot to put it there. And this is the first book that I bought this year. (Php 50.00, January 14, Book Sale – Starmall)
- Tom Jones by Henry Fielding - Included in The Novel 100 list. I’ve always been delaying my purchase of this book. Good thing that I did because I found this nice and clean copy. (Php 49.50, February 18, NBS Bestsellers – Podium)