F2F30: The City and the City by China Miéville

TFG’s Book of the Month for June: The City and the City by China Miéville

The City and the City Face to Face Book Discussion Details:

  • Date: June 28, 2014
  • Place: Balboa, Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong City
  • Time: 3 PM to 6 PM
  • Discussion Leaders: Gwaxa and Meliza
  • Attendees: Me, Aaron, Aldrin, Allan (my guest), Cary (after), Ella, Honey, Marie, Monique, Rhena, Tina, Tricia (after), Veronica, Ycel
  • Food I Ate: Banana and berry shake (I already ate before arriving at the venue).
  • Activities: True or false trivia, word games, unseeing and unhearing, and book raffle (I won one of the three books).
  • After the Book Discussion: I left right after the discussion so I don’t what the others did.
  • Other Nominated Books: Embassytown and Un Lun Dun, also by China Miéville.
Discussion Time

Discussion Time

The F2F30 Attendees

The F2F30 Attendees

  • Next Month: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. If you wish to join us, please visit the discussion thread and the event thread for more details.

Photos courtesy of Rhena and Ycel.

Book Report: June 2014

Book Report: June 2014

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:

Books Finished:

  • 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)

Currently Reading:

  • 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.

New Books:

  • 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
My Most-Prized Possessions

Books Are the Things I Treasure the Most

We are now going to wrap up Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit. I immensely enjoyed this course and I think it really helped. I looked forward to going home to sit in front of my laptop and check out the new challenges. What will happen to this blog after the course? You’ll definitely miss the crazy bookish ramblings that were inspired by the not entirely bookish challenges. But you’ll see more book reviews, which is something that I terribly miss writing. I intend to focus on my review back log in the upcoming months.

The final challenge asks us to do this:

Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

Books.

Why Books?

It’s not an entirely subconscious decision although I admit that books had this irresistible charm for me. You’ve probably read in my past posts how my childhood was with regard to books. Anyway, in high school, I hung around the high school library during my break times instead of mingling with my classmates. I liked walking around the cramped spaces between the shelves and reading the titles that jumped from the spines. I picked titles that caught my interest and read random pages. I borrowed books every week. I actually didn’t read them. Silly, I know, but I just liked having a borrowed library book in my bag.

Tales with the Librarian

I became friends with the librarian. She must have been in her mid 20s during that time when my face was encrusted with zits. She asked for my help to organize the Junior Librarians’ Club. She made sure that I will be elected among the officers. I became the treasurer. We organized field trips to libraries of different high schools and interacted with their library clubs, if any. We asked members to be student aides of our library at least once a month. We were a small but thriving club, and when our number started to grow, I decided that I wanted to be a reader. A real reader.

This decision coincided with the time I finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. What beauty! What wonder! What books should I read next to give me these visions and feelings? I stayed longer hours at the library. I went there immediately after my last class and read at a corner until our librarian told me to pack up. We would sometimes walk together until the gate. Sometimes, she would buy me a banana cue. I think I may have had a crush on her.

But that is entirely beside the point. I was happy that I was actually reading the books that I borrowed. I didn’t incur penalties for overdue books because our librarian saw that I was really reading. I am a slow reader, you see, owing to the intrusive narrator in my head, but I no longer mind that narrator now.

Borrowing Burrowed

There came a time when I didn’t want to borrow books anymore, and that’s because I wanted to own the books that I read. I grew up in a town where there was no decent book store during the late 90s. The books available were limited to romance bestsellers. I bought some titles with what money I could save from my allowance.

I wish I remember the first book that I bought with my own money, but as one book became two books and these two became the foundation of a book stack, I couldn’t suppress the happiness that I felt by merely looking at them. I always told myself, someday, I will have more. Someday, I will have a shelf. Someday, I will have a library.

Buying Blast

These fantasies were not immediately fulfilled because as a student who was entirely dependent to low-income parents, my bookish whims could not be instantly granted. When shopping malls with decent book stores started to be erected in our town, I was ecstatic. One of those book stores that opened was Book Sale. It is a secondhand book store that would thrill any book hunter. One has to dig through its bins and stacks in the hopes of finding a treasure. It really is book hunting.

Thanks to Book Sale, my meager allowance allowed me to eat at school, buy any school requirements, and buy books. At the end of one semester, I have amassed a tall stack of books. It wouldn’t stop growing. An additional stack sprouted. I couldn’t catch up with my reading, what with my studies and all that jazz, but it was a happy problem.

After I finished school and lived independently, I still continued to visit any Book Sale branch that I would come across my way. I also started buying brand new books without having to worry that my allowance wouldn’t be enough. I’ve been buying so many books that I forgot to buy clothes and shoes and, sometimes although rarely, food. There was a time when my stacks of books collapsed on me while I was sleeping. That was a problem.

Shelf Life

I was reluctant to buy a book shelf because I move around a lot. But what if my books fall all over me again? What if it becomes lethal? So I bought a book shelf. The second someday that I was telling myself when I was younger became true out of necessity.

I may need a new book shelf if I continuously hoard. I still buy books and I always will, so long as I have money and so long as I can go to a book store, but I don’t hoard as aggressively as I did before. I don’t think I should worry about another book shelf. My book shelf is serving me well. It keeps my books organized, sort of, and it houses my most prized possessions.

Biblio Blog

Without my books, there would probably be no Book Rhapsody. I’d probably be blogging about something else, that’s for sure, but thank heavens that I am a book blogger. This blog documents the lives of my books, and writing their biographies is something that I would like to do for a long, long time. That’s how much I value my possessions. I’d read them and squeeze my brains to write about them. My life may get in the way, but hey, I made it. I am still here.

I have a hundred lives waiting to be written, and hundreds more waiting to be discovered. They are all here, in my library. Yes, the final someday has become a reality. It has long become a reality. My younger self didn’t realize that my library sighed its first breath with that first book.

My Norton Short Fiction Anthologies, 3rd and 4th

Here’s a reading project that I might organize in the future

It’s the penultimate day of Writing 101, and it’s a free one.

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

I have always wanted to be a part of a group blog. I don’t know what’s with my obsession about this, but I just want to. I was once part of the Booker, Nobel, and Pulitzer projects. They are nice group blogs, but I left. Why? At the time I left, I felt that the members were merely cross-posting their book reviews, which is not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing because these blogs offer rich content regarding the projects’ respective focus.

I guess I wanted something more than that, something more collaborative, like members pitching in their ideas, and writing about original stuff without having to cross-post them and link them up to the original blogs. There is a sense of collective ownership in it, and it appeals to me.

Anyway, the reading project that I’ve been thinking of for the longest time is the Norton Short Fiction project. This will be based on the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. I’ve been stalling this because I am waiting for the eighth edition, which I imagine will be out soon. It would be nice to discuss the stories in it and have members post stuff regarding the stories, the writers, and various topics related to the art of the short story.

I don’t remember discussing this with anyone because I think it’s quite demanding. I mean, we all have our lives to live and blogs to maintain, and asking for time, which we never have a surplus of, for such a long-term project is too much. But if it’s going to be one short story a month, I think it’s going to be manageable. Besides, I’ve already listed the “core” stories, the ones that are always present in each edition, at least from the editions that I’ve managed to get a hold of. So even if one doesn’t get the eighth edition, one could still participate.

Sometimes, I wonder if I could really take on this or if I am merely being restless. I want to do so much and yet there are already so many things to do. I have a job, I have this blog, I have a reading group, and I have other interests. But this project has been playing in my head for maybe two years now, or even longer. I don’t think it will go out of my head, and it feels great that I am finally talking about its possibility.

Once that eighth edition comes out, I think I will pursue it, alone or not.

Damaged. Ugh.

So you want to hear a story told by a twelve-year-old?

I’m not going to completely follow today’s Writing 101 prompt because it asks me to rewrite a story about the decline and fall of a family into poverty using the POV of a twelve-year-old. But I’m going to write a story that’s told by a twelve-year-old, at least someone like me 18 years ago.

Today’s prompt: write [a] story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

I’m super pissed off because I’m supposed to be happy because it’s raining but I got the books that I ordered from The Book Depository and when I opened the packages, half of them are damaged. I just can’t stop whining so my roommate maybe got pissed off at me but I don’t care because I have to whine and complain. So usually I take pictures of them after I open the packages but now I have to put them under big stacks of books to flatten out the folds and the warps. Some of these books are gifts to my friends and I’m super shy because they should be new but they don’t look new. I don’t know who I’m mad at. So it’s not 100% TBD’s fault. Probably the local post office is pissed off because they can’t make extra money out of the books because they are books and they cannot be taxed and they cannot hold them at the post office so they just crammed the books into whatever. Is it not possibly to handle packages with care? I pay good money for books. They look like they’re from a yard sale and it makes me feel that they are not worth the money I paid for them. I hope I can feel better soon. I will feel better if the folds and warps are flattened. I cannot do anything about the creases anymore. Yes, there are creases, my gosh. I already emailed TBD about this with matching pictures. I did not demand a refund. I just want to let them know what happened and suggested if they could please improve their packaging to lower handling damages. And oh, I only got five bookmarks instead of seven. I ordered seven books and I should have seven bookmarks. And two of them have the same design so that’s like four bookmarks only. And I already have one of the other designs so it’s like I only got three bookmarks. So there. I guess I feel better.