Book Reports
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Book Report: December 2015 + Reading Goals and Resolutions + The Best and the Worst

Book Report: December 2015

Hello, 2016! It’s so refreshing to start on another blank slate. Goal setting must be pretty common in the bookish blogosphere; they’re ten a dime for sure. So yeah, here’s another list of bookish and not so bookish goals and resolutions for you. But before that, let’s get the monthly report out of the way. I’m going to cut the chase short; I didn’t finish any book last month. In fact, I didn’t read anything. But I did get a few new books

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James – a gift from H. Thank you! I hope to guess the Booker winner again this year. [December 4]
  • Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman – I just have to get my own copy! [January 2, Book Sale – Walter Mart Munoz, Php 145.00]
  • Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg – a gift from Tin. Thank you! I would like to think that this is a thoughtful gift (we both like the film Kill Your Darlings). [December 5]
  • The Story of the Stone Volume II by Cao Xueqin – a gift from Ingrid. Thank you! This completes my Stories of the Stone/Dream of the Red Chamber. [December 5]

And so here are my reading goals and resolutions.

  • Finish 32 books. I just can’t do 50-something books a year unlike before. It’s probably due to being constantly online. I didn’t have a stable Internet connection and a smart phone when I read voraciously. So I guess there’s a correlation among Internet access, number of books read, and fickle attention span. Anyway, I picked a significantly smaller number so that I can also put my attention on other interests. Why 32? Well, that’s going to be my age this year.
  • Stay away from social media and focus on the blog. I just deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone. They are not deactivated; I’m still there. I just hate it when I realize that I just spent hours swiping and refreshing my phone’s screen instead of reading or blogging. And oh, I don’t have Twitter; I just deleted my unknown account a few weeks back. I’ll also be cleaning my Feedly and podcast subscriptions.
  • Use my phone’s camera for the blog images instead of my trusty old battery-operated camera. It just makes blogging life easier since I sometimes use the WordPress app. Besides, my rechargeable batteries are nearly worthless after four years. And the resolution of my phone’s camera is better.
  • Review books as soon as I finish them. Please refer to my goals and resolutions post last year.

My worst reads of 2015, in alphabetical order. I will not elaborate why I didn’t like them. The snappiest one-sentence thought or feeling will do.

  • Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano – Too many contrived plot turns for a short book that still ended up reading like a long blog post.
  • Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos – For a romance book, the non-romantic parts were better, and that is not a compliment.
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson – I didn’t understand anything so I don’t know why this is an important book.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – Overkill teen drama made it ridiculously unbelievable.

And tada! My best reads of 2015, in descending order. The order may change in a few months though.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

5. Family Life by Akhil Sharma

I don’t understand why the average rating for this novel is rather low. I think it deserves more love than 3.5x. The sadness that it captures is so understated that I ended thinking more about the book after finishing it. Slow pace, slow burn. Yep, that’s a great recipe and despite an arguably minor upset it did at the Folio Prize, it truly whets the literary appetite.

Drown by Junot Díaz

Drown by Junot Díaz

4. Drown by Junot Díaz

I brought this with me during a weekend trip to the beach with some bookish friends. I’m usually unable to read anything when I’m travelling, but boy, I could not tear myself away from this in spite of the winding roads that threatened to unseat me. Even though this is the author’s début work, I think this is his best. My favorite story from this collection is the title story.

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

3. Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

I read this with two blogger friends. I think they didn’t love it as much I do, but that doesn’t matter. I really like how the novel is structured; it is interspersed with images that complements not only the plot but also the haunting mood that it creates. It’s also very ingenious to meld architecture within the narrative build. I instantly became a fan of the author.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

2. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

This has been my number one book since the first quarter of the year. It’s the only book this year that made me laugh and cry at the same time. I believe this suffers the Read Too Early Syndrome, but to be able to hold on to my top spot for months and still finish as the runner-up speaks strongly of its staying power. Read this now before the film adaptation comes out.

Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

1. Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

I guess this should not be a surprise since I’ve already raved about it in a previous post. It was recommended to me by a book club friend and I thank her for allowing me the pleasure of experiencing a novel I wouldn’t have touched had I not been told about it. It’s a tender story about the summer affair of two young men. I’ve never loved an LGBT-themed novel as much as this. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever made one as a favorite. And look, check out the first part of this post if you’ve skipped it. Doesn’t it say something that I immediately bought a copy of a book that I’ve already read as soon as I spotted it?

That’s a wrap for 2015! I’m looking forward to this year. Honestly though, I haven’t read anything yet, but I’m pretty sure that once I start reading, things will roll again.

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9 Comments

  1. Howl is a revelation. It’s the first poem that I truly loved and is hugely influential in my love for the form. I hope you like it as much as I do!

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  2. Monique says

    Yes, you probably loved Austerlitz more than we did BUT (and I speak only for myself) I did like it naman din. There were times lang it got boring because of the long-winded narrative. :)

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    • Yes! I actually came up with a Top Ten, but that’s already 25% of the books I read this year. So I trimmed the ten to half.

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  3. Call Me by Your Name came very highly recommended by Rhena so I got that on my list already. And Billy Lynn’s sounds like it’s something else, although I have no clue about what it’s about. But with your raves, I am sold.

    And you’re welcome! I wonder though, had Dane not been in Kill Your Darlings, would I have loved the movie as much? Prolly not. But who cares? It’s an irrelevant question. He’s in the movie, and I love the movie, and I love him. Hahaha.

    And and, thank you for the (meme?) prize (Object Lessons)! I’ve never had a short story collection book that comes with commentary. It’s lovely! :)

    *And I just realized, in Benny’s speech (which Rhena read during the Christmas party) he quoted Howl!

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    • You’re welcome! Object Lessons is highly recommended by Benny. And it was Rhena who recommended Call Me by Your Name to me. And you have to read Billy Lynn soon because Ang Lee is the director of the upcoming film adaptation starring Garrett Hedlund! I die. Anyway, it’s about US soldiers suffering from PTSD and who are given a heroes’ welcome, only to be sent again back to war. And yeah, it’s an irrelevant question. I miss Dane!

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  4. Sounds like a good year planned! I took Facebook off my phone ages ago, but kept Instagram. I use it to filter my photos and make them square so they’re uniform on my blog :-D I’ll have to check out Call Me By Your Name, it sounds incredibly beautiful.

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