Book Report: June 2015

Book Report: June 2015

It’s the middle of the year (tomorrow to be exact). It’s a good time to look back on what happened so far in 2015 and to reassess any reading goals, projects, and challenges that we have embarked upon. Below are some of mine:

  • My Goodreads Reading Challenge of 52 books tells me that I’m on track, which pleases me because I haven’t read a lot back in the first quarter and my efforts to catch up in the second quarter paid off.
  • The Year of Reading the NBCC is slow but I hope that it will pick up some pace this quarter.
  • My 2015 review backlog is piling up, but I will try to resolve that. That includes both reviews for my blog and The Short Story Station. I’m always writing reviews in my head during commutes but when I get home, I change clothes, lie down, and play some mobile games. Then read.

Books Finished:

  • Drown by Junot Díaz – Because I went to the beach and I thought the title was so apt. 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson –  I can’t wait for the next book of this quartet. 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare – I was inspired by Marion Cotillard and of course, by Michael Fassbender. 4 out of 5 stars.
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett – Our book of the month for June. 3 out of 5 stars.
  • The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields – The Year of Reading the NBCC (19/40). 4 out of 5 stars.
  • The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst – My LGBT read for the Pride Month. 3 out of 5 stars.

Currently Reading:

  • Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald – On page 55 of 415. I’m reading this with some of my favorite book bloggers.
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson – On page 187 of 271. When will I finish this?


  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • Rabbit Redux by John Updike
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

New Books:

  • The Bonds of Interest by Jacinto Benavente – Something for my Noble Nobel Project. (Php 225.00, Undertow Books, June 18)
  • Finnegans Wake by James Joyce – This would be one of those books that will be displayed on my shelf for a long time. I intend to read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Ulysses, in that order, before attempting this. (Php 300.00, Undertow Books, June 18)
  • The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek – Another book for one of my reading projects, this time for The Novel 100/125. (Php 225.00, Undertow Books, June 18)
  • The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams – One of those NBA winners that I am pretty sure I won’t find copies of but prove me wrong, obviously. (Php 115.00, Book Sale – SM Mega Mall, June 17)
  • The Novel Cure by Elaine Berthoud and Susan Elderkin – I’ve been sporadically reading the authors’ column at The Independent until I was goaded by recent reviews to finally get its book form. (Php 625.50, The Book Depository, June 17)
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene – I can now stand ebook copies if I really need to read a book, such as an elusive book of the month, such as this. But I cannot stand ebook copies with too many typographical errors. I fear that such carelessness would destroy my reading experience, and I’ve been looking forward to reading Greene for so long. And so I turned to eBay, which I haven’t thought about for so long. (Php 500.00, eBay, June 17)

I’ve thought of doing a vlog for my best books of 2015 so far but I’m too self-conscious when recording myself. When I’m able to let go of that self-consciousness, my facial expressions get way out of control that they become distracting, both for me and possibly the viewers. So I’ll just list them down here, in the order when they were read. I’ll try the vlog thing next time (also, I want to get haircut before doing any kind of video recording).

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  • Inverted World by Christopher Priest
  • Ubik by Philip K. Dick
  • Monstress by Lysley Tenorio
  • Drown by Junot Díaz
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson

And if you’ve noticed, I reverted my theme to the previous one. I’m so restless! I have to keep in line with my goals instead of constantly playing around with themes. If I do two reviews per week (every weekend), perhaps I could keep my 2015 review backlog from reaching an insurmountable level (see 2013 and 2014). That’s certain, but what’s uncertain is if I could stick with it.

And to force me to keep up, I came up with a condition, that I will not allow myself to start a book unless I review at least one book. Gasp! That would threaten my other goal of reading 52 books, but if I’m able to stick with this condition, it will help keep two goals going on. What do you think? Please don’t tell me that I’m obsessing over this (because that’s given) or that I’m putting too much pressure on myself or that I should just sit back and relax.

You see, blogs don’t and cannot flourish if one just sits around and relaxes. And I want to keep this blog alive. It’s the most worthwhile thing that I keep, even better than my journals. Cheesy, I know, but I like how blogging makes me forget about the world. I like the monthly routine of these reports, the ranting and raving to the vast stream of the Internet about the books that I read, the projects that I take on and abandon only to pick up again at a later point, the comments (I really appreciate them), and the state of getting lost, or rooted, depending on one’s perspective, in a small patch of virtual land that you have dominion over.

Book Report: January 2015

Book Report: January 2015

It’s February. Already? Since we’ve just finished the first month of the year, let’s take a quick look at my progress of the reading and blogging goals that I set for this year:

  • Finish 50 books – I’m on to a slow start. I should be on my fifth book now if I want to meet this goal without rushing at the last quarter of the year, but I’ve been distracted by films. This distraction would not go away unless I finish all those Oscar nominees. But I’m not that behind. I’m halfway through my fourth book.
  • Read NBCC winners – I’m going to start this next month. One of my Goodreads groups will be discussing so I might as well join. I’ve originally intended to read my unread NBCC winners chronologically, but since I like discussing books with others, I’m ditching that rule.
  • Use Goodreads – I’ve started rating books on Goodreads again. One goal achieved.
  • Review ASAP – Blame it on the awards circuit. But hey, I wrote a review a few weeks back. I’ll consider this as another slow start.
  • Read and review more short stories –  I read the selections for The Short Story Station but I failed to review them on time. However, I managed to sneak in a review of a short story that I listened to via The New Yorker Fiction podcast. Uh, slow start?

I’ll check on this again in April. That’s a few more months away. Let’s get back to the present, shall we?

Books Finished:

  • Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams by Alexander McCall Smith – 3 out of 5 stars. I’ve wanted to read this for so long because hey, I have a Celtic god namesake!
  • Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman – 4 out of 5 stars. Click link for my review.
  • Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool – 3 out of 5 stars. Our book club’s book of the month.

Currently Reading:

  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike – On page 160 of 284. Quite slow for a quartet that begins with running away but I don’t really mind. The descriptions can test your patience but they are quite wonderful.


  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  • Inverted World by Christopher Priest
  • Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
  • October Light by John Gardner

New Books:

Argh. I knew it. I’m glad that I didn’t decide to lessen my book buying because I would have pulled my hair now for not following my resolutions. Anyway, I need subcategories for this month’s haul.

  • The Nobel laureates
    • Auto-da-fé by Elias Canetti – (Php 449.00, Chapter IX Books, January 13)
    • The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José Cela – (Php 250.00, Undertow Books, January 12)
    • A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul – (Php 189.00, Chapter IX Books, January 30)
    • The Plague Column by Jaroslav Seifert – (Php 300.00, Undertow Books, January 12)
    • Small Memories by José Saramago – A second copy (a different edition, actually) wouldn’t hurt. Thank you! (from H, January 20)
  • The NYRB Classics
    • Inverted World by Christopher Priest – (Php 797.50, Solidaridad Book Shop, January 24)
    • Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang – (Php 200.00, Undertow Books, January 12)
    • The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott – (Php 250.00, Undertow Books, January 12)
    • The Way of the World by Nicolas Bouvier – (Php 225.00, Undertow Books, January 12)
  • James Salter Mania – I haven’t read this guy yet but my intuition tells me that I might like him. In fact, I’m so liking the title and cover of theTPB edition of All That Is. Heh.
    • All That Is – (Php 319.00, Fully Booked – BGC, January 15)
    • Solo Faces – (Php 225.00, Undertow Books, January 12)
    • A Sport and a Pastime – (Php 250.00, Undertow Books, January 12)
  • The Mass Market Paperbacks
    • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – (Php 379.00, Fully Booked – BGC, January 15)
    • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov – (Php 149.00, Chapter IX Books, January 13)
    • Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac – (Php 99.00, Chapter IX Books, January 13)
    • Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm – (Php 79.00, Chapter IX Books, January 13)
  • A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers – A pretty book. I’m not really into HBs but I can’t resist this one. I forced a friend to buy it for me. Thank you! (from Kim, January 16)
TFG's Author of the Month for December: William Shakespeare

TFG’s Author of the Month for December: William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Face to Face Book Discussion Details:

  • Date: December 6, 2014
  • Place: The Usual Christmas Party Place, New Manila, Quezon City
  • Time: 2 PM to  12 AM
  • Discussion Leader: Aaron
  • Attendees: Me, Alexa, Alona, Cary, Ella, Gay, Gwaxa, Honey, Ingrid, JL, Joy, Julian (newbie), Kristel, Kwesi, Louize, Mae, Maria, Marie, Meliza, Monique, Ranee, Rhena, Rollie, Ruby, Tina, Tricia, Veronica
  • Food I Ate: This is also our book club’s Christmas Party so there was a lot of food. Unfortunately, my appetite was meh so I was only able to nibble small servings of Monique’s baked spaghetti and slivers of yema cake.
  • Activities: Hashtag Shirts (participants explain the hashtags they printed on their shirts), Truth or Lie (participants guess truth and the lie between two anecdotes shared by selected participants), Massacre Theatre (participants read small parts from various Shakespearean plays), and Dramatic Monologue (participants read their preferred monologue of their assigned Shakespearean character).
  • After the Book Discussion: Christmas dinner, The 3rd TFG Quiz Night (so far the damnedest among them all), and TFG Book Auction.
  • Other Nominated Books: None.
Discussion Time

Discussion Time

The F2F36 Attendees

The F2F36 Attendees

  • Next Month: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool. If you wish to join us, please visit the discussion thread and the event thread for more details.

Photo courtesy of Louize.

By the way, I’m semi-retiring this feature. “Semi” because I plan to just integrate my review of our book of the month and the book club event into one.

Book Report: December 2014

Book Report: December 2014

I am perfectly aware that I just did a 2014 annual report regarding my reading affairs but I’m still going to do the only regular thing on this blog so far: the monthly book report.

Books Finished:

  • The Bibliophile’s Devotional by Hallie Ephron – 3 out of 5 stars. I got this last year and decided to read one entry per day because it’s designed to be read that way (the truth is I binge-read them at the end of each month). A lot of the 365 quick reviews may inspire you to pick up the books. If not, they may at least whet one’s literary cravings.
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – 4 out of 5 stars. I started this last September 2013. On page 500-something, I paused for a bit but it extended for some unknown reason. I went back to it in  the last quarter of 2014. Now I’m done. I did it! I actually don’t know how to summarize this book. Hence, that little story. But I’ll give it a try. It’s about the relationship of the dysfunctional Incandenzas among themselves, the life and routines of students at the Enfield Tennis Academy, the antics and the drama of the people recovering from alcohol and narcotics at the Ennet House, and the search for the master copy of the film Infinite Jest by the Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents aka the Wheelchair Assassins.

Currently Reading:

  • Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman – On page 45 of 162. I wanted this to be my first read of the year and so far, I’m enjoying the mutilations, I mean the marginalia, that I’m inserting here and there. It’s our book club’s traveling book, and I’m excited for the next person to see what stuff the previous readers and I have highlighted, written, dog-eared, etc.

Maybe – This is a new section on the monthly reports. I will merely mention the titles because, well, there is the probability that I might not read them.

  • Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams by Alexander McCall Smith
  • October Light by John Gardner
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

New Books:

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Haven’t I told you that I’m going to read more Shakespeare? (Php 188.10, National Book Store – Araneta Center, December 3)
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson – A Christmas gift. Thank you! (from Veronica, December 6)
  • Open City by Teju Cole – A Christmas gift. Thank you! (from Louize, December 6)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I set my eyes on this prize, yahoo! (from the book club’s Christmas Auction, December 6)
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – I found this pristine copy while waiting for a very late office mate. (Php 125.00, Book Sale – SM Mega Mall, December 13)
  • The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster – A Christmas gift. Thank you! (from Maria, December 15)
Books to Read: December 2013

Books to Read: December 2013

These are the books that I finished last month and the last books that I’ll be reading this year. And, sadly, this is going to be my last reading plan, at least for the mean time.

I’ve already mentioned something about this in a previous post. I’ve been quite busy, and as of late, I prefer reading whatever book that gets my attention right there and then. Besides, I’ll be working on a writing a project at the start of 2014. That is going to eat whatever’s left of my time, which isn’t much as one can see from the lack of posts on this blog. Actually, I’m already working on little drafts here and there, outlines, and notes. So yeah, planned reading is not something that would be helpful in that regard.

In addition, I’ve dropped a lot of books from the reading plans this year. Last month is no exception from this. If you’re curious what these books are, check them out below:

  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis – well, I just couldn’t get around to reading it. I think was too infatuated with Carver’s stories. Or perhaps I was merely intimidated.
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – there’s supposed to be a reading group for this, but it never materialized. Maybe next year?
  • The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller – I was really going to read this had Doris Lessing not died. Yeah, I replaced this with one of Lessing’s books.
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – I’m halfway through this, and I’m just going to put it on hold for a short time.
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – I’ve been reading this since January. No, it has been around since last year. I’m putting it on indefinite hold. Finally. I’m honestly relieved.
  • A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes – borrowed it, read the introduction, read the first few pages, then returned it. I wasn’t in the mood for such discourses, so I did the right thing, right?
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare – I was supposed to attend a book discussion of this play, but schedule conflicts are conflicts. So there. I didn’t even bother.

Going back, here are The Stacks:

The Left Stack (books I must read and finish):

  • The Grass Is Singing by Doris Lessing – replaced this with The Hunger Angel because of her death. Currently on page 143.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – our last book of the month for the year. Currently on page 113.
  • How Fiction Works by James Wood – currently on page 39.
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust – currently on page 161.
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Right Stack (books I have finished):

  • Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot – 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer – 3 out of 5 stars.
  • The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster – 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Short Cuts by Raymond Carver – Not part of the November Reading Plan. 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello – 3 out of 5 stars.
  • Small Memories by José Saramago – 5 out of 5 stars.

Here’s to hoping that I can squeeze in a lot of reading for the holidays!