Friday, September 12, 2014

The Spark Project [15]: Tin

The Spark Project is a semi-regular blog feature where a reader and/or book blogger is invited to talk about that one book that sparked his/her interest in books and reading. He/She will tell us about the what-when-where-why-and-how of this topic, how his/her reading habits have evolved since encountering that book, and so on. Wouldn't it be fun and interesting as well to know how a fellow book lover discovered the wonderful world of books? :)
Featured today on The Spark Project: TIN of Rabbitin
People from The Filipino Group (TFG) over at Goodreads (well, at least those who are currently active) have known her and felt her online presence for a while now, but no one has yet had the pleasure of personally meeting Tin. She resides outside of Metro Manila, so she finds it difficult to attend book discussions and other events, which usually happen within the metro. Still, her fun and friendly personality can be felt online, as she actively participates in group discussions. She also regularly tumbles down into her rabbit hole, er, updates her book blog, Rabbitin, where you can "discover a whole new world through the pages of books."

This little rabbit is shy. :)

(1) What is the one book that sparked or kindled your love for reading? Describe the circumstances in which you found or discovered it.

I wish I was like Matilda, the smart and precocious protagonist created by Roald Dahl, who at the age of four has read Bronte, Hemingway, Faulkner, Austen, Steinbeck, Dickens and a whole slew of other big literary names. At the age of four, or perhaps a little older than that, what I could tell you about were: The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The Uncanny X-Men, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bugs and Daffy, and Tom and Jerry, Shaider and Bioman, and Disney Princesses. I wasn’t entirely devoid of reading experiences. I did read a couple of Ladybird books and a ton of Archie Comics, which I very much remember with fondness. But I mostly spent my free time zombified by the thing called television.

So the reading habit was not something that came naturally to me. My earliest memory would have to be around the time when I was about 11, I think. That was when a peddler of this big book of fairy tales came to our doorstep. She was a lady, who was quite pretty, I remember. My mom sat opposite her, held one of her wares, something entitled: A Treasury of Fairy tales. It had this glossy and padded cover, with illustrations I found to be quite mesmerizing. I was at an age then, when I knew well enough that showing eagerness in front of a salesman won’t be to your advantage, so I slunk and rubbed around my mom like a cat, willing her to get it for me. I would have purred right then and there. But it turns out, I did not need to debase myself further, as she already handed the lady some payment. And soon it became a ritual for me and my eldest sister to read one story from that book, aloud, every other night. I always look forward to those nights.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Required Reading 2014: September

August has 31 days, and despite my two-book required reading list, I only managed to finish one. [I am currently on page 340 of 848 of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries.] On the upside, however, there are two other novellas not on my reading list that I did read before the month was over. So, last month's reading progress wasn't much of a letdown after all, was it? :)

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Here's a recap of what went on in August:

As I said, I am still reading The Luminaries (nearing the 50% mark now), which I found difficult to get into at first, hence, the snail's pace reading it. BUT now that I am into the thick of the story, I find that the mystery in the plot married to the historical fiction aspect of it (the gold rush in New Zealand at the turn of the 19th century) is pretty engaging! I can't wait to sit down and read some more of it, and finish it, soon.

And now, for September:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Fault in our Stars

by John Green

I’ve read John Green before: some years ago I read Looking for Alaska (currently my favorite of all his books), and then Paper Towns after that. Both were worthwhile reads, and when people ask me for YA recommendations, I would usually point to those two books, among others. I have a copy of his other work, An Abundance of Katherines, on my shelf, but haven’t had time (or inspiration) to read it yet.

And then he comes out with this new book in 2012, The Fault in our Stars, about two teenagers and the Big C.

Hmm. Is this a John Green-ed version of A Walk To Remember?

It would take me two years before getting an answer.

The Fault in our Stars is about Hazel Grace Lancaster, 16, diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and Augustus “Gus” Waters, 17, on remission from osteosarcoma, or simply, bone cancer. They meet at a cancer support group meeting that Hazel Grace attends, become friends (of course), gradually spend time together, and thereafter, embark on a short, bittersweet journey to find young, sweet love – one that transcends sickness and death.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The City & The City

by China Miéville

Just a quick run-through of the awards this novel has won – the Hugo Award in 2010, the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel also in 2010, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel still in the same year, and that’s just to mention a few – should be sufficient to impress a prospective reader. Fantasy or sci-fi readers, in particular, would know that they’d be in for a treat. (The Hugo is, like, the Oscar equivalent for fantasy and sci-fi literature. Neil Gaiman, another favorite, is a Hugo awardee as well.)

But when I read this book last June, I wasn’t even aware of its many accolades. All I know was that it was chosen as the book club’s book for the month of June, that it falls under the genre “new weird,” and that it’s supposed to be about two cities-slash-countries that inexplicably co-exist in the same physical space. Weird enough?

Later, I would read that these cities' inhabitants have to adapt to a life that involves “unseeing,” be wary of the “grosstopical” landscape and “crosshatched” areas, and be careful about having to breach that demarcation line lest the Breach descend upon them. As you may have guessed by now, the two cities – Beszel and Ul Qoma, they are called – are, well, not exactly enemies, but they are not exactly friends, either. Can you imagine how it would be to live in either place?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Independent People

by Halldór Laxness

Independent People was a real challenge to read. Not because it was a lengthy novel, because it really wasn’t, at least for me, at 400+ pages of fine, condensed print. This is actually considered an epic by some. And it wasn’t because of the writing, which was lyrical and simply beautiful. Rather, it was because as you traipse through chapters and chapters of narrative about sheep, debt, coffee, independence, and still more sheep, you will inevitably arrive at a point when you will begin to wonder, Is there a point to the whole thing at all?

But I’m not going to answer that. Instead, I will write about how I felt about Independent People – and still do.

The epic novel set in Iceland is about Bjartur of Summerhouses, a stubborn and very determined sheep farmer who, after nearly two decades of servitude, has finally earned enough money to buy himself a tract of land where he intended to raise a flock of good sheep. The tract of land he has purchased was said to be inhabited by a specter from the tales of old. He builds a croft thereon, takes a bride, and starts a family. Bjartur has also made it his life’s mission to be free of debt from absolutely everyone – an independent man.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Required Reading 2014: August

Aaaand it's August!

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As I write this, it's raining cats and dogs outside, and no, it's not because of a storm or typhoon (weather bureau says Jose [international name: Halong] is already within the Philippine area of responsibility [PAR] but is too far to be actually felt) but because of the monsoon rains (or what is locally known as habagat). Bed weather? I know. Bed + book weather? I think I'm gonna cry. :'(

The month of July also rained good books from my end! Take a look:

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