My year in books: 2013

Let me just give myself a pat on the back for having set a record this year: 18 books! For someone who inevitably falls asleep four pages into a book no matter how good it is, this is such a feat–good job, J! And yes, I totally agree with this tweet; is it any wonder why I have a section devoted to books I’ve read on this blog?

Well, technically, I didn’t ‘shelve’ a book as much as I used to, but yay!

Here’s a rundown of some of the books I’ve read this year:

The Best

I’m glad I started my year right: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; and Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl are definitely the best books I’ve read, not only for this year, but ever. But if I have to pick my number 1 for 2013, it will be Garlic and Sapphires because it truly was educational to me as it was entertaining. Her vivid writing was such that I got hunger pangs at odd times in the morning—and so did my friends, to whom I’ve loaned this title. (It is now with friend #5.) For a book, and I must admit writer, that I’ve never heard about (the cover just ‘spoke’ to me from the shelf while I was passing the time at a bookstore) this was a most fortunate match and discovery.

I resolved to read at least one Filipino novel a year (let me work on increasing that soon), and this year, I’m glad I finally read F. Sionil Jose, whom I’ve never read before. The book is Po-on, which I can only compare—unfairly, I must say for it deserves to be honored on its own merits—to El Filibusterismo. Set against the verdant and treacherous terrains of Pangasinan in the 1890s, the novel poses the same questions on Filipino identity as El Fili, and even the broader existentialist questions on religion, Man, and good and evil:

“When you are hungry and you steal a ganta of rice, that is not a crime; but when you are rich and you steal gold, is not that despicable?”

Of course, it’s depressing that the social ills from more than a century ago are still the same ills we haven’t cured ’till today, withal martyrs and heroes.

Others I enjoyed were:

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco – Initially challenging mainly because the story is entrenched in European history, which I know so little about. Based on historical events, one of its key stories was a hoax regarding Jews perpetuated by highly creative individuals, eventually fanning the flames of anti-semitism in Italy and Germany. The hoax was so stupid and yet, it would eventually result to the genocide of millions of people. (For further reading, see The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris – An easy read, sometimes funny, often depressing, especially when he talks about his dysfunctional family. (Though I think, he and his father are okay now.) It was this book that spurred me to write furiously in my journal again: David says that every night, he writes down the day’s events in detail, much to the consternation of his partner since David does it even when they’re on vacation. His journals are also catalogued so that say, he’s looking for that entry on, I dunno – dogs, he’d know in which journal, on which page, to look.

I would also like to give props to Katrina Ramos Atienza, who I know as Iggy, for her fourth novel, Well Played. This was one of the books I read as I went through some personal ordeals, and it was a welcome respite: Yes, I want to read how two people get it on, too! I have so many friends from UPLB, so I also enjoyed reading about what it was like over their side of the campus since I’m from Diliman. And again, it’s about two people getting it on, so what’s not to like, lol.

Iggy says the book is based on Pride and Prejudice, which I haven’t read, so I’m putting that in my 2014 list.

Now, for

The Worst

I love Ellen DeGeneres but seriously, Seriously… I’m Kidding was so corny. Her jokes just didn’t translate well into print.

Inferno by Dan Brown needs no explanation. 😛

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding – My friends loved it but this book just made me feel so sad for Bridget. I felt that her priorities as a mother of two were… skewed. I get it that dating and finding love don’t have to stop at 40, or at any age for that matter, but here’s an intelligent woman still obsessed with checking her phone and tallying the number of texts, calls, and tweets she got. 😦

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust – You know what the worst part is? After having read all of that, I can’t remember much of what the story was about, haha!


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