My Bookcase

Between the Covers – March 2019

As of this writing, I am 41% into my reading goal for 2019. That’s 12 of 29 books, seven of which I finished in the months of March and April.

Here are my March books:

THE APPEAL – JOHN GRISHAM

In this novel, rated 3.59 stars on Goodreads, a giant chemical company was found guilty of dumping toxic waste that caused the worst cancer cluster that had ever been known. The verdict was a victory for the small town that had wasted away, and a much-needed win for the small husband-and-wife lawfirm that took the fight to the courts. The fight was far from over though – there was still an appeal to overcome.

I was a John Grisham fan in high school but I haven’t read much of his work in recent years. Some of the more memorable legal thrillers I’ve read had to do with torts cases like this book was focused on: Grisham’s own King of Torts, and A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr. I loved them because they were about righting wrongs, and making big companies pay for cutting corners and doing damage to life and the environment. Think Erin Brockovich, the Julia Roberts movie.

But, I have to say I am disappointed with this one. For me, it reads too much as a news story or maybe a legal transcript. It was not very compelling and not so much the legal thriller I remember Grisham writes. I was not even sure I would finish it, but I did – because I was hoping for a different ending.

It does make quite a statement though. That the legal system could be quite the sham.

A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS – KEITH STUART

Stitches & Words | Between the Covers March/April 2019 - A Boy Made of Blocks
Stitches & Words | Between the Covers March 2019 – A Boy Made of Blocks

Now here was a book, with a 4.3 star rating on Goodreads, that was quite heartwarming.

This is from my 2018 Big Bad Wolk Booksale haul. I saw it among the piles of books at the World Trade Center, and was intrigued by the title. I initially thought it was somehow LEGO related, but it turns out to be about a Dad who found a way to connect with his young son through the game Minecraft.

Something I takeaway from the book is the need to have a shift in perspective (in case one is needed) from seeing a person with disability as a problem that needed to be dealt with to seeing them as A PERSON, and treating them just like another human being, albeit with special needs.

LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS – CHARLAINE HARRIS

Stitches & Words | Between Covers March 2019 - Living Dead in Dallas
Stitches & Words | Between Covers March 2019 – Living Dead in Dallas

Many years ago, around 2013 if I’m not mistaken, I took two trips to the National Bookstore Warehouse sale at their Panay Ave/Quezon Ave branch, and brought home boxes of books. This, along with many other Charlaine Harris titles, was in one of those. I never got to watch the True Blood series on HBO but knew that it was based on these Sookie Stackhouse novels.

Truth is, I wasn’t interested in reading the books, but the husband (then still the boyfriend) saw the books, and at 50 pesos each, I couldn’t let it go. So we picked up all the titles we could find (and one or two dupes with a different cover), and they’d been sitting on my shelves ever since.

When it was time to get started on these books (I just decided it was time) I realized that I didn’t have Book One. I resolved to live on the edge and just start with Book Two and it wasn’t so bad. I figured I’d give it a shot and then decide if I’d read the rest, or get of rid of it. Book 2 is 3.98 starts on Goodreads.

The verdict? I wouldn’t call this one a keeper, but I think I’ll keep reading. It’s easy to read, not complicated, even shallow (?). And sometimes you need books like this one.

WRITE HERE WRITE NOW – AA PATAWARAN

Stitches & Words | Between Covers March 2019 - Write Here Write Now
Stitches & Words | Between Covers March 2019 – Write Here Write Now

Now this has got to be one of my newest favorites! It’s a book about writing and it was written so beautifully. I don’t think I can ever be as great a writer, and I don’t even mean in the sense of getting published or becoming well known – but just in terms of quality of writing.

Let’s just say that after reading, I wished I had continued to write or maybe took up writing electives while at the UP. I wish I had a writing mentor. Because I missed out on that, and years and years of no practice – I’ll just do the next best thing: continue my attempts at writing, and re-read this gem of a book every once in a while.

There goes my March books. Did you read any of these? I’d love to know what you thought about either one. What are you reading next?

Between the Covers – January 2019

Hello! Once upon a time, I would do a reaction post for each book I read and publish it on my Between the Covers blog. I may yet do that, but for now, I will try to do a monthly round up of the books I’ve cracked open and say a little something of the worlds I glimpsed within their covers.

Stitches & Words | Between the Covers - January 2019

This month, I managed to knock off four from my reading goal of 29 books for 2019. Although my ultimate goal is to keep only those books I really loved and let go of most others, I think these books will find a home within these walls. Our bookshelves all over the house are overflowing, and I need to make room for more, but what can a book lover do, eh?

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan 

Goodreads rating: 4.17 stars

This book has the potential to be real life-changing. I say potential, because it really depends on whether the reader actually puts the lessons to work.

Everyone has a dream. Even those who seem like they have no ambition. This book gives us concrete steps to help us move that dream (or dreams!) to reality. So even though this may come across as a ‘leadership development’ lesson, or a book you’d find in the business section, it really is for everyone. I think it would make a great gift for any young person in your life so s/he can go ahead and live life to the fullest NOW and not wait until they’re ‘too old.’

What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

The biggest dilemma that a lot of us face is knowing where to start. With the simple tools that the authors provide here, starting with the above question, you’d be able to draw a map to your very own treasure chest. You will also be able to determine for yourself what that first step is – what is the ONE thing I can do now to reach my goals? 

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai w/ Patricia McCormick

Goodreads rating: 4.32 stars

Malala loved learning and was very competitive at her school in Pakistan. Her love for education, and her advocacy to keep girls in school, put her in harms way. It also earned her the Nobel Peace Prize, for which she is the youngest recipient.

I had no idea I picked up the Young Reader’s version of Malala’s autobiography, and it turned out to be a good thing. I found this version very readable, and relatable. Very apt for young girls (and boys) so that they could read it and realize that they don’t have to wait to be a grown up to make a difference in this world.

Her story brought me back to my own adventures as a young girl advocating for children’s rights, specifically to end child labor and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It’s almost 23 years ago now since we were up on the world’s stage telling adults to listen to the kids because we (they) are pare of the solution. Oh but I was never in danger! But she was, and it didn’t stop her.

Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirstin Chen

Goodreads rating: 3.36

I read an Ebook! I will always prefer holding a book in my hand and smelling its pages, but I do have a growing collection of ebooks on my Kindle reader that I buy for 1 to 2 dollars via the Kindle Daily Deals.

Gretchen Lin was born in Singapore but was sent to boarding school, college, and graduate school in the US. She’s one of the heirs to her family’s artisanal soy sauce empire, and finds herself at a crossroads: does she go back to America and rebuild her life after divorce, or does she stay to work in the family business?

It was a good read and I think I enjoyed it more than I did Crazy Rich Asians. It definitely got me interested in soy sauce! Soy sauce is a staple in Pilipino households, but I never woulda thought there was a better soy sauce. Really, can someone tell me where I can find one? I’d love to try that drink they invented! 🙂

Although I am a sucker for a good romance, I think this book could do away with the romantic story-line and the conflict with Gretchen’s friend that came out of it. It felt a little too forced for me. Still, a good read.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Goodreads rating: 4.37 stars

I absolutely love this book! It was one of two books I asked my Dad to get me for my last birthday and I am so not disappointed with that choice.

Where do I even begin to tell you about the story of Strange, The Dreamer? Strange is the protagonist’s last name; it’s the surname given to all orphans in the Kingdom of Zosma. His first name is Lazlo and he’s a dreamer. All his life he dreamt of the lost city of Weep – wanting to know as much as he could about it, and playing make-believe that he was a Tizerkane – one of its legendary warriors.

No one has set eyes on Weep for hundreds of years, and though Lazlo had no reason to believe that he would ever one day be able to step foot in it, he dreamed of one day seeing it. When a delegation of Tizerkane visit Zosma in search for people who would help solve Weep’s greatest problem, Lazlo would not be left behind. And he talked his way through it.

The rest of the story was weaved beautifully, with a cliffhanger ending at that. I believe I have found a new series to love, and a new author to follow.

So there you go, my four books for January 2019. Thank you for reading until the end! Hope you’re motivated to tell me a little something about the books you read last month too, and happy new month for reading! 🙂

 

Let’s Read More Books in 2019

2018 in Books

2018 was a good reading year for me. I set a goal of 18 books and managed to finish 27. The year prior, I only managed 13 out of 17. I’m aware that there are faster readers than myself who manage to gorge through five or more books in a month but I guess that’s just not me – and that’s okay.

The Goodreads website offers a cool year-in-review page that lets you see the book covers of all the books you read for the year, and even provides a few stats. I wish they allowed for a convenient way to share it on your blog, but I had to go old-school and screenshot-paste-cut-move the whole thing to be able to add this graphic here. Worth it. Hah! 🙂


2019 Goal: 29 Books

This year, I hope to read no less than 29 books to make a significant dent on the ever-growing pile of books in the house (and my e-readers). I’ve already knocked one down with The One Thing but that’s because I’ve been reading it on and off for a few months (I’m learning from it, which is why I re-read some chapters a few times, took notes, and let some info rest before taking it up again. Also my Dad borrowed it while I was going through it!).

I used to blog about each book and movie I read and I haven’t decided if this is the year I do that again, or if I ever will. There are just some books that really move me and writing is my way of ‘thinking out loud’ and processing the learnings so I might just be compelled to share those thoughts here some times. Others do a monthly round-up of what they’ve been reading, and that feels like a manageable schedule…

There’s no specific pile of books that’s waiting to be read. Maybe I should do that – pre-select the books I’ll be reading each month, like some others do. My approach has always been to just go around the house and see which book calls out to me. Or sometimes I decide which shelf (or area really – outside, upstairs, big shelves, new books) to choose one next. Or whatever.

How do you choose your next book?

Letting Go!

We let go of a number of books last year. I gave away a few, sold some at super bargain prices (why not make a few bucks in the process?), and donated others. I’ll keep doing that, a few books at a time.

I can’t believe the effort it takes to decide to get rid of a book. Unless I read it and didn’t really like it. Or if it’s Dad’s book – although I do find that I enjoy reading his books too, not surprisingly since I grew up reading whatever was on the shelves at home.

But yeah, for the sake of decluttering, and having more room to breathe (or for even more books), we shall continue to practice the art of letting go.

Do you have reading goals this year?

What do you plan on reading this year? I love looking at people’s reviews or even their to-be-read lists.

Do you need help getting back into the habit of reading? I shared tips on how to find the time to read. Check it out and let me know if it helps.

Happy reading!


The Gift

I cannot imagine NOT having books. I am so grateful for books, for the love of reading, for second-hand/pre-loved books, for old-book smell, new-book smell.

I am never lonely, for as long as there are books to read. They are gateways to other worlds. Stories to dive into. Characters to get to know.

Stitches & Words | You’ll never be lonely surrounded by books

I read The Gift while taking a break from Earthsea.

The husband is away on an overnight trip with his team. Apart from the dogs keeping me company (or is it the other way around? After all, there’s seven of them and only one of me), there are a lot of books here to read.

While taking a break from Earthsea, I decided I’d read Cecelia Ahern’s The Gift. Lou Suffern’s story is a good reminder to look at how we are living – are we constantly in a hurry? Always feeling the pull of having to be in two places at one time? What is it all for?

In the seemingly endless juggle between work and family, I guess there is a case for such as a question as this: is it juggling if you constantly choose one over the other? Always choosing work, thinking that family cannot fire you. But is it true?

At the end of our lives, not all of us will have the opportunity to make things right. Not everyone will have the chance to make that lasting positive memory that we can leave behind. So why wait til the end?

Time is a gift. One that we cannot earn back or buy more of. Money can be earned, lost, then earned back. Just think about that for a moment.

A Life in Stitches

I loved reading this collection of essays from author and knitter Rachael Herron.

Seriously. My blog is Stitches and Words right, but her book should be called that. She writes so beautifully about her knitting.

Despite a very productive year so far in terms of yarn projects and blogging (productive na to, considering previous years), I really don’t have a lot of completed projects under my belt. Still, I find that using either of the two blankets I made and kept always gives me a sense of pride for my handiwork, and comfort.

In contrast, writing sometimes makes me anxious. For a long time writing was also my solace, but not having written for so long I feel like I have lost my voice and am now self-conscious about publishing what I write. But I intend to break through this. They say writing is like a muscle – the more you write, the more you get better.

Crocheting and Knitting centers me. When the stitch is uncomplicated, and the pattern repetitive, I am able to keep my hands busy and my mind free to wander. While I stitch, I let thoughts form and percolate. In a way, it’s as if I meditate while I hook.

In the last three years specifically, I have gained more confidence as a crocheter and knitter. Confident enough to feel proud to give my handiwork as gifts. With the same consistent practice, I hope that confidence also shine through in whatever form I choose to share my stories.

Recently, crocheters from a group I belong to in Facebook have been yarn bombing and doing meetups. I have yet to participate, but that is on my list. I’d love to meet fellow yarn lovers and share stories while crocheting.

Every now and then I think about opening a craft store where people can come get their crafty fix, and also learn to make stuff. But I’m not quite sure I am creative enough to hack that. Hmm.

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