My Bookcase

Books for Christmas

Since losing a whole lot of books when Typhoon Ondoy wreaked havoc in our home, I’d been really sad and disappointed about their fate. I haven’t even read many of those books, while others were books I wanted to keep. One of the children’s books I lost was a treasure – I Can Tell Time. It’s no classic, but it was the very first book I received as a birthday present from my parents. The inscription inside, in my mother’s handwriting is something I cherish. The exact words are lost to me, but I will remember the message forever: now I was being introduced to books, and they will teach me many things and take me to different lands.

Of all the books we’ve had to throw out the morning after, it was that one that pained me most.

I told myself I would stop compulsive book-buying – something I do almost every other week when I passby the second-hand bookshop at The Loop. I won’t buy books faster than I can read them anymore. Here I am though, three months later, and I’ve already accumulated a (tall) pile or two.

Yesterday, I picked up four more bargain books. I would have taken six but I didn’t want to spend all of my money. I had the two reserved, waiting to be picked up next week. I listed them on my wishlist for the Kris Kringle we’re having with one of our teams… I hope whoever picked my name hasn’t chosen a gift for me yet. I hope he/she just gets me those… 🙂

Last year, I got a book (Confessor/Goodkind) and chocolates for Christmas. At the non-agent Christmas GA this year, I also got the book I wished for (Certain Girls/Weiner). We’re having a year-ender party on Sunday and I am expecting another book (or two) and chocolates. We’ll exchange gifts with my Tier2 team next Friday, that’s where I hope to receive the two books I put up on my wishlist.

I’ve found it easier to list books as my Christmas wish. So long as there’s a fixed budget, I can find a book to match. It’s easier than me asking for perfume, or a piece of clothing. Those things I’d rather shop for myself. Gadgets would be cool to list too, but none of my groups would raise the budget higher than 500 pesos! 🙂

Next comes another dilemma – where to put all these books? My mom has been taking our books to her office and her guests are free to take them. They don’t have to take them back. My dad doesn’t really care about collecting the books (not even the Cusslers or Ludlums, though my mom leaves those untouched), once he’s read them, they can stay on a bookshelf forever and he wouldn’t pick them up again. He has been known to purchase a book we already own though, haha. I’m not that way. I’d rather keep all of them for myself. I think of rereading them again someday. Or of accumulating enough books for a vast library where my future kids will grow up and revel in. But we don’t have space for a library.

There are some books though that wouldn’t be too difficult to let go of. I wouldn’t mind not owning them forever. But those are very very few (at least from the ones I bought myself).

So I’m thinking, after reading a particular book, maybe I’ll blog about it somewhere and sell it. Or lend it for a fee. Or something. Or maybe I’ll leave it lying around somewhere and anticipate until someone finds a way to get it back to me.

Legend of the Seeker

Had I known that this series has been out since 2008, I’d have looked all over the net to watch it. I was finally able to watch the catch-up marathon at the Sci-Fi Channel the day after Christmas. My dad suffered through the day watching with me, LoL.

The series is loosely based on “The Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodkind. This series is one of two epic fantasy series that my brother and I followed through the years, the other one being “The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan. I used the word loosely because they didn’t strictly adhere to the books for the serialized TV version. Once you reconcile yourself with that, a true fan would be able to sit back and enjoy the shows. Of course, I’d still would prefer the original, but it isn’t so bad really.

Seeing this fantasy world on-screen made me want to reread the books. I haven’t even read Phantom and Confessor, the last two books, partly because I don’t really want the epic to end yet. Haha. My brother lent the first book, Wizard’s First Rule, to a friend and I don’t think we got it back so if I want to read them again I’d actually have to make another purchase. I wouldn’t mind that. Perhaps I’ll try looking for it in second hand bookshops 😉

Anyway, I can’t get enough of Bridget Regan; I love Kahlan, even when I’d much prefer to pronounce her name as Kah-lan, rather than Khay-lan as they do. They picked the perfect actress. I might just go ahead name a future daughter after her. 🙂

Here’s another fan-made vid:


The Innocent Man – John Grisham

The Innocent Man was the book that kept me company on my trips to the hospital in the past few weeks (oh and also French Women Don’t Get Fat). Since we don’t have our TV here in the living room in the aftermath of Ondoy, and the PC wasn’t setup yet (like I’ve said before, we’re still not done with the cleanup and our living room is still a mess), I had the chance to sit down and finish Grisham’s first work of non-fiction on Saturday last week.

In the beginning, it was dragging. It’s a lot like reading a legal brief, as I would imagine it (though I wouldn’t really know). But as the story unfolds even further, you would really want to read it through to find out how the truth will eventually come out.

My thoughts? If this injustice can happen in small town America – what of those suffering in the Philippine justice system?

Here, there was no graft and corruption included. Simple incompetence. Or law enforcement’s sheer will to find their scapegoat to get the public off their backs. In the Philippines, you have cops, lawyers and judges on payola (allegedly).

One of the most oft used arguments for the death penalty is its power as a crime deterrent. But how many of those executed in the past really were guilty beyond reasonable doubt? Until the state can guarantee a fair justice system, more so for the poor, then the death penalty will not be effective. Then of course there’s the right to life argument.

The book does not talk about the death penalty though it did give us a glimpse of Ron Williamson’s horrifying experience at The Row and the H Unit. It also shows how dreams are accepted as confessions, and how jail house snitches will say just about anything just to get off their own crimes.

It’s also about prejudice. And how some people on trial are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

The stories of Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz, as well as of Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot, should be an example of how law enforcement and the prosecutors ought not to act.

Eat, Pray, Love

After posting about this book months ago, I finally have it in print.  It was enlightening to read this woman’s journey to self discovery. She set out to straighten herself after going through a tumultuous divorce, but she ended up doing so much more.

I am amazed by her journey, and I envy her at the same time. I can’t even watch a movie by myself, let alone travel to three different countries on my own. And with very little planning at that.

She doesn’t claim to have the formula for healing a broken heart, or mending a broken spirit. What she does is just relate her experiences, and by doing so, I think she has shared many gems that will help countless women find their way in the world too. She also talks of finding balance, and isn’t that something we are all looking for?

She inspires me, not to travel alone but to chart my own spiritual course. It would be wonderful to once again understand what my personal relationship is to God. I pray to him, sometimes. I thank Him, sometimes. And that won’t do.

Recently, I saw these beautifully made rosaries online. They are being made by a family, and they sell it to raise funds to care for their baby’s medical bills. Read up on Hannah’s story, and order a rosary or two. Just let them know verabear sent them your way. Anyway, as I was saying… So I saw their rosaries and there was a particular style of the cross that appealed to me but I felt it would look even more beautiful matched with a certain type of beads. I just felt like I had to own one according to a certain specification that they are even willing to accomodate. The thing is, I don’t pray the rosary. In my experience growing up in the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, I haven’t seen anyone pray the rosary.

I attended an all-girl Catholic high school and I learned to pray the rosary there. For some time, I prayed the rosary regularly at bedtime, and whenever we were asked to do so in school. I wasn’t bothered by this and I most certainly didn’t see any conflict with our Church. I didn’t have any special requests when I would say the rosary, I was just praying. I still prayed in a way that I was conversing with the Lord, but somehow following the beads of the rosary was something I found comfort in doing. I have to be honest though, there were countless time that I’d fall asleep in the middle of the rosary! Do you think Mama Mary minded those times? I don’t think so.

So I told the boyfriend about me taking up the rosary, and he was like, are you going to use it? He’s Roman Catholic and he doesn’t regularly pray the rosary. Still, he said he’d show me how to do it if I’d already forgotten. Hmm. We’ll see.

Back to the book. I highly recommend this to everyone, not just women seeking balance in their lives. She’s very witty too, and I can hear her voice in my head while reading (but maybe that’s because I listened to parts of the audio book before I actually read it).

There is talk that a studio has bought movie rights for the book, that’s definitely something to look forward to. I wonder who’s playing Liz? What about Luca Spaghetti? And Richard from Texas? And Felipe? That’s going to be one yummy movie for sure. Haha.

Oh, and I have a new word too – attraversiamo!

The Year of Pleasures – Elizabeth Berg


There’s one thing about going to the hospital alone – the wait time allows me to start or finish a good book.  In April when I started visiting doctors to see what was up with the never ending cold that I had since the year started, I took The Watchmen with me. Many times though, I found myself not being able to concentrate on reading so I only managed a couple of chapters.  This time around, Elizabeth Berg was my chosen company.  I had the book The Year of Pleasures with me when we went to Baler – it appealed to me like a book fit to read while on vacation. I thought about reading while we were on the road but it was impossible with the bumpiness of the ride, and also because I found admiring the view of the countryside a better pastime.  While Alfred was taking a siesta (still at Baler), I was out at the 2nd floor verandah, put my feet up and started to read. But the cool breeze and the lightness of the surroundings just took over me.  I felt that the afternoon was too beautiful to just spend on reading.  So I gathered the kids who were with us  and tried to do something with them instead (right before heading to the water again!).

Today, I finally finished the novel.

I’ve read Berg’s True to Form and Never Change and remembered really being moved by both stories.  I knew what I was in for when I picked this one up.

The Year of Pleasures is about Betta Nolan who lived a very happy life with her husband John. But the novel isn’t about Betta and John really, because the novel starts after his death.  Betta sells their home, and then drives to the midwest in search of a new life.  It’s wonderful how she found her new home, made new friends, but also reconnected with old ones – friends from before she met her late husband.

The book showed me that there is no single proper way to grieve the loss of a loved one. But it’s also a good resource for someone who may be suffering, so that she may find strength and pleasure in everything that happens around her, even in the small things.

It talked to me about dreaming too. And that it’s never too late to pursue something, specially when it is what will make your heart happy and your life full.

It also made me aware of how true it is for some of us women to totally lose ourselves in our relationships. Not lose in the sense that we have no identity, but… That we get too engrossed in our own little couple-world that we shut everyone else out – without meaning to.

It gave me comfort that Betta reconnected with her college roommates whom she hasn’t seen nor heard from in decades. They remained friends, but they never forgot her. It was amazing how they were automatically there for her when she let them know she needed them. No resentment. That’s what true girlfriends are about.

I fell in love with Betta’s house and her new neighborhood. I could live there, I would love to live that life. I love the idea of her quaint shop – What A Woman Wants, though if it was me, I’d setup a pastry shop/bookshop.

But I was also thinking how stupid it was to move in to a new place, all by yourself, and not install an alarms system! I mean Jovani (a character in the book) had a point – what if someone came in through the door and you didn’t hear it? I lived in a quiet neighborhood and I was left on my own a lot of times, even when I was younger. But no matter how safe you feel, it’s still better to be secured. I know that installing alarms systems is not the norm in most Philippine households, but Betta’s in the States – she should know better! Haha.

There are gems of wisdom in the book, but what stuck with me was a line John spoke to Betta – Don’t let your habits become handcuffs.  Just become you’ve been used to something doesn’t mean you can’t do it a different way or have something else entirely.

Sometimes I think about what will happen to me if the boyfriend dies…

Then I was also thinking, having been away from work for three days because of these flu-like symptoms, that I really don’t want to work anymore. And it’s not because I hate work, or that I don’t like what happens at work. No. Because I was actually happy to be at work these past two weeks. Conflicting, aren’t I? Hear me out.  I like what I do there, but I know I could be happier doing something else. So I think that’s what I’m going to work on.  I will prepare my life so that I can leave and do what I really want. It’s going to take a long time to get where I want to be to do this, but I will work on it.  If I can make half my current month’s salary doing what I love to do, I will quit my full time job. Seriously.  I don’t want to wait until a tragedy happens (like in Betta’s case) before I find an excuse to be daring and to live the life I’ve been imagining for myself.

(It’s probably not going to happen, but it’s good to think about these things, you know? Haha)

I just dug through my blog archives, and you know what I’ve found? This book has been on my to-be-read pile since September 2008! Crazy!

Visit the link below to buy the book from Amazon, or to read reviews from others. And if you’ve read it, tell me what you think okay?

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