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.

The Book Thief

How many times have I found myself transported to another place, and another time? How many times have I imagined living in a different world, a different era? But I would never wish to exist in the time of The Book Thief.

Specially not on Himmel Street.

The Book Thief is my book #14 for 2018. I took my time with this one, reading just a few pages a day. Towards the end, I wanted to keep reading. All the while knowing…

That I may not have the courage to live in that harsh reality of wartime Germany. I don’t know that I have the heart to survive it.

Liesel Meminger had to say so many goodbyes at a tender young age. All because of words. Words. Words. Words that planted seeds of fear and hate. Words that started and fueled a war. Words that ripped families apart. Words that sent home thousands of souls earlier than they had to.

Is it coincidence that I read Markus Zusak’s masterpiece at this very season? There is a lot happening in our country, and in the world today. And once again, words are at the center. Words that are once again being shaken and used to distract, confuse, instill fear, and instigate hate. Words that are rewriting history, and shaping a new reality.

But it is also Words that helped Liesel cope. Words kept her alive. Zusak weaved for us a beautiful tale of humans that existed in that time. He forces us to remember that where there is ugliness, there is also beauty. And that kindness continues to persist in a world full of hate.

No, I would not wish to have lived in that time, in that place, but I would have been fortunate to have known the likes of Liesel, her family and her friends.

They are a reminder that there are Hans and Rosa Hubermanns out there who are willing to care for the lost and forgotten. That no matter the danger, it is right to repay kindness with kindness. There are Rudys, who are true friends, and this one shows us that boys can grow up to be decent young men who will give their all. And there is Max, who held on to hope even when it seemed that all is lost, and who never failed to show gratitude in every way he could.

So I also know that now we have a choice – do we allow the words of modern-day Fuhrers to shape our world, or will we use our words to spark hope, spread kindness, bring joy, and inspire change?


A Week in Winter

Visiting Ireland is high on my travel goals; reading A Week in Winter gave me a strong reminder NOT to forget. Maeve Binchy once again transports us to a wonderful place in her last novel, published posthumously.

Why do I love reading her books?

Hope. It always seems to be at the core of her stories. Hope that if you put in the work things will get better.

And that it’s never too late to make a change. That it’s always a good idea to take a stand for your dreams, and follow your heart.

It also helps that her stories are set against such a beautiful and idyllic background. Do you also see the movie in your mind’s eye as you read a book? That happens for me a lot, which makes reading Binchy titles such a delight. She has a way of painting beautiful pictures with her words. I guess when you grow up around amazing landscapes, you also learn the words to describe them well.

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