Your Next Read, According to Me!

Last week, I received a request (via comment box, yes) asking me to list down some of my personal book recommendations  that I think everyone should read.  I haven’t been much into reading lately since I’m still oscillating between the demands of grad school and the large pile of work that needs to be done in time.   Right now, I’m currently reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground – a very difficult novel, something that requires a higher sensibility, of which I cannot fully give this time around.  So my reading pace lately is slow and halting, but only because I want to experience what Dostoyevsky probably wanted me to experience as well – to eclipse into “the underground” and to look into myself, in a very existentialist manner.  A little bit scary, but most of the time enlightening.

Truth to be told, I have so much books to recommend! But I’ll try to limit the list to a three, a list that constitutes some of my personal favorites.  Of course, I threw in some of the reasons why.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

Even William Faulkner said this novel was the best book ever written ever.  If I have to think about my most favorite novel then I wouldn’t have any second thought of choosing this one.  You probably have read hundreds of reviews about this novel but what I like best about it is that it is both an “external and internal narrative”.  A lot of people find this book too difficult to read.  Much of this “inaccessibility” is because the prose requires a lot of thinking while reading it.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Lately, I’m too engrossed with the sixties culture and I was recently introduced to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.  I’ve never read a prose anything like this one – it’s erratic and very beat; it’s the rhythm of everyday life pulsating through you.  Which is a good thing by the way.  I found it hard to get through the book on the outset; I wasn’t used to this kind of prose style as I spent much of my time reading the sophisticated and refined prose styles of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Yates, Vladimir Nabokov, etc.  Kerouac’s prose was something new for me but once I got the hang of it, it was liberating.  He was a prolific speed freak in his words but on an everyday basis, aren’t we all?

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

This is not your average romance novel although the subject is very much cliched in both in literature and film:  a marriage gone sour.  But Richard Yates has a different approach to presenting this subject and this is why I consider his Revolutionary Road the quintessential marriage novel.  Yates is very subtle when it comes to dealing with emotions.  This is not an ordinary, murky romance novel – this is life.

Random Excerpts from my 2011 Journal

Some kind of a year-end report, so to speak.

  • Unfortunately, writing has made a fugitive out of itself, and is far long gone for almost a year now. (Feb 12, 2011)
  • I’m starting to think that Digos was made for leaving.  Everyone just passed me by. (Feb 24, 2011)
  • Sometimes I have this urge to pull off a Jay Gatsby and just go away to find myself. (Mar 01, 2011)
  • In two year’s time I should be changing careers.  I don’t want to stay like this in the long run. It’s true, I want to Continue reading

6 out of 100 novels

In Time Magazine’s list of All Time 100 Novels, I’ve read only 6 out of the lot.  Other people expected me to read at least more than half (since I’m an English major) but to tell you the truth, I’m a slow reader.  Even more honest is that I find the classics really tedious to read even though some are rewarding and worth the effort.

Still I want to read the rest of the list, which means there are still 94 books for me to find.

Here are the 6 novels that I’ve read so far:

  • The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
  • The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
  • Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
  • Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

I’m currently reading Call It Sleep by Henry Roth to add to the list.  I find this novel interesting, knowing that it is the only novel that the writer wrote for his lifetime.

And just to let you know, these are some of the novels I tried to read, but gave up in the process (Perhaps, I’m not yet ready to contain the experience of these novels or I’m too young for them).

  • Atonement  – Ian McEwan
  • Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  • Possession – AS Byatt
  • To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  • The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

Ten Reasons Why I L♥ved Ryoga Hibiki!

  1. His Bokusai Tenketsu can penetrate through bricks, rocks and stones.
  2. His clothes serve an even greater purpose. Headband: 5 autofires of razor shaped messiles. Belt: Virtual Sword or Steel Pole.
  3. His umbrella can fire reserve shots, deflect attack, and can be used as a weapon.
  4. He has strong chivalrous streaks. An honorable person.
  5. He knows iron cloth martial arts and kenpo.
  6. He has fangs.
  7. He can survive a temperate wilderness and subtropical mountains.
  8. He can send you exotic gifts and local goods from different places.
  9. He can be your pet.
  10. Douse P-chan with cold water and you get a naked Ryoga!

Bullet Updates

A brief rundown of updates about me lately:

  1. I just saw the list of candidate students for graduation – and yes, I saw my name in there but that doesn’t assure me anyway.  Why? I still don’t know my final grade in my Philosophy class (probably by far, the hardest class I’ve been into this semester) at least, not until April 5.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  I failed my second exam by one point, and I tell you, it’s disheartening.  Life goes on though, and I’m not being philosophical this way.
  1. I’m currently busy managing the final bound copies of my thesis collection, which is a collection of seven stories.  It’s entitled On Their Own Willful Departures and the title was taken from a line from one of my stories.  Lately, I realized my title was too long to fit the spine (I’m talking about the gold-plated lettering engraved on the spine) and so I have to shorten it too Willful Departures, although the front cover still retains the full title.  I figured out it would be weird to shorten it to On Their Own, and thanks to Mau for making me realize that.  She’s my personal mobile person, the person you can contact with any time of the day.
  1. Holy Week this week so I’m busy going in and out of the monastery.  For those of you who are not yet familiar with my spiritual outgoings, yes, I do serve our monastery here in our place (don’t worry I will blog about my search-in experience soon!).  Just this morning I went to the monastery to prepare for tomorrow’s Easter Sunday.  And I’m quite happy that the head priest actually set the thanksgiving mass for graduate students tomorrow.  It makes me happy, of course, and apprehensive at the same time.  I do hope I can graduate this month.
  1. No more school stuff to do (other than processing my graduation and clearance slips) so that means I got to see lots of movies for the past few weeks.  Some of the movies I’ve seen were:

    The Corleones

    1. The Godfather – Yes, I’ve been rooting for this movie eversince as it’s usually voted as the number 2 best film ever, next to Citizen Kane (which I haven’t seen yet.)  Al Pacino, the calm and collected Michael Corleone really rocked my boat.  I loved this movie.  I’ve read The Godfather novel by Mario Puzo first to prepare myself from this movie.  I’d say the movie live up with its grandeur that was there in the novel.

By the way, I love Sonny Corleone’s character, played by James Caan.

    1. The Godfather 2 – As good as the first godfather movie.  The rise of Michael Corleone.
    2. 21 – The first parts were promising scenes, but I don’t like the ending though.  I got a copy of the book, and I’m currently reading it.
    3. Yes Man – Feel-good kind of movie.  And why not.
    4. Body of Lies – a Ridley Scott movie.  I don’t understand it wholly, but I love it anyway.  Blame it on Leo.

I’m looking forward to other movies as well.  HBO Asia didn’t air The Godfather 3 but my friend says it’s okay because he’d like to pretend that movie didn’t exist.  Something tells me it’s a kind of let-down movie.  But at least now I know why Francis Ford Coppola is a legend.  I also love his film, Apocalypse Now.

The Pacific

I’m also looking forward for the back-to-back TV premiere of The Pacific on HBO every Saturday, 9pm.  Also, a couple of anime shows like Romeo and Juliet and Maid-Sama on Animax, and more TV premiere of movies like The International, Ghost Town, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Bedtime Stories, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Race to the Witch Mountain, Valkyrie, Killshot, Superhero Movie, Crossing Over, and many more – movies that I missed because I was too preoccupied with my studies.

  1. Blackout madness – Blackouts make me nuts these days.  A series of power interruptions here in Mindanao that usually last in 5 hours is kind of devastating for me.  Blame it on the energy crisis and El Niño.  It’s so hot these days.  So when a blackout strikes, I either sleep or pour myself over stacks of books.  Something productive to do on what seems like unproductive hours.

Well, well, well

I noticed that I have been having too much fun lately, to think that i’m 2 weeks late now for my “supposedly deadline” of my short story.  I’m kinda worried about it but i’m on the run to finish it this weekend.  I laready wrote 6 pages, at least that is consoling enough.

Some things that needs to be done asap.

1.  Revise thesis manuscript.

2. Finish short story.

3. Study mathematical progressions.  (This one is so depressing).

4. Save money. Self-explanatory.

The end of classes is fast approaching so that means there are lots of things to be done here and there.  Wish me luck i can push these ones through before the semestral break starts.

Bye bye, and will write soon!

Weekends

Totally finished with my fiction 2 exam.  Man, it was so hard it took me six hours, believe me. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t able to answer the part wherein I have to explain the narrative time in some stories.  It’s kind of frustrating but I promise myself I’d do good in the next week’s part 2 exam.  Haha.

Well,  here’s my must-do’s list over the weekend.

1.  Read James Wood “How Fiction Works.”

2. Write my story for my fiction class.

3.  Write my draft for my one act play.

4.  Study permutation, combination and probabilities.

5.  Solve the probability homework.

6.  Read about Japanese literature.

7.  Study about ethnic cultures.

8.  Wash clothes.

Rush hour here.  Till next time. 🙂

On Set December

I’ve been busy for these past few days but now I’m up for good. Let’s just say I’m kind of well-adjusted for this term. The second semester kicked off with a blast of assignments – week after week of papers, reports and presentations – and now we have entered the month of December! Cool huh? With this month comes Christmas break of which I’m really looking forward to. And the Kampo Girls (also known as the ‘PG Era girls’) have finalized our Christmas party plan before the break comes in. It’s going to be really fun!

Here’s my wishlist for this month:

  • A Death Note manga guidebook – I saw one in eBay when I was surfing some anime goodies, and this one really interests me. I’m a Death Note fan, and the guidebook, which is called as Death Note 13: How to Read is so amazing since it features lots of data about the manga series and the Death Note character profiles.
  • A Blood+ Complete DVD Series – Yes, I mean who wouldn’t? Blood+ is one of the most amazing anime shows that I have ever seen.
  • Book: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – I’ve been meaning to buy this book but I can’t seem to find a copy in ‘an affordable price’ if you know what I mean – whether in book shops or second-hand book sales. I’ll buy one if I’m rich enough [laughs].


November Wishlist and Jack Jack

I know I’m late in posting this, but let me post this anyway.
My list of Must-Buys

1. Monopoly board game – may it be Transformers, Shrek, Star Wars, Super Mario special edition sets or just the same old traditional game set, anything would do. Cost at least 250 php.

2. Stamp – any stamp will do. Plus the stamp pad. 🙂

3. Bourne complete DVD series – i love Matt Damon. And I love the movie too!

4. a handkerchief.

5. A portable DVD player
I’m saving money as much as possible, even though in real-time, it’s hard. Sigh. I also want to watch the Twilight movie.

***
Last night was good. I watched Leonardo de Caprio’s movie Catch Me If You Can. I like it very much – 4 buckets of popcorn! You know, the guy is so hot, and i really want to see his new movie, Body of Lies, although i prefer to watch Twilight as of the moment. Perhaps, i should buy a Body of Lies DVD tape in the future. I also want to watch the Brad Pitt movie, Burn After Reading, mainly because aside from the fact that Brad Pitt is there, George Clooney is also there! Ah! The batman days!
When it comes to action movies i prefer the Die Hard series of Bruce Willis. Those movies were intense. Cool visual effects. Well let’s see. I haven’t watch Quantum of Solace yet. Let’s see if Daniel Craig can change my mind.

That Anime Fever

I couldn’t appreciate anime more in any day than during this summer. Since I’m staying home this break I didn’t do anything “cerebral” or some sort. Well, you must understand, I’m trying to take back those sleepless nights last semester, where most of them were spent from pouring myself over stacks of books that rubbed my brain raw. Well anyway, students like us deserved a good, nice vacation after such traumatic experience, and now I found out that watching TV, reading books of my own choice (I think that should be emphasized) and sleeping in between those times really help me during the break. Watching anime is also a great leisure activity. *laughs.

Speaking of anime, out of my boredom, I ranked my favorite ones to ten.

At the tenth spot is my all-time favorite Cardcaptor Sakura. What’s good about it is that it has a very excellent original story, and very nice vivid animation. My favorite character is Shaoran, although he’s an archetype, so to speak, but his character has a high degree of verisimilitude.

At ninth spot is Bokura ga Ita, or We Were There if I’m not mistaken in my English translation. I really like it because even though it’s the same pattern all over again, falling in love, breaking up, unrequited love – there is something in it that is expressed in a very subtle way. And the insert songs are so amazing. Even I, as a viewer, did have my own emotional struggle because of the conflict in Yano-Nana affair. And Yano is probably what some girls really like – after all two-thirds of the class is in love with him. The manga series is also cool, by Yuuki Obata.

At the eight spot is La Corda d’Oro Primo Passo which is currently shown in Animax. With its vivid animation and musical background plus fascinating guys, I couldn’t stand the fact of missing any single episodes. Hino is so captivating, I really like her a lot.

Next, at the seventh rank is Fruits Basket. It’s funny in a cute way, and even though Honda-san may appear so innocent and so naïve, she is really lovable. And see? There is always the usual love triangle affair among Tohru, Yuki and Kyo. The manga series is written by Takaya Natsuki.

At the sixth spot is Midori no Hibi (Midori Days). Midori is so cute. The anime is so funny, and worth my time, but later on when you encounter the drama part, you get carried away (maybe this is because you get used to think that this is a funny one, but when you get to the emotional part you ended up being touched by something you are not used to). Seiji Sawamura’s character as a highschool delinquent is a fascinating one, and the very cute Midori is really something to look forward to every episode.

How would you feel if you possessed a certain mystical stone that would increase your abilities a thousand fold? And if you’re an alchemist, you would have extraordinary power to heal all injuries and to have everlasting life. This is the story of Fullmetal Alchemist, at my fifth spot, a quest to find the ultimate Philosopher’s Stone. Edward Elric as the youngest state alchemist is utterly stunning. As you go on watching this anime you would find that there is an underlying message about the science-religion (or morality, for that matter) in it. After all, the power to possess the stone does not only bring good things, but it has the power to annihilate and destroy every single living life there is. I also like Winry Rockbell’s character, her addiction to rebuilding mechanical devices exemplifies her strong personality.

At the fourth spot is Honey and Clover! It’s a very heartwarming story of college students living their college lives amidst encountering emotional struggles and life’s difficulties until they learn more about themselves. My personal favorite character is Ayumi Yamada, the Iron Girl with her excellence in making pottery, and good looks (not to mention long legs). Her unrequited love for Takumi Mayama is one of the dramatic scenes of the anime.

At the third spot is Inuyasha, with its witty, amazing plot – a girl named Kagome traveling to the feudal environment using the old well and meeting the half-demon Inuyasha. The real story begins as they find the broken pieces of the Shikon no Tama, but along the way, there seems to be a lot of touching romantic episodes between Kagome and Inuyasha, and the conflict is escalated with the presence of another character, Kikyou, Inuyasha’s beloved. This is really a must-seen anime for me. My personal favorite character, aside from the main characters, is Sesshoumaru. Maybe because of his strong atmosphere that exudes in his personality.

At the second spot is Blood+ – an anime produced by Production IG and Aniplex, is a story of Saya Otonashii, as she fights Chiropterans and gets rid of them and finds her own self-identity along the way. This anime is a mixture of horror, action, drama, mystery, supernatural, and romance genres all in one, which makes up the anime’s complex and concentrated plot. Saya embarks on the journey to fight the Chiropteran (vampiric creatures) with her faithful servant Haji, some members of the Red Shield, brothers Kai and Riku and other faithful friends. The plot is so amazing that once you get started watching it, you wouldn’t like missing episodes in the future. Some scenes may contain strong violence and language, which is why it’s hard to let other people see it halfway because they might not understand. This anime is so good, that I love watching it all over again.

But my favorite most of all is Samurai X. The whole story is definitely amazing enough for anyone to like. The fight scenes, the language and the animation are perfectly incorporated. Kenshin Himura’s character as a wanderer and as a bloodthirsty swordsman is unforgettable. Some scenes are funny, terrifying and touching. My favorite character, other than Kenshin himself is Saito. He’s kinda disturbing but his personality is so strong for me. It’s a story of fighting for the better good, living a new life out of a dreadful past, learning to love even through circumstances when the haunting memories from the past seemed to still hang around within and being strong in one’s convictions. I love it.