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.

2009 Summer! April Kick Starts

All right! in a few days – it’s the month of April, and this means that it’s summer! It’s time to chill, sleep, and read few good books for leisure purposes. I’ve been waiting for this – the semestral break last year was too short for me and I needed a loooong break.

This summer, I intended to read a lot of books. I got a few here that I haven’t read because I was really busy doing some academic stuff for the previous months. I’m afraid the books might be too good enough they might disturb my studies.

Fullmetal Alchemist - Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist - Brotherhood

I’m delighted that I’ll be joining an annual retreat with my church mates next month – makes a change since I need to get in touch with my ‘spiritual self’. Laughs. Much anticipated.

And there’s Animax – and for the month of April we’ll have Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood and Tears to Tiara premieres.

And I also have a part time job, tutoring some kiddo here how to read. I think this one doesn’t hurt so I said yes.

***

For this month I planned to

  1. watch Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood
  2. watch Tears to Tiara
  3. watch the full length movie LaMB
  4. download Kaichou wa Maid-Sama, Karin and Boku no Hatsukoi Kimi ni Sasagu updates
  5. get myself fat.

This is my wish list for the month of April

  1. USB DVR-R/RW external drive for my netbook
  2. an HP printer, I really need this for next semester
  3. new clothes and new pants
  4. envelopes to organize my readings
  5. a cork board to organize events, notes, and reminders – makes sense huh? I’ve been meaning to buy this ever since the start of the year
  6. new shoes – sports shoes
  7. and more books

Christmas Vacation and my Christmas Books

piles of books (whew!)

piles of books (whew!)

Christmas break finally started last week. I was so thrilled because there seems to be lots of things to do in the Christmas break! For one thing, I miss watching anime because I was too busy finishing my end-of-the-year-papers. And I miss sleeping, waking up late in the morning, and having much time to smell and sip my morning coffee.

I’ve been reading a lot of books (at least, starting to read) lately. I’m doing routines stuffs every vacation breaks since I usually stay at home the whole day (I don’t like going out that much). So my normal day would be eating, sleeping, watching TV, reading, or chatting in the internet.

So back to the books, I’m reading –
Happy Endings by Luis Joaquin Katigbak. I just finished my required book review (in one of my major subjects) and I chose this book without hesitation because I like the book myself. That’s a plus – at least, I didn’t have a hard time doing my homework.
The Selected Poetry of Rainier Maria Rilke – I’m not really ‘scrutinizing’ the poems, I’m just reading 2-3 poems each day. If I understand it, good. If I don’t, then nothing happens. Probably in the future I’d be able to understand most of his poems (they’re difficult to understand, but there is something in the poems that you can feel, and I don’t know what’s this mysterious emotion). One of my favorite poems is the one with the first line, “World was in the face of the beloved.” That sentence says so much, it feels like it’s a whole story already.
The Great Divorce by CS Lewis. I love CS Lewis. I read his Narnia series and I came to like the author very much. When I stumbled upon this book in the library I thought this might be interesting, so I borrowed it.
An Anthology of Aesthetic Theory – I miss critical theories (honestly!) so I’m still reading a few art theories, theories of interpretation, treatise, etc. In intense moments of concentration, I find the readings really pleasurable (treatise that are not discussed in class, of course). I love Criticism class and I love theories. I don’t know why is this, but through studying it, it paved a way for a much wider perspective on looking at things. And critical theories in literature are not boring (at least, not all of them) entirely.

Lolita

Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – I just downloaded the ebook of this story, and well, when I first read the first few lines of the book, I was immediately hooked to the story. The translated version feels as if it’s pure poetry! It’s lovely to read it aloud, you can feel the words being chewed in your mouth, sort of, like ice cream.

Sigh. I wish I have lots of books to read. And I hope that I have lots of time to read them. Well, anyway, time has its own way to draw itself to us, and we, as humans, have to deal with them in anyway that we can. Happy Christmas everyone!

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.