Tuesday, 8 January 2013

My Year in Books

Image from yourebeautiful.tumblr.com

Let me just say this: the phrase "I love books" is a humongous understatement when applied to me.

I don't think I can make it out of the week without beginning a book. Not a lot of people share my excitement for the coven that is Book Sale. Whenever I go there, I can't seem to make it out without toting at least one book. Sometimes books that I'm not so crazy about. I just feel so sad for such unread little beauties. I guess it's because I just have a penchant for stories, be they fiction or non-fiction.

I've always inserted a book quota as part of my yearly goals. I did it because I felt that I wasn't reading as much as I should, choosing instead to mope around my room watching Youtube clips of cats or re-reading horrible fanfiction. Every year since 2009, I set a goal number for myself and tried to catch up to that by the end of the year. So I began with one book a month, then added one book for the years to come.

Sadly, this is the first year that I didn't accomplish my book goal. As I mentioned in a previous entry, 2012 was a really trying year for me and I gave myself a lot of leeway for my goals. A good thing though, is that I read books that really made an impact on myself, books that I'm sure I'm going to return to.

This year, I read a really random mix of books, from romance to science fiction to classic to young adult. This was the year I failed my goal, but I don't think that matters as much when I seriously enjoyed a lot of the books that I read.

I'm going to try and comment on the books per month.

1. Carl Hiaasen - Scat - ***
2. Jerry Spinelli - Smiles to Go - ***

I began the year with light, kiddy reads. "Scat" is part of a semi-trilogy of books on animal welfare and middle school kids. Smiles to Go was a bit more epistolary in nature, not really a solid plot but more of adolescent transitioning and whatnot.

3. Hideyuki Kikuchi - Vampire Hunter D - ***
4. Tina Fey - Bossypants - ****
5. Julie Shigekuni - A Bridge Between Us - ***

I don't think this was a very eventful reading month lol. I did really love Bossypants though. Tina Fey is hilarious. I felt like I kind of cheated with Vampire Hunter D because it's basically the movie in novel format. But I forgive myself, hehe. A Bridge Between Us was good while it lasted, but didn't leave a very last impression on me.

6. Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games - ****
7. Suzanne Collins - Catching Fire - ***
8. Suzanne Collins - Mockingjay - ***
9. Jean Thompson - Throw Like a Girl - ***

I began the Hunger Games series in preparation for the movie, because I wanted to compare the film to the novel. And then I just went on a rampage with the remainder of the series.

10. Jeffrey Eugenides - Middlesex - ****

BOOM! Reading slump. I'm going to blame it on the length of Middlesex, because it was such a long book with a lot of characters and intertwined plots. 'Twas a really good book though, and its led me to check out his other work.

11. Nicole Krauss - The History of Love - ****

I've been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the quote: "...and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life anwering." Aside from that gem of a line, I was very pleased with the rest of the book. Krauss has an almost lyrical style to her prose, but not so much that it sounds convoluted.

12. Lois Lowry - The Giver - *****
13. Lois Lowry - Gathering Blue - ****
14. Stephanie Kuehnert - I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone - ***
15. Haruki Murakami - Sputnik Sweetheart - *****
16. Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game - *****

A month bookended by science fiction novels. The Giver is quite possibly one of the most brilliant dystopian worlds I've ever come across, and its interesting to see how she makes a 180 with Gathering Blue. Does this woman do nothing but think of how much we could screw up our government lol. Joey Ramone was a bit of a let-down because I really wanted  a plot to come out of it, but I just never got it. And the ending bit sucked. As for Sputnik Sweetheart, it's Haruki Murakami -- I've yet to be disappointed. I read Ender's Game because I saw someone list it as their favorite book. I wasn't even aware of the book's premise. But I'm glad I picked it up because it's SO. GOOD. Excellent world-building, great characters, a nicely paced plot, and a twist that was both plausible and heartbreaking (to me, at least). I'm not gonna pick up the rest of the books in the series, but I'm going to read more of Scott-Card's work! I already have Homecoming, and something else from my uncle's library.

17. John Green - Looking for Alaska - ***
18. Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - ***

Ah, my first foray into the novels of John Green. To be honest, I never really got the hype. Looking for Alaska, while good, was not brilliant. I was expecting to be blown away, to be left lying in a crumpled mess, but I was not. Miss Peregrine was also quite a let-down. I thought the photographs were going to play a bigger part in the novel, not just serve as simple illustrations. Also, Jacob's narration is a bit pretentious and complicated, but I can attribute that to his crumbled mental state after the death of his grandfather.

19. Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita - ****

I had a pretty hard time finishing Lolita because my copy had the tiniest font. Also, I had to take breaks because the narration was so CREEPY. Pedophilic creepy. So good job, Nabokov, I was effectively squicked out. I might buy my own copy when I find one that's not so expensive (it's usually Php 600+ in stores).

20. Rick Riordan - The Demigod Diaries - ****
21. Lisa Yee - Millicent Min, Girl Genius - ***

I bought The Demigod Diaries in preparation for Mark of Athena, which was coming out the following month. It sufficiently tided over my excitement. Millicent Min was a children's book but I still related well to it, despite being (nooo!) a legit adult. One thing that really stuck with me was when she was forced to list down things she wanted in a boy, and it was almost like I wrote it myself.

22. Lauren Oliver - Before I Fall - ****
23. Rick Riordan - The Mark of Athena - ***** <3 stars sparkles etcetera
24. Rick Riordan - The Red Pyramid - ****
25. Jeannie Lin - The Dragon and the Pearl - ***
26. Jeannie Lin - My Fair Concubine - ***
27. Rick Riordan - The Throne of Fire - ***
28. John Green - The Fault in our Stars -= ***
29. Elizabeth Scott - Living Dead Girl - ***
30. Haruki Murakami - South of the Border, West of the Sun - *****

Panic reading! I wrote about the first six books in a previous entry already. Again, I wasn't really very happy with TFioS because the dialogue really bothered me. I mean, (spoiler alert!) your boyfriend is dying and you call up 911 and say "The great love of my life has a malfunctioning G-tube." Hello? I think John Green writes his dialogue with the ultimate goal of making them Tumblr graphic-worthy. Still, there were moments in it that I really liked so it wasn't a complete miss. Living Dead Girl was fucking disturbing. It was shorter than most novels, but by the end of it I was so happy I was done. I couldn't bear living her life, yet I really wanted to see her absolution.

31. Daniel Handler - Why We Broke Up - ****
32. Julia Quinn - Romancing Mr. Bridgerton - ****
33. Koushun Takami - Battle Royale - *****
34. Charlotte Featherstone - Sinful - **
35. Alex Flinn - Cloaked - ***
36. Lauren Oliver - Delirium - ****

Still on panic reading. Why We Broke Up was something I initially read because of the cute illustrations, but I really liked the story itself, even if it looks shallow! By the end of it I felt like I was the one who broke up with someone, and I don't even know how that feels like lol. Romancing is something I read at the recommendation of an author I look up to. Normally, I'm not really a fan of romance novels, but this one was different because of Julia Quinn's wit, the development of the characters, and the wonderfully painted setting. I've been a fan of the Battle Royale movie for YEARS now, but I didn't know about a novelization. It was an exhausting read, but well worth it. I semi-hated Sinful and was sorta meh about Cloaked. Then Delirium came and banged around my heart. I want my own Alex! Ignore my asexuality for a moment.

37. Rick Riordan - The Serpent's Shadow - ***
38. Nick Hornby - High Fidelity - ****
39. Joanne Harris - blueeyedboy - ****
40. Laurie Halse Anderson - Catalyst - ***

Sadly, my iPod got stolen around this time, so aside from being depressed, I didn't get to read as much ebooks as I wanted. I finally finished The Kane Chronicles, which honestly pales in comparison to the PJO series. High Fidelity was really interesting, due to Nick Hornby's writing style and the references to classic pop music. blueeyedboy was another fucking disturbing novel. I don't know why I read these books. Finally, the book that capped off my 2012, Catalyst. I think Anderson writes very well in the mindset of a teenager, and this was a really good novel about judging people and how the plans we make may not always fall into place. I did kind of hate that (spoiler!) Terry was kind of absolved from her wrong-doings just cause she was raped and lost her kid. I mean, that's sad and all but that doesn't make it OK to be a thief and a bully.

Wow. This was really long! Next year I'm going to try and read more classics, more thought-provoking books, and more non-fiction books as well. I've already finished 2 books, so I think I'm off to a great start!


  1. Hi Ate Ji, this is Elle from the WanderrGroup! :D I hope it's okay that I call you Ate, hehe. I went through your blog and read a bunch of posts, and I have to say, I really love it! I can relate to a lot of the things you've said. And on this post; I had the exact same reason as you for reading Why We Broke Up, too! And I couldn't agree more when you said, "By the end of it I felt like I was the one who broke up with someone, and I don't even know how that feels like lol." Heehee xD

    Anyway, I realize that you already added me on twitter ^^ I use that the most so if you ever need to contact me, the best way would be through that account. What about you? Just let me know how you want me to contact you. I'm actually really excited about this because you and I seem to have a lot in common ^^ I hope I'm not too forward, by the way :x Well, that's about it for now. I can't wait to read your future posts! Take care then, Ate :)

    1. Hello Elle! Wag na "Ate" please! XD Thanks so much for going through my senseless blog, haha. Parang nahiya naman ako 'cause most of these posts are unedited. I see you haven't posted anything yet on your blog, and I'm really looking forward to seeing your posts!

      Twitter is also the best way to get a hold of me, so just give me a nudge when you need help with your post (and bother me a lot when it looks like I'm about to miss the deadline!) :D See you around!

  2. Oh, and I forgot to add something xD I love Book Sale too! I spend hours there every time I get the chance to go :) It's like a treasure chest filled with lots of hidden gems, right? Heehee ^^

    1. OMG YES. Seriously, I can spend at least 3 hours in there just looking through the stacks and eliciting weird stares from the BookSale staff! XD