The time it takes to quit on a book

99DaysIf Stephen Chbosky wrote that we accept the love we think we deserve, is that also true for books? Do we read the books we think we deserve?

I don’t have a lot of complicated habits when it comes to reading but I try my damndest to stick with this one commitment: to finish every story that I have started.

Out of respect to the authors who have labored to produce their works, I feel compelled to at least read the book till the last page before I could pronounce any judgment on it. There are moments when some books make me want to yank my own hair out due to intense boredom: when plots seem to unnecessarily drag on for ages and ages and nothing really happens and you realize there are still 9873363820 more pages before you get to the end.  There are times when I stumble on the occasional misfortune of reading crap literature—when the plot is so convoluted and predictable and the characters drive me crazy with either a.) their mediocrity or b.) their stupidity or god forbid, c.) both.

And yet, I struggle through a thousand yawns and yikes just to make it to the epilogue. Mostly, I do this just so I can justify my dislike for the book. I strive through the agony of every chapter because I want to be able to confidently say that I have the right to say it sucked, that I gave it a chance and it didn’t redeem itself, that my patience as a reader is steadfast and that I am not eternally perched on my literary high horse of snootiness. Yup, I am conceited like that.

But what if you just can’t really go on anymore? Continue reading

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Monthly Wrap-Up: Atta Girl! April

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If beauty is in the eye of the reader, what is your definition of an excellent heroine?

Is it someone with otherworldly charm that makes her an instant standout among the crowd? Or is it someone with superior intelligence and a natural talent for sass? Would it be someone who is as mysterious and profound as a wallflower? Or would she be fierce and fearless as a fighter? Is it someone with extraordinary kindness of heart or someone with an admirable sense of resilience against hardships? Is she noble and self-sacrificing for the sake of the ones she love or is she bravely pursuing independence because she appreciates her self-worth and her entitlement to freedom?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for years. Hence, I vowed to dedicate at least a month to celebrate the many types of young women in fiction—a hurrah for the heroines, because why not? And so I decided April would be the perfect time for this mission: when summer is at its zenith and the promise of hot heroines can set the whole world on fire.

Seven books later and this is the most important thing I learned: there is no such thing as a perfect heroine. Sometimes they are capable of being stuck-up, annoying, intimidating, conceited, distant, insecure, and unlikeable. But these flaws are important because it makes them real; it makes them representatives of our hurts, our dreams, and our passions. The best heroines are the ones that make us understand that no matter how ugly the world could be, there are still infinite ways of being beautiful, if only we search deeper than what meets the eye. Continue reading

Monthly Wrap-Up: Misfit March

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Fact: I am in love with strangeness.

I am forever fascinated with all things weird mostly because I believe it is everywhere, in everyone.  Sometimes we’re so blinded by our mundane everydays that we fail to see an outrageously simple reality: There’s no one else like you in the world. All the sappy self-help books in the planet would tell you that despite all our similarities, every single one of us is unique.  These days I’ve been finding myself pausing a lot and just mulling over the gravity of that fact and letting it play carousels inside my head.

What makes you weird makes you extraordinary. Hot damn.

For March I have read six wonderful books featuring characters with varying levels of quirk; people who are, in many ways, different from the society or the world they live or grew up in, whether they meant to or not. People who never seemed to fit in or belong anywhere besides the shell of their own selves. People who have stories that transcend the bizaare, the macabre, the wildest of imaginations. People who defied to be forgotten by becoming one-of-a-kind—in good ways, in bad ways, in OMGWTF ways.

You and I, we are all misfits just wanting to find our places under the sun. Some of us find it in the hollows of the high school hierarchy, or a house full of strangers, or in the pursuit of possessing things. Some find it in letters from the future, or an imagined memory of a jungle several oceans away, or even just a place to safely dream of freedom.

Me? I find it in between the pages of books. Continue reading

The Game That Plays Us

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I tried looking for the best word that could describe this book yet failed big time not because of my limited vocabulary but because this book resisted, no, defied, being boxed in a one-word description. At first I decided ‘thought-provoking’ is accurate enough because it had me thinking from the first page down to the last, had me conflicted about the multitude of themes it touched on, had me revisiting things I learned from college (I graduated with a degree on Consular and Diplomatic Affairs, what a coincidence!). But then I also like to tell you that it’s also just as equally intense, compelling and just well, for the lack of a cooler adjective, fantastic. So kindly excuse the lengthy, pretentious-sounding review ahead, friends. You are warned. Continue reading

Bittersweet

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“When I crossed the street, according to my mother, I still had to hold someone’s hand. At ten, I would be able to cross streets unhanded. I’d held on to Joseph’s many times before, for many years, but holding his was like holding a plant, and the disappointment of fingers that didn’t grasp back was so acute that at some point I’d opted to take his forearm instead. For the first few street crossings, that’s what I did, but on the corner at Oakwood, on an impulse, I grabbed George’s hand. Right away: fingers, holding back. The sun. More clustery vines of bougainvillea draping over windows in bulges of dark pink. His warm palm. An orange tabby lounging on the sidewalk. People in torn black T-shirts sitting and smoking on steps. The city, opening up. We hit the sidewalk, and dropped hands.

How I wished, right then, that the whole world was a street.”

-Aimee Bender, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Our lives and other beautiful horrors

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“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race–that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant. None of those things, however, came out of my mouth. All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you. I am haunted by humans.”

– The Book Thief by Markus Zusak