books i’ve read this year

some books (graphic novels included!!!) i’ve read this year, starting January, just to keep myself on track. excluding, of course, the essays and articles i read since i read far too many of those that i cannot keep up with everything. perhaps ill try to make short reviews of these books in the near future!

Books Finished, 2017:

Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen

Gods in Everyman by Jean Bolen

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Bolen

Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott

How to Write Like Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa

Making Waves by Mario Vargas Llosa

Harry Potter books 1-7by JK Rowling (i missed the wizarding world and reread all these obsessively in 1.5 weeks during my April break! crazy!!)

The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon by Pablo Neruda

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

Run With the Hunted by Charles Bukowski

reread The Little Prince by Antoine De St. Exupery

Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Lost Girls by Alan Moore

FAILURE:

I still haven’t read Proust…when I promised his magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, would be my focus this year…

WHAT I’M READING NOW: 

Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki

At the Same Time by Susan Sontag

I’m trying not to read so many books at the same time–no matter how tempting it may be–in fear of overwhelming and distressing myself again lol, so I’m focusing on two books for now. After these two, I plan to start on another Bukowski (still haven’t decided what!), another Alan Moore (thinking of From Hell), and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez! Of course knowing myself, changes in the order are anticipated D:

Reading and Writing Goals 2017

Reading Goals

In Search of Lost Time (Six books) – Marcel Proust

-I am quite daunted; I think this is the reading project I am gearing myself for the most! I have commitment issues. Meaning, I’m not entirely sure whether or not I’m ready to read raw all 1.2 million words / 4000+ pages of Proust’s magnum opus. I want to experience Proust, I want him to get in my veins and under my skin and inside my thoughts, but knowing myself, I always abandon a book and come back to it at a later time and In Search of  a Lost Time, I think, is no ordinary book. It’s a cumbersome read, and I don’t even know if it’s advisable to read it raw or buy a guide. I don’t like the idea of starting it and never finishing it but also detest the idea of reading it in one go. Perhaps if I can get into an agreement with myself, I can spread the six books out and make it my reading goal for 2017. I definitely don’t want to rush with this one, especially since I have a lot of other books I want to read, but this is a challenge I’m ready to take.

Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury

-I started reading Bradbury just last month and already finished The Golden Apples of the Sun and The Martian Chronicles. I found myself falling in love with his writing, the poetry and magic intertwined in his words. I think he will be a favorite of mine too; The Martian Chronicles affected me deeply and The Golden Apples of the Sun had a handful of gems that left an imprint on me as well. Truly Bradbury is a magician, and I cannot wait to explore his other works!

V for Vendetta and Swamp Thing graphic novels – Alan Moore

-Watchmen blew me away; right now, I’d rank Alan Moore in my top 5 favorite writers of all time. I seriously need to get more of his work. He is a genius, no doubt about it, and I cannot get enough of him!

The Sandman – Neil Gaiman (all volumes) 

-It has been far too long since I’ve read Sandman that I’m afraid I’ve forgotten most of its splendor. I need to reacquaint myself with The Endless

Ilustrado – Miguel Syjuco

I have seen the man in various protest rallies I’ve been to, but have yet to read his book. He’s one of our local contemporary writers whose book won the Man Booker Asia Award a few years back. I need to read more local authors and want to try his book as a challenge

Foundation series and Youth – Isaac Asimov

-One of the great scifi writers of all time! How can I not?

Hyperion – Dan Simmons

-A gem in the world of scifi.

Norwegian Wood and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami 

– I have only heard good of this man and am ashamed to have never encountered any of his pieces.

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden 

On Stories – C.S. Lewis

The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Some short stories by Anton Chekhov

No Logo – Naomi Klein 

Authors I want to read, but haven’t decided what to read from them: 

– Nick Joaquin

– NVM Gonzales

– Ninotchka Rosca

Also read: 

Poetry and prose, both local and foreign

Writing Goals

-Write thoughts and feelings in diary/online journal more often. Don’t keep anything from self

-Utilize bullet journal

-Make headway with novel / short stories

-Write more articles; do more investigative journalism

-Experiment with poetry

Film Goals

I’m not a movie/film person, I must admit, I hate watching from a screen thanks to my short attention span. I think I have to move on from YouTube videos and embark on a journey to explore the beauty of the world of film. Perhaps I can start with a few Fellinis!

Any book and film recommendations to kickstart my year? Your suggestions are welcome!

patience

i popped three vitamin e pills open this morning. i squeezed the oil from its soft gels, slathered it all over my face, and left it to work its whatever while i hunched over my laptop. finals week is finally over and all i have to do is wait for my grades to be released before i can fully wallow in my short holiday break from university. i hate waiting so much; i am the most impatient person i know and, believe me, i’ve encountered countless rude and irate people, but my impatience is too great to be surpassed. this is a bad thing, by the way, i am not bragging about my impatience. if anything, it’s one of my major flaws i want to get rid of. i’ve been trying so hard to be patient with people—strangers and loved ones alike—but when people make me wait, a huge wave of primal anger just possesses me.

the anger is so great that i find it difficult to control and i end up running away to a comfort room or an empty hall to release my tears. i always convert my anger to tears—only because i’d rather cry than be violent. if i don’t cry, i try to calm myself down with breathing exercises and distract my thoughts; this seems to work, but only for a while. it just keeps the anger at bay, but some times the anger still bubbles and spills over. i pretty much surmised that if i deal with intense emotions, i always have to find some type of medium for release. i cannot just “be calm” or “control my thoughts”. it has never worked for me. so far i only have crying as my medium, which royally sucks, by the way, because i hate crying too. i know this whole loss of control over my emotions is just me being immature and unmindful of my self and being; if i were really mindful and conscious of my thoughts and feelings, i wouldn’t have lose my shit in the first place. which means *anticlimactic drum roll* i need to be more mindful. mindfulness. i’m starting to think that maybe i will never have full control of my thoughts and emotions. i try and try and try but at some point or another, i end up failing and crying or getting angry over something. i can read all these books on buddhism and meditation and mindfulness and i’ll still be nowhere near of being mindful!

whatever. i’m digressing. it’s a Saturday and i’m waiting for the release of my grades. it’s supposed to come out today or tomorrow, but i cannot sit still. this has been a difficult difficult term. i had a hard time balancing my time with majors, thesis, part-time work, internship, and my job as editor. throughout the term, i’ve only been to the library TWICE and only ate breakfast ONCE (last week before my test, actually). this term definitely put my health on the line and tested my patience for humanity.

i pretty much summed up that i will never like humans. ever. and what i mean by that is humans in groups. i love individuals and intimate groups of 3, but geez, put me in a group or a crowd and i will snap. as much as groups of people are capable of doing good, deny it or not, groups of people are also capable of collective stupidity and if there’s anything i hate more than an ignorant person it’s an entire group of ignorant assholes.

this is just me complaining but wow, i feel as if i need to spend the entire break indoors away from everybody because my soul is damaged. my heart feels so heavy, my mind is in its usual chaos but i feel as if i have no soul at all. i need to get back into reading and writing and biking just to feel alive again. i am all peopled out.

which is why i went to the bookstore a few days ago and got a few for cheap. i managed to find a battered copy of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. it was buried under a pile of old cookbooks and ACT review books. it’s crumpled and torn, and the spine is hopeless but the pages are still perfect, i think. the name of the previous owner is written on the front page and i am tempted to search for them and reach out to them; every time i get a book from the thrift store and find its old owner’s name, i am compelled to find them just to tell them, “hey, i’m the new owner of this book. thanks for passing this on.” books are so beautiful; i love how it gets passed around, transcending one person to another, touching every soul it comes upon. i hope after i’ve exhausted this book in a few years, i get to pass it down to the next reader. this is how literature lives on.

it is now 11:48 am. my stomach is empty and it’s angry at me. i cannot go down, though, because my mother is in the kitchen. i haven’t spoken to her and my dad in a while. i’ve lost count of the days, actually. usually when we fight i count each day that has passed of me not talking to them, but this time i just stopped counting. i don’t think it matters, anyway, because it hurts the same. if they think i get satisfaction and happiness from ignoring them they are dead wrong, but i think this is how things will always be. i snuck down yesterday to try and make myself a sandwich, but due to my bad timing, i was caught in a crossfire. my mother was going up from the garage to the kitchen while my dad was going down from the deck. i was trapped. then my mom started yelling at my brother because he had to leave for a friend’s birthday (and according to her he’s not allowed to leave because there’s church tomorrow and we need a day to spiritually prepare ourselves fucking wow) and i just went back to my room because i didn’t want to get caught in all the shit. my stomach was still empty.

after my brother left, i immediately messaged him and asked him what happened. of course, it was the same damn thing that we harp on about. he’s tired of this house, he’s tired of the religion and the church, he’s tired of the dogmatic backwards beliefs they keep forcing down our throats. i tell him i feel the exact same way. and then he tells me how he wishes we can just be out of here and i told him to be patient because i’m working our way out.

it sucks that every time my brother and i talk it’s always about us being unhappy and depressed here, and of us dreaming of a great wide world out there, out of this house and out of this church, where we can be truly happy. our days are full of disquiet and rage, our nights sad and lonely, but fortunately for my brother, he has a hand to hold whenever things get tough—a special someone in his life who i have yet to meet. i think it doesn’t matter what other shit i go through as long as i see my brother happy and free. i told him, we can pool our money together and rent a cheap apartment by the time i finish college next year. by then i can get a job, sell my soul for a while to earn money for the rent, and then we can live together.

i know my dreams have to take a backseat. i know i will suffer even more, but if there’s anything i’m willing to be patient for, it’s our freedom. i’m willing to wait and bust my ass everyday as long as i get myself and my brother out of here. then we can start dreaming and living for real.

a quick write

I’m running late for my endorsement but when I promised myself I’ll try my best to write on my diary or online journal everyday for at least fifteen minutes, my only option is to be true to my word. It’s a Saturday and supposed to be a rest day, but I have to be in school in a bit. I cooked spinach pasta with garlic pesto sauce for breakfast and I realized it’s the first breakfast I’ve had in months. Due to my busy hours and hectic schedule, eating breakfast has become a luxury. Most days I only eat once a day, either in the afternoon or when I get home from work and school, around 10 pm, which is really bad for me. Nevertheless, finals week is approaching and it’ll be the holiday break soon, so that’s something I’m looking forward to. At least I can catch up with sleep and reading. Ah, reading. One of the greatest (and freest) things in this life. I went to school yesterday even though I didn’t have class just so I could stay in the library and read all afternoon. I also had an hour talk with a good friend before leaving school and it was good having to let out my emotions, because I never, but I know that I cannot keep things to myself forever, so I’m glad for good friends who are there to listen.

I finally finished Bradbury’s Golden Apples of the Sun yesterday (quite disappointed in myself for taking a week, actually, because it’s just over a hundred pages!) and lately I’ve been sticking to short stories instead of novels because I know my schedule wont permit me to devour a long winding novel in one sitting; reading short stories make me feel more accomplished with my reading goals because I get to finish a couple in just a few hours. In Bradbury’s Golden Apples of the Sun, a handful of stories moved and stuck with me, most especially the Fog Horn and A Sound of Thunder. My fixation and love for dinosaurs go a looooong way back—back when I was in first grade and memorized every scientific name of the dinosaurs from the Jurassic, Cretaceous and Triassic periods from my flash cards. These magnificent creatures affected me in a way no other animal ever has; I don’t exactly know what, but they are such beautiful and brilliant creatures. Whenever someone asks me what my favorite animal is and I say dinosaurs, they tell me, “But they’re dead.” And it annoys me so much because who cares? They’re majestic. I can blab about my love for dinosaurs all day long, but sadly I do not have all the time in the world anymore 😦

But yes, Golden Apples of the Sun, I’d say, is a 4/5 for me and I’d definitely read it again to go back to my favorite ones. There are other notable stories in there that I loved too, such as The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, The Murderer, The Great Wide World Over There, and The Pedestrian. I then borrowed The Martian Chronicles and quite excited to start with it today!!! (After my endorsement, I suppose ugh) even though I am also supposed to be studying for my oral exam on Monday and quiz on Tuesday so I guess I have to put it off for now…or stay up late and read around midnight. I also borrowed a collection of Elizabeth Bishop’s prose. I’ve never heard of her; I don’t know, maybe because I haven’t read every book in this world so I’m not really familiar with her, but there’s just something about the book that called to me, so I’m excited to read her too. Of course I am still with Neruda’s Odes to Common Things. This book, in particular, is one I never want to return. I want to keep it to myself forever, scribble down notes on the margins of the pages whenever I find a phrase or a piece that strikes me. But I have to return it soon, and just thinking of it breaks my heart. I hate saying goodbye to borrowed books, but I also know there’s a next reader waiting and they must must must be touched by Neruda.

I love Neruda; if there is any writer in this world that makes me love the most mundane things in life, really, it is Don Pablo. He makes me see the Beauty in life. No one else. No one else. From the way he writes poetry about boxes of tea, bars of soap, scissors, plates, onions, tomatoes, a freaking spoon! He can make anything in this world magical with his words. It’s funny because every time I read Neruda, I am left overwhelmed, with a racing heart and tears in my eyes. What a man.

A clean, well-lighted place

I finally forced myself to clean my room yesterday even though I was anxious of cleaning up after myself in denial of whoever knows what. I folded my clothes, took out my trash, swept my room, mopped my bathroom, cleaned my drains, emptied my laundry basket, arranged my desk, and finally changed my sheets. It took me two hours, though I think this is only because my avoidant coping behavior kicked in again and I would take numerous breaks from cleaning to procrastinate and avoid cleaning.

I really hate this avoidant behavior of mine. It’s what I’m doing now. I’m supposed to be doing my thesis’ review of related literature, but here I am typing this just so I could avoid it, telling myself I’ll write first before proceeding but I’ve been going around in circles since 10 am and, fyi, it’s already 6:36 pm. It’s disgusting behavior and something I’m really trying my best to battle, even though I feel as if I really am not trying. Though to be fair, I did finish the marketing project for my internship last night (though I did sleep at 3 am) and I tell myself I can always do it earlier so I don’t have to sleep late, but I am so stubborn and difficult that even I don’t listen to the more rational side of myself.

Either way, this day felt pretty good. Definitely better than most days. I didn’t cry the moment I woke up, for once, though the dark thoughts are still at the back of my head. Still, I was able to heave myself up from bed at 9 am and make myself a banana soy smoothie. I started rereading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics again today and found myself lost in the Preludes and Nocturnes volume. I actually finished the entire volume today, and plan to finish the other nine volumes in the next nine days. I realized I’ve been far too busy and depressed that I’ve forgotten the joy books give me; after finishing Preludes and Nocturnes, I found my heart racing and my hands shaking from excitement and just happiness. I’ve never felt this way in so long and cannot wait to get back into so much reading again.

The last comic book I read was Alan Moore’s Watchmen last term, about June or July? It’s already November, and I know I need to read and write more and I really am angry at myself for not being able to, but really, I just miss the feeling of losing myself to a long winding body of literature, not even noticing that the entire day has passed me by. And Watchmen is deserving of another post; that graphic novel changed my life, no exaggeration. Alan Moore is a genius and I can see why; he is totally unmatched and he changed the entire game of superhero comics. Rorschach will always be dear to my heart, and his death will always put me to grief, even more depressing than the Ride of the Valkyrie, and I will never not be angry at Veidt’s sick utilitarian mentality, playing with human life to achieve his “greater good” not out of goodness, by the way, but just another reason to intellectually masturbate himself and tell the world, “I am right.” Okay, I digress. But god, I just miss reading so so much.

Finishing volume 1 of Sandman today put me in such a good mood, as if nothing can dampen my day and, I think, if I want to be in a good mood the next few days then I must continue reading because so far it’s really the only thing that takes away my blues. And I don’t know if it is just me, but I always feel insecure because I always think I’m not reading enough books and novels and poetry and not listening to enough podcasts and what-have-yous, but it’s just one of those stupid thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with doing these at my own pace, I know that, but there’s just so much books to read and things to appreciate and wow, I just get so overwhelmed! A lifetime is never enough.

On another note, I finally fixed my tiny balcony and took out my dead plants to create space because I’m turning it into a pottery shed. I transferred there all my stoneware clay and ceramic pottery and my pottery wheel, and am already feeling excited of getting back into pottery. School and internship and work definitely suck the soul out of me, and I just long to spend entire afternoons doing slab work and pulling endless walls for my bowls. Today I found myself watching videos of my favorite potters and sculptors creating magic with clay, and I told myself I will never get better if I keep putting off practice. I tell myself, “I know how to do pottery” but my skill and knowledge of the craft will disintegrate if I don’t hone it.

I still have difficulty centering my clay on bad days, still end up pulling lopsided walls when I try to make a cylinder, and, after reading an article by Jane Gross today, I realized (affirmed by her own musings) that the clay will tell me how and where I am. I can only get better with practice, and a lopsided lip or a ruined wall or an uncentered clay only says one thing: I lack practice and discipline. And answering these faults with aggravation and frustration is fruitless, because it is my own fault for not nurturing my craft, and I will always always always scold myself for neglecting pottery because I do not have the right to even dream of becoming a skilled potter if I don’t put the hours in. And I must put the hours in.

But, on another note, out of the many things I’ve learned from pottery, my favorite thus far is how much the craft of pottery encourages me to be unkempt and make a mess. It feels so good being encouraged to make a mess while doing pottery, especially when people have been telling me my whole life not to make any. And so, whenever I do get the change to do pottery, I try to make as much mess as I could and don’t bother if I splatter water and mud all over my clothes and walls and floor and face, because there is so much beauty and happiness in this chaos, and it is only here wherein I can really truly cherish my mess and be proud of it. Which is why, I think, my most favorite state of myself is at the cusp of just having finished a pottery session, when my hair’s all disheveled and I’m covered with clay and everything’s a wet mess, because I know I basked in my own mess doing something that gives me so much joy (albeit sometimes painful and frustrating) and I did not have an ounce of inhibition that muddled with my mind. So definitely, more pottery practice in the next few days.

Right now I am sitting on my desk in my sort-of-clean room, typing this because I am still avoiding writing my review of related literature. I hate forcing myself to do tasks whenever I am not in the mood, but I can’t do this forever. Because when will I ever be in the mood? I know, for myself, that what I lack is discipline and discipline is something anybody can learn, through time and perseverance. And I don’t need rocket science or a PhD to learn it and, in fact, just need to have strong self-restraint and will. This avoidant coping behavior has go to go, it is disgusting and inefficient and no good ever comes out of this kind of behavior. I must uphold discipline and fight the mediocrity. It is so much easier said than done, but this is something I don’t want to beat myself up for. I’ve been this way for the longest time, ever since I was a kid, and I think this stemmed from years of being bullied and being insecure? And so, I must nurture myself and try my best, and try not to ever hate myself if ever I find myself slipping. I have to be kinder to myself also, I think, and more patient.

Right. So I have to read more, practice pottery more, be more disciplined, and be kinder to myself. What else?

Well, I think I have to show people more how much they mean to me. I hope it isn’t just me, but I always feel unworthy and undeserving of anyone’s time, and sometimes on social media I browse through people’s posts and see them out with their friends and I think of how much fun they are having going out and seeing places,and I tell myself I don’t have to always be afraid, that there’s nothing wrong or scary or guilt-inducing about asking a friend out to hang out with me. And tell them how much they matter to me. And out of all the things I mentioned above, this is what I want to improve on the most: Just be a more open and loving person to people that actually matter to me. I don’t have to be all holed up all the time? And I should tell people how much joy I feel whenever I spend time with them. There really is no point not saying it, because it is the truth and, of course, what else can be better than telling the people you love that you love them?

Again, easier said than done, but as long as I am trying my best then that’s all anyone can ever ask for, I guess. I also bought a ticket to a concert of a band I do not know—and I’m watching alone. I don’t know what was running in my head when I bought the ticket to a band I do not even listen to, but I told myself, Just try something new. And who knows, I might like the band after all? And it wasn’t that expensive, and I guess I wanted to treat myself also, but not in a way that I usually do, so I got the ticket on impulse so I can experience something new and out of my comfort zone. I remind myself, I dont have to be anxious because I’m going there for the music, and even though there will be lots of people there with their friends, I don’t have to make it awkward for myself. I enjoy my own company, so I doubt I’d have a hard time (I hope!) and I’m quite excited, actually. I do not know any of the band’s songs so it would be a surprise as well.

Anyway, I think I’ve avoided my review of related literature long enough. My mind has calmed down and I feel at peace rambling here, so I think I can finally work on my thesis. It is 7:16 pm and my heart and mind feels lighter. Sometimes I tell myself it’s okay to put off things to write if it means giving myself the peace of mind—and it does, and if it’s good for the wellbeing of my mental and emotional health, then I shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

But as a note to myself:

1). Be more open and intimate to the people that matter to me, and don’t be afraid to show and tell them that I love them.

2). Read more—for my sanity’s sake.

3). Practice pottery more, because neglecting to practice a craft is insulting.

4). Be more disciplined with tasks and try harder in getting rid of my avoidant coping behavior

5). Be kinder to myself. There’s nothing wrong with rambling and writing down my thoughts and emotions if it’s for the wellbeing of my mental and emotional health—and I shouldn’t feel guilt for this.

6). If all else fails, I can always try again tomorrow.

pending list

just got back from a three-day team building. i feel dead inside from too much stimulation and interaction. itching to write, but my eyes are drooping. here’s a list of articles on my pending list to remind myself to get around reading them. my personal reading goal is to finish all of them before Tuesday, and finish Star Maker (Stapledon) in a week. goodnight for now.

Eating with Strangers: Bringing an Anthropological Perspective to the Table http://savageminds.org/2016/09/05/eating-with-strangers-bringing-an-anthropological-perspective-to-the-table/?platform=hootsuite

Harry Potter and the Conscience of a Liberal http://thebaffler.com/blog/harry-potter-laurie-penny

Why Walking Helps Us Think http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/walking-helps-us-think?mbid=social_facebook

An Interview with Miguel Syjuco – http://www.themalaymailonline.com/read/article/so-you-want-to-write-michael-syjuco-has-some-advice-for-you

Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless http://thebaffler.com/blog/laurie-penny-self-care

The Penmen Review: Anthropologist-Ethnographic Novelist John Colman Wood http://penmenreview.com/spotlight/penmen-review-john-wood/

The Fabled and Enabled http://thebaffler.com/blog/fabled-enabled-lehmann

Darwin’s Bridge to the Humanities: An Interview with Joseph Carroll https://evolution-institute.org/article/darwins-bridge-to-the-humanities-an-interview-with-joseph-carroll/?source=tvol

Divine Indigestion http://thebaffler.com/salvos/foer-franzen-sturgeon

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon