ReaderCon 2012: Filipino Fridays (4) – Books and Friends

Filipino Friday

It’s time for another Filipino Fridays post! I can’t wait for ReaderCon 2012, and it’s only just a week away! Aren’t you excited?! I particularly love the topic for this post: friends! Friends found through a common passion for books are just a whole new level of special, don’t you think? This post is all about them! Here’s the prompt:

Books and Friends. We will have book discussions hosted by several book clubs during the ReaderCon, so to prepare us for that, let’s talk about books and friendships and book clubs. Are you a part of a book club? If yes, what made you join one? What’s your favorite activity that you have with them? If you’re not a part of one, will you consider joining one? Why or why not?

Or if you’re not (yet) a part of a book club, do you have friends who share the same passion for books as you do? Do you have a “bookish” best friend? If yes, tell us about them! How did you become friends? What’s your favorite memory with them?

I’m going to try connecting all my answers in chronological order so it will be easy to understand. But first, the obligatory introduction story…

*cue nostalgic music, preferably with an acoustic guitar or a piano* 

Not until fairly recently, I enjoyed books by myself. It was fine at first, since I’ve been reading alone, growing up, but it’s really hard to gush about a book when no one is there to understand. 

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I was kind of an oddball in my younger years since everybody else would just play or watch TV (which I also do, just not that much) while I become best buds with the school librarians. Looking back, I was such a geek! Still am, actually. I thought it was normal and that bookish people were rare. Aside from being lonely (which I didn’t know I was), it was really hard to know which books were good! Since I loved buying books with no restraint whatsoever, my parents decided to let me buy books from my own allowance, which made me cut back on book expenses and rely on the library supply. The books there were good, but there were always new ones coming out in bookstores that take years before they get added to the library collection (like the Harry Potter books, which I eagerly awaited the release of). Having limited connections to anything book-related, I was forced to rely on book covers and blurbs when deciding the next book to read.

Okay, let’s quit the drama thing and move on to 2010, when I joined Goodreads! I just lurked around, mainly using Listopia and Recommendations for my reading needs, so nothing much happened and I was basically still just a loner. Then I joined the book club I’m currently active in, GR-TFG. It’s short for Goodreads – The Filipino Group, which is a hub for Filipino readers all over the globe. TFG started having regular monthly meet-ups this year, and I finally got to join one last April, when we were discussing Jane Eyre. Needless to say, this is my favorite book club activity. I got to meet so many people who love books as much as I do, and suddenly a whole new world opened up, and so did a realm of numerous possibilities! This is a photo from the July book discussion of Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Remains of the Day:

I got the courage to explore new genres, and I actually had an idea of what’s good and what’s not, thanks to my fellow TFG members’ recommendations. Meeting people of all ages and genres is such an awesome experience that I just feel really lucky to be a part of this book club. Furthermore, the friendships I made keep the reading experience somehow more enjoyable. I love having new friends, and I’m thankful to my book club, and books, the root of it all, for providing me with that. 

As for “bookish” best friends, I do have a lot. All of my high school best friends love to read, but they don’t blog about it or anything, and it’s not really something we discuss in earnest like in a book club. I have to thank my friend, Jenine, though, for introducing me to the Hunger Games series. She recommended it to me and lent me her books even before it got famous (hipsters, much? haha). I’m going to refrain from putting our group photo here because it’s too embarrassing – oh wait, I found a half-decent photo! Yay.

(L-R) Charelle, Jenine, moi, Oona

Charelle is my soulmate for all things geek (we could ramble about Star Wars, Doctor Who, Misfits, Sherlock, EVERYTHING for hours, and laugh together for even longer). She last read and cried over The Fault in Our Stars. I remember her mother loves books too, and gives me books for Christmas and birthdays! Jenine owns A LOT of these historical romance novels that her mother bequeathed onto her or something, and she also loves reading young adult novels. Her mother reads a lot of those too, which is why she gets to read a lot of them in the first place. I love borrowing books from her because she’s updated with the cool recent ones. Both Jenine and her mum insisted I read Cassandra Clare‘s books (which I haven’t gotten around to doing… yet). Oona reads mystery-thrillers, and she and her siblings read A LOT of them. Deep inside, though, I know she gets all kilig reading romance too. That girl. (The fun thing about your friends not blogging is that they don’t know if you talk about them LOL)

My college best friends read a lot too, but because it’s college, I don’t get to see them doing much of it. I only fully realized that they love books too when Christmas of 2011 came around. We began a tradition of having annual Christmas tea parties (I wasn’t allowed to go home late that time), and we were surprised when we discovered that we all gave each other books! We even asked the waiter to document this event. Kind of embarrassing, in retrospect – what with gift wrapper strewn on the tables and all – but what the heck.

(L-R) an alien, Ingrid, Yong, Claude

Ingrid’s also into sci-fi, particularly the classic sci-fi ones written by authors like Ray Bradbury (she made me read any of his works, and I picked this). Yong is sort of a literary-type person, and he made me read Blindness by Jose Saramago. I remember his Christmas wishlist had Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind in it, but I gave him Perks of Being a Wallflower instead, heh. Claude loves fantasy, especially books with fairies and magic in it. She practically forced us to give her Zombies vs. Unicorns! Lol jk. (It was actually Yong’s gift.)

This has been a pretty lengthy (and graphics-heavy!) post, but it just goes to show how reading, though a predominantly solitary activity, can bring people together. Dave Kellett once said, “A book is like a dream you’re borrowing from a friend,” but I’m going to add to that by saying that “A friend is like a dream you’re borrowing from a book.” I’m very thankful for what books and friends have done to me, and my life’s certainly richer, more interesting, and more fulfilling because of that. 🙂

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Haruki Murakami Challenge 2012

This blog is still relatively young, and I’m still trying to understand how this really works – while running one – so I decided to join a challenge and spice things up a bit!

As you can see, my challenge is something related to that author whose books you always see propped up prominently in your local bookstore, and whose name you probably pronounced slowly the first time you read it. Yup. In this challenge, the rules are simple: read at least one Haruki Murakami book this year, and write a review about it. Okay, let me admit this: I have never read any of his books. I know, I am missing something major here. I actually just found out this year that Murakami is male. I always, always thought he was female. Now I can’t wait to read his books! Keep an eye peeled for a Murakami review sometime this year, guys!

The Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2012 is posted by tanabata. To read more about it, click here.

{Book Review} Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry by Neil Gaiman and the Twitterverse

“Sam was brushing her hair when the girl in the mirror put down the hairbrush, smiled, and said, “We don’t love you anymore.” So began the Twitter Audio project, with a dazzling first line penned by New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman. What followed was an epic tale of imaginary lands, magical objects, haunting melodies, plucky sidekicks, menacing villains, and much more. 

From mystical blue roses to enchanted mirrors to pesky puppets, this classic fable was born from the collective creativity of more than one hundred contributors via the social network Twitter.com in a groundbreaking literary experiment. Together, virtual strangers crafted a rollicking story of a young girl’s journey with love, forgiveness, and acceptance.”*

This is the first audio book I actually finished so this will always have a special place in my heart. Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry is a the result of a collaborative effort by Neil Gaiman and the Twitterverse, wherein the famous author gets the ball rolling by tweeting the first sentence, and the rest of the world pitches in. The result was then turned by BBC into a script for an audiobook. 

I admit I was at first doubtful at the resulting quality of the story. Many a time have I tried playing that game where a person writes a sentence, and then another one continues it, and so on, and the resulting plot almost always turned out to be messy. Because of this, I steeled myself for what the outcome might be. After almost two hours, I resurfaced quite reluctantly into the normal world. Needless to say, I really loved it. Everyone who contributed managed to spin a beautiful tale of adventure and redemption, and I couldn’t help but root for Sam all throughout. I was very pleased at the resulting twists and revelations. Imagine all the contributors reading every tweet as they came and figuring out the best course of action to take for Sam and the other characters! It was brilliant, and I’m so happy for everyone who contributed to the story. I also commend Katherine Kellgren for her wonderful job on narrating. I was quite scared of listening to an audio book for fear that it would not be able to retain my attention, but her skill in adapting the best voice for each character and the emotions they felt were not lost to me. I really enjoyed the whole listening experience. 

This is indeed a very good starting audio book for those who want to try listening to them. You can download the audio books here. Enjoy!

In a nutshell…

Rating: 4/5

Audiobook from Audible

Authors: Neil Gaiman and the Twitterverse

Original Language: English

Published: Feb. 8, 2010 by BBC Audiobooks America