How Reading Changed My Life

ImageI breezed through this beautiful love letter to books and reading today. It’s a wonderful chronicle of Anna Quindlen’s childhood of reading and how wonderful it made her feel all her life.

I first stumbled across this while looking for inspiration for The Book Experience. I found some pretty memorable quotes about the power of words and the strength a reader finds in reading and the sense of special connection with characters that come alive in books.

She mentions some of my own childhood favorites – A Wrinkle in Time, most prominently, and how, even amidst happiness in family and apparent satisfaction she found in her childhood home, she’d rather spend her days isolated in a room with a book in hand. It reminded me so much of my younger self, and made me feel less odd for wanting to read books rather than go outside and play.

I cannot speak for non-readers (as I have been a reader all my life) but this is a wonderful little gem for bibliophiles – this tiny book praises the potency of reading and assures us solitary book lovers that we may be islands but we are made less lonely by words.

Anna Quindlen talks about how reading has always been her home, her sustenance, her great invincible companion, and I realized that it was mine too.

Favorite quotes below:

I did not read from a sense of superiority or advancement, or even learning. I read because I loved it more than any other activity on earth.

I am surrounded by words that tell me who I am, why I feel what I feel. Or maybe they just help me while away the hours as the rain pounds down on the porch roof, taking me away from the gloom and on to somewhere sunny, somewhere else.

Part of the great wonder of reading is that is has the ability to make human beings feel more connected to one another…

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.


The Book Thief

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a story of Liesel Meminger, a young German girl caught in the throes of Nazi Germany “liberation” during World War II. It is narrated by Death.

I’ve read a few books with Death as a character (e.g. Death in Discworld WHO TALKS LIKE THIS) and The Book Thief’s Death is sad, tired and over-worked in World War II. He talks fondly of Liesel, the book thief, and members of other impoverished German families on Himmel Street. There was Rudy, who painted himself black and wanted to be Jesse Owens; Hans and Rosa Hubberman, Liesel’s foster parents; and a Jewish fist fighter.

I will never forget these characters, and I will never forget that side of Nazi Germany I learned from this book – that bright side where Germans hid their Jewish friends in their basements, where people threw scraps of bread to poor Jews marching on to their deaths, and where “Heil Hitler” leave bitter tastes in people’s mouths.  Continue reading “The Book Thief”

Top Book Lists of 2012

Below is a link compilation of Top Book Lists of 2012 by various websites and reviewers.

Publishers Weekly Best Books 2012


The What To Read Awards: Top 10 Books of 2012

James Wood’s Books of the Year

i09’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2012

  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
  • The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Harper)
  • Intrusion, by Ken Macleod (Orbit)
  • Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson (Grove)

Seattle Times’ 25 Best Books of 2012

  • In The Kingdom of Men, by Kim Barnes
  • Running the Rift, by Naomi Bnaron
  • The Chemistry of Tears, by Peter Carey
  • The Way the World Works, by Nicholson Baker

Goodreads Choice Awards

  • Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Amazon’s Best Sellers of 2012

  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Fifty Shades Darker
  • Fifty Shades Freed
  • The Hunger Games
  • StrengthsFinder 2.0

The New York Times 2012 Best Sellers

  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
  • Killing Kennedy, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
  • One Shot, by Lee Child

The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2012

  • The Constant Heart, by Craig Nova
  • Major/Minor, by Alba Arikha
  • Dictionary of American Regional English

Barnes and Nobles Best Books of 2012

  • This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo
  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Salon’s Ultimate Book Guide: 54 Authors Recommend their Favorite Books

Edit: More top lists!

Flavorwire’s The 10 Best Debut Novels of 2012

  • The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
  • Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson

The Books that Made the Most “Best of 2012” Book Lists

  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain
  • Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

My favorite list has got to be i09’s.

Got any more links to add? Which list is your favorite? Leave a comment below.

The Annotated Hobbit

The Annotated Hobbit

Ola! So I got The Annotated Hobbit Revised and Expanded Edition for Christmas this year. I have a yellowed paperback copy that my dear mother bought for me in high school, but I wanted to get an updated and leveled-up version of the book this year. There are so many beautiful editions out there but this particular one stood out because it’s annotated by the Tolkien scholar Douglas A. Anderson, and it’s not just some annotated version – it’s THE annotated version to get.

Today, I’m sharing with all Tolkien and/or book fans (aren’t all Tolkien fans book fans though?) some notable portions of the book as well as a recommendation of whether or not you should get it, or if this book is for you.

The Annotated Hobbit

    The Annotated Hobbit

Price tag not yet removed because removing properly pasted tags is a definite pain in the ass.

The dust jacket is classy, sophisticated and pretty thoroughly designed.

The Annotated Hobbit

The Annotated Hobbit

Isn’t that shade of yellow gorgeous?

The Annotated Hobbit

This is the hardcover spine. Classy.

And now on to the details…

The Annotated Hobbit

A wonderful portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien across the title page. I love the dwarven runes as details. It looks gorgeous. I’ll check what they mean later.

The Annotated HobbitClose up of the portrait. I really like it. Mr. Elven Linguist looking so fly.

The Annotated Hobbit

Hello, Smaug.

The Annotated Hobbit

The book’s introduction is a pretty thorough biography of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life which includes pictures, such as the one above of his family. It provides a great insight to the background of the man who created Middle-earth and all those wonderful characters from that world.

The Annotated Hobbit

History of The Hobbit – how it came to be and positive critical reception when it first came out in 1937.

The Annotated Hobbit

The first page of The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again. As you can see, the book is arranged neatly in two columns. The outer columns contain the annotations which are pretty thorough. They’re not your usual annotations/footnotes. These are really detailed explanations of parts of a book from a real gentleman and scholar.

As you can see, the opening line “In a hole in a ground there lived a hobbit.”, has an annotation that is far longer than the sentence. It’s thorough like you wouldn’t believe.

The Annotated Hobbit

Another example page of annotations. One thing this book doesn’t lack is drawings! Drawings everywhere! There are illustrations of The Hobbit characters from all of the world – some of them pretty hilarious as they don’t resemble Tolkien’s versions of what his characters look like at all. Regardless though, all of them are charming.

One of my favorite parts of the book are in the three photos below. Colored drawings and scanned papers of wonderful Middle-earth settings, maps, and a dust jacket. Most of these are drawn by the Man himself.

The Annotated Hobbit The Annotated Hobbit The Annotated Hobbit

This book is absolutely gorgeous and if you like gorgeous books on your shelf, I highly recommend this. The dimensions are 9.3 x 8 x 1.1 inches, and about 2 lbs in shipping weight (as per Amazon), in case you are obsessive about sizes of books like some people I know.

Do I recommend this for Tolkien fans? Definitely. This is the annotated version to get because it’s amazing and awe-inspiring and filled to the brim with information not just about The Hobbit but also about the LOTR trilogy. Douglas A. Anderson is as thorough as he is smart. He’s also a big Tolkien fanboy so our precioussss is perfectly safe in his scholarly hands. If you love Middle-earth, this is a must-have.

Do I recommend this for general readers? I’m not sure! This book is not for everyone – the notes can be overwhelming most especially for people who don’t or don’t want to care. If you just want to read The Hobbit, there are so many other cheaper and simpler editions out there that are just as beautiful (or even far prettier) than this one. I suggest you take a look at different editions first before you decide.

I got this book for Php1,199 at Fullybooked Ayala Center Cebu. This is the last copy from that branch but I know that they can ship copies from other branches if you insist. It’s also available in Amazon for $18.28 or Php750+shipping.

La Belle Aurore Bookshop is open!

I was invited by JB to a private event/grand opening in the new branch of La Belle Aurore in Junquera last Saturday. Being the hermit that I am, it’s the first time I attended an event of the sort, and I was hesitant at first but I was glad I showed up. It was a wonderful night surrounded by books and by people who love books and reading as much as I do.

Here’s the program and my invitation. More pictures from the event after the cut.

It would be wonderful to attend more events like this in the future!

Maria Kim Y. Martinez singing “Nella Fantasia,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Think of Me.” She has the most wonderful voice. I wish I can hear her sing again.
Readings by Anthony L. Kintanar.
I don’t have pictures of Kristine and Anya Martinez because, I don’t know. 😦
Jessica N. McYorker singing her original pieces, “Prosperina,” “Orpheus,” “Lilies,” and “Kef.”
Readings by Louella E. Alix
Bea Martinez reading poems by Sara Teasdale
Nancy Cudis of
Jaclyn Noelle M. Liston reading an excerpt from Nabokov’s Lolita
JB (owner of La Belle Aurore). Congratulations on the new branch! 🙂
Miracle Romano for the finale.
It was my first time meeting Sir Ton after years of knowing him online. He insists we’ve met before though. haha
Wonderful people from Multiply! Jac, Meewa, moi, Sir Ton.