Four- Book Habit

To make sure I always I feed my brain, I develop a habit of reading four books in a month. I just finished four books but I cheated. It took me one month and a half to finish them all.  Here are my four random books (1 nonfiction, 1 love story, two Chic Lit) Note: My rating is not objective. It is solely based on how I feel towards the book. With regards on how long it takes me to finish the book, there are some intervening variables that get in the way such as my free time availability. In short, read the following books so that you can create your own reading experience.

Eat Pray Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book was quite handy as I was facing my twenties crisis (if there’s such thing as that). I was facing my make-believe problems when I finally read this book. Even though her depression and her recovery from divorce were alien to me, I was able to pick some useful thoughts applicable in  my life.

Synopsis: Elizabeth Gilbert is a modern American woman. After she got a divorce, she was commissioned to write a book in her long trips to Italy, India and Indonesia. In Italy, she found pleasure in food and in learning Italian language. In India, she spent her time in meditation. In Indonesia, her last stop, she spent most of her time with a medicine man, and fell in love with a Brazilian man.

My reading experience: It’s not a page-turner. Inspiring is not the exact word to describe. It’s more on insights. I’m glad it does not sound like a travelogue as I assumed it would be. However when she inserts extra facts like history, it makes me bored. She writes about the people she meets, her experiences and the lessons she come up with . If you ask me, which one is better, the movie or the book, I’d say the book. Simply, because the book has more thoughts. The depression she had from her divorce and her desire to move on were more emphasized in the book.

Tip: Best read in a quiet place while having pasta on the side (you’ll find yourself craving for pasta in the first part of the book)

How much time did I spend reading the book:  Three weeks
Will I read another book of the author? As of now, no….
Rating:  2/5

The Best of me
by Nicholas Sparks

This is one of the most treasured books I own because it was personally signed by Nicholas Sparks. At present, it is the topselling fiction book in National Book Store.

Synopsis: The story revolves around former high school lovers who came back to attend a funeral.

My reading experience: I read others’ review saying that it’s cliché and predictable, but still, it broke my heart. For that, I am recommending this book . In my own perception, only 20% of the book really contains the “love” in a love story. You know what I mean?The part that makes your heartbeat fast or makes you giggle. And that makes it more tragic, really. Prepare a tissue.

Tip:  Usually, in Sparks’ books, the action starts in the middle of the book or somewhere towards the end. When you reach that part, I suggest you should be at home  reading it so that you can savor every word and cling to every emotion it stirs.

How much time did I spend reading the book: Five days
Will I read another book of the author? Definitely
Rating: 5/5

If  You Could See Me Now
By Cecelia Ahern

This Chic Lit book is recommended by my friend. And after reading, I realize why she recommended this  because it reminded me of her.

Synopsis:  An interior designer in Ireland fell in love with her nephew’s imaginary friend

My reading experience: Reading this book is such a breeze. It’s chewable and fun . But if you want romance, this is not really for you. It is wholesome ( Kids can read this too).

Tip: This a good past-time reading especially if you are waiting for your appointment with your doctor or when you are waiting for your delayed flight (The way I did)

How much time did I spend reading this book? One week
Will I read another book of this author? Yes
Rating: 4/5

Amazing Grace
Tara FT Sering

Because I was way beyond my one-month deadline, I looked for a thin book. Tadah! I found another Chic Lit book written by a Filipino writer. It only has 187 pages. Ironically, I choose two Chick Lit books to read because I want instant happiness. I want a happy-ever-after-ending. But the two books I read change my first impression in Chic Lit. They made me sad though they ended up with satisfying resolutions. After having an imaginary boyfriend in If you could see me now, it would be so pathetic to follow your fiance and caught hin cheating in the novel Amazing Grace.

Synopsis: Grace chased her fiance in Sinagapore to save him from falling in love with his best friend

What I think: I enjoy reading this book. It’s like an exciting fun ride. At some point, I thought it was going to be like the movie No Other Woman where there’s a line: Ang mundo ay isang malaking Quiapo, maraming snatcher. Lumaban ka, Maagawan ka (I wish I can translate this line in English and keep its meaning and impact).  It has a relateable humor given that it’s written by a Filipino. After reading this, I was somehow “affected.”

Tip: Share it with gal friends.

How much time did I  spend reading this book? One day or one sitting
Will you read another book of this author? Yes

Rating: 5/5

A Surreal Experience: I met Nicholas Sparks

I dreamed before I slept

I was browsing some books in National Book Store. Then, I saw a book attached with a piece of paper. It said, “Nicholas Sparks live in Manila.” I fixed my eyeglasses. I read it with caps lock and a number of exclamation points on my head. “It can’t be. How come I haven’t heard it on the news?”

The following day, I tried to find news about Sparks’ visit in Manila in the internet. But the most visible news source in Google was Yahoo News, published last August. The next on the search engine rank was a personal blog which talked about Sparks’ visit in Manila, along with the mechanics. I cast my doubts when I checked National book store website and Facebook fan page.

I went to the nearest mall to buy Sparks’ book. I needed to buy his book with a lucky draw coupon for the book signing pass but I did not find any. I was pissed off when I was trying to inquire with the lady on the customer service. She had no idea what the book signing event was all about. I was controlling my tongue from saying, “Can I talk to your manager?” After calling another personnel on the phone, she handed me the lucky draw coupon.

 The day came, October 28. I prepared my flat shoes because it would be easy for me to run and to endure a long time standing. I prepared a sticky fan note. I prayed to God that He would grant me a book signing pass and thanked God that my work shift would end at 1pm. I would have enough time to travel. I was determined to go all by myself. I had no friend who was interested enough nor who would be willing to be absent on work. I rushed to the train station. To my dismay, there was a long line of passengers in the ticketing booth.

Fast forward. I presented my lucky draw coupon to the staff of the event. I was mentally making Plan B, in case I did not get the winning stub, that was to ambush Sparks for an autograph. I rejoiced as I picked the magic word ‘Yes’ which meant I had a signing pass. I got number 639. I spent five hours in Podium waiting for Sparks to come in and to sign my book.

More than 1,000 fans occupied the mall. I was with rich young girls who spoke Konyo English. I sat with a boy wearing nerdy glasses. I saw women of different ages writing a letter. I saw a mother with her two daughters falling in line. I saw an eighty-year-old woman in wheel chair. I think she was number 900th plus on the line. Then, I found out she was featured on Philippine Star.

photo from National Book Store

I was supposed to eat lunch but I couldn’t. I was so excited. Besides, I did not want to look messy.

When the international writer came, the crowd went rowdy. When he was on stage, I could not see him. (Blame it on my height.) I raised my hands, cheered as the crowd became wild. Sparks gave a few words before he signed our books. He talked a little about his books. His favorite book was A Walk to Remember because it was easy to write. He got his inspiration from his sister who died with tumor. The Notebook was based on the love story of his wife’s parents.

He is married for 22 years. He has five children. Trivia: If you go to North Carolina, there is Nicholas Sparks Tour. He and his family lives in North Carolina. The tour will bring you places he used as setting in his novels.

Fast forward. My stomach grumbled. My feet ached. Finally, it was my turn. I have to commend the organizers of the event. It was very smooth which meant the security was strict. Before the event, I wrote a short fan note. I spent the entire morning in the office choosing the right words and checking my grammar. When I was on the mall, I decided to rephrased my five-sentence note. I sent a text message to my journalist friend if this was grammatically correct, “I may not have read your book.”

Yah, I know this is embarrassing

Based on the rules, we should give the book to the staff then the staff would let Sparks signed the book. Then, we could have a picture with him. This helped save time. When I was about to give my book, the security men said, my sticky note was not allowed.

Then, I met Nicholas Sparks! While I walking towards the table, I flashed my million dollar smile.

“Good to see you,” he said. My heart grew wings. He sounded warm and fatherly. I’m not sure if I did shake hands with him or I’m just dreaming that he did.

A day to remember