Friday, August 5, 2005

Meme : Books I Own and Love

(This is long. You will scroll, like, forever! My apologies. It's taking me time to learn how to collapse long posts. I'm not as tech savy as some of you may think, but I'll come around. I promise you - this is a meme worth reading!)

After days of pondering, I finally arrived at a decision on what to include in this book meme that the Filipino Librarian passed on to me to do. In a previous post, I expressed how hard it will be for me to choose just 5 titles among the hundreds of books I have at home. Thinking about it, well, I can always post books I own and love either here in SLIA or in The Coffee Goddess. So here goes !

Total Number of Books Owned - More or less 700. They are mostly picture books and Young Adult novels, Newbery awards and ALA Honor Books, Salanga and Alcala prize winners that I've collected since high school. I remember saving up my allowance for a Newbery paper back every month. The cost was only 50 Php back then and every purchase brought me to reading bliss!

Last Book I Bought
middle_earth Meditations on Middle Earth
A collection of essays by fantasy and sci-fi writers. Inspired by JRR Tolkien, a hardy bunch of creatives pooled together their reflections, ruminations and thoughts on Tolkien's impact in their lives as writers. Inlcudes essays of Teri Pratchet and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Last Book I Read
zorro Zorro by Isabel Allende

If you followed "the useless controversy" of last month, this is the book that Cristobal cited. I brought this to HK with me last July to keep me company in the trip. When I got my HP 6 last July 18, I rushed reading Zorro so I can start with the Half Blood Prince. Feeling guilty, I went back to the last chapter and reread it.

It tells about the origins of Zorro, before he became the legendary hero we know today. Allende masterfully bridges legend and history that I could always cross the bridge from one end to the other without difficulty of suspending my disbelief. There are parts in the book when a historical backdrop is essential to establish Zorro's legend. Spicing it up with political and social events of the era added to the novel's romantic flavor. Before Zorro claimed his role of hero, a masked Robin Hood in Black, he must travel away from home, meet different people, face challenges far greater than he could have imagined and come back in Alta Vista California a grown up man of twenty prepared to fulfill his destiny.

It is my second Allende book. The first one was the hauntingly beautiful The House of Spirits. I read that when I was in college. Reading Allende again was like catching up with a long lost friend.

Five books that mean a lot to me

Juan and the Asuangs by Jose Aruego
I could not find a picture of "Juan and the Asuangs" in Google nor in Yahoo so I just posted Jose Aruego's picture. He is Filipino, isn't it obvious? A writer and illustrator based in New York, Jose Aruego has illustrated and written more than 50 books for children. Aruego's Juan and the Asuangs was proclaimed The Most Outstanding Picture Book of the Year (1970) by The New York Times. I wonder why he hasn't won a Caldecot since his illustrations are excellent! Oh well...

Now his popularity and awards are not the reasons why "Juan" means a lot to me. I owe the book a good finish since I stopped reading the book halfway. I was only eight years old when I saw it on top of a table in the Children's Media Center of the International School Manila. Someone must have left it there. So while my mom, who was then working at ISM, met and talked with a colleague, I started reading it.

I remember being attracted to its title. How come a book with a Pinoy word in its title end up in an American school library? Asuangs. Drat! I was so intrigued! I loved the pastel water colors of the illustrations and the free flowing style of Aruego's strokes. I was even surprised at myself that I can easily read the sentences. Oh, it was an adventure. By the time I got to the part where tianaks and kapres are being introduced, I was glued. Here is a book I can completely relate to. Those supernatural beings I only knew from my grandmother's stories are alive and well in this book. When Juan was beginning his attempts to go into the forest, I was as afraid as he appeared to be. To my fright, I closed the book and gathered my courage to go on. Hey, give me a break...I was only eight then! Too bad that when I was about to continue, we had to leave.

I've been looking for Juan. Turns out, it is out of print. I remain hopeful that one of these days, I get to own it.

Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes
Among my Judy Blumes, Tiger Eyes is my favorite! I was 13 when I knew of Davey and her friend Wolf. Like Davey, I hated change. I questioned rules (well, I still do to this day) and authority. The difficult adjustment and changes she had to accept and undertake in her life was compounded by her father's death. It took her time to understand that there are forces in life that can never be controlled, like death and growing up.

At 13, I can only empathize with Davey the pains of growing up. But it sure made my life,as a teenager then, a little easier.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
I use to scoff at the fantasy genre. Rowling changed all that. After reading HP 1, I devoured the books in the series. HP 3 is at the top of my list with HP 6 coming in second.

I will be forever grateful to Rowling for writing HP 1. Had I not read her book, I would not have discovered the epic fantasy of Tolkien; the magic realism of Dahl; the hyperbolic humor of Lemony Snicket. Now I look at fantasy in a new light.

Love Story By Erich Segal
Great novels need not be complicated, Erich Segal made sure of that! I finished his 150 and so paged novel in one day when I was a senior in high school. And once in a while, I reread the book. Just because.

Love conquers all, you see. And it comes with never having to say you're sorry.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
I fear of dying, specially the kind that happens suddenly. This springs from not knowing what and who I will encounter in the afterlife. I am Catholic and its doctrines taught me to have faith in God and His promised heaven. Still, death is a reality that my faith could not overcome. Life can give me failures and disappointments that I can confidently deal with, but death, either mine or someone I love, will shatter me into a million pieces. I could not imagine how I will take the loss of a loved one. I grapple with the thought of leaving behind family and friends.

But once in a while a book like Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven comes along. Having read the book lessens that fear of death. Somehow. His novel is actually a celebration of a life well lived, and that death is but the next step in the journey, one that all of us must eventually take. As for living, it is a continuous cycle where in a life story weaves perfectly into another's.

It makes me wonder, should I die sooner or later, who would be the five people I would be meeting in heaven? And what kind would my heaven be? there such a thing as a blog heaven?

Sigh. Sigh.

Finally, I've done my meme. It's time to pass it on. Here are the five people I've chosen to do the book meme.

Teacher Sol
Peachy Limpin
Jonas Diego
Tito Rolly

I hope you'll enjoy doing the meme as I have!


Ryan said...


I am an MLIS student at FSU. I stumbled across your blog while trying to find information about Jose Aruego. In my cataloging class, we are using a book of his for practice. The following link shows the cover of "Juan and the Asuangs."

Your blog looks fantastic, by the way!


Zarah Grace C. Gagatiga said...

ryan, thanks. what does FSU stand for and where is it?

Ryan said...

FSU is Florida State University (United States). I should have clarified that!

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