Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova

maria-sharapova-unstoppable-book-cover-2017-0I am not a big fan of Maria Sharapova but I’m a big tennis fan. She won’t even be on my top five favorites but given that she’s one of the hottest tennis players and one of the most popular faces on tour, I am curious to know about her story and thought this book would make me understand why she behaves the way she does. Before reading this, I was already aware of her accomplishments, of the injuries she had and the doping incident which caused her being banned from the circuit. I wasn’t aware, however, of how everything started for her, what drives her to play, what inspires her, what motivates her.

Unstoppable is Maria Sharapova’s memoir. She’s from Russia but moved to the US to train when she was six years old together with her father, in hopes to become a tennis superstar someday as her father believes she will be. She’s won five Grand Slam titles to date. She became an overnight sensation when she beat Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final as a seventeen year old. The book tells Maria’s share of highs and lows, struggle and success. From winning tournaments and Grand Slams, her rivalry with Serena Williams (it wasn’t much of a rivalry I think since Serena always beat her… well okay, one-sided rivalry?), her shoulder injury and of course, the doping incident.

I wasn’t a big fan of Maria before I read this and still not after, however, I admire her determination more now. It’s good to know and understand her and her journey. She is an accomplished player and definitely have a story of her own to tell.

Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, penned down in simple language with Rich Cohen, this is worth your time reading.

Quotable Quotes:

“As hard as I practice, I have learned that doing nothing is just as important as doing everything.”

“You can’t control what people say about you and what they think about you. You can’t plan for bad luck. You can only work your hardest and do your best and tell the truth. In the end, it’s the effort that matters. The rest is beyond your control.”

“I know what losing does to you. I’d learned its lessons on tennis courts all over the world. It knocks you down but also builds you up. It teaches you humility and gives you strength. It makes you aware of your flaws, which you then must do your best to correct. In this way, it can actually make you better. You become a survivor. You learn that losing is not the end of the world.”

“What sets the great players apart from the good players? The good players win when everything is working. The great players win even when nothing is working even when the game is ugly; that is, when they are not great. Because no one can be great every day. Can you get it done on the ugly days, when you feel like garbage and the tank is empty?”

“There is no perfect justice, not in this world. You can’t control what people say about you and what they think about you. You can’t plan for bad luck. You can only work your hardest and do your best and tell the truth. In the end,it’s the effort that matters. The rest is beyond your control.”

Rating: 4/5 stars


A Reread: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

imagesCrushing. Yes, crushing. It’s the only word I can think of after I first read this while on vacation in 2015. And unable to decide what book to read next, I decided to reread this since it’s a very short book and you can read it in one sitting.

Of Mice and Men is the story of two migrant workers in California in the 1930s, George and Lennie, who work in different ranches in order to save money and buy themselves land. George is street smart while Lennie is a big, strong guy with a child’s mind. They both dream of owning a land since George is also tired of always being on the run (because of stupid things Lennie get into) while looking for work at the same time. Things seem to be going their way until Lennie pets the hair of the landlord’s daughter-in-law and eventually, accidentally killed her.

In a little over a hundred pages, Steinbeck was able to tackle on themes like friendship, loneliness, power, hopes, and dreams. The prose is very straight-forward and easy to read. Good enough to make you smile and cry. All the characters felt so real.

The end? Still crushing. Absolutely heartbreaking but what was offered is totally solid. I loved this the way I loved it the first time I’ve read it. A powerful short story.

Quotable Quotes:

As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”

“Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus’ works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain’t hardly ever a nice fella.”

“Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head.”

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

A Reread: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

download (1)The Catcher in the Rye depicts a few days in the life of a whiny 17-year old, Holden Caulfield, after being expelled. Again. His search for authenticity, for what’s right and what’s wrong. His views on adults and the innocence of childhood. Holden likes children because they seem to be so innocent in a corrupted world.

I’ve seen reviews that find Holden to be an annoying character and it’s easy to see why people think that but he’s a teenager who still doesn’t have that much wisdom and is looking for authenticity in people. Losing his brother Allie is what made him dislike everyone he meets.. He likes his brother too much and preserves a perfect image of him in his mind thus he finds other people to be phonies. (I think it’s easy to guess how Holden would think about social media!) His sister Phoebe is the only person he likes. That part of the book towards the end was so nice when he was watching her in the carousel. He was happy. How he wants her sister to stay that way, be as innocent as she is as a child and not to become what he believes other people are.

I first read this as a teenager and Holden is an eminently relatable character. There were several parts in the book that made me laugh out loud. I read it again in 2013. I still enjoyed it now reading it for the third time though I kinda felt sadder. It’s just that this time, I recognize Holden’s problems more than I did before. I say he’s relatable, true enough, I’ve been there, done this, done that, but I moved forward. It’s kinda sad to think that J.D. Salinger portrays the future as a depressing place to be but what’s important is we all reach a time in our lives where we realize that’s not what we want to hear or what we want to believe. So we move on more positively and I hope Holden does, too.

I still definitely enjoyed reading this again and will be rereading it once more in a couple of years. I wonder where the ducks are, though? 🙂

Quotable Quotes:

“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

“When you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”

“Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”

Rating : 5/5 stars


Burned Alive by Souad

386990Burned Alive is the story of a 17-year old girl who calls herself Souad, uneducated, beaten and victim of honor killing, from one of the villages in the West Bank region.

Written in simple prose, Souad tells us the story of life in their village. She talked about how women are literally worth less than animals and that men hitting their wives and daughters are a normal occurrence there. Women are not allowed to speak and think for themselves. They’re not allowed to look at men and if they do, they’re branded as whores or “charmuta” in their language.

At 17 years of age, Souad was already considered old to not be married yet. The father has to arrange the marriages of his daughters from the eldest to the youngest. Souad hoped to get married as soon as possible but her sisters have to be married first. She soon fell in love with a man who took advantage of her believing he wants her, too. She then got pregnant and the man disappeared. Sex (and getting pregnant) before marriage is a grave dishonor for some (if not all) Muslim countries. And in places like Souad’s, it is punishable by death. The man who does the killing is considered a hero. And in Souad’s story, it was her brother-in-law. He poured gasoline on her and set her on fire. It’s a miracle that she survived with 90% of her body burned. And even more miraculous to have given birth all alone later in the hospital where she was left to die.

I’ve known a little about honor killing already since grade school so this subject is not really new to me anymore and I find this book as something that describes the difficult life of Muslim women in places like the West Bank. Despite the advances in women’s rights nowadays, there are still many who suffer from inequality all around the world. Many argue about the realness of this story but I’m of the opinion that this really happened, that these atrocities are real. There was a part in the book where Jacqueline, the humanitarian aid worker mentioned that she was told not to involve herself with Souad’s case because it is family matter and that honor killing is part of their culture/tradition and that they should respect that. But I think it’s facetious to say so as in this case because it is clearly an oppression disguised as culture/tradition. How can anyone, man or woman, accept such barbarism as “tradition”? Come on, stand up for yourself, argue with your parents, strive hard to make a living, fight with your boss, work your ass to achieve your dreams, at the very least, you’re free!

This is a quick read. It does shed light to the issue of honor killing in the West Bank. How very harshly and cruelly women are treated by men, even family. Culture is culture, traditions are traditions. And I know it’s difficult to change that. But I still think, it all still depends on the mentality of the people involved, regardless of gender.

Quotable Quotes:

“Something in me is broken but people don’t realize it because I always smile to hide it.”

“The only way to help me stop suffering was to help me die.”

“Although I am able to walk about freely, I am a prisoner in my skin.”

“They tell me that I’m going to live but I do not believe that and I wait for death. I even beg for it to take me. Death seems preferable to this suffering and humiliation.”

“I was ashamed to still be alive, although no one knew this. I was afraid of this life but no one understood.”

Rating : 3.5/5 stars


A Reread: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite RunnerI’ve loved this book ever since I’ve read it in 2013. It’s one of the books that really left something in me. One of the very few that emotionally drained me. I watched the film adaptation and for those of you who have been following me for some time now, I’m not a big fan of movies based on books, so of course, I was disappointed. The only thing I liked in the movie was the boy who played the role of Hassan. Hassan has always been one of the top book characters very dear to me since I’ve read this and he’s the only thing that didn’t disappoint in the movie.

I’ve decided to reread this a few days before Christmas. I knew that the book is gonna make me sad and might affect my mood for the holidays, but I read it anyway.

The Kite Runner is the story of Amir and Hassan while growing up in Kabul in the early 1970s. Amir, a Sunni, is the son of a wealthy businessman (Amir calls him Baba) while Hassan, a Shia, is the son of Ali, their Hazara servant. The two boys are best friends but cultural and social barriers still separate them. Baba treats them equally as much as he could. Amir started to feel jealous of Hassan as Baba always admires him and always catches his attention without even trying while Amir on the other hand is trying too hard to impress him but Baba always gets disappointed.

Amir decided to impress Baba in the coming annual kite-flying/fighting tournament. This is where the story really started. My heart broke for Hassan the first time I’ve read this. And it still did the second time. And if I continue writing about it, I might delve into spoilers even though maybe most of you must have read the book already.

This is a book about friendship, father and son, brotherhood, relationships, jealousy, guilt, redemption, love, trust, freedom, forgiveness and mistakes. Mistakes we either make or make us.

Khaled Hosseini used a very descriptive and simple writing style. The way and the amount of historical background he provided in the book was good enough so as not to overwhelm the reader. I liked how the story was told as it made me get attached to the characters which is one of the important things to me when I read a book.

I was once again blown away by The Kite Runner and this will definitely stay on top of my favorite books, quietly seeping into my being.

Quotable Quotes:

“For you, a thousand times over.”

“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does, too.”

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

“It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything all right. It didn’t make ANYTHING all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight. But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.”

“When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

Rating: 5/5 stars


Blindness by José Saramago

fullsizerender-1-19Book #26.

I attempted to read this book four or five times since I received it but hadn’t gotten way past ten pages. It’s not that it’s a difficult read, I just couldn’t get a grip on it. Anyhow, I gave it a shot again last week and I guess the timing’s quite right because I was able to finish it in just a few days.

In a nutshell, Blindness is about a society that collapsed following a worldwide plague of literal blindness. The story begins with a man in his car at a stoplight waiting for the lights to change. Inexplicably, he goes blind. Soon, everyone he goes in contact with go blind. And it follows. So the blindness spreads out all over the nameless place.

All the characters are also nameless. We only get to know them as the doctor, the doctor’s wife, the boy with the squint, the dog of tears, the old man with the black eye patch and so on. This for me adds up to the goodness of the book.

Having had the chance to read The Gospel According to Jesus Christ earlier this year prepared me enough, I guess, to get used to his way of writing. Yes, for me, it needs a bit of getting used to it at first. For one, it’s written in a very dense way, there are no speech marks and no breaks for dialogues, it’s all written in the same lines. I get lost at some points while reading because everyone’s words merge altogether that I have to read it again to make sure I understand who’s saying what. I kind of felt blind, too, in a way as I get lost in the book at times. But I must say that the way the book’s written heightens the enjoyment of reading this book.

The major themes include the presence and lack of morality in a damaged society and the consequences of doing right and wrong. The murder of the leader of the troublemakers in the asylum is one example of making a difficult moral decision in the novel. Prior to this, the doctor’s wife finds out that she actually brought a pair of scissors. She never used it but just hangs it on the wall. She soon made use of it later in the story after the tragic thing that happened to her and the other women in the asylum.

The novel also showed us how fragile a society and how weak/strong humans can be. We see all the characters turn blind (except for one) reduce to animal instinct in order to survive. Señor Saramago blames the authorities for not being able to provide for its people in times of crisis. This is very true and happens almost everywhere nowadays. Furthermore, he tells us that we’re not far from sheer chaos even though we are now living in a modern world that relies mostly on technology.

Blindness is an allegory that people who can see are blind in reality. People don’t see what’s really happening in the world. Blindness is present in the failures of authorities to give what is expected of them. It is present in major issues the world is facing now. People fail to perceive the suffering around them thus resulting to failure of achieving a better community. Towards the end of the story, the characters start to recover their eyesight which strengthens the story’s status as an allegory. This shows that their blindness was just a way of teaching or letting them see and rethink the kind of life they’re living.

This is a very thought-provoking book that will remind every reader to look, or moreover, see everything around us as clearly as we could. Let’s always try our best not to turn a blind eye to the real cruelty/terrors that surround our lives.

Quotable Quotes:

“Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.”

“I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.”

“When all is said and done, what is clear is that all lives end before their time.”

“Words are like that, they deceive, they pile up, it seems they do not know where to go, and, suddenly, because of two or three or four that suddenly come out, simple in themselves, a personal pronoun, an adverb, an adjective, we have the excitement of seeing them coming irresistibly to the surface through the skin and the eyes and upsetting the composure of our feelings, sometimes the nerves that can not bear it any longer, they put up with a great deal, they put up with everything, it was as if they were wearing armor, we might say.”

“If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals.”

Rating: 5/5 stars



Delighted to be with books, coffee and you!😊☕️📚


A Reread: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

downloadBook #25.

By large, endings are sad, aren’t they? Or bittersweet perhaps? It could give us tremendous relief, too, as is the case in The Sense of an Ending.

This little treasure of a book is the story of the unremarkable life of Anthony Webster as he recollects and confronts the past after receiving a solicitor’s letter, the reappearance of an ex-girlfriend and reading a few pages of his old friend’s diary. This is best read in one sitting preferably with a few shots of whisky. 🙂

It has two finely controlled parts: 1) sheer nostalgia and 2) the coming together of memories from years ago as it unfolds different interpretations to clarify the truth. It’s mainly about the unreliability of memory and dealing with the past, remembering events and our understanding of time, with a touch of history, death and loss.

Little by little, the book reveals the secrets hidden in buried memories as Tony tries to remember and face up to the actions of his younger self and live through the mystery of the last forty years. Tony is a very engaging narrator. He definitely kept me reading regardless of him being reliable or not. Though this is already my second reading, I am still perplexed by the ending and just like Tony, “I just don’t get it,” really. I still had to go back to a few pages and reread over and over looking for clues I must have missed to give me a better understanding of the ending and answers to the many hows and whys it left me.

This is a very simple story on the surface but with delicate undertones written in a very interesting way. It is short, deep, thought-provoking, luminous, readable and very re-readable book. No wonder it was awarded the Man Booker Prize. I believe it’s never too late to learn. It’s never too late to learn and understand ourselves and other people. You might not be someone you thought you were yesterday. What we believe about other people then may possibly be different, too. How these things can change overtime as we try to understand people/things based on our memory of them and the history that goes with it is truly something to reflect upon and could very well give us a sense of an ending.

Quotable Quotes:

“Songs do occasionally tell the truth.”

“Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

“The less time there remains in your life, the less you want to waste it.”

“Life isn’t just addition and subtraction. There’s also the accumulation, the multiplication, of loss, of failure.”

“…what you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.”

Rating: 5/5 stars


Quote of the Week

When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic.

-Julian Barnes


A Reread: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami


Book #24.

This is one of Haruki Murakami’s novels which I include in the short & “normal” category among his books. I say short & normal because the other categories are long & weird and short stories. But even if I categorize this to “normal” there is still something that goes out of the ordinary.

The story is about the “colorless” bachelor, Tsukuru Tazaki, who was never able to get over the cruelty of his four best friends in high school who abruptly excluded him from the group one day when he went home from Tokyo during their first year in the university. He was told never to contact them ever again and though he tried to challenge them for a reason, he was only told that he already knows why. Tsukuru then started drifting through life. He suffered from depression and since then wasn’t able to make long-term relationships. Until he met Sara…

As most of his books do, this explores themes about loneliness, friendships, melancholy, life, loss and identity. The story flips back and forth between what happened during his young adult days and the present. I’d describe this book as quiet, poignant and thoughtful about a man’s journey on dealing and understanding the past in order for him to move on with the present and a better understanding of himself.

As always, I was again left with the ambiguity of its ending. Many unanswered questions as usual and so it’s totally up to me again to fill in the gaps. In the book, tomorrow is Wednesday, the day Tsukuru will have the answers from Sara. Is she really dating another guy or will she be Tsukuru’s life partner? What’s hidden inside Midorikawa’s bag whenever he plays the piano? What happened to Haida? Who murdered and raped Shiro? Anyhow, Murakami still left me satisfied.

Quotable Quotes :

“But there are countless things in the world for which affection is not enough. Life is long, and sometimes cruel. Sometimes victims are needed. Someone has to take on that role. And human bodies are fragile, easily damaged. Cut them, and they bleed.”

“People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody.”

“You need to live it to the fullest. No matter how shallow and dull things might get, this life is worth living.”

“Words don’t come out when you’re hurt that deeply.”

“Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language.”

Rating : 5/5 stars


Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

MenWithoutWomen_Hardcover_1-789x1024Book #23.

Men Without Women is comprised of seven short stories about, as the title suggests, men without women. These tales all feature male lead characters contemplating on themes like love, loss, solitude, grief, loneliness and infidelity. Every story features a kind of relationship that has a great impact on our male protagonists, how lack of women in their lives affect them and the way they perceive women. No, it won’t take you to the surreal and complexity of worlds in the likes of Kafka on the Shore. These stories are far easier but darker and somewhat reminds me of Norwegian Wood.

As always, Murakami was able to create characters very delicately and similar with his other works, he always gives us the most important details but lets our imagination finish the rest of the concept/idea. Other elements present in the stories familiar to Murakami readers include jazz music, baseball, whiskey and cats.

I don’t think I will ever be disappointed by Murakami though whenever I read his works, I always need to put myself in a particular frame of my mind. I’m not really sure what that particular frame of mind I’m talking about exactly is but it makes me unified with the book. And though you won’t like every story in this collection, I’m pretty sure you’ll like at least one of them. This would be a good choice for anyone who wants to try reading his books but don’t know where to start. Or a well worth stopgap for his fans while waiting for the next big one.

Now this leaves me thinking what about women without men in Murakami’s pen?

Quotable Quotes :

“Everything is blowing up around us, but there are still those who care about a broken lock, and others who are dutiful enough to try and fix it…But maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart.”

“I guess I was happy then. But that much happiness can lead to an equal amount of pain.”

“As time passes, memory, inevitably, reconstitutes itself.”

“Music has that power to revive memories, sometimes so intensely that they hurt.”

“…in every situation, knowledge was better than ignorance. However agonizing, it was necessary to confront the facts. Only through knowing could a person become strong.”

Rating : 5/5 stars


Quote of the Week

Music has that power to revive memories, sometimes so intensely that they hurt.

-Haruki Murakami, Men Without Women (Yesterday)


A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

71BufG21PDLBook #22.

873 pages later… I’m finally finished with A Clash of Kings. Wow! I made it through two books of this epic series! This is a serious accomplishment on my reading life these days! Good job, self! 🙂

So the realm is in turmoil. All hell broke loose in the seven kingdoms. The aftermath of Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon’s death. Eligible and king-wannabes all vying for the iron throne.  Political conflict at its finest. And we can all feel the cold because winter is coming…

This has multiple POVs like the first book, A Game of Thrones, so it constantly changes. The characters are more developed which makes me like it more as I get to  go inside each of the character’s heads and those of Tyrion and Bran are my favorites. Hats off to Tyrion Lannister! Hand of the king, baby!!! 😀 Whatever he was doing in this book — planning, drinking, wenching, putting Joffrey in his proper place (haha!) — he’s really doing it effectively! (He can sit on the iron throne, he’d make an excellent king!) His feud with his sister has to be the best parts of the book for me.

I have never liked you, Cersei, but you were my own sister, so I never did you harm. You’ve ended that. I will hurt you for this. I don’t know how yet, but give me time. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn into ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid.

There’s never a dull moment! Tyrion isn’t the nicest of characters but I’m really digging more of his witty ways as he remains true to his duty. His sarcasm cracks me up, always! And there’s Bran and Bran is a warg. His weird dreams are finally explained though there’s still more to find out. Bran has always been one of the most interesting characters for me from the first book so I’m hoping he’ll survive until the end. Other characters like Varys, Sandor Clegane and Jaqen H’ghar (Valar Morghulis) are worth mentioning, too. And of course, Cersei Lannister is still Queen Bitch and yes, I like her, too! On the other hand, there’s also someone I wanted to strangle here! Theon. Yes, the turncoat! A betraying bastard he was! He’s definitely up there on the villain list alongside the cruel and arrogant Joffrey! Anyways, I’m really looking forward about the dragons, the Others, the children of the forest and the white walkers.

One other thing that keeps me want to read and finish this is that not one character in the story is safe. George R.R. Martin is an evil man. He likes introducing characters whom readers grow to love then kill them off! (Great! Just great!) It excites and scares me at the same time who is going to die next. This makes it very realistic for me.

Apart from the characters, I certainly like the storyline, settings and themes of this book. A very intricate story that has almost everything in it — loyalty, conspiracy, treachery, corruption, turncoats, bravery, unexpected twists, revelations, etc. There’s plenty of action. Conspiracy within a conspiracy. Everyone in the seven kingdoms are scheming against each other. Little did they know that the white walkers are plotting to destroy them all along with the long winter. It’s written well but a little slow-paced for my taste but that’s okay. War and politics definitely make a great story and it makes me want to be in Westeros, too. So I guess, like me, you don’t have to be a fantasy reader to enjoy this. The author’s ruthlessness is admirable with regards to this world he has created.

Although it took me a long time to finish this book, A Clash of Kings is read worthy. It goes without saying that I will be continuing with the series.

Quotable Quotes :

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

“Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them.”

“Perhaps that is the secret. It is not what we do, so much as why we do it.”

“Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it’ll kill you all the same.”

Rating : 5/5 stars


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Book #23. (2016)

This is the most difficult Murakami read for me and it took me a long time to finish. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, it is actually a very good one, it just took me longer than usual to comprehend what Murakami is trying to tell me. 🙂 I’ve read somewhere that the English translation by Jay Rubin cut three chapters from the Japanese version. Maybe the deleted chapters would have helped me understand the book more. Anyhow…

I don’t know how to say this right but for me, the book isn’t a total page-turner compared to his other books. Not because the story isn’t interesting enough. It is actually very interesting, however, it took me time and effort to digest its content. Even halfway through the book, I still didn’t understand where the story is heading.

Toru Okada resigned from a job he finds meaningless, but also refused to get a job because it is what the society expects. And so begins Toru’s dropping out of the society. One day, he was cooking spaghetti. The phone rings. A mysterious caller. The cat disappeared. A few days later, his wife, Kumiko, disappeared as well. Toru drops further and further out while in search them. An ordinary start that lead to a very complex story. So, even if this was given to me without the author’s name on it, I would certainly identify that this is a Murakami work.

The Manchurian thread are the best parts of the book for me though I don’t really quite understand how it would resonate with the rest of the book. Or does it have to? And what exactly is he trying to say about the war? Is it to show the violence in Japan’s past? It’s one of the reasons I’m left unsure after I finished reading. Should the different plots fit together? Are they meant to fit together? Really, I’m not sure. The confusion, lack of closure and the loose ends are all probably a part of the plan.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone but would also advise you to read it when you have the time to commit. After reading this, you will never look normally at your cat again or the ordinariness of spaghetti. Man, I think I need another vacation… A vacation at the bottom of a well.

Quotable Quotes :

“People don’t always send messages in order to communicate the truth… just as people don’t always meet others in order to reveal their true selves.”

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”

“I realize full well how hard it must be to go on living alone in a place from which someone has left you, but there is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.”

“A life without pain: it was the very thing I had dreamed of for years, but now that I had it, I couldn’t find a place for myself within it. A clear gap separated me from it, and this caused me great confusion. I felt as if I were not anchored to this world – this world that I had hated so passionately until then; this world that I had continued to revile for its unfairness and injustice; this world where at least I knew who I was. Now the world ceased to be the world, and I had ceased to be me.”

“Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times, maybe even get them going. But curiosity evaporates. Guts have to go for the long haul. Curiosity’s like an amusing friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own – with whatever guts you can muster.”

Rating : 5/5


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

MSfMBook #20.

I didn't expect to like this book because self-help stuffs don't usually appeal to me but this one's good.

Man's Search for Meaning is divided into two parts.

The first part speaks of the extreme suffering the author himself, Viktor E. Frankl and his inmates, endured in Nazi concentration camps. He survived no less than four camps and described various stages and situations he and his fellow prisoners have been through and turned his experiences and observations of how they respond in times of adversity into a psychological study. He didn't at all consider the importance of chance or even luck to his survival.

The second part is basically an introduction to logotherapy. Using his observations and experiences while in the camps, he lays out his ideas/theories. The very core of it is a will to meaning, contrary to that of Freud which is will to pleasure or that of Adler which is will to power. He tells us that there are a lot of possible meaning of life and that it can change from day to day, from time to time, from one individual to another — a task we must frequently undertake.

According to logotherapy, we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.


Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. 

It's a short and engaging book, it may even make you see things or life differently. Life ought to have meaning and I admire Frankl's view of it as well as his view on what joy we can derive through acceptance of our sufferings. I think it's pretty extraordinary that he was able to explore and study what must have been the darkest period of his life, he seemed like a heck of a man to do so without bitterness.

Recommended to everyone. Solid choice for anyone facing adversity or anyone who simply wants to reflect on the content and direction of the life they're leading.

Rating : 4/5 stars

Quotable Quotes :

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."

"Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true."

"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible."

"No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same."

"A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the why for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any how."