The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jose Saramago

img_4671Book #13.

This controversial book tells the tale of Jesus Christ since his birth up to his death. It basically follows what’s written in the Bible but with some very notable changes. Here we see Jesus as human just like all of us, that Mary Magdalene is his lover, God’s working relationship with the devil and more.

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is my first Saramago read and I must say I found it very interesting. While reading this, part of me kind of believed this was actually the real story but thanks to the humorous and sarcastic interruptions every now and then that it reminded me it’s not. The writing style was new to me, the narration are in very long sentences and paragraphs with almost no breaks but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this. What struck me the most I guess is the part towards the end where God, Jesus and the devil had a conversation on the boat. This is where Saramago tells us that if God exists, He is an egomaniac and not the God we assume He is nowadays. Soon enough, Jesus was disappointed as he realized that he was a victim of God’s pride, a sacrificial lamb as Saramago puts it.

I do understand the controversy of this book as Jesus is not as righteous as Christians think he is in Senhor Saramago’s pen. This will insult and shock many but this is how he writes. Take it or leave it.

Quotable Quotes :

“The time for miracles has either passed or not come yet, besides, miracles, genuine miracles, whatever people say, are not such a good idea, if it means destroying the very order of things in order to improve them.”

“For human words are like shadows, and shadows are incapable of explaining light and between shadow and light there is the opaque body from which words are born.”

“This is how everyone has to begin, men who have never known a woman, women who have never known a man, until the day comes for the one who knows to teach the one who does not.”

“Somewhere in the infinite that He occupies, God advances and withdraws the pawns of the other games He plays, but it is too soon to worry about this one, all He need do for the present is allow things to take their natural course, apart from the occasional adjustment with the tip of His little finger to make sure some stray thought or action does not interfere with the harmony of destinies.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

img_5990Book #19.

I started reading this a couple of months ago, a birthday gift from a dear friend. (Yeah, that’s him.) I’ve loved the cover since I’ve laid my hands on it. A man’s face full of pain which is exactly what your heart’s gonna feel once you open it.

I’ve been staring at my PC since this morning trying to find the words to say about this book. It’s not easy. But let me try.

The story follows the life of four friends: Malcolm, the architect and the quiet follower of the group; JB, the artist and the self-proclaimed alpha of the set; Willem, the actor and the most compassionate; and Jude, the lawyer, the abused, the vortex of this foursome. The characters are fully fleshed out. I’m not a particularly immersive reader but I like the book more when I get attached to the characters. I love reading about their lives. I love them. Survivors in their own way. Their friendship built a home that stood a long time, it grew and changed to accommodate more characters, friends and partners, but sadly, it can’t protect them all forever.

This is an emotionally draining read. I haven’t felt emotionally exhausted by a book since I’ve read The Kite Runner, but A Little Life did just that. There were parts that I think were too much that made it difficult to go on reading. Wrenching. And not just the heart, even the brain and stomach. Full-body-wrenching read. I’ve truly wanted Jude to be happy but at some point, it was becoming clearer that it’s not going to happen. Then from the end of The Happy Years chapter until the end of the book? I mean, seriously, why? Oh my God! It broke me. Absolute sadness that I felt like I’ve also lost all my dear friends.

So just like everyone’s life, it’s a story about a life simply lived and was helped shaped by the people and things around it. There’s love, happiness, tragedy and disappointments. Life is such a fragile thing, we never know exactly how the things we do may affect others or not, whether we do them good or we damage them, it’s not always visible to us and more often, we have no idea what our actions did to them. It’s a cautionary book, as the aphorism goes, “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

There are a lot of things to say about this book but I still can’t articulate any at the moment, I’m still at a loss. It’s simply too hard. This book isn’t little in any way. It is large in every way. Hanya Yanagihara’s writing was mostly intense, immaculate, fluid and honest. Very realistic and harsh at some point. No silver lining.

It’s a bit confusing to say that I love this book because how can I love a story which depicts other people’s pain? But it is definitely captivating, engaging, powerful. It consumed me. I highly recommend this specially for readers who like an emotional book. It’s a difficult read in more ways than one but it’s worth reading.

Quotable Quotes :

“Let me get better, he asks. Let me get better or let me end it.”

“He knew it was the price of enjoying life, that if he was to be alert to the things he now found pleasure in, he would have to accept its cost as well. Because as assaultive as his memories were, his life coming back to him in pieces, he knew he would endure them if it meant he could also have friends, if he kept being granted the ability to take comfort in others.”

“…the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”

“…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”

“He was frightened of everything, it sometimes seemed, and he hated that about himself. Fear and hatred, fear and hatred: often, it seemed, that those were the only two qualities he possessed. Fear of everyone else; hatred of himself.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

 

 

 

A Reread – A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #15.

I’ve decided to reread A Wild Sheep Chase since I’ve just finished the first two books of The Rat Trilogy just recently and it felt like reading it for the first time… twice! I can say I appreciate this book more now. I was able to understand it better as well and it opened my eyes to things I wasn’t able to grasp on my first reading.

In this final book of the trilogy, we still have our unnamed characters from the previous books and we finally have one named character, too! Kippler, the cat. 🙂 It was also while reading this that I realized how much I care for the characters in Murakami’s books. They are mostly intriguing that I really care about what’s going to happen to them. Moreover, Murakami has a way of describing the characters’ feelings like no other.

In a nutshell,  we have our protagonist who’s living a mediocre life, haunted by a whale’s penis, who doesn’t seem to be affected with his wife’s betrayal which led to their divorce, and soon meets a girl with unusually beautiful ears. Then the disappearance (and reappearance) of his friend, the Rat. We also have the sheep professor who locks himself in one of the rooms of Dolphin Hotel owned by his son. An Ainu youth who helped some early Japanese settlers in Hokkaido. A dying wealthy man known as the Boss, who sent his secretary/representative to our narrator to go find a mystical sheep with a star mark on its back. What do all these characters have to do with each other? They’re all a part of a wild sheep chase…

I didn’t really realize it the first time I’ve read this but I noticed that aside from the mystical sheep, war is also something we find in common among three notable characters here — the Boss, the sheep professor and the Ainu youth. They’re all remarkable characters in their own ways which is in contrast to our narrator who seems to be unaffected with his divorce, no ambitions and there doesn’t seem to be anything of significance to him. This I think, once again is an example of how Murakami was again able to explore the meaning of life and the meaning of living through the eyes of a mediocre Japanese guy disappointed in a modern world and in this life. There were several instances when the narrator feels nostalgic about music and the simple life he had when he was younger thus he struggles with the changes and modernization happening around say for example, the Boss’ right-wing. It’s also quite notable that Murakami probably felt that the modernization and corruption that happened to Japan is mostly because of western/foreign influence thus he used the sheep which was a new livestock brought to Japan, nobody knew about it, no historical connection in the lives of the Japanese, but was able to make big changes. The sheep though is something I see as a driving force for people who are weak to try to be as successful or productive as they can be. It somehow represents ambition and will to be powerful. Well it really depends on the reader what the sheep is trying to represent and this is just what I think but it’s the same thing that made our narrator and the Rat uneasy and troubled.

When the book ended, it made me want for more, though probably, as far as the Rat is concerned, I think the story has ended. And it’s sad. But still, as is what’s expected of every Murakami book, there are far more unanswered questions left behind. I’m not sure if Dance, Dance, Dance has the answers to these questions but I’m certainly looking forward to reading it soon.

Quotable Quotes :

“I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.”

“The song is over. But the melody lingers on.”

“Some things are forgotten, some things disappear, some things die.”

“I guess I felt attached to my weakness. My pain and suffering too. Summer light, the smell of a breeze, the sound of cicadas – if I like these things, why should I apologize?”

“Body cells replace themselves every month. Even at this very moment. Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #14.

Pinball, 1973 is the second book in The Rat series and just like Hear the Wind Sing, this is also a short read. So we have here the same unnamed narrator, now a few years older and got addicted to pinball, his acquaintance, the Rat who is still lonely and had a strange affair with a certain woman, J the bartender and a few additional unnamed characters like the twins who just one day appeared in the narrator’s apartment.

Pinball generally talks about loneliness and being alone. One trying to distance himself from people and one who can’t open up himself to others. Here we see how deeply his girlfriend’s suicide from the first book affected our narrator. The Rat on the other hand continues to struggle with his own life, not knowing exactly what to do and whether to stay or leave. The narrator and the Rat never met in this book but it seemed like their loneliness kind of connected them and that same loneliness consumed me.

Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball are a good warm-up to Murakami’s first full-length novel A Wild Sheep Chase which I happened to read back in 2015. I thought then that I didn’t seem to miss on anything without reading the first two books but now that I’ve read them, it is very likely that I’ll read it again and will somehow enjoy and understand it more.

It’s very interesting to see the author’s writing progress in this second book of his. Pinball is better than its predecessor and we can see more signs of Murakami’s strangeness already and most importantly how his characters contemplate about the important questions in life and how they deal with it, which in a way makes us readers rethink about how we deal with our lives as well. I kind of wished it to be a little longer too because when it started to get better, that’s when it ended.

Another Murakami work that gave me something to chew on.

Quotable Quotes :

“Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum — a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself.”

“I could go on like this forever, but would I ever find a place that was meant for me?”

“We fell silent again. The thing we had shared was nothing more than a fragment of time that had died long ago. Even so, a faint glimmer of that warm memory still claimed a part of my heart. And when death claimed me, no doubt I would walk along by that faint light in the brief instant before being flung once again into the abyss of nothingness.”

“Happiness is a warm friendship.”

“There are — how do you say — things in this world our philosophy cannot account for.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida

the reason i jumpBook #12.

This book was written by an autistic boy, then thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida. It is very remarkable that he was able to share with us his inner voice through this book which he wrote using an alphabet grid prepared by one of his teachers.

Structured as a series of questions commonly asked by non-autistic people, young Naoki answered and shared his thoughts as best as he could like, 1) Why are you so picky with what you eat? 2) When you’re on one of your highs, what’s going through your mind? 3) What’s the worst thing about having autism?

The book focuses on the importance of understanding people with autism. He mentioned that they need more understanding with their reasoning, their emotions, their behavior. He asks for more tolerance and love.

This is a very interesting read since it gave me a unique look of what’s going on in the mind of someone with autism. It really brings you into an autistic’s world. Very surprising how Naoki’s mind works actually!

Quotable Quotes :

“Everybody has a heart that can be touched by something.”

“We can put up with our own hardships okay, but the thought that our lives are the source of other people’s unhappiness, that’s plain unbearable.”

“True compassion is about not bruising the other person’s self-respect.”

“I’ll always cherish the part of me that thinks of nature as a friend.”

“Unchanging things are comforting, and there’s something beautiful about that.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The_Guernsey_Literary_and_Potato_Peel_Pie_SocietyBook #11.

Quite a title, huh?

The book is set right in the aftermath of the second World War in both the island of Guernsey and London. The intertwined stories are told through a series of letters and most of them from an English writer, Juliet Ashton. The first letter came one day from a farmer and carpenter, Dawsey Adams. Juliet learned of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from Dawsey (as he is the founder) and thought that it has potential to be a subject of an article. (I will leave it to you to read and learn how they came up with that name.) The correspondence continued and the other members also started writing Juliet their stories. Little did they know how their lives would later mean to each other.

This is an epistolary novel full  of warmth, love and humor. All the characters were given a strong, unique voice that made them seem real, makes me want to meet them all specially, Isola. The letters not only reveal the horrors during the Nazi occupation in Guernsey but the kindness of people as well despite their situation.

I liked the simplicity and charm of this book. You’d be laughing out loud one minute then you’d be tearing up the next. It left me wanting people to still be writing personal letters to each other and not just emails or text messages. It may sound a bit old-fashioned but the connection between people seemed more intimate and true.

It’s an easy read and I enjoyed it!

Quotable Quotes :

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

“I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”

“Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.”

“Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person’s name suddenly pops up everywhere you go?”

“Humor is the best way to make the unbearable bearable.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami

hear-the-wind-singBook #10.

Hear the Wind Sing was Murakami’s first novel, more like a novella actually because it’s very short, and you’d feel it even shorter because of its frequent page breaks.

It’s set in Japan with a nameless narrator on his summer break and his friend known as the Rat who struggles with his everyday life filled with loneliness.

The book isn’t something that lives up to the current Murakami standards. There ain’t much to its plot and it just goes on without anything clear going on. It’s pretty much a collection of the narrator’s encounters with the Rat, with J, and the girl with only nine fingers. Then his being nostalgic about his past relationships.

That said, it doesn’t mean though that I didn’t like this book. There’s no parallel universe in it but there’s a familiar tone. There’s always something interesting in a Murakami novel and as long as it’s read for what it is, you’ll never be disappointed.

Up next : Pinball, 1973

Quotable Quotes :

“There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.”

“Sometimes, I imagine how great it would be if we could live our lives without bothering other people.”

“I like the sky. You can look at it forever and never get tired of it, and when you don’t want to look at it anymore, you stop.”

“…the wind has its reasons. We just don’t notice as we go about our lives. But then, at some point, we are made to notice. The wind envelops you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you. The wind knows everything that’s inside you. And not just the wind. Everything, including a stone. They all know us very well. From top to bottom. It only occurs to us at certain times. And all we can do is go with those things. As we take them in, we survive, and deepen.

“Everyone who has something is afraid of losing it, and people with nothing are worried they’ll forever have nothing. Everyone is the same.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Night by Elie Wiesel

nightBook #9.

I’ve always loved learning about the world war and people’s stories during those times, particularly the Holocaust and Night is one of such stories. And every time I read about it, I wonder how I would have fared if I were born a Jew in a Nazi-occupied country during the second World War.

This is a first person account of Elie Wiesel, a teenage Jew from Transylvania, Romania. Elie and his family were soon brought to concentration camps in Auschwitz (later in Buchenwald) and were separated from each other. He tells of the unimaginable horrors that he and the others experienced during the war including people being thrown in the crematory particularly babies.

I personally think that it is extremely important that these events be never forgotten and this book serves as a dismal reminder of human’s capacity to be inhuman to humanity itself. A book you should make a point of reading.

Quotable Quotes :

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

“Every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer.”

“I shall always remember that smile. What world did it come from?”

“One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

download-1Book #8.

I have to admit I was really intrigued when I first saw this book on my feeds in Goodreads. The idea about the butterflies is just sick but I was definitely hooked. The story started with Maya being rescued by the FBI and we learn of the story during the interview process. It’s not easy to talk about the plot without spoilers so I won’t say more.

The story was brilliantly written, Dot Hutchison’s writing style is excellent and characterization was also good. I have to say, however, that the ending left me feeling off, I don’t know, but I think the plot twist didn’t work out well for me.

I don’t think this book is for everyone since it has several disturbing themes — rape, suicide, murder and sexual assault. All in all, it’s a great read and I think this could be an excellent movie.

Quotable Quotes :

“You seem to have this strange image of me as a lost child, like I’ve just been thrown on the side of the road like garbage, or roadkill, but kids like me? We’re not lost. We may be the only ones who never are. We always know exactly where we are and where we can go. And where we can’t.”

“Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

“The trouble with sociopaths, really, is that you never know where they draw their boundaries.”

“At some point, maybe you have to break.”

“Some wanted the freedom to be anyone they wanted, some of us wanted the freedom to be left alone.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

download

Book #7.

I have been interested with Banana Yoshimoto for quite some time now but I haven’t got the chance to read any of her books. I’m not sure how I came across a copy of this but I’m glad I did.

The Lake is the story of Chihiro who moved to Tokyo after her mom died hoping to have a career as a graphic artist and eventually get over her grief. She often spends her time by the window and eventually noticed a man, Nakajima, from another window and soon became friends. Chihiro later learns that Nakajima is dealing with something complex brought about by his past. Both of them are trying to get over the loss of their mothers in their own different ways.

I like the simplicity of the prose. I really think it’s beautiful. I love how Chihiro and Nakajima’s love story cautiously develops. The way Nakajima tries to step up and get over his issues and still sometimes end up in depression seems very realistic which makes the book more interesting for me. His sweet and at the same time sad story with his friends Mino and Chii are also worth the read. And by the time I found myself attached to the characters already, the story was over.

Yoshimoto’s writing style is very simple and soothing that I think this is a very good introduction of her works for me. That said, I’m looking forward to reading her other books.

Quotable Quotes :

“Of course, it’s true that sometimes the pink at sunrise somehow seems brighter than the pink at sunset, and that when you’re feeling down the the landscape seems darker, too – you see things through the filter of your own sensibility.”

“…there’s nothing wrong with being a little hopeful. Who says you can’t warm your frozen limbs in the faint heat of a flicker of hope?”

“I love feeling the rhythm of other people’s lives. It’s like traveling.”

“When things get really bad, you take comfort in the placeness of a place.”

“Why were we so far apart, even when we were together? It was a nice loneliness, like the sensation of washing your face in cold water.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #6.

This basically follows the story of five characters — a 19-year old girl named Mari, Takahashi a jazz musician, Mari’s sister Eri who is in a very deep sleep, a Chinese prostitute assaulted in a “love hotel”, and a salary man, Shirakawa, who works late to avoid his family — one autumn night in Tokyo.

How Murakami-san managed to capture the happenings and feelings of time from midnight to dawn at a brisk but natural pace is amazing. Every beginning of a chapter shows a clock and as the night progresses, the story does, too. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters but I also didn’t hate any of them. But the point is probably not to like or hate them, but to connect to them which I think Murakami-san effectively did.

This is not as bizarre as his other works but neither it is a straight narrative. It stays surreal because Murakami-san doesn’t bother with explanations and in his world, nothing is simple.

After Dark ended far too quickly for me and as usual, I was left with too many unanswered questions. I would recommend you read this in a coffee shop, overnight, with cups of brewed coffee. And maybe some music, too. Well, if you haven’t yet! 😉

Quotable Quotes :

“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.”

“What seems like a reasonable distance to one person may feel too far to somebody else.”

“A brand-new day is beginning. It could be a day like all the others, or it could be a day remarkable enough in many ways to remain in the memory. In either case, for now, for most people, it is a blank sheet of paper.”

“…people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel.”

“The silence is so deep it hurts our ears.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein by John Nixon

download-1Book #5.

When Saddam Hussein was captured in Iraq in December of 2003, they needed someone to confirm his identity and that person was John Nixon, an ex-CIA senior analyst. He then became one of the first to interrogate Saddam during his capture.

Though being able to identify Saddam, Nixon discovered that what he and the CIA or the American government knew about the deposed Iraqi leader was somewhat different from reality. I think the most unthinkable for me was that Saddam was actually spending most of his time writing a book and his aides are running the government. He wrote that Saddam actually describes himself as President and a writer and that he actually complained about the military taking away his writing materials, thus, keeping him from finishing his book. Moreover, they were also mistaken about Saddam’s attitude on the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Iraq’s supposed possession of WMDs used to be the American and British governments’ reason to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Interestingly, Mr. Nixon also was very critical of the CIA and the Bush administration. It was quite astonishing to know that the CIA mainly just wanted to please the President and that the President only hears what he wanted to hear.

Very readable. Very informative read.

Rating : 4/5 stars

 

All the Ugly and Beautiful Things by Bryn Greenwood

download

Book #4.

I am a big fan of relationships between unlikely people and this book captured my attention from the beginning and saw me through to the very last page.

Wavonna “Wavy” Quinn is the daughter of a meth dealer and she knows that she shouldn’t trust anybody even her parents. She is selectively mute and acts as a parent to her younger brother, Donal, even at a very young age. She struggles but she is very responsible. Several times while reading, my heart ached for Wavy and her brother for they never had the chance of a normal childhood. And then came Kellen. And everything changed from there.

I personally think that the book is beautifully written. The alternating viewpoints is one of the things I like most about this read for it seems to be so effortless for Ms. Greenwood because it did not, in any way, disrupt the flow of the story. It’s also for this reason that I’m looking forward to more of her works.

On the other hand, I am not sure I can recommend this book to everyone even though it’s beautifully-written. Several themes here would require a mature mind I guess to appreciate the book as a whole. However, it will make you pause and reconsider and somehow for me, I was left asking when is love appropriate then? And how?

Quotable Quotes :

“Feeling dead was better than when my heart hurt. Sometimes I thought it might burn through my ribs while I was asleep, and smolder in the sheets until the whole house caught fire.”

“Sometimes waiting and being disappointed was good, to remind me he didn’t belong to me. Nothing belonged to me.”

“He squeezed me tight, almost as tight as I needed… Tight enough to tell me I was important to him. A little tighter and I would know I was more important than anything else. That was what I wanted.”

“I liked learning things. How numbers worked together to explain the stars. How molecules made the world. All the ugly and wonderful things people had done in the last two thousand years.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

downloadBook #3.

This is a beautifully written novella about a man’s love for his wife, his son and his grandson. He is slowly losing his memory while loving the things he’s losing. A very short read that will make you sit back and appreciate life more.

Fredrik Backman had me in tears while reading this and he’s definitely one of my favorite authors now even though I’ve only read A Man Called Ove and this.

I absolutely recommend this to everyone because it’s a gem that will truly touch your heart. It will take very little of your time but a time well spent.

Quotable Quotes :

“That’s one good thing about forgetting things. You forget the things that hurt, too.”

“You never became ordinary to me, my love. You were electric shocks and fire.”

“I didn’t care why you said yes. Just that you stayed.”

“Humans are a strange breed in the way our fear of getting old seems to be even greater than our fear of dying.”

“You were never easy, darling difficult sulky you, never diplomatic. You might even have been easy to dislike at times. But no one, absolutely no one, would dare tell me you were hard to love.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Book #2. the-stranger

Narrated by a Mr. Meursault, whose mother just died and who was later put on trial because of killing an Arab man, then soon sentenced to be executed. While the people who knows him think that he’s innocent, he himself don’t feel guilty of the murder. However, he felt that he’s a threat to the society for being indifferent.

This is probably not the easiest kind of philosophy to swallow, however, I think it’s something you can read if you want something to stimulate your mind. It doesn’t matter if you’ll agree with the book or not in the end, but it is a challenging one.

Quotable Quotes :

“I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn’t.”

“I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well have lived it another. I had done this and I hadn’t done that. I hadn’t done this thing but I had done another. And so?”

“I’ve never really had much of an imagination. But still I would try to picture the exact moment when the beating of my heart would no longer be going on inside my head.”

“Mother used to say that however miserable one is, there’s always something to be thankful for. And each morning, when the sky brightened and light began to flood my cell, I agreed with her.”

“After awhile you could get used to anything.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

downloadBook #30.

Some books leave you satisfied. Some books leave you confused. Some books leave you content. Some books leave you happy while some leave you sad. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas left me heartbroken.

This is the story of a nine-year old boy named Bruno whose father is a Nazi commander during World War 2. After a visit from a man who Bruno calls as The Fury, his family has to move to Out-With where life is much different compared to Berlin.

Bruno likes exploring so he decided to explore the new place. He reached a fence where he meets Shmuel, also a nine-year old and wearing the striped pajamas. And so an unlikely but special friendship begins.

This is a fast, easy and unforgettable read but the tragic ending broke my heart…

Quotable Quotes :

“It reminds me of how grandmother always had the right costume for me to wear. You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be.”

“Sitting around miserable all day won’t make you any happier.”

“Don’t make it worse by thinking it’s more painful than it actually is.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

World War 2: Waffen SS Soldier Stories: Eyewitness Accounts of Hitler’s Elite Troops

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Book #28.

I was distracted by grammatical errors in this book, however, anything that has to do with the war attracts me so I continued reading and I wasn’t disappointed.

This book offers a lot of very interesting information about World War 2 and the SS soldiers. I have always been interested of the SS soldiers so reading their side of the story during the war is a delight to me. Discovering a lot of things about them and what happened during these times made me even want for more.

The title may be a bit inaccurate but I don’t mind at all since the content was okay for me.

Rating : 4/5 stars

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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Book #27.

Water for Elephants is a book by Jacob Jankowski, a ninety-three year old man in a nursing home reminiscing about his life when he was younger when he got himself into a circus train that belongs to the Benzini Brothers. His life changed when he fell in love with Marlena, a talented performer who happens to be the wife of his paranoid schizophrenic boss, August.

I think what captivated me most in this book is the picture of how circus life was at that time. How circus workers were red-lighted as punishment then in order for the circus owners not to pay their wages. Also, performers always get paid even in times when revenue is low, there’s a possibility for the workmen to get paid but for the black minority, it seems to be a normal practice to not get paid. And these minorities can’t do anything but to accept it as it is.

Animal cruelty was also a theme that saddened me while reading this. More so that Ms. Gruen mentioned these cruelties as facts.

I’d suggest to anyone who hasn’t read this yet to consider reading it and get fascinated in the world of circus in the 1930s.

Quotable Quotes :

“With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.”

“I want her to melt into me, like butter on toast. I want to absorb her and walk around for the rest of my days with her encased in my skin. I want.”

“Life is the most spectacular show on earth.”

“When will people learn that just because you can make something doesn’t mean you should?”

“I stare at her for a long moment. I want to kiss her. I want to kiss her more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The End of Faith by Sam Harris

the-end-of-faith Book #26.

My acquaintance with Sam Harris just started I think last month when he was introduced to me by a dear friend. I first watched one of his videos on Youtube and then tried reading one of his works, Letter to a Christian Nation. I think it was a good start because it led me to this other work of his, The End of Faith.

The book, the way I understand it, is basically telling us that beliefs with proof must triumph over beliefs based on our religious faith. Sam Harris made some very important points here and it does rather hit hard on the core of religion but definitely worth your time reading.

Quotable Quotes :

“Reason is nothing less than the guardian of love.”

“Nothing is more sacred than the facts.”

“As a man believes, so he will act.”

“Religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

Book #24.

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I was born and baptized as a Catholic but I have always been open-minded about other religions and yes, atheism. This is my first from Sam Harris and the first atheistic book I’ve read. I must say, this book is very thought-provoking. It isn’t something that would convert the reader to become an atheist nor would it shake a devout Christian/Muslim’s faith, but I think it would help us understand what atheists are like.

It would probably be an uncomfortable read but I personally would still recommend it to my Catholic/Christian friends. Aside from a very easy to read writing style, I really find this book very insightful. With that said, I’ll leave you with this:

Clearly, it is time we learned to meet our emotional needs with embracing the preposterous. We must find ways to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity — birth, marriage, death — without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality. Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish be widely recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we have a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world. -Sam Harris

Rating : 4/5