Tag Archives: Culture

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Hello Hello. Long time no post! Just want to say that I am not abandoning this blog! I am just busy doing exam preparations. I will go back to posting more frequently once exams are done. 😀

Just finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I admit, the reason why I wanted to read this book is because the book itself is very aesthetically pleasing, but as I got more into the book, it became so magical that I just can’t put it down.

This book is about two lovers, Celia and Marco. Since childhood, The two illusionists have been trained to compete against each other. Neither Celia nor Marco knows the rules of the game or who they are competing against at first, though they are both involved in a circus that opens at midnight and closes at dawn. This book follows multiple characters in the carousel. As I read more and more, I became intrigued with the secrets of the circus.

Sadly, I have never been to a circus myself. The way Morgenstern describes a circus, though, makes me want to go to one. It seems like the perfect place to escape from the everyday mundane.

There was a lot of jumping back and forth, which took me a few chapters to get used to.The book is made up of a lot of tiny chapters that piece together beautifully to reveal the fate of the circus.

I guess it might not be for those who’s not into magic, or carousels, or jumping back and forth, but I definitely enjoyed this book. It is well-written and just simply mesmerizing. I feel like this is one of the best books published last year.

A Christmas Dinner by Charles Dickens

I love this story! It’s what Christmas spirit is all about! And HoHoHo!!! Today’s Christmas!!! May this Christmas bring peace and joy to all! <33 Read the story here. 

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude is about the seven generations of the  Buendía family, who lives in a town called Macondo. After reading this book, I have learned one thing: Knowing a story, and understanding a story, are two different things. I know the story, I know what happened, yet I cannot fully understand many of the messages that Márquez is trying to convey.

I cannot make little goldfishes. I cannot kill 3000 people. But I have passions in life just like the characters in the book. Would I eventually end up with nothing but solitude? Would other people read my sincerity as self-flattery? Perhaps one day when I actually experience the kind of solitude in the book, I’ll can better understand and relate to it.

By the way, the names in the novel are very confusing, which I had no intention to sort out.

How to Talk to Girls At Parties by Neil Gaiman

Hello! Hope everyone is having a stress-free holiday season and is enjoying all the winter fun! I’ve been in the mood for reading short stories lately, so I read 3 short story books this week. 😀 I’ll post one short story that I particularly liked from each book over the course of the next few days.

I quite liked Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls At Parties, which I read in Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. I love how the story allows the reader to develop his/her own thoughts about it. To me, this story seems to say that behind all those pretty faces, they are all aliens on the inside.

Animal Farm by George Orwell


Animal Farm
is like the barnyard version of the Russian Revolution. As the animals in Manor Farm (later renamed as Animal Farm) became more and more aware of the fact that they were capable of so much more than working like slaves for the Jones family, they started a revolution and chased the humans off of the farm. However, it soon became a revolution gone wrong as some animals became more equal than others.

The reason why Animal Farm is such a success because it focuses around animals, instead of human beings. And the characterization of these animals remind me of little children. They had a good intention at first, but somehow it turned into a society full of violence and tyranny. I believe that the basis for this is the inability of the commoners to determine truth, because most of the animals can’t read. Thus, Orwell is suggesting here than in any society where the commoners have no control over communication & media will bound to be controlled by those in power, because reality then becomes subjective concept and can be easily manipulated.

This book only took me three hours to read, but it was three hours well spent. I recommend this book to everyone who haven’t read it yet because the lessons in this book are worth remembering forever.

A List of My Reading-related Pet Peeves

Not in any particular order =)

  • When a book becomes a best-seller and the next thing you know, the book gets a sucky sequel. Please don’t write a sequel for the sake of writing a sequel…
  • When I am reading, and someone comes up to me and asks me a million questions about the book. “What are you reading?” “What’s it about?” Well, I’d tell you if you would let me read it!
  • Typos in books. And I’ve noticed that it’s becoming more and more common as well. I even found some typos in my school textbook…facepalm.



  • When I read a book and my mind wanders off. By the time I know it, I have no idea what I just read so I have to go back and reread.
  • Since when are blurbs and reviews supposed to contain spoilers? Well maybe you can have spoilers in reviews but there should be some sort of warning at the beginning…
  • I refuse to read books with teeny, tiny fonts!


 

  • When a character talks non-stop about how he/she feels about his/her crush…like I think I get the point…now let’s move on.
  • People who can’t understand that some people actually read for fun…major facepalm.
  • Books that have a lot of characters, because I keep on having to go back to check who they are again.
  • Books without chapters, because I usually read chapter by chapter.

I am pretty sure I am missing some, but I think that’s all I can think of for now…what are some of your literary pet peeves? ^_^

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

When Savannah Lynn Curtis comes into his life, John Tyree knows he is ready to turn over a new leaf. An angry rebel, he had enlisted in the army after high school, not knowing what else to do. Then, during a furlough, he meets the girl of his dreams. Savannah Lynn Curtis is attending college in North Carolina, working for Habitat for Humanity, and totally unprepared for the passionate attraction she feels for John Tyree.The attraction is mutual and quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah vowing to wait for John while he finishes his tour of duty, and John realizing that he’s ready to settle down with the young woman who has captured his heart.Neither can foresee that 9/11 is about to change the world and will force John to risk every hope and dream that he’s ever had. Like so many proud men and women, John must choose between love and country. And like all those left behind, Savannah must decide to wait or move on. How do we choose wisely? How can we face loss-without giving up on love? Now, when he finally returns to North Carolina, John will discover that loving Savannah will force him to make the hardest decision of his life. An extraordinary, moving story, DEAR JOHN explores the complexities of love-how it survives time and heartbreak, and how it transforms us forever.(taken from Google Books)

I think Nicholas Sparks is an extraordinary storyteller in that he has never failed to make my heart ache every time I watch a movie based on his book. Dear John is no exception, though this time I am reading the book instead.

What I love about him is that he writes to a pretty predictable recipe. To think predictable stories would be boring, it is actually the opposite. When I look at the things I do everyday, I realize that it is pretty predictable as well: wake up, eat, school, work, leisure activities, sleep, and repeat for the next day. What I learned from his stories, though, is that sometimes I overlook the little details in life which makes it more meaningful.

For example, Dear John really made me stop and think about the struggles that other people are facing. When I see my friends’ pictures and statuses on the Internet, it’s really different than when I actually talk to them in person and find out that they, too, are not as happy as what their latest update would seem to suggest.

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.”

Everyone is struggling with something. They just hide it from the public, which creates the illusion that everyone else’s life is perfect.

So dear reader, whatever the challenge you are facing, remember that you are not alone. At the same time you are trying to overcome the challenge, we are all trying to do the same thing as well. ^_^

“This is a waste of time”


“This is a waste of time” is one of the most unhealthy mentalities I’ve heard. What’s worse is that there are people around me who say this almost all the time. They say they are not going to waste time from now on. They are going to be productive all the time. Yeah, okay. Good luck with that, because I have yet to see one person who is productive all the time.

Usually when we think of time-wasting activities, we think of activities like playing video games, or watching the television, but it has come to my attention that there are also people who think reading novels is a waste of time. Now that is just sad, which inspired me to rant and ramble about this.

The common trend I see is that if someone sees one thing as a waste of time, he/she will start viewing other things as a waste of time as well:

Playing video games is a waste of time because you are immersed in a virtual world that won’t be of use to you in real life.

Watching the television is a waste of time because it does not help you put food on the table.

Reading novels is a waste of time because how will knowing fake stories ever going to help you pass your exam? (unless you are taking English)

School is a waste of time because by the time you graduate, most of the stuff you learned will be outdated.

Going to the doctors is a waste of time because you are just going to get sick again.

Living is a waste of time because you are just going to die so why bother.

Anything can be a waste of time if you really think about it. But how is anything a waste of time if you enjoy doing it? I think that time spent doing something I like is hardly wasting time at all. Happiness, in my opinion, should be the top priority in life. If you hate your job, you are wasting your time going to work everyday because you probably have very little motivation to do your job well anyways. Listening to a lecture you don’t enjoy is a waste of time because chances are, you aren’t even paying much attention to it.

Then there are times when you have to do something you don’t enjoy because you have no other choice. But instead of seeing them as activities we don’t enjoy, I think that we should see them as activities that will help us enjoy other activities better. For example, if you keep on doing chores, you can do them better and faster, so that you will have more time for activities you like later on.

Studies have shown that video games improve hand-eye co-ordination, watching television can make us become more aware of different things, and reading fiction increases your ability to feel empathy towards others. So if there are two sides to everything, then why always pick the negative side?

I do think there should be a limit though. If an activity starts to take over your desire for self-improvement and goal-setting, then it is not time well spent.

What do you think? Where should the line between wasting time and being productive be drawn?

Take that, Kindle!

I blogged about reading The Stand several weeks ago. To think I would’ve finished it by now, but I am not. I keep on having love affairs with other books while I am reading it. Not that I don’t like The Stand, but it is just so hard for me to not start reading a new book because of its captivating plot. And when I actually start reading another book, I’ll still be in the same situation again where I’ll want to start reading yet another new book. Is anyone in the same boat as me here?

Nevertheless, I actually would want to start reading another lighter book while I am reading books like The Stand though. It’s going to give you some serious arm muscle training if you carry The Stand with you all the time. It has 1168 pages in total and it is the first book I’ve read which is over 1000 pages. Since it is my very first “big book,” it’s very special to me. Here is a side view shot of this beauty:

It is in times like this when I wish I have a Kindle (or any brand of e-reader in general ). I am considering buying it, but since everything is going electronic these days, I think that we need to be reminded of that feeling of holding an actual tangible object in our hands again. This is why I decided to spend last Saturday taking out my old photo albums and looking through them. I have most of my photos on the computer nowadays, but it’s quite a different experience looking through an actual photo album. It gave me that sense of comfort knowing that these photos will always be there forever.

I guess that’s the thing about actually owning the object rather than having it on an electronic device. My point is this: What if one day companies like Amazon shuts down? What will happen to the e-books? If you have the actual book, you know it will always be there and you can go back and reread it whenever you want.

As long as you can read the words, it doesn’t matter if it’s electronic or print, right? Wrong! Real books come in real handy in the most unexpected situations. For instance, I find that The Stand makes a great laptop riser because of its size. It was placed in front of a door to serve as a door stopper one time. It was also used to raise a tripod when I had to take some photos for school. Of course, you can just buy a laptop riser, a door stopper, and a bigger tripod, but I value the fact that when you need something, books will always be around to help you out when you need them.

And where would beautiful art like these be if it weren’t for printed books? These two are my favorite:

So for people who say real books will go extinct: Take that! Kindles may be light and convenient, but it can never replace the true value of a real book!

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

 Set some years after Bonnie Prince Charlie’s failed rebellion in Scotland, Kidnapped is a timeless classic about David Balfour, whose uncle cheated him out of his inheritance and schemed to have him kidnapped and sold into slavery. A great majority of the story is about his journey in different parts of Scotland with his acquaintance Alan Breck Stewart. They have very interesting affiliations; the main one being that Alan is a Jacobite (someone who is unhappy with King George and hopes that a Stuart rules Scotland again), while David is a Whig (a supporter of the English Government). Several historical characters are included in the novel (such as Cluny Macpherson), though Stevenson is not aiming for historical accuracy and tells us that  “This is no furniture for the scholar’s library, but a book for the winter evening schoolroom when tasks are over and the hour for bed draws near.”

I picked this novel up because after reading the back of it I thought it would be about David coming up with some smart strategy to reclaim his inheritance. And to that, I was slightly disappointed because the inheritance part of the story is only the subplot. But Stevenson’s way of “building things up”  kept me reading. For example, there are so many things that lead up to David and Alan’s quarrel which makes it so real, not just all-of-a-sudden.

This novel is rich in dynamics and characterization. It is originally intended for young children. Sadly, young children today might find it a bit difficult to read, since it is written in Scots English. As for me, I didn’t read it with ease, but I didn’t find it really challenging either. Ay, I actually learned some Scottish words by reading this. ^_^

Though showing “buddy love” is very common in the past, it is not so common now. Nowadays, guys just “act cool” and show little care for their friends (though they probably care for each other on the inside). I actually don’t like that…What do you think?