My 2016 in Books + #Blessed December

So I know it’s 2017 already, but because I’ve been busy (or procrastinating), I wasn’t able to write a blog post for December. Here’s my all-in-one post: recap, musings, reflections, etc.

Still Thankful

The previous year has been tough for most of us, and this is probably because of the many changes that we have to deal with. For me, I had to face the tough decision of whether I should continue with my graduate studies. During our vacation in the US, I had time to reflect and I went back and forth with the pros and cons. Ultimately, I realized that studying no longer brings me the spark and joy that I once had when I started. Every book that I read felt like a chore. In short, I wasn’t happy. I knew that even if I forced myself to graduate, that would be exactly what it would feel like: forced.

Tough as it may be, I honestly felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I decided to take an indefinite break from my studies. I still have my work, which I focused my energies on. I’m grateful that my efforts paid off and were recognized. Who knows, maybe I will get back to writing? I can’t say have quit for good. I just knew that I had to let it be for now, because it’s really not working out. Nevertheless, I don’t feel like all those years I spent went to waste. I learned a lot, and that’s more than I could ask for.

My 2016 Reading Challenge

This is my 5th year in challenging myself to read a specific number of books. In 2015, my reading challenge was 30 books, but I was able to read 25 books. I though it was shame because I almost made it, so in 2016, I set the same goal. Alas…

goodreads

I’ve been lazy last year and hadn’t been faithful to my reading habits. It might also be partly because in the first half of the year, I had to do some required reading and it was not all fun. However I did have some favorites.

Haruki Murakami, Underground – This is one of Murakami’s nonfiction works and talks about the Tokyo Gas Attack in the 60s. But more than the victims’ accounts and the suspects’ side, the book shows how the Japanese behave whenever a disaster occurs. It reminded me of the stories that came out during the Kobe earthquake and how there was no looting.

A Natural History of Love, Diane Ackerman – Ackerman’s works were highly recommended by many of my friends since college. For some reason, I only got to read her work last year. This book tackles everything there is about love–from historical figures to love for pets–and it hooks you from beginning to end. It’s not just because the content itself is interesting, but also because her prose is beautiful.

Cubao Midnight Express, Tony Perez – This is one of those books that gives a jolt to the senses. I’m used to reading at night, and some of the stories in this collection freaked me out so much that I had difficulty sleeping. The stories here shouldn’t really surprise me–rape, crime, murder are nothing new in the city. But there’s something about the stories that still gave me the creeps and was quite disturbing. And if a work of fiction affects you this much, it must be good.

For Who the Bell Tolls, David Marsh – This is an English grammar book recommended by my former supervisor. I just read it out of curiosity, and am glad that I did. For a grammar book, it was a very entertaining read. It presented a very practical application about the use of English language. It also shows good and bad examples, in a sarcastic and witty way.

I didn’t realize that most of my favorites would be nonfiction books. Admittedly, I got disappointed with most of the novels that I read last year. Maybe because I had other expectations. I hope with better luck this 2017.

I reset my challenge with 25 books. I’m planning to read more series. I’m currently reading the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson and I also have the Hitchhiker’s Guide series lined up (I watched the movie and absolutely loved it). Feel free to give me suggestions! :p

Cheers to 2017! ^_^