In between the pages, our lives

Books and masala chai is heaven

This year’s resolution has definitely rekindled my entombed fascination with books and I can only be grateful.

Every day, I hold books close to me, savor a few pages, and make new connections or rediscover old ones – very helpful for a fuzzy, heavily medicated brain of late.

Of course, this is far from my supercharged reading from way back when, but it gives me joy to return to the book lover side of the fence. Isn’t it wild how books are just always there, ready to take us back no matter how long we put them down?

Today I thought I would share some books that I have held recently or from a lifetime ago, and I look forward to hearing what you think about them, too.

Something non-fiction that reads like poetry

Figuring and Entangled Life, science and philosophy like sweet honey flowing out of a page. I re-read Entangled Life shortly after finishing it and it was as breathtaking as the first time.

A passage that got you through something

“I go to seek a great perhaps” quoted in Looking for Alaska. It gave me the courage as a young person to just go for it. Whatever it means.

A book currently on your TBR

I mentioned The Midnight Library to a soul sister after seeing Aysa’s review. I told her I want to read it after staying off fiction for an eternity. She gifted me a copy! 

Your favorite memoir

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain; probably my favorite book with food, too.

A book you have read at least three times

The bible. There was a publication I liked reading as a child, a small green copy, and I just kept re-reading it.

A book that made you cry a lot

Big Wolf and Little Wolf. Bawling, I was, and will forever be grateful for the unmatched capacity of children’s books to illuminate our truth.

A book character you want to trade lives with

Death from The Book Thief. It was such a refreshing take on the character and I am infinitely curious what it is like to have the job: Would I feel anything? Am I allowed to feel anything as Death? How would my perspective of the human experience change?

Reading nook

A book that fucked you up

In the last years that I started to feel better in my head, I only realized I mainly read depressing books. For over a decade. I suppose we are what we read, too, for better or worse. On top of my head are The Bell Jar, 13 Reasons Why, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Norwegian Wood – I could honestly go on and on. Not to say these are not good books, just that reading them amplified the state of my mind.  

Some books with your favorite covers

I do not like excess or waste but I admit to having two physical copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: my first a mass market paperback, and the second, a gift, with a beautiful hardbound pink cover, every bit as whimsy and magical as the story lies in my head. The memory of finding this present on my bed remains vivid after all these years and it still makes me smile.

Currently reading

Manila, My Manila: A History for the Young by Nick Joaquin

Of course, I have a habit of thinking about you all when I am taken by an activity. Really curious to learn your answers to these questions. Please share in the comments below, or a post, if you are feeling fancy.

Particularly calling out blog friends Princess, Robbie, Lani, Janis, Ashley, Aysa, Haoyando, and Moksha, mainly because I am a believer of your opinion of books and always love to learn from you.

To more life-affirming books!

P.S. If you are in The Ph, check out Blithe Books. I think they are cool.

47 thoughts on “In between the pages, our lives

  1. Thank you for the shout out and link to my webpage. I greatly appreciate it. I too love to read books and can find “Bell Jar” which is rather depressing like what you said and “Kitchen Confidential”, which has very gritty descriptions of a life in kitchens. LOL. The problem for me is that I simply don’t have time to read anymore and have to rely on audible books when I am doing chores, which is not as pleasant as real reading. LOL. Life is such that we have to make compromises.

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    1. I understand. When I am in transit, I turn to audiobooks, too, but I would not do that at home. Somehow I am unable to absorb the book fully if I only listened to it. How do you compare the experience of reading books and listening to audiobooks?

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  2. Of the books you mention I’ve read Alice In Wonderland and parts of the Bible. The other titles are new to me. And isn’t that the way? Happy reading.

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  3. Manila, My Manila: A History for the Young by Nick Joaquin – I am curious about this book… will probably get this once I finish this current book and Shari’s
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain – Haven’t read this yet… will check on the husband… he’s more keen on memoirs… perhaps he’s read it…

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    1. Manila, my Manila is so entertaining for a history book. I hope you find it. It is a classic that I hope most Filipinos can read. Lots of juicy info, too, in between the facts we learned in school. Haha. I can already imagine your reaction faces.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Something non-fiction that reads like poetry

    After Such Knowledge by Eva Hoffman – The way she’s narrated the poignant experiences of the Holocaust victims is poetic. Makes readers feel furious, hurt, and sad knowing that it didn’t end there… that it has effects on the families of the victims that goes up to the present + its chronic cultural effect…

    A passage that got you through something

    “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light” – A.D. Prisoner of Azkaban

    A book currently on your TBR

    Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena – I always look forward to her books, they usually release her books July each year

    Your favorite memoir

    Girl, Interrupted – Saw the film first – then the book (because after I realized that it’s about the author’s experiences as a patient in a psychiatric hospital – I got heavily curious.)
    I have read few other memoirs but they’re just fine – (not a fan of this genre)

    A book you have read at least three times

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because they’ve omitted so many things from this book (vs the film). I had to check over and over.

    A book that made you cry a lot & fucked you up (since my answers are the same)

    Me Before You and The Fault in Our Stars (Authors: Why would you do this to us?)

    A book character you want to trade lives with

    Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City – Her NEW YORK life is a dream! Even the way she can unrealistically afford stuff!!!! I MEAN, I also want to unrealistically afford stuff!!!

    Some books with your favorite covers

    My favorite one is the illustrated Philosopher’s Stone book. I haven’t bought the rest because it’s expensive. I am still trying to work through my frugal heart to get the next one…

    Currently reading

    The Guest List by Lucy Foley

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    1. Thanks for sincerely wanting to hear from me about this… hahaha… there is a backstory about me and book related Q&A’s whether on blogs or in real conversations…
      I have two sets of friends… the ones from my childhood who still believes that I am the smartest person they’ve met. You know, being valedictorian from a super small town, you have to understand where they’re coming from…
      and the other set are my friends who graduated from the so-called “Ivy League of the Philippines”. This set always makes me feel stupid because they have such profound explanations on books while I’d only say, “meh… it’s ok”. And that would be the entirety of my review…
      I remember one time, a friend from Miriam wrote a book, (he’s one of the few guys who studied there) — we were given drafts of his book and he handed one to the Atenista, “pls review and tell me about it”…. he gave one to the UP grad, “paki review naman!”, he gave one to the Assumptionista, “let me know what you think” — he finally gave one to me, and he said — verbatim… “gift ko sayo!” I was like, wtf! Without considering that he knew I passed UPCAT — something he didn’t, hehe… this is just one of the few anecdotes about us… because we met some time after college and at that time, my life was different, it was during the Paris Hilton hype and I was the one who partied a lot so they have stereotyped me into “the party girl of the group” not even considering that my grade level at work is higher than theirs 😀 so whenever we have this type of talks about books (believe me, we had those convos more than anything), I was always curious whether they really want to hear about my choices, or they just want to see how differently I have chosen and poke fun @ it… I used to get offended, but then, there came a period when I didn’t care anymore 😀
      Now that we are old, we hardly talk about books… we talk about life, HMOs, and how many people our age have died… we’ve gone dark!

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      1. Hahaha. Thanks for the story, I really enjoyed it. The gift part was hilarious, and omg, how crazy are we as young people. You made me want to check on people I knew as a child, not just to ask if anyone has died but to know if how we see each other has changed. Probably not. Maybe it is human nature. We remember the person we once with and find it hard to recognize who they have become.

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        1. Exactly…whenever we meet for reunions, like every after 5 years or whenever, they still think I am the most intelligent person alive… I was like, hello.. it has expired more than a decade ago… I cannot believe how they couldn’t shake it off!
          I agree, it’s hilarious! But part of me was so furious about him not giving me a copy for review, looking back, it was just so funny.
          Oh you better check on them because we get old really fast.. it’s better to get caught up while we’re still “viable”

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          1. You are so much fun. Haha. Viable had me dead. I have not seen anyone from my childhood in years. Like you, I have been abroad and returned during the pandemic. I know most people stay in touch with Facebook but I am not into that.

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            1. Same, plus, FB has become boring now.
              My father randomly told us last Friday, “no one from your school uses FB anymore except for ___________________” We were like, “What the hell! You’re such a stalker… We don’t even know she’s active, while you are so updated!”
              Why haven’t you seen them? Weren’t you from Bagac before? Or is the beach far from where they are?

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              1. Your father is also funny. I have always liked the sound of your relationship with your family, so close. I have not seen them because I was away after school and for a long time then I returned during the pandemic and I have no clue where anyone is. Haha.

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                1. Haha. We’re love and hate… typical father / daughter relationship especially because he’s so strict… but we’re super close to mom so, it’s inevitable since she’s always with our father 😀 😀 😀 I guess it’s the fact that we’ve become older now and he started treating us as actual adults… 20 years too late!! LOL…
                  I didn’t realize that you’ve only returned during the pandemic!!! OHEMGEE.

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                    1. Ok, now it’s clear. I thought you really settled down for good like the tiny house living I see in youtube… they’re super young couples too, like u guys…
                      So the tiny house was built for you to stay in for the transient stay?

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                    2. No, the tiny house was built because we wanted to build a tiny house and so we have a place to stay when we are here. Sharing it with people is an offshoot of how good it makes us feel and we want others to feel good, too. Is that weird?

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                    3. … ok I got it now… and of course, you got to have a place of your own when you are back there 🙂 plus, your parents being near can look after the place while you’re traveling the world!

                      It’s not weird at all, it’s quite generous in fact….

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    2. Thank you for this! It was so fun to read because I recognized the books and was also intrigued by the others you mentioned, particularly After such knowledge. I can imagine you totally obsessing over the Order of the phoenix. Hahaha!

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      1. Yes, I have a pen and paper to write every single difference and omission.. Totally geeking about it!
        After Such Knowledge is worth your time, Micah…

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  5. Such an interesting post!!! I honestly, didn’t get much reading done this month – with just trying to get back on my feet with regards to work. So this post has encouraged me to pick up the book I’m half way through and finish it tonight. 🙂
    -The Midnight Library has been on my TBR since January.
    – I have read each part of the Harry Potter series atleast 25 times. I was a HP geek in school! 😀 I have also read each of the Millennium trilogy books atleast 6-7 times. I really recommend that series – it is so so amazing!
    – Recent books that made me cry a lot was ‘The Song of Achilles’ and ‘Circe’ – with The Song of Achilles – something just hit a chord in my heart and the book made me feel emotions that I hadn’t felt in SO long. With ‘Circe’ – I just felt like I could relate so much with her story – especially her childhood.
    – A book character I want to trade lives with – ‘Circe’ – living on your own island away from everyone – being able to do magic – sounds dreamy! (I am not a huge fan of people) 😀
    – A book that fucked you up – I don’t think any book has had a bad impact on me. But I didn’t get past the first 20 pages of this book because the beginning only gave me nightmares. ‘A Train to Pakistan’ by Khushwant Singh. It is about the partition of India and the violence and all – I just couldn’t.
    – Books with my favourite covers – My friends gifted me an illustrated version of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K.R – favourite book, favourite cover, favourite gift ever.
    – Currently reading – ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak

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    1. I am glad the post inspired you to keep reading, and that it is The Book Thief, no less. Loved that book and my sisters did, too. I admire your dedication to Harry Potter and magic! The Beedle the Bard book sounds awesome, and friends who gift us with books, even more. And your mention of the violent book reminded of A Thousand Splendid Suns – I was unable to read it, too. Too hard.

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  6. I haven’t read a book for pleasure in awhile. In late Dec I started a book by a coworker who was hired at the same time as me… but I didn’t get far due to work + school burning out my attention span.
    Gary Numan’s autobiography arrived today. I’m a hardcore fan but have seen so many interviews that I don’t know if I’ll actually read it.
    I don’t think I could answer most of the topics in this post. Other than all of Henry Rollins’ books being in the “F’d me up” list. His depression + anger helped me through my major clinical depression. But, man, that guy is messed up in the head!

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    1. Yes, I remember your excitement about Numan’s book. Were you as happy when the box arived? When I get new plants, books, and tea, I get incredibly excited about unboxing. I hope you get to read your book. Maybe just open it and have a look and see how you feel. Maybe read a random page, something lile that.

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          1. LOL!!!!
            I saw some photo pages… I’ll start there. I’m really into his current music so I’m sure I’ll read the book at some point… at least to have something to say the next time I meet him.

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  7. Oh, Micah, how many books have you time for? During the lockdown, I joined Goodreads and that is now where I record my reviews. My current reading is Suzanne Simard’s “Finding the Mother Tree” (brilliant) and coming in the post is Robin Wall Kimmerer’s first book “Gathering Moss”. Her second book “Braiding Sweetgrass” still has me in its grip! I could send you a photo of my current bookcase but of course, I gave nearly 500 books away a couple of years ago to make space for the new ones 😂. I just love to read!

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  8. Reading is one of my joys in life. However, I am not very good at keeping track of what I’ve read. I have written posts about books I have read that I found particularly moving. Have a good day!

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  9. Thought provoking and challenging, Micah 😊

    Anthony Bourdain – a very big tick. The Bible – I have my great grandmother’s bible and have read it at least twice. It is at least 150 years old, with ultra then paper with gold leaf edging. I also have a number of other versions. I certainly have a number of different versions of Alice in Wonderland, including my grandfather’s copy.

    Non fiction like poetry: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

    A passage: The Agony and the Ecstasy re the life of Michaelangelo (Irving Sone) – “We are giving the world back to man, and man back to himself. Man shall no longer be vile, but noble. We shall not destroy his mind in return for an immortal soul. Without a free, vigorous and creative mind, man is but an animal, and he will die like an animal, without any shred of a soul. We return to man his arts, his literature, his sciences, his independence to think and feel as an individual, not to be bound to dogma like a slave, to rot in his chains.” Says it all really – It was okay to think for myself.

    TBR: Hidden in Plain Sight by Jeffery Archer. The rise of detective William Warwick.

    Favourite memoir: All Creatures Great and Small. A unique style in that the books were “fictional” but the stories by James Herriot’s were his actual experiences as a vet. Has all the emotions and the best re people and their animals.

    Book read 3 times: The Cardinal. How a cardinal rises through the ranks of the Catholic Church based on his humanity.

    Cry a lot: none, but there are many that certainly left tears in my eyes.

    Trade lives with: James Bond 😜

    FYU: 1984 – to know this book is to understand how insightful George Orwell was.

    Favourite covers: The Thomas Covenant Chronicles. Each cover is vibrant and portrays the theme of each book.

    Currently reading: Seven Nights with A Scot. A romance novel set in 1590 or thereabouts 😂

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    1. Oh, what a treat. Thank you, Sean! Your old books sound so grand – the lives they must have seen and touched. I have always heard praise for Carl Sagan but have yet to pick one up. Have you read Rachel Carson? I thought about reading 1984 but just the thought overwhelms me. Of course, I will read it when the time comes. Will make a point of looking up the other books you mentioned so I can learn more.

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  10. I don’t read anywhere near as much as I used to. There are only 2 books on your list that I’m familiar with: Alice in Wonderland, and the Bible. I once decided to read the Bible start to finish. I got about half way through the book of Genesis and couldn’t carry on. Too much violence for me. It was like a horror film. Then I moved to the New Testament which was much better.

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  11. Oooo. Thanks for tagging me. This is a great list. Did you make it up? because I really like it. Kitchen Confidential is another fave of mine. Anthony Bourdain forever.

    Quotes that stand out and get us through tough times are the best. I wish I could find the one that helped me recently. Sometimes I write it down but then forget where it’s at 😛 But it was about creating and not allowing yourself to get too caught up in perfectionism. Just needed to hear that at that time!

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    1. Yes, glad you enjoyed it, too. Looking forward to your thoughts. Your book round-ups are my favorite actually. I agree, there is always that one piece in every read that just gets to it, giving us exactly what we need. And yes, Anthony Bourdain forever. This is where I would normally ask you that we start a club but there are 11,386 existing already.

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