10 things i am thankful for

After some weeks of absence, I finally have the time to do another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Artsy Reader. Coincidentally, the theme for today is

November 24: Thanksgiving/I’m Thankful for… Freebie.

For the past few months, I have written about my forced aloneness (thank you, COVID) in a foreign land. You can read some poems here, here, here, and here.

We may be divided in a couple of topics but there is a sense of unity about the chaos that is 2020. It is, however, I believe not a year lost. For me, it gave me some time to pause. To reflect and find (consciously) things that I should be grateful for despite and in spite of the longing.

So here are tiny but essential things that kept me breathing:

1. I am grateful for the publication of my third poetry collection: In Three Lines (short poems) and to those who have gotten their copies.

It is a collection of more than 100 three-line poems about life, love, and everything in between. From classic haikus, little senryus, and free verses, this book of poetry is a respite amidst the chaos of the human heart.

2. I am grateful that I have Scribd. Scribd is an e-book and audiobook subscription which allowed me to read as much as I want. 🙂

3. I am grateful for the reviews I received for my second poetry collection Poems for S: perhaps volume 1.

Poems for S (perhaps volume 1)

Review #1:

If you love writing poems like me, then grab this book for inspiration and get you to write even more.

Reading Poems for S was like being a third wheel (in a good way) on the author’s journey of love. I was tagged along smooth roads, hard curves, and even bumpy roads where you’ll realize that love is indeed sweet, kind, patient, and sometimes scary and hurtful. I like how these feelings were written, and how she immortalized the person she wrote these poems for and the love they both have for each other.

I also appreciated how the author showcased different poetic forms and even defined and explained them at the end. A goody to all readers who want to write poems.

For me, this book deserved five stars for a writer who was honest and brave to share her love story. 

4. I am grateful for Sara Bareilles’ songs. She has released an album this year and again, her lyrics and voice felt like a warm hug.

5. I am grateful that this year has proven productive for my reading-self. My Goodreads challenge is quite an evidence:

6. I am grateful that I am blessed to still have a job which I really care for and truly enjoy.

7. I am grateful for Facetime, Skype, Messenger and the existence of the internet. These platforms, albeit the “data harvesting” proved to be essential for my 2020 survival.

8. I am grateful for the moments when I was able to fry a perfect fish fry (among the dishes I can now cook).

9. I am grateful that even when I lost a dear loved-one this year and a few friends had COVID, in the end, our family and friends are safe despite the distance.

10. I am grateful for the husband God has given me. He picked me up whenever I stumble. He provided hope when mine is drying. He is quick to count the blessings when my eyes are blurry with tears. He is my anchor. He is my steady fortress. He is my heart’s home, albeit far.

Bonus: I am most grateful for the faith instilled in me since I was a child. Because of this faith, I have hope. And indeed, hope is a thing with feather. It can keep you afloat despite the weight you carry.

What are you thankful for?

11.24.2020
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books i read because of recommendations

Do you have fellow book lovers whom you call when you need book recommendations? I asked because The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday this week is Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me .

My answer to the question above is yes, I do have a handful! And here are the books they recommended!

Great Expectations

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – recommended by the husband as he said this is one of the rare classics he actually liked.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – recommended by bonu, my sister in law who is a fellow book lover!

Bread, Cement, Cactus: A Memoir of Belonging and Dislocation by Annie Zaidi

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko OgawaStephen Snyder (Translator)

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

These books were part of a “Nameless Reading Group” I was a part of since April, founded by the brilliant writer that is Anmol. It was my first time joining a reading group and I definitely discovered new genres and writers because of them.

My Talisman: The Poetry and Life of Alexander Pushkin

My Talisman: The Poetry and Life of Alexander Pushkin by Julian Henry Lowenfeld – suggested by my Rodnoy, my brother in pen, who I have lost early this year. He introduced me to Pushkin, Baudelaire, Leonard Cohen, and more.

The Best of Ruskin Bond by Ruskin Bond

Sesher Kobita, The Last Poem by Rabindranath Tagore

Die Trying (Jack Reacher, #2) by Lee Child

Calling Sehmat by Harinder Sikka

Capping this list with four more recommendations from the husband. 🙂 Because of him, I have discovered the wisdom and eloquence of Ruskin Bond and Rabindranath Tagore.

Have you read any of these books? What are the books you read because of recommendations? Did you enjoy them? Share your thoughts and your TTT below!

10.20.2020
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10 books with long titles

The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday ‘s theme for the week is about October 13: Super Long Book Titles. I looked back at the books I’ve read to see if I have some on my lists. Out of the over 300 titles I was able to read, a huge 90% are titled with few words, some just one or even just two.

So I am not sure if the below novels really do have “Super Long” titles, but these are the ones which I think would fit the prompt best. 🙂 As a fan of quotes, I’ll do a bonus sharing here, too! Here we go:

1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

“I want my name to mean me.”

2. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

“The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it.”

3. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (The Hundred-Year-Old Man, #1) by Jonas Jonasson

“Revenge is like politics, one thing always leads to another until bad has become worse, and worse has become worst.”

4. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

“Because not all monsters were monsters in the beginning. Some are monsters born of sorrow.”

5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou’s Autobiography, #1) by Maya Angelou

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

6. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl SandbergAdam M. Grant

“Let me fall if I must fall. The one I become will catch me.”

7. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”

8. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIVDesmond TutuDouglas Carlton Abrams (Translator)

“Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.”

9. Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

“The most precious thing you can give someone is your time, Chika, because you can never get it back. When you don’t think about getting it back, you’ve given it in love.”

10. My Talisman: The Poetry and Life of Alexander Pushkin by Julian Henry Lowenfeld

“But flaming youth in all it’s madness
Keeps nothing of its heart concealed:
It’s loves and hates, its joys and sadness,
Are babbled out and soon revealed.”

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a favorite novel with a super long title? Share your thoughts and TTT below!

10.13.2020
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10 book quotes from my recent reads

I missed last week of  The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday so here I am catching up. 🙂 Given that I do not have much to share about books with fall covers, please allow me to post about: Favorite Book Quotes (these could be quotes from books you love, or bookish quotes in general).

Suppose permission is granted, here are the lines that moved my heart from my most recent reads. 🙂

1. “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

2. “Remember: the quality of the answers we get in this life is based on the quality of the questions we ask.” ―  Charles R. Johnson, The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling

Not Here

3. “No one wants to be alive when they’re forgotten.” ― Hieu Minh Nguyen, Not Here

4. “If you want to know why people sacrifice everything for love, you have to start by asking how they fell in love.” ― Stephen Westaby, Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

5. “You have to have a home first to be uprooted from it. You have to know what love is to feel alone.” ― Etaf Rum, A Woman is No Man

Things My Son Needs to Know about the World

6. “Life is all about small margins. A few inches here and there.” ― Fredrik Backman, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

7. “Every time you sat down to create something your soul was at stake. Every page—indeed, every paragraph—had been a risk. Every sentence had been a prayer.” ― Charles R. Johnson, Night Hawks: Stories

Sea Prayer

8. “You know a bomb crater
can be made into a swimming hole.

You have learned
dark blood is better news
than bright.”
― Khaled Hosseini, Sea Prayer

9. “What is pertinent is the calmness of beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.” ― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

Children of the Land

10. I thought about what I had lost, what I continued to lose, and I realized it was the same thing we had been losing for centuries, the ability to say “enough.” ― Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Children of the Land

What are your favorite book quotes? Share them below with your TTT, too!

10.06.2020
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10 books on my Fall 2020 TBR

Amidst the chaos and division happening, there is one thing I think we all can agree in. This year is challenging, physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and all the -ly’s I missed to write here.

As I try to look at the bright sides of life (to keep me sane as I near my 7th month aloneness in a foreign land as an expat), 2020 has been a productive year for my reading-self. My target was just to read 24 books and as of now, I have finished 47 books! Oh, and in case you want to know about the best reads (so far) for the year, you can find them here.

How will this year wrap-up in terms of the “reading” part of A Reading Writer? We’ll see today as this week’s The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday is about Books On My Fall 2020 TBR (or spring if you live in the southern hemisphere).

I divided them into genres, for easier reference. 🙂

Category: Contemporary Fiction and a Re-read

The First Phone Call from Heaven

I’ve read The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom back in 2014. Currently, I am re-reading it via virtual storytelling sessions with my husband whom I last saw earlier this year because we’re stuck away from each other. #LoveInTheTimeOfCovid, that is. I read to him almost every night, one chapter per day. It will take time but sharing moments together despite the miles is a key to keeping the love alive, I guess. 🙂

Category: Classic

Great Expectations

I have mentioned quite a lot of times that I am (forgive me) not a classic fan but Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is suggested by the husband, hence I am braving this 500+ pages novel and let’s see how it goes!

Category: Asian Writers (descent)

Aside from trying some classics this year (like Wuthering Heights), I also made a pact with myself to read more from Asian writers. The definition can be those who still live in this continent or Asian in terms of descent. I’ve read a couple this year and I am following them up with these three: The Leavers by Lisa Ko , A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, and The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Category: Non-Fictions for my Writing Heart

As you may know by now, the half of “A Reading Writer” is a “poetry writer” and a corporate writer. Hence my interest towards the craft extends to my “reading”-half, too. Currently, I have The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles R. Johnson, On Writing
by Charles Bukowski and Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder. I am excited to learn a lot from these amazing voices.

Category: Poetry

And this list will never be complete without poetry books. This time I want to celebrate the women poets! I have read Mary Oliver‘s Pulitzer-winning collection — Dream Work, and I was fascinated by how she uses concrete images, simple words, to convey deep emotions and realizations to her readers. So to cap of the list, here are Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems and West Wind both by Mary Oliver.

Have you read any of these books? How do you think of each category? What books are in your TBR for the rest of 2020? Share them with your TTT!

09.22.2020
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top 10 book covers i love (with quotes!)

Are you guilty of judging the book by its cover? I have to admit sometimes I do that! I asked because the The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday today is a Cover Freebie (choose your own topic, centered on book covers or cover art).

Instead of just sharing the 10 covers I adore the most, all of them I have read once or more, I also want to share today some verses from each book to give you a sneak peek of the world inside their lovely skins.

1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Life has to end. Love doesn’t.

2. Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

Manuscript Found in Accra

Only he who gives up is defeated. Everyone else is victorious.

3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1)

Our first relationship with a male is with our fathers. It affects how we relate to men forever.

4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”

5. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time

I think grief is like a really ugly couch. It never goes away. You can decorate around it; you can slap a doily on top of it; you can push it to the corner of the room—but eventually, you learn to live with it.

6. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones

Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained.

7. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

“All humans are musical. Why else would the Lord give you a beating heart?”

8. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

“The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”

9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

My mother had always told her kids: if you’re about to do something, and you want to know if it’s a bad idea, imagine seeing it printed in the paper for all the world to see.

Share the book covers you love below and your TTT, too!

09.15.2020
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10 books for my younger self

It is Tuesday and it is the time of the week again — The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday !

The topic for the 8th of September is: Books for My Younger Self (These could be books you wish you had read as a child, books younger you could have really learned something from, books that meshed with your hobbies/interests, books that could have helped you go through events/changes in your life, etc.).

This means it’s time to dig into my Goodreads again and find the reads which I think my younger-self could learn a lot from. Here we go…

Books 1-5: Reads which could have taught me a lot about poetry

Dream Work by Mary Oliver; Helium by Rudy Francisco; Anna Akhmatovaby Anna Akhmatova; And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou; The Captain’s Verses by Pablo Neruda 

As the name of the blog suggests, I am a reading writer. I used to read for leisure, and write professionally at my work. Come 2015, after a virtual poetry workshop here on WordPress, I have rekindled my love for writing poems.

Since then there was no turning back. After two poetry collections which can be found here: https://areadingwritr.wordpress.com/portfolio/published-work/, I still have a lot to learn about the world of rhymes, rhythms, and lyrical verses. And the books above helped me with that, and it would have been lovely if my younger-self was exposed with these books as well.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Book 6: Lessons about human history

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

When Breath Becomes Air

Book 7: Lessons about mortality, fairness of life, living every moment

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Gitanjali

Book 8: Lessons about the world outside my country, life and love beyond what I knew when I was young, and the power of words when weaved right

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

Between Shades of Gray

Book 9: Lessons about the strength of a human heart, finding hope during one of the darkest chapters of history

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

All the Bright Places

Book 10: Lessons about the joy and pain of young love

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

What are the books which you would suggest to your younger-self?

Share them below, along with your TTT, too!

09.08.2020
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10 best reads of 2020 (so far)

This week’s The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday is actually about “Books that Make Me Hungry (They could have food items on the cover, foods in the title, be about foodies or have food as a main plot point… they could be cookbooks or memoirs, etc.)”.

I checked my Goodreads account and figured that I would not be able to satisfy the prompt hence I took this turn. I will be featuring 10 of the best books I’ve read this year (so far!), instead. Please forgive me. 🙂

Just a quick story, back in January, I set my Goodreads Challenge 2020 to 24 books only. This is because in 2019 I was three books short of fulfilling my target reads for the year which is the same number. And then the pandemic happened which forced me to live alone as an expat in a foreign land for almost six months now.

I took refuge in reading so till date, 45 books have served as my company this year. And here are the most amazing so far:

The Remains of the Day

1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Not a fan of classics but this one changed my mind. It is smooth and reflective and touching, all at the same time.

The Secret Life of Bees

2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I love how Sue Monk Kidd was able to bring depth to each of the character in this book, and incorporate the lovely bees in it.

Dream Work

3. Dream Work by Mary Oliver

If you are looking for quality poems, this book has them.

Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

4. Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby

Have learned a lot about heart diseases and the lives that have been affected by such in this book. It is interesting to know the story and what is going inside the surgeon’s mind as well.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

5. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

I love how this provided me with the view of a life I was not aware of, the tea-pickers of ancient China. Tender and touching.

A Woman Is No Man

6. A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

This is a book all women of color should read. It is heartrending and powerful

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Suggested by my sister-in-law, this novel is a quick read because it will keep you on turning pages after pages because it is THAT intriguing.

Britt-Marie Was Here

8. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Backman is my new favorite author. Britt Marie has his signature humor, sarcasm, and softness.

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

9. Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou

Maya is Maya and her words will always be aflame with passion and hope.

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

10. Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

Leaving me in tears, as always, Mitch’s new non-fiction is a beautiful reminder of how parenthood can change one’s heart, and grief as well.

Have you read any of these books? What are your best reads of 2020 so far? Feel free to share in the comment box, with your TTT, too!

09.01.2020
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Questions for my favorite authors

Among the several authors I admire, I have two who have never failed to stir something inside me whenever I read their work. They are Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, and Maya Angelou, the poetess and writer behind I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings.

The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday this week allows us to ask questions to our favorite authors, either still here with us or not, so below are mine.

  1. Why do you or did you write?
  2. What time of the day do you usually write?
  3. Agatha Christie munched on apples while bathing to have plot ideas, do you have a way to call for your “muse”?
  4. Have you encountered writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
  5. Who among the characters you’ve written do you see yourself the most?
  6. What is the first novel or poem you’ve read?
  7. Who are your writing influences?
  8. What makes a powerful read?
  9. What is the most important lesson that you want to impart to your readers?
  10. How can a writer affect their readers as well as you do?

That would be all. Looking forward to reading your TTTs, too!

08.23.2020
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10 books as Netflix shows or movies

So the title may make you think that I am a fan of novel-turned-movies or series but, a quick disclaimer, I am not.

When I was younger, I used to be a fan of Nicholas Sparks and I’ve watched all his novels’ adaptations and not a single one is better than the book version.

But The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday this week is about “Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies (submitted by Nushu @ Not A Prima Donna Girl)”. So let’s see how this will work. 🙂

 

1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harariwhat i love most about this book is how it was able to share a lot of hardcore, historical scientific facts in an engrossing way. Would be nice to see this, somehow, in a documentary format.

2. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom – Albom turned into a full-blown novelist on this one and I think, if the screenplay will follow the storyline of this book, it would be an epic film.

3. A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum – this novel is so close to reality that you can feel the characters personally. If adapted nicely, this can be a powerful movie.

A Woman Is No Man

4. These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card – this debut novel follows multiple perspectives and stitched their connections eloquently, which makes it a candidate for a great immigrant visual story.

These Ghosts Are Family

5. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See – such a touching which i think can touch and educate a lot of hearts if it becomes a motion picture.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

6. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – there are scenes in this haunting book which i felt like i am watching a movie than reading a book, so there you go!

The Family Upstairs

7. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman – i am huge backman fan and with this novel’s right mix of magical and realistic aspects, i believe it will be appreciated by film fans, too. (i’ve read that rights for this has bough already, so it may well be on its way!)

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

8. The Unwanted: A Memoir of Childhood by Kien Nguyen – memoirs have a different pull for my heart. this story is true and is cruel but is powerful.

The Unwanted: A Memoir of Childhood

9. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – speaking of memoir, this is one of the best ones i’ve read so far. reading its title clenches my heart, already. i’ll probably cry my eyes out if this becomes a movie.

When Breath Becomes Air

10. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult – Picoult has a lot of movie adaptations on her sleeves and i believe this historical fiction of her should join that roster.

The Storyteller

That’s it! Share on the comments your own reads which you want to see in big (or small) screen!

08.11.2020
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