Saturday, October 13, 2012

Would You Read a Book that is Insanely Difficult?

"The Interpretation of Dasein in its everydayness, however, is not identical with the describing of some primitive stage of Dasein with which we can become acquainted empherically through the medium of anthropology: Everydayness does not coincide with primitiveness, but is rather a mode of Dasein's being, even when that Dasein is active in a highly differentiated culture - and precisely then."
~Martin Heidegger

Two months ago the search for the world's most difficult books came to an end.  The adventurous and brave reader will be dared to give them a try.  Click over to Publishers Weekly for the list.

When boredom strikes or when the mind needs some push, I love to be challenged.  It adds that spice in everyday that one needs once in a while.

This is why I picked up Heidegger's Being and Time.  I got this in 2009, about the same time as The Million started its quest for the most difficult books.

I've read, reread, and reread it over and over for more than the number my fingers and toes can count but I can never get past page 77 or part 1.  And each time I end up with more forehead wrinkles accompanied by a headache.

"The 'essence' [Wesen] of this entity lies in its "to be" [Zu-sein].  It's Being-what-it-is [Was-sein] (essentia) must, so far as we can speak of it at all, be conceived in terms of its Being (existentia)."

...See what I mean?
The book drives me crazy!
His intelligence is so demanding!
But those are some of the things that makes the world of reading fun.

Back to the question: Would you read a book that is insanely difficult?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Book Review: The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova

"Marriages are like certain books, a story where you turn the last page and you think it's over, and then there's an epilogue, and after that you're inclined to go on wondering about the characters or imagining that their lives continue without you, dear reader.  Until you forget most of the book, you're stuck puzzling over what happened to them after you close it."
~ Elizabeth Kostova

This book is a detective story without the frills and thrills of a typical hollywood mystery or "it" novels.  Each chapter peels a thin layer after another slowly revealing the secrets of the plot and its characters.

My first impression upon reading the prologue is boredom.  But it was nothing of that.  As I continued to read, I became interested in the characters, what made them the way they are.

The first half of this book searches and finds answers on who Robert Oliver is.  The other half explores the mystery of his obsession.

As beautiful as the storyline is how the author wrote it.  She can bring to life the paintings she pictures and the settings she puts her characters in.  She introduces her characters with such skill that readers will understand their insights, feelings, melancholy, and mania.

Overall, this book is timeless.  Might even be a classic.  I would compare the beauty of this book to the quiet morning breeze.  It will take patience to read through it but satisfaction comes in following their stories until the very last page, until the very last word.

I know Kostova's first book, The Historian, is about vampires.  I am repulsed by books that depend on vampires or the paranormal to make it interesting.  But after reading her writing in The Swan Thieves I think I will someday be giving The Historian a try.

Book: The Swan Thieves
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Number of pages: 607
Published by: Sphere
Price: PHP 299
Available at: Fully Booked

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's the Weekend!

Dearest Readers,

Friday!  Friday!  Friday!  Yesterday was a Friday.  That day of the week always excites me because the day after it means I can forget, for two days, about the office and all of its pressures and challenges.

Saturdays for me amounts to doing the laundry and tidying up the living space for the first part of the day.  And be lazy and read for the next half of it.  What joy!

While I was doing the cleaning this adorable dog is doing what she does best:
being cute!

Currently reading...
I'm half way through "The Swan Thieves".
Book review coming soon.

thinking about a post for the other blog...
Looks like I may be out of ideas for now :(

and a reward or two...
For a healthy digestion ;)

How about you dear reader, how do you spend your weekend?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Book Review: Holiness Day by Day, by Jerry Bridges

"The Holy Spirit's work in transforming us more and more into the likeness of Christ is called sanctification.  Our involvement and cooperation with Him in His work is what I call the pursuit of holiness.  That expression is taken from Hebrews 12:14: 'Strive for [literally pursue]... the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.'

...the pursuit of holiness must be anchored in the grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure."
~Jerry Bridges

I'm not a big fan of devotionals but I absolutely love this one.  It's a gem of encouragement for everyday to live in a way that pleases God.  It contains tidbits, but chunky ones, from different books by Bridges' such as Transforming Grace, The Pursuit of Holiness, The Gospel for Real Life, The Discipline of Grace, Respectable Sins, and The Fruitful Life.

While reading this it is hard to not examine my own heart, to see it in its fallen bankrupt state and to see what it has become through God's grace found in Christ.  Jesus paid the price for us to be able to live in the way that delights Him.  Ain't that just wonderful?

Bridges' love for God is so catching you will be heartened to begin a journey with Jesus or to continue in the journey of pursuing holiness.

Book: Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for your Spiritual Journey
Author: Jerry Bridges
Publisher: OMF Literature Inc.
Price: PHP 250
Available at: OMF Lit book shops

Monday, September 10, 2012

Inspiration Dior: Coffee Table Inspiration

I rarely buy coffee table books because they tend to be more expensive than the regular good ol' book.  This book is one of the few I have.

Inspiration Dior.  I got a glimpse of this magnificent exhibit held at the Pushkin Museum though a newsletter in which when the link was clicked it took the viewer through a breathtaking 3D interactive tour of the exhibit.  For those who can't be in Russia at that time, the virtual tour was the next best thing.  And so is this book.

This book chronicles the evolution of the House of Dior: the fashion, silhouettes, and inspirations, the perfume bottles, bags, and jewelry.  It also tells us a little bit about Mr. Dior and how a small cast-iron shaped into a star spurred him on to his legacy.

Dior paved the way for femininity to once again take over over the masculinity that enveloped women's fashion.  And until the current time that house keeps on redefining the feminine to be more relevant in today and tomorrow's masculine and androgynous mainstream.

Overall, this huge book is packed with photographs of Dior's best dresses and gowns that rocked their time. It is expensive and I cannot say if it is worth the price but those looking for fashion inspiration will enjoy this visual feast.

Book:  Inspiration Dior
Pages:  327 (including captions and acknowledgements)
Publisher:  Abrams
Price:  PHP 5,625
Available at:  Fully Booked (check for availability)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Author: Antonia Fraser

"Fraser brings a completely sure hand to everything she writes.  A lot of historians have a flair and panache but in the end it turns out that it wasn't 1810 it was 1812...  You never have that with Antonia Fraser.  When she says Marie Antoinette wore green you know that she wore green."
~Amanda Foreman (Quote Source: The Guardian)

Photo Source: Wikipedia
Lady Antonia Fraser, the eldest daughter of the 7th Earl and Countess of Longford, has a colorful life as those who she writes about.  She got married, had children, wrote several very good books, almost got killed by an IRA carbomb, got divorced, got married again, and went on to write even more very good books.

She is said to have promoted history into what it has become today: interesting and accessible.

I have read several books by Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette being the first.  Her books aren't my favorite but I got to say they are the ones that got me into reading biographies.  The information she gives her readers are tremendous and accurate.  She can give you information on what Mary Queen of Scots had for dinner while sailing from France to Scotland.  She writes intellectually, which, I find enjoyable to read.   Her heart for her historical subjects make her extremely sympathetic and much biased.  But maybe those are some of the things that make her books stand out.

Have you read any historical biographies by Antonia Fraser?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Book Review: House, by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker

A collaboration between two of today's best thriller writers: Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker.

The result is...

...a really. scary. book.  I'm a bona-fide scaredy-cat, so, I don't know if other readers will be as creeped out as I was.

House is a story that follows 7 characters trapped inside a haunted house who are forced to play a game imposed by the serial killer, Barsidious White.  While they play along they will have to kill one in their group if they want to get out of the house alive.  As the game progresses they each will face their own fears and the darkness of their hearts.

The reader is taken through twists and turns until you can see the characters for who they really are.

Overall, this book, though creepy, is a lightweight and very good read.  The symbolisms the authors entwined throughout the plot is remarkable.

Book: House
Author: Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker
Number of pages: 372
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Price: PHP 550

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Book Review: Golda, by Elinor Burkett

"If only political leaders would allow themselves to feel as well as to think, the world might be a happier place."
~Golda Meir

She was the first woman Israeli Prime Minister.  So far she is the only woman who became prime minister in the state of Israel.

This book chronicles Golda's life from Milwaukee to Israel, from a student activist to politician, from prime minister to icon.  Golda was reckless, and worldly.  Married her husband but then run off with different men and with politics.  She was resourceful and passionate.  She stayed true to her ideals and fought for it no matter the outcome.  She dreamt of a perfect socialist Israel without crimes, corruption, and capitalism.  She labored for it but ended up disillusioned as poverty and unemployment increased, crimes were rampant, corruption was present in the government, and capitalism became the dog of greed.

Golda Meir genuinely cared for her people.  The experiences she lived through and witnessed has shaped her views, her policies, and who she was as a person but most of all as a politician.

Elinor Burkett has written an excellent biography.  She places the reader inside the events that have taken place and puts the reader beside the Iron Lady herself.  While reading this book I got to laugh with Golda and at her, get the feel of the victory they won, be outraged at some of the outcomes, be sad when her people were mistreated, cheered for her political stance, and be disappointed on some of her actions.

This is a biography that is neither sympathetic or apathetic.  Burkett gives the readers room to critique Golda, to hate her, or to love her.  There is no room for in-between.

Overall, if you love to read biographies and would want to get to know who Golda Meir is, this book is a good read.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Books First Lines

They say to not judge a book by its cover.  I don't, but, I do judge it by its first lines.

First lines printed on a page.  It can capture or lose readers.  

Reading a good one is like receiving an embrace and welcoming words from a new friend.  Encountering a bad one is like listening to a stranger with bad breath talk gibberish or hearing nails scratching on chalkboards.

Here are some first lines that I find arresting:
"It was love at first sight."
~Catch 22, Joseph Heller

"Woof!  Woof woof!  Woof!  Woof!  

Barking in the night.  Barking, barking.  I shriek but no one answers.  I scream but there's not even an echo."
~Nexus, Henry Miller

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.  Lo.  Lee.  Ta."
~Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

"In the middle of the twentieth century three men were charged with the task of removing the tension between minute and vast things."
~Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Lydia Millet

"Who is John Galt?"
~Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

What are your favorite first lines?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Blogger Hop Meme

Book Blogger Hop

This is the first time I ever participated in a meme and I like! :)

Who is your go-to author when you're in a reading rut?

My go-to author is Joel C. Rosenberg.  His novels put me on the edge that I just have to continue reading.  His light and suspenseful novels give me the momentum to get out of reading rut.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

When History becomes Fiction

There has been news about recalling from shelves and halting publishing of The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths you've always Believed About Thomas Jefferson due to inaccuracies and misinterpretations made by the author.  You can read the full story here.

There are numerous reasons why, if not careful, historians or writers can turn history into fiction.  History is such a gigantic subject.  It is a given that historians tend to be biased on their subject or topic based on their beliefs and prejudices.

But when someone writes history by interpreting it to suit their bias they are then writing, well, fiction.

Also, history has countless points-of-view and the historian is limited to their chosen few to tell the story.  Therefore, it is important to have reliable sources regarding their chosen point-of-view.  But with archives and archives, and books and books of information available, this is not an easy task.

Learning from not so distant past I have no plans of reading The Jefferson Lies.

Have you read this book?
The Secret Wife of Louis XIV.  I picked this up from a discount rack of second hand books.  I was smittened with it until I searched the web for more information on the author and the book itself.

One of the author's secondary sources for this book is The Secret Diary of Louis the XIV.  Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?  It turns out that source is a fiction written by an academic imagining the contents of Louis XIV's diary if he ever had one.  How come the author of The Secret Wife..., who had a critically acclaimed book on a queen of Sweden, did not know this source is fiction?

It is heart-breaking for readers, damaging for writers, and a headache for publishers when a history book that seems promising end as being unreliable.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Reading List: The Iron Ladies, a 2nd Volume, and Thieves

Next on my list of books to read are:
Golda, Elinor Burkett - This past Israeli Prime Minister fascinates me.  She is the first to be called the Iron Lady.  She has the tenacity of a Honey Bagder, has a delightful charm, and fuses the mind with the heart in the realm of politics.  And according to the St. Petersburg Times review this book is "...a better-researched, better-written biography [of Meir]..."
"Not being beautiful forced me to develop my inner resources.  The pretty girl has a handicap to overcome."
~Golds Meir

The Iron Lady, John Campbell - I became interested in Margaret Thatcher whilst reading the wikipedia page on Golda Meir.  I wanted to know what made her also be called an Iron Lady.  Is she as head-strong as Golda?
"Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.  Where there is error, may we being truth.  Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.  And where the is despair, may we bring hope."
~Margaret Thatcher

Plexus, Henry Miller - Plexus is the 2nd volume of Miller's Rosy Crucifixion trilogy.  I've read the third volume Nexus and loved it.  I consider Henry Miller one of the best writers I've ever read.
"In my portfolio was locked the key to all human knowledge.  Presumably.  And wisdom, like Winchester, only forty miles away.  Nothing in the world is so dead as this compendium of knowledge."
~Henry Miller

The Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova - This about a doctor and a patient.  It is up to the doctor to dig deep to find out why his painter patient refuses to talk.  The story sounds like a mystery of the human psyche.  But it's not only the plot that I find interesting.  I've read the first few paragraphs while in the bookstore.  It is beautifully written.
"Someone is lighting a lantern there, too, bending over the flame, a human form but distinct in the distant window."
~Elizabeth Kostova

In dreams I am reading all these books all together at the same time.  But in reality I'll start with Golda.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My blog content must really suck

In an attempt to reach more readers, I uploaded this blog on BearFood.  After some hours on queue and with a number of visitors coming from BearFood I still have 0 points or likes, but, the blogs that came after me already have points (I don't even want to know what that blog above my entry is about).  Sad.

Oh well, there's always room for improvement.  As the saying goes, "When the going gets tough, the tough stay pretty."  (Huh?  I couldn't connect what I just typed to what I typed before what I just typed.)

Anyhoo, you should check out the BearFood's creator's witty site The Oatmeal.  It's worth the click.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Spine Poetry: Passivity

Here's another of my take on book spine poetry.


Back on the road
Atlas shrugged
the hours,
the question concerning technology,
the elegant universe.

Books I used for this book spine poetry:
Che Guevara, Back on the Road
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Michael Cunningham, The Hours
Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology
Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe

Book Spine Poetry: Either Or

Book spine poetry has been a project of American artist Nina Katchadourian in 1993.  It looked fun sorting books this way, so, I gave it a try.

Here's what I came up with.

Either Or

The ethics of ambiguity
manufacturing consent:
Pride and prejudice,
crime and punishment.

The books I used are by:
Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Do you want to give book spine poetry a try?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bastardizing the Classics: Why oh why?

Today's mass market consumerism has affected the literary world as some authors and publishers are riding on the success of literary giants by combining their books with the taste current readers have for the paranormal.

Every time I browse in book stores and see shelves stacked with such books I am filled with awe (not the good kind).

Why oh why, talented authors and publishers of today, have you decided to do this...
and this...
 and this?

Your "co-authors" are dead by now.  They cannot agree or disagree with your actions.  It is unfair.  It is treason.

Talented authors and publishers of today, I am sure you have more creative juices flowing in you.  You can do better than this.  Please labor for genius to produce awesome books that will stand the test of time.

Not only with the undead are the classics being butchered.  Following the baffling popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, the classics has been bastardized for the adult fiction readers.  Shame shame shame.

Monday, July 30, 2012


"Telescope, keep an eye on my only hope,
lest I blink and be swept off the narrow road.
Hercules, you've got nothing to say to me,
'cause you're not the blinding light that I need.

For He is the saving grace of the galaxies!"
~Galaxies, Owl City

Snapshots of the pages of 
the 1979 book by Walter Sullivan, "Black Holes"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Truth War

It grieves me to learn that apostasy runs widespread in the church today.  I thought, since we have the Bible, it was a thing of bygone medieval times.  Boy was I wrong.

I find it hard to believe there are some who heard and studied and believed the truth of the gospel but then turn away from it.  Why?  Because it did not work for them?  Since when is the truth of God's word centered on people?  Isn't it centered on God and who He is?  God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins to give us life.  But why do they turn His grace into a permission for licentiousness?  Why is the Bible being twisted by people to mean what the current culture want it to mean?  Since when is the current culture more important than eternity?

What ever happened to the fear of the Lord?

What ever happened to loving the Lord with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength?

And why are only a few Christians standing up for truth?

Oh... It's very disturbing.  

In this book, The Truth War, John Macarthur encourages real Christians who know the truth to contend, not with weapons of the flesh, for the truth.

"To be an effective warrior in the battle for truth today, several old-fashioned, Christlike virtues are absolutely essential: biblical discernment, wisdom, fortitude, determination, endurance, skill in handling Scripture, strong convictions, the ability to speak candidly without waffling, and a willingness to enter into conflict."
~John Macarthur

We must be faithful to the true meaning of the word in order to fight falsehood.  I do hope that more Christians will love the truth.

" is an urgent reason to be deeply concerned about the future of the evangelical movement, and it ought to serve as a reminder that we had better get back to fighting the war for truth.
     The way to begin is by giving Christ His due position of preeminence in the church once more."
~John Macarthur

How do we know what is true and what is not?  Sound doctrine.  Let us study God's word for what it really is.  Jesus said it best,
"If you hold to My teaching, you really are My disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
~John 8:31-32

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anna Karenina

I've read the book a couple of times.  Each time I read I get to see and feel differently for the characters.

Anna is one of those types I would love to hate.  But seeing things from her perspective I felt compassion for her.

Alexei Karenin is the character, who at first, I felt compassion for but in the end disliked.

As for Vronsky,  I hated him from beginning to end.

In the chaos of affairs Levin and Kitty are the only ones who emerged well from their struggles.

And then the movie... trailer.

Doesn't it look dazzling?

I can't wait to see how they will portray all those anti-heroes and how they will interpret the values, or lack of it, that buzz around them.

Have you read the book?  Are you excited to see the movie?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rediscovering Holiness (A Book Review)

"All ventures in holiness go rotten at the core when gain in any form, rather than gratitude, motivates them.  The true taproot of holiness is always the Spirit-prompted urge to show love to God and others by doing what is right out of gratitude to God for Jesus Christ..."
~J.I. Packer

This is one of my favorite books on holiness.  J.I. Packer makes vivid what the holiness of God is and what it means to us.  He explains that holiness is not just a concept but it is who God is and it is what He requires of us as His beloved children.  Packer goes on to say that living a pure life inside out is not as impossible as we think rather it is made possible by Jesus who paid the price of our sins on the cross and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In this journey I will fall many times, but it gives me much comfort and encouragement to know that the Creator of the universe is helping me every step of the way.  What a relief!

"The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God."
~Psalm 51:17 (NLT)

"He gave us His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds."
~Titus 2:14 (NLT)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


How I fall between shadows!
What is this night
that displays
light in absence?

The clock of sky
is relentless
in its slow circular motion
without a care.

I keep on falling.
Under its face
I am still,


as the sun seem absent,
waiting for the light
to break the night blue.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sartre and Heidegger: What is Your Essence?

"Existence precedes essence."
~John Paul Sartre

"The essence of Dasein lies in its existence."
~Martin Heidegger

Ontology!  Do I exist because I have essence or do I exist because I will have essence?  What if I say, "I am happy."  Is being "happy" the essence of "I am" because "I am" exist or does "I am" as a dasein exist because of the essence of being "happy"?

Or is this a problem of syntax?

Anatomy of a Librarian


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

"If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature.  But if God determines where He is to be found, then it will be a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me.  This place is the cross of Christ.  And whoever would find Him must go to the foot of the cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands.  This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it.  But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament..."
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I love reading biographies because I get to glean lessons from the lives of great men and women.  I have yet to get to the middle of this book but I have learned a thing or two already.

Bonhoeffer, no matter how mischievous his students were, did not lose composure and kindness to them.  I think a good and kindly composure is one of the outward manifestations of having trust in Jesus.

I get too emotional and lose composure most of the time especially in tough situations.  Next time I should remember to take a deep breath, harness those self-indulgent emotions, and think of what response will delight the Lord and then composure will be the posture.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
~Galatians 2:20

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Tehran Initiative (A Book Review)

So far I liked all the novel's from Rosenberg that I've read.  All are fast-paced action-packed political thrillers.  It's like reading something from Michael Crichton.

The Tehran Initiative is a fiction novel and sequel to the first The Twelfth Imam.  This book continues to follow David Sharizi's journey to unravel the twelfth imam's plot to destroy the world through war.  It shows three conflicting countries with differing beliefs and points of view.

I personally liked the first book more.  In reading trilogies (which this book is) the second book is often the least I like.  I find it less exciting than the first and last.  Anyway, The Tehran Initiative has suspenseful moments.  Will the nuclear devastation planned by the antagonist be stopped?  How will the characters and three main countries handle high pressure situations?  What will be the consequences of each action they take?

The secondary plot of this story is a love story.  Every now and then this gives the reader a break from all the politics and action.  But the love story, though it softens the plot, is also gripping.

This book concludes with a solution and then a cliffhanger.  The third book is called The Damascus Countdown which will be available later this year.

Have a blessed weekend!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reading List

1. Rediscovering Holiness 
J.I. Packer

2. The Tehran Initiative
Joel C. Rosenberg

3. Elijah 
Charles R. Swindoll

4. Now, That's a Good Question
RC Sproul

5. Bonhoeffer
Eric Metaxas

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dior and Marie Antoinette

"She as yet knew nothing of the crown but its flowers..."
-Marquis de Segur on Marie Antoinette, 1783

Marie Antoinette
Antonia Fraser

This book was the second book I've read about the life of Marie Antoinette.  It was a pleasure to read a biography that is empathetic to her.   Her growth from a frivolous girl into a self-controlled and nurturing woman is moving.  Her life inspired, whether for love or hate, peers, writers, painters, revolutionaries, historians.  Her style inspired designers and stylists, even regular people who loves to dress up. 

She is one of Dior's perpetual inspiration.  From the couture Mr. Dior himself created to the 254 Bleu de Paris eyeshadow quint, she is continuously celebrated.

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