As with my listing down movies, this selection of books: whether poetry, short story collection, novel or play published in the country, out-of-the-country or outer space this year, last year or in 1600s, is only about the books I’ve liked that I read this year. If you want to suggest for 2016, comment below. I’ve started the 75 book challenge for 2016.
One sad thing happened to me last year: I have read the least number of books that year than the past five years when I started reading book after book. I thought to myself that it was okay. My social life is better and it is my last year in school and I’m extra busy with my thesis. Anyway, the following are nominated for The Patrick Awards, an award I give to books because if Nobel and Mr. Man Booker do, Patrick does too. It’s basically my favorite read this year. The winner will be announced in a separate blog entry together with TV, Music and Films.
In the order that I read them, I present to you, 11 that I have rated in GoodReads with five stars:
- Looking For Alaska by John Green
One of the things I’ve loved about it is the unforgettable character that is Alaska Young which became an iconic figure in young adult literature. She is spontaneous, mysterious, and in-the-moment, hopefully a spot-on description of me someday. This debut novel by John Green is action-packed and philosophical at its core, rising debates whether this was John Green’s best work when he has not yet entered the mainstream/ pop culture via The Fault in Our Stars which I loved equally as this. I have not read every John Green so I could not decide just yet.
- Howl & Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
The titular poem which comprises half of the booklet is perhaps the chant of this generation’s ‘angel-headed hipster:’ I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by darkness… I personally memorized the first five lines. In the wake of Kill Your Darlings and also Howl (where James Franco stars as Ginsberg), I fell in love deeply with Ginsberg and his newly found rhythm to which he owes to Walt Whitman, my other beloved poet. I don’t think there is as anything as powerful as Ginsberg’s depiction of New York City in the night and the madness and darkness of it all.
One of my favorite lines includes: “with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls‘”
- Edad Medya: Mga Tula sa Katanghaliang Gulang by Jose F. Lacaba
My love for Filipino poems written in Filipino is only recent. From last year’s Dili’t Dilim by Michael Coroza to this year’s Edad Medya. I borrowed it in the university library so I had only less than a week to finish it and I did. It’s humorous, lyrical, and in the tradition of Coroza’s poetry relatable as it tackles mid-life crisis and life in the Philippines in general. Also, note that the copy I read is donated by National Artist Nick Joaquin so he had once held it and that’s extra special.
- The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
Before watching it on stage, in celebration with Women’s month, I’ve decided to read after one thoughtful close friend of mine gifted it. Despite the terrible reviews I’ve been reading now about it, I have to approximate how much it changed me to defend why it got five stars from me. First of all, it is true. Vagina, when said in public, is a taboo. People have hid it, calling it other names. And that’s misogynistic. It’s a body part of the female body. Second, it narrates different experiences of women all over the world including the Philippines. It gives us this global view, though not totally, of women all in different aspects of their lives. Lastly, it is play about moving forward. About changing lives. And I like that. There’s something about the desire to change the world that makes a person whole or fulfilled. The pure, unadulterated desire to do it.
- Histories by Charlie Samuya Veric
I’ve only realized now how diverse the genres are this year compared to last year’s list of novels and a poetry collection, and its origin. This was a required reading for our class and it was delightful. I loved every poem inside it. I have chosen to discuss The Brave in our paper because it seems like one of the best. Here it is: (this is not my property, it’s Veric’s and Ateneo Press). No cover is available in Good Reads yet. I have yet to scan it. It’s that new and less read (which is a good thing because it became something only my classmates can talk about).
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
In order to keep myself updated with what’s fresh, I decided to buy this pop culture phenomenon. It’s been mentioned in several shows and celebrity tweets so it was definitely a good decision. Little did I know that this would be my own personal Bible. Did I ever tell you the story of a guy in a mall’s bathroom who insisted that I was holding his religion’s bible? I said it was a novel. But he kept asking me what my religion was. I walked away of course but it could easily be a Bible. And we’ll call it Rosamund Pike’s cult.
The book is awesome, action-packed and fresh with the he-said she-said writing strategy. I read it because of the David Fincher movie adaptation. And to those who complain about people who only read books because they will be turned to movies the following year? Who cares if you have read it before anyone else’s? Aren’t you glad that other people read what you have read?
- Leche by R. Zamora Linmark
The only Filipino novel that made it to the list was borrowed from a classmate and read within a week. This novel poses questions that deal with the immigrant experience. What if your hometown, the Philippines is a foreign land to you, a Filipino? Are you really American because you were raised there even if Filipino traces abound? Where is home?
- Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling
Have you ever wondered who I’m trying to emulate with my incredible sophisticated sense of humor? It’s Mindy, the Queen. It is a big year for Kaling especially last year with her show’s cancellation and then revived by Hulu with a hell lot more episodes. She has struggled in Hollywood and even a million dollar book is not enough to make her underrated celebrity status to an A-list celebrity, which she deserved.
Another set of coming-of-age stories which I myself never ran out of are all in here as well like the first book in 2010. This book is my go-to book whenever I’m sick. If I’m going to the emergency room, I have to have this book with me because hospitals are boring as hell.
- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Speaking of Indians, I wrote a paper on The Namesake for my Modern Asian Literature class. I talked about the problems that rise in the Indian immigrants and the second-generation of immigrants. The Namesake represents a lot of things but it is probably ultimately about the cultural hegemony that no matter how much you retain your Indian-ness, American culture is stronger—alienating and confusing.
Every chapter of the book especially the first ones make my heart swell. My favorite scene is the baby ritual of eating solid food for the first time—it was so adorable.
- In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa
This short novel or probably a long short story or a novella has a language that is to die for. Llosa writes like the words are water. Each word is very easy to swallow and it’s intimate and refreshing. The plot is about a 10-year old boy who seduces his stepmother. There is a rather huge twist in the last chapter of the book so you must read it all. It could easily be read in one-sitting. As for my case, a hundreds of sitting. I’ve read most of it while commuting here in the traffic-congested city of Manila.
Now, that I’ve told you my 2015’s best read books. Can you guess who will win The Patrick Awards? Stay tune, my love.