I buy books. And sometimes I read them. This blog is for the times when I do more than just store shelf candy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Give Books

The holidays are not over yet. Still have time to give a gift.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Awarded, Flabbergasted

I feel like one of those Oscar award winners without a script. I just want to thank my hairdresser and PinkLady. Well, really just PinkLady for giving me my first ever blog award. I don't feel deserving. Sniff. Sniff. Raising trophy. Thanks, Bing. I am thrilled. And i pass on this Butterfly Award to:

Ed Ebreo who posts beautiful metaphors. Ed has inspired me to write for a bigger audience and has also been so patient in teaching me tips and techniques for blogging. He sees the world in a different way and he cares enough to share his thoughts in very interesting ways.

Monday, December 8, 2008


What sells a product these days? Is it price point? Is it the buyer’s need? Are product features and benefits the deciding factors for customers to buy? Seth Godin says it is none of those. Seth Godin says, it is the story.

Marketers, according to Godin, rely on the age-old tradition of story-telling to sell ideas and products to consumers. If the stories fit the consumers’ worldviews, if the stories strike them as authentic and remarkable, then chances are they’re going to buy, and you have a happy marketing story.

So, why the title? Well, the bad news is that, according to Godin, those stories are lies. The good news is that those are the lies that consumers, aka suckers, like us want to hear. Yes, we would like to think that there is detergent that will wash out last night’s revelry of red wine and oily tapas from our shirt. A consumer would want to believe that that skin whitener would make Dodong choose her over that mestiza bitch. We want to believe that hope can be purchased from Cash and Carry for 99.95.

Readers of Seth Godin know that he is a skilled marketer, and he knows how to tell his stories well. This book is no exception. Godin teaches us how to tell marketing stories that can influence consumers not just to buy, but also to go tell everyone else in their circle of influence to buy. He uses a lot of true marketing cases to illustrate his points.

In summary, Godin tells us in his usual engaging, informative manner that It’s the story and not the facts. Marketers deal with emotions, not reason. In marketing, the guy who knows the business of telling a story is the one who lives happily ever after.


In his teens, Nicky Cruz was one of New York's most feared gang leaders. Today, he is an evangelist who preaches a powerful message of redemption. With his powerful anointing, he has led youth from the different ghettos of the world to come to know Christ.

He starts this book by talking about how his family was saved from the evils of witchcraft and how they lived the rest of their lives serving the Lord. What an encouraging story for those of us who are praying for the salvation of our families.

But Nicky Cruz urges us to think beyond our families, but to be obsessed with sharing the good news to every lost soul in every place the Holy Spirit leads us.

"That's how God works when He redeems His people. He does so much more than save us; He restores us. Whatever Satan has stolen, God gives back. Whatever time we've lost to sin, He reclaims through love. The wounds inflicted upon us by the world are healed by His wonderful grace.
This is the Jesus we worship - the Savior who died so that we can live!
This is the message we bring to a world still bound by sin.
This is the only testimony worth telling - the only think that really matters!
How can we not shout it out from the rooftops? How can we ever slip into moments of apathy after all that God has done for us? How can we not live with uninhibited passion and zeal, knowing what we know? understanding what we understand about Satan and his lies? after experiencing the unconditional forgiveness that Jesus brings?
How can any man keep silent?
Since the day Jesus came into my heart, my obsession in life has been to save lost souls. At that moment, Jesus burned into my heart a soul obsession - a blazing passion for those in need of a Savior. It is a fire that runs through my veins - what drives me forward, day after day, month after month, year after glorious year. My heart bursts with the message of God's love and faithfulness, and all I want to do is to share that truth with others!"

Nicky Cruz says it takes three things to reach a lost world -- passion, mercy, and vision. And the rest of the book he uses to tell stories that illustrate these three things.

"If you want to change the world, begin by letting God change you. By letting the passion of Jesus become your passion. By letting the Holy Spirit be your only guide and mentor every step, every minute of the day. By allowing God to set your heart on fire with a soul obsession!"

Indeed, a message that must be heard.


It took me a long time to get to this book. Bought it in 2001 and started reading it only at the start of March. Took me a long time to read through it as well since I was busy reading tons of materials for work. Today as I go through its last pages, I wished I didn't have to stop reading it.

The story is set in a sleepy town in Alabama and that's how it starts and progresses. Slow, meandering accounts of rural summers spent by the 9-year old narrator, Jean Louise Finch, or more aptly nicknamed Scout, with her older brother Jem and her "fiance" Dill. I felt at first that the book was just a series of vignettes but I eventually saw the strong, cohesive plot that ties all the charming stories together. But it's a slow, steady build to its climax, when their cool, calm, poker-faced father Atticus defended a negro in a rape case that rocked sleepy Maycomb. The ending, which is exciting, surprising, heart-melting, gasp-inducing and awe-inspiring, neatly brings together all the supposedly unrelated events and ends with what the book started with - how Jem got his arm badly broken. I have never fallen in love with a fictional family as I have with the Finches. Scout talks with the innocence of a kid, but narrates with the wisdom of an adult. Atticus, not a flashy character at all, endears you with his principles and his style of parenting totally devoid of any patronizing quality. The characters charm you, but the story makes you think. Today is about half a century from when the book was published and more than 70 years since the setting of this story, but the moral lessons and the views on race, real Christianity, equality, love are just as relevant today.

This book makes a quick climb into my list of favorites.


Being an advocate of child protection, I was, of course, appalled by the theme of this book. There is nothing appealing about this unusual, or more like bizaare romance, if you can call it that, between a ninety year old man and a 14-year old virgin. Yes, worse than the age disparity between Lolita and Humbert Humbert.

The attraction to the book was the size. I was behind on my 2-book a month target; this one, with its 115 pages, offered a way for me to catch up. This, however, is not a lightweight by literary standards. Excellent writing as is always the case for Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Much praise should also go to the book's translator, Edith Grossman. I often wonder about book translators -- if they can use the English language the way they do, why do they not write books themselves.

Back to Marquez. This book proves what a remarkable writer he is. As he writes from the point of view of the ninety year old man, you get to see life the way he does, and with him, rejoice, obsess, fear, grieve, panic, and go through all the crazy emotions of being in love. And for a moment, for 115 pages, suspend judgment and forget how perverse his desires really are.

To recap: iffy subject, remarkable writing, i'm back on target on my 24-books for 2008 goal.

Monday, December 1, 2008


It might not be the kind of book someone planning to get pregnant should read. Some parts can really scare, trouble, or depress a mother-to-be. But, Annie Lamott writes so vividly, so poignantly about her experience. She just gives you a realistic, non-romanticized story of motherhood. And so, I say anyone planning to be a mom should read this. Colic, baby acne, financial issues, one realizes, are all part of the motherhood package. But so is falling in love with your baby that your heart feels it's about to burst. This book made me an Anne Lamott fan. I'll be in the lookout for her novels.


I've never heard of this book nor of this author until I found this book at my mom's place (It's my sister's) and I was intrigued enough to read it. What a pleasant surprise. It's one of those books which you can visualize as a movie, as if the author meant for it to be filmed. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Martin Clark knows how to paint vivid pictures. He details the settings, the scenarios, the emotions, even the scents, and I felt I was part of this crazy adventure. The narrative is peppered with generous bits of snort out loud humor, wacky characterization, weird events that make you think that maybe Martin Clark is as dope-addled, yet still as lovable, as his characters. I enjoyed this one immensely

THE WAY OF THE SHEPHERD by Kevin Leman & William Pentak

How I wish I read this book at the time when I was a first time manager.

This should be required reading for those tackling for the first time the challenge of leading and coaching people. Long-time managers can also benefit from reading this. It details a very simple yet sensible approach to leadership. Some of the lessons you know instinctively, and some make you say Aha. All are presented in a logical, step-by-step manner through a modern day parable.

THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hossein

One of those books that was just too painful to put down. So I finished it in a day. Great story. Hosseini is a skilled storyteller. The description of the settings - the time, the place, the circumstances - is very rich and detailed that you don't just get involved in the story, you also learn a bit of Afghanistan history. Yet even if it's set in Afghanistan, certain themes like family, friendships, betrayal, forgiveness are universal. I dare not summarize the plot lest I make it sound trite, telenovelaic; for to some degree it is. It's just the kind of emotionally charged book that is designed to hit you in the gut and make you cry and you hate it that you do. I dare you not to.


by Anne Fadiman

Word geeks, carnal book lovers, salivate. If you like books about books, books that celebrate your celebration of books and words, you're going to love this book. Just how many times did I say the word book there?

Anne Fadiman grew up in a family who climax on the joy of sesquipedalians. She and her brother are carnal book lovers - people who love their books to pieces, consider hard use not as disrespect but intimacy, bringing them everywhere, even to the sauna. Then Anne Fadiman marries and the conjugalization of their books is treated with more angst than the marriage of their finances.

As Entertainment Weekly Harlan describes this, "18 stylish, dryly humorous essays that pay tribute to the joy of reading, the delights of a language, and the quirks of fellow bibliophiles."

MICROSERFS by Douglas Coupland

It's not the kind of book I would buy. But I was stuck in a weekend vacation with no book and that was the only one available. I like the stream of consciousness journal style narrative, even though I found it hard to connect with the characters. I mean, they're quirky and they're smart. Okay, I'm a bit quirky.

The surprise ending is just that -- an unexpected ending that had me in tears. Okay, just microtears. A case of high touch versus high tech.

It takes a certain kind of geek to appreciate this. For my kind of geek, this would do when there's nothing else to read.


I read this at a time when I did want to escape from it all. To keep on walking and walking and walking and walking until the ground below you is no longer familiar and the faces around you don't know you. So I loved it then as it fed my fantasy.

I wonder how I'll feel reading about it now at a happier time.


Letters from the devil to a tyro-devil. What a novel and effective way to teach Christian living -- its pitfalls, its temptations, and the assured victory.

BLINDNESS by Jose Saramago

Imagine that in one moment you can see, and then the next you lose your vision. Suddenly, all you can see is a thick fog of opaque whiteness. You're blind and you don't know why. The doctor can't tell you why either. And then you realize that people you come into contact with grow blind as well.


Blindess is my all-time favorite work of fiction. Gripping. It has the feel of reality TV, back when reality TV like Survivor, was about answering the question what if? What if one by one, people started seeing nothing but white. What if blindness became contagious? What if this contagion of blindness grips the city, the country, maybe even the world? What if you put all the blind people in one place and there's no one to take care of them? Would it bring out the evil or the good in people? If you're massively interested in human dynamics, this book brings you to the edges of imagining how people would react in extreme, but strangely possible, situations. Against a backdrop so surreal your jaws drop while reading, Saramago paints characters who could very well be real.

If this is not Saramago's best work, I can't wait to read his other masterpieces. The wannabe writer in me aches in envy. How can one write fiction without using proper nouns? Saramago did, and his work didn't suffer any. Excellent writing. He deserves his Nobel.

THE EDIBLE WOMAN by Margaret Atwood

by Margaret Atwood

Hmmm. I don't know why this book had a mills & boon feel to it. Or was that precisely how it should feel like? Too humdrum, too lethargic for me. And I have to admit, with a title like that, I felt shortchanged, expecting mind blowing, life altering sex between her and Duncan. But then again, maybe that was intention. Atwood is one of my favorite writers, but this novel is not my favorite Atwood.

The Fun of It: Stories from The Talk of the Town Feb 27, '08 7:01 AM

Various Writers, Edited by Lillian Ross

This has served as my toilet-side book for years.

192 essays written by various authors like EB White (of White & Strunk fame), Lillian Ross, John Updike, and even Jacqueline Onassis. Not just commentaries on slices of life, but also the most ingenious ways of disguising 5W reporting.

Lifted from The Talk of the Town column of The New Yorker magazine, the collection starts in the 1920s and spans 9 decades of crisp yet descriptive writing. Each essay is concise - a thousand words or less. Perfect for toilet-reading. 1 piece a visit.

One of the last pieces I read , Intensive Care by Susan Orlean who talked about her brief talking part in "All My Children" and The Smell by John Seasbrook, had me smiling. I was sad when I finished the book and had to finally put it back in the shelf.”


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