A Retrospective

I’ve been privileged to see many historical and cultural landmarks, yet this random building with the most gorgeous Art Deco detailing in Makati, Philippines might be my favorite piece of architecture

Last December, my family had a big trip together for Christmas and 2018 New Year. It was a serious affair: aunt, uncle, cousins, grandparents, cousin’s wife, and cousin’s boyfriend. My uncle, who enjoys a reading hobby, had a peek at the unread books strewn inside my suitcase while I was rifling through.

“Do you still read a lot? What good books have you finished this year?” he asked, smiling and pointing at his current read – a Wilbur Smith novel. I know he’s a fan, so it was probably Smith’s latest release.

I sighed. “To be honest, I haven’t been reading much this year. I’ve been too busy with work. That’s why I’m bringing, like, three books in my suitcase. I just want to read this trip.”

“It’s good you are still reading physical books,” said my uncle. “When we moved to the new place, I organized all my books, then brought the ones I didn’t want anymore to the local used bookstores. No one would buy my books. The owners all kept saying the same thing, that no one is buying books anymore: “Bookstores are closing left and right, so we can’t afford to buy these.””

“It’s sad to see bookstores die out in my lifetime. I know, I know. On with the times. Doesn’t make it less sad, though,” he said.


Last month, I went to Manila, Philippines for a short vacation. I enjoyed the company of a dear friend from college. We lost touch for a few years, but have now reconnected and I am much happier for it. She, like me, is a voracious reader.

Haha, make that was. I asked her what she was currently reading and she responded that ever since she subscribed to Netflix, she has pretty much stopped reading. She wants to, though. She keeps buying new books to motivate her, but distractions are plenty.

(Haha, that sounds familiar)

I haven’t succumbed to a Netflix subscription. I know its availability will whittle down what leisure time I have for reading. We have so many content options these days: Netflix, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, apps, and aggregators. Choice is a good thing, but I see fewer people engrossed in doorstopper physical books.

Like my uncle, I feel a bit wrong-footed about this. Rationally, I know it comes back to reading and content consumption. But it does make me nostalgic, mostly for the simplicity of childhood.

Damn. And I’m not even that old. Oh well. On with the times.


I’m a bit sad to have missed February’s Persephone Readathon, which I was alerted to by holdsuponhappiness’ Instagram post. I completely missed the deadline to contribute, but two of my reads in 2018 made me feel cozy, comforted, and happy – what the best Persephones do.

One is a Persephone; it’s Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. For some reason, I’ve been picking it up and reading it for the past 3 years. And I always hanker for it around February/March. I suppose Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is like Pride and Prejudice in the way they make you smile and hope for a happy ending. It’s the right novel to savor during the early year doldrums.

The other novel is The New Moon with the Old by Dodie Smith, a novel that feels very Persephone Books to me. Utterly British in tone and setting, it’s cozy, charming, and well-plotted yet immersive. Plus, who can hate a novel when read at a cute creperie?

Photo Taken at Café Breton at Greenbelt Mall, Makati

One of the photographic evidence of last month’s Manila trip. I love this crepe café. If you ever go, get the crepes with butter, sugar, and lemon. Sometimes nothing beats the simplest option.


In 2017, I read the following books:

  1. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (reread)
  2. Kubah by Ahmad Tohari
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)
  4. Matilda by Roald Dahl (reread)
  5. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  6. Perfection by Debbie Lee
  7. Shelter by Jung Yun
  8. When I Carried You in My Belly by Thrity Umrigar
  9. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  11. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (reread)
  12. Green Tea by Sheridan J. Le Fanu (Penguin Little Black Classics)
  13. How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
  14. Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
  15. Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
  16. Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
  17. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
  18. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  19. Eating by Nigella Lawson (Vintage Minis)
  20. Strangers by Taichi Yamada
  21. Destination Moon (Tintin #16) by Herge
  22. Explorers on the Moon (Tintin #17) by Herge
  23. You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt

For a passionate bibliophile, 23 books is a poor annual sum. That’s fewer than 2 per month. It’s in the past, though, and I’d rather move forward. Reading and writing are my dearest passions. Why poison them with pressure? Let pressure stay at work.

Funny thing is, I’m reading more so far this year. I’ve completed 6 books and am well into several others. I think at this time last year I was struggling through my first read.

Maybe I’m reading more because I’m being more relaxed and following wants rather than only shoulds? Maybe I’m finally achieving work-life balance? Who knows? It’s working.


This has been a meandering post, hasn’t it?

It has taken writing this far for me to realize the point of this post. I think 2018 will be a good year for me, whatever the inevitable challenges. My twenties have been marked by a lot of struggling then learning priceless lessons on how to cope with whatever life throws at you. There’s precious little time left in my twenties. 2018 will be a good year because I will make it a good year. Let’s see how successful I am come December!

3 thoughts on “A Retrospective

  1. I am so glad that you’re feeling better comparing to your previous posts. And yay for the reading mood comeback and yes hope this year going to be a good year.
    Anyway I always miss you! Please write more often.

    Like

    1. Thank you for such a sweet comment. I’m happy to read it and also happy that… people enjoy what I write on this blog? Haha. This is a small blog. Sometimes my thoughts here are pretty insular so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see that readers enjoy what I write. 🙂

      Like

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