Sunday, September 16, 2012


After moving four times in the past five years, I know I have too many books. It's gotten to the point where I didn't even bother unpacking them and just left them in their boxes in the spare bedroom. After all, I've read them, so there's no need to put them out in the open, right? But it's been two years since we moved to this house and I want that space for what it was intended to be--my office.

I thought for sure I would clear out all but a few, but I couldn't bear to part with some of them even though I would never read them again.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, the Universe, and Everything

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless

I remember the summer I read the Hitchhiker's Guide books--between working (tutoring) at school, going to classes, meeting awesome people--I honestly couldn't ask for anything more. They were also the first books since Gordon Korman's books that made me really laugh out loud. The movie was a bit disappointing (except for the part where they all got slapped in the face whenever they thought anything, hehe... ooh, and Marvin!) The good stuff are in the books. RIP, Douglas Adams <3

(As a side note, I tried to say goodbye to somebody by saying, "So long and thanks for all the fish," and he didn't get it. I think it's a good thing we no longer talk. He clearly wasn't cool enough.)

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

This is probably the dumbest title I've seen in sci-fi. (I can't say anything about the story. Haven't read it.) But I know for a fact that it contains the word "grok." If I want to be able to speak to other nerds, I have to read this to know in what context "grok" originally existed. (This is actually Ben's book.)

Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (The Wallflower in English) by Tomoko Hayakawa

The Wallflower was the only manga I bothered to buy after I read the first book. Although the bishonens in it really were pretty (and kinda annoyed me when I first started reading them), I actually liked that the main character never changed her dark, twisted, and perverted ways. (It did annoy me that she became reduced to a childlike drawing, though.) However, after the 16th book, I realized that the end to the series was nowhere in sight. It was too profitable for the author. I just gave up spending $18 every four months on it.

Captain Alatriste and  Purity of Blood by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Captain Alatriste was awesome! (Purity of Blood was so-so.) I bought it on sale for $5 and thought it was the best thing I bought for $5. It's about a war veteran in 17th century Spain who became a sword-for-hire. It reads like an action packed movie better than the movie, I think. (The movie with Viggo Mortensen sucked, I thought (but not because of Viggo), although it won awards in Europe).

I can't be bothered to go online, and sometimes hitting F7 on Word sucks.

I'm a huge Star Trek fan! I will read these someday!

Good by C.P. Taylor, Journey's End by R.C. Sherriff, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, The Bridegroom by Ha Jin,  Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min
These are most of the books I saved from my college courses. The first three are from Literature of War while the last three are from Chinese Writers.

The first three are actually some of the best books I've ever read (technically, the first two are plays). The Things They Carried is a short story collection of soldiers' experiences throughout the Vietnam war. Journey's End takes place in World War I and is about the experiences of a newbie entering the battlefield, all bright-eyed and excited to be there (afai remember, anyway). In class, I read the part of the newbie soldier. Everybody dies in the end. Go figure.

There is actually a movie version of Good with--GUESS WHO--Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs. It's about a university professor who was asked to join the growing ranks of the Nazi political party or else risk being outcast (iirc). His wife is barely competent at being a responsible adult; he ends up getting into a romantic relationship with one of his students; his mother is going senile; and his best friend is a psychiatrist who happens to be of Jewish descent.

The interesting part about the story itself is actually the music, which I never understood. Every now and then a piece of music would play in the background and it's sort of disconnected from what's actually happening. My theory is that it's a coping mechanism: it's as if his life is happening under someone else's direction despite the fact that he's the one making the decisions that could categorize him as good or bad. For example, should he have written that paper that speaks favourably of mercy killing senile adults and mentally handicapped people?

The last three books from Chinese Writers actually were set in and around the Cultural Revolution in China. (I gave a kick-ass presentation in that class, too--no regrets taking that class whatsoever.) Balzac and Becoming Madame Mao are novels while The Bridegroom is a bunch of short stories. It's been a while since I read any of them, but I recall the latter's stories as discussion material. For example, in one story, a man was randomly arrested and put into jail for a few days. It speaks of the government being completely corrupt. He absolutely hates the government for it. He even got sick while in jail (tubercolosis, I think, or something spreadable like that). When he got out, he vowed to get his revenge and ate and at every single street vendor/cart he could find. He infected everybody else. Children died. Who's to blame?

Becoming Madame Mao is my favourite general fiction. It's about Mao Zedong's (3rd?) most famous wife and how her ambitions overreached her influence. She actually reminded me a lot of Imelda Marcos, even though I know nada about Marcos. They were beautiful women who married powerful men... but... hmm... I dunno how to say this without being anti-feminist: they didn't know what the fuck they were doing. Madame Mao took the opportunities she was handed and made the best she could out of them. Sometimes, she succeeded; sometimes, she failed. The most attractive quality about the main character is that it always seemed like she was feeling her way in the dark, which was more relatable than a super politician's story would be.

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