Essential Reading: March 2014
Well, February has certainly been a roller coaster in terms of reading. Most of the books that I’ve read were written by women except for two (one is the book club pick and the other was carried over from my January reads) and I can say that it’s been an excellent month except for the fact that I can now say that I have read the worst book in my life which is Lang Leav’s Love and Misadventure. Anyway, more on February later, here are my reads for the month of February:
- What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver (5/5)
- Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav (1/5)
- Now, Then, and Elsewhen by Nikki Alfar (5/5)
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (5/5)
- The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt (4/5)
- The Mango Bride by Marivi Soliven (3/5)
- Monet at Giverny by Karin Sagner (4/5)
I’m currently at the halfway point of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, one of the essential reads for February, and I’m enjoying it in doses so there’s no rush in that department. I was surprised by my reaction to Nikki Alfar’s short story collection not only because of her superb storytelling but also because it was such a pleasant introduction to the genre that is speculative fiction. I was also surprised by my lukewarm reaction to The Mango Bride and my less-than-stellar reaction to The Summer Without Men, the former because I was expecting more from the recipient of the Palanca Award and the latter because I may have expected more from one of the favorite books of my girlfriend which was written by Paul Auster’s wife. No surprises though at Carver and Flaubert, Carver because I have a deep admiration for his writing and Flaubert because of his reputation which has secured Madame Bovary’s place in the Canon. Monet at Giverny gave me an insight into one of the Impressionist masters and Love & Misadventure showed me what bad poetry reads like. Again, it was a good and educational February.
What’s in store for March then? Here they are:
- Kite of Stars and Other Stories by Dean Francis Alfar – Ever since I read Alfar’s contribution to Manila Envelope’s Best Contemporary Filipino Novelists, I have been on the lookout for his works. So here I am with a signed copy of Kite of Stars and Other Stories, ready to tackle Alfar’s unique prose. I have read the title story already and it just made me want to read more.
- Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant – I haven’t read any of Gallant’s works but I still mourned her passing this February. I have, of course, heard of her reputation as a writer of formidable talent but I didn’t really have a motivation to read her until death took her away. I guess, for someone like me, reading her would be the best way to honor her and make sure that she is remembered.
- Atonement by Ian McEwan – This is my second attempt at reading McEwan’s most well-known work and I hope that this is the last. I have heard good things from my friends about this novel and I want to either agree or disagree with them already and the best way to that is to just read this book.
- Desperate Characters by Paula Fox – Disclaimer: I know nothing about Paula Fox or her novel about a married couple and a succession of events that threatens to tear their marriage apart. However, when both Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace swear by its power and brilliance, I listen.
- After The Body Displaces Water by Daryll Delgado – I don’t know what started it but, at a certain point last year, I began paying attention to the local literary scene. I took note of the book launches that are happening around the metro, began reading magazine and newspaper columns about local authors, and made it a point to browse the Filipiniana section of local bookstores. Daryll Delgado’s collection of short stories is one of the results of my sudden attention towards Filipino literature.
I’ll also be reading Caleb Carr’s The Alienist because it has been chosen as our book club’s read for the March but I have yet to find a copy. So that’s my March, guys. ‘Til next month.