Essential Reading: April 2014

April is now here which means that the days of summer of reading is finally upon us. I don’t know what it is about the summer but it sure does make reading greater than it already is or maybe it’s just me? Anyway, before I go into the beginnings of my summer reading list, let me just list the books that I’ve read this bygone March:

  • The Kite of Stars and Other Stories by Dean Francis Alfar (5/5)
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (5/5)
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan (5/5)
  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr (3/5)
  • After the Body Displaces Water by Daryll Delgado(4/5)

Well, my March was greeted with a quick succession of three well-written and memorable books. Alfar’s short story collection proves that he is the leading figure of speculative fiction here in the Philippines; Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin is something that is entirely in it’s own league and further proof that the best writers from Canada are women; and don’t try and talk to me about the beauty of McEwan’s prose. However, the streak didn’t continue with Caleb Carr’s The Alienist because it didn’t enthrall me with its mystery and the lack of character development, among other things, really made this book just okay. To cap it all off is a commendable debut from Daryll Delgado whose collection of short stories really took my mind away from the disappointment that is The Alienist.

Anyway, after the still-awesome month of March, I now present my reading list for the beginning of summer:


  • Like Life by Lorrie Moore – I loved Moore’s Self-Help and I’ve always wanted to follow that up with another short story collection of hers but I’m not yet ready for Birds of America, which is considered to be her best collection next to Self-Help, so I’d resume my Moore reading with her lesser-known Like Life.
  • Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders – I loved Saunder’s Pastoralia and I’m happy that Saunders is currently in the limelight due to the fact that he won the Folio Prize for his latest collection, Tenth of December.  Some of my bookish friends are actually doing a read-along of Tenth of December and I badly wanted to join but I don’t own a copy yet so I’ll settle for this one.
  • Nobody Move by Denis Johnson – Jesus’ Son, in retrospect, is probably one of my favorite short story collections and Johnson’s prose is equal parts profound and hilarious that made reading Jesus’s Son a somehow memorable reading experience.
  • Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin – Reading Sorokin’s The Queue is a unique reading experience that certainly made a mark on my head. I wanted to read his Ice Trilogy but I decided that I may be wholly unprepared for 600+ page tome so I decided on this significantly shorter work.
  • Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood – After reading The Blind Assassin last March and falling in love with it, I decided to read another work by Atwood as soon as I can. This time, it’s a short story collection from one of the legends of North American fiction.

It’s also our book club’s 4th anniversary this month and we are going to read this:


Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler is often cited as his masterpiece and is already a book of great acclaim not to mention that it is part of the 61 Essential Postmodern Reads by the LA Times so I’m really glad that our book club is going to read a book that I’ve wanted to read for quite a long time now.

I just hope that summer cooperates with and not put me in a reading rut.

6 Responses to “Essential Reading: April 2014”
  1. Lynai says:

    Wow. 5 stars on the Alfar book. Will really look for that book next time I visit the bookstore. 🙂 I have yet to read a Margaret Atwood, I think I should put The Blind Assassin higher on my TBR.

    have a lovely April, Bennard! 🙂

  2. thepagewalker says:

    My status updates on goodreads might not say so, but I am glad we are reading IOAWNAT. Calvino and I are having arguments at the moment, and that speaks volume, right?

  3. I actually gave The Blind Assasin a crack like 3 years go. I remember getting as far as the carpet weavers story. But I think I wasn’t ready for something like it back then. Soon maybe, I can give it another go. It is really a science fiction story?

    Also I really loved Tenth of December. Now, I am going to put Pastoralia and Civilwarland on my list. 🙂

    • The Blind Assassin is not necessarily science fiction but it has a novel within a novel where the characters in the said novel within a novel are telling each other a science fiction story. It’s quite a good book and I enjoyed it immensely.

      Pastoralia and Civilwarland are both excellent collections, I highly recommend them both. I want to read Tenth of December already but I’m waiting for a copy that will correspond with the copies that I already have.:D

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