30 Days of Books

September 2, 2011 at 5:17 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Why? Because I went into 30 Day meme withdrawal after finishing the 30 Day Song Challenge on Facebook, and I happen to like books.

Books

This was taken from 30 day memes, (which unsurprisingly, is the first thing that comes out when you google ’30 day meme’). I realize there’s also a 30 Day Book Challenge Community on Facebook, but I liked this meme better.

So. I will now update this everyday. Huzzah.


30 DAYS of BOOKS

Day 01 – Best book you read last year

(7/5/11) Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart. The only book thus far to make me cry -not- because of the story, but because of how it was constructed. Has the bonus of being a perfectly realized fantasy novel without drawing  on Western (Lord of the Rings-y) references.

Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

(7/6/11) Lady Snowblood, Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Kamimura. Total revenge story indulgence with brazen sex and violence, over-the-top characters, and awesome chapter titles (ie. ‘Harsh Training and a Blooming Countenance’, ‘Dead Cherry Blossoms and the Dance of Short Sleeve with White Blade’, ‘Stylish Woman and Umbrella Over Rain of Blood’).

Day 03 – Your favorite series

(7/7/11) Sandman, Neil Gaiman and various artists. First heard of this when Sandman: Dream Hunters came out (it was reviewed in that olde anime mag Questor, and only because the artist was Yoshitaka Amano). I had no idea how to get a copy of it, but my sister got her hands on Preludes and Nocturnes, and although I was initially disappointed the art didn’t at all resemble Amano’s, I found myself hooked on two concepts – that Dream’s sibling Death happened to be a chick, and that there was an entire family of them.

I could go on and on, so suffice to say I continue to nurse a ridiculous obsession for Sandman, and that it beats out all other book series (comics or prose) I’d read up to date. But because an entire chunk of my High School-hood revolved around reading books that came in a series, I’ll say Harry Potter, Abarat, and Series of Unfortunate Events are also among my favorites. Artemis Fowl, not so much (only really liked the first).

Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series

(7/8/11) This actually changes, depending on my mood o_O. But right now it’s Brief Lives, aka Sandman 7, where Delirium and Dream roadtrip on a search for Destruction. It has some of my favorite scenes in the series (ie. Desire gets Delirium out of an awkward situation in a fetish party, Dream walks out of a temple with Orpheus’ blood literally on his hands… ) and like all Sandman books, you always discover something awesome in a page or a panel that you never noticed before (like Delirium blowing a Totoro-shaped bubble in her motel room).

Day 05 – A book that makes you happy

(7/11/11, because when i said ‘every day’ I didn’t count weekends n_n). Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories, HP Lovecraft. I’ve known about Lovecraft a looong time, but it’s only recently I actually started reading him. It brings me back to reading Edgar Allan Poe in my old school’s library. Which is a happy feeling.

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad

(7/12/11) A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini. I knew it would make me sad even before I read the book (because it’s safe to assume there will be soome sadness in a book about two women in Afghanistan over the last four decades). There are some sweet / cute moments. But also a lot of sad. Also to be making me sad is Without Seeing the Dawn, Stevan Javellana (Philippines during World War II, where there is a lot of sad, and a lot of ugly, and untrustworthy individuals named ‘Nestor’).

Day 07 – Most underrated book

(7/13/11) Fuan no Tane, Nakayama Masaaki. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. ‘Horror manga’ brings to mind the Junji Ito and Kazuo Umezu stuff, but Fuan no Tane (aka ‘Seeds of Anxiety’) manages to be superbly creepy in the shortest number of pages. The short stories (blurbs more like) are what horror stories are essentially supposed to be – simple, visceral and just two steps askew of reality so the moment you put the book down you’re no longer certain the real world isn’t some hellish Twilight Zone.

Day 08 – Most overrated book

(7/14/11) Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown. It’s definitely interesting, but there’s really not much there beyond the puzzles and historical conspiracy theories. I get that the puzzles and historical conspiracy theories were what made the book worth reading, but I kinda wanted more o_O. Like characters I’d actually give a fuck about. Or dialogue that wasn’t just vehicles for discussing the many permutations of the Sacred Feminine o_O.  Or good writing o_O.

Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

(7/15/11) Memories of my Melancholy Whores, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Because at the time I was reading it I was neither in the mood for melancholia or whores. The moment I finished I started crying (because everyone sooort of gets their happy ending. Sorta. In the face of dying everything else seems happy o_O).

Day 10 – Favorite classic book

(7/18/11) I’m going to say Noli Me Tangere, Jose Rizal. Just because it’s fun to re-imagine Sisa as a long-haired ghoul, Ibarra as a tormented soul, Maria Clara as a white lady and the prayles as zombies n__n.

Day 11 – A book you hated

(7/20/11. I missed a day o_O). Cirque du Freak, Darren Shan. Was wondering at what point it would start getting good until I found I had finished the book o_O. I hear the rest of the series is better, but I never bothered reading the rest. On the other hand, the movie was mildly amusing, mostly for the sudden non-child-friendly bursts of language and violence n_n.

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore

(7/21/11) Quest for the Fallen Star, James Richey, Piers Anthony, Alan Riggs. Read the first three-fourths when I was arounds 12, and loved it because it was like reading a PS1 RPG. Didn’t get to finish it until 10 years later when I realized it was actually kind of a shoddily-written PS1 RPG. Although that killed what had been my firey QFTFS -love-, there’s elements of it I continue to think are awesome (like the kind of magic priests have, the nature of the Fallen Star, and the romance between an enchantress elf and a dirty old man wizard).

Day 13 – Your favorite writer

(7/25/11. Sometimes ‘everyday’ means ‘every day I don’t get bogged down by work n__n). This is a tough one, mostly because the writers I tend to like for the stories they tell are different from the ones I like for their actual writing.

For instance, I love Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker and George R.R. Martin for their awesome sprawling mythologies, but in terms of playing with words and nuances and situations and basically painting pictures in my head, I love the ilk of Haruki Murakami and Ryunosuke Akutagawa more (they’re both Japanese. I don’t know why). Which is not to say I don’t like how Gaiman, Barker or Martin write, or I don’t like Murakami or Akutagawa’s actual stories. Just, I love them for different reasons. This is just a roundabout way of saying ‘I have no one favorite writer’. But if the question was ‘which writer do you think is a rock star’, I’d say ‘Neil Gaiman’ n__n.

Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer

(7/26/11) Let’s say Neil Gaiman is my favorite writer. Then I’ll say my favorite things from him are the books of the Sandman series. Which of those books are my favorite though, like I said way back in Day 04, depends largely on my mood. So let’s pretend Neil Gaiman is not my favorite writer. If Haruki Murakami were my favorite writer, my favorite book would be Kafka on the Shore. It was the first Murakami novel I read. For some reason even the stuff Kafka packs in his bag when he leaves home is interesting o_O.

Day 15 – Favorite male character

(7/29/11. a three-day jump o_O). This is one of those things I have no ready answer for o_O. I certainly have my favorite fictional characters but they tend to come from video games or cartoons. As for books…hmm.

The one that comes to mind is Morpheus, from Sandman. And it isn’t because I love him unconditionally (he’s kind of a jerk, isn’t he?). But he does reprsent / anthropomorphizes / is something that is very important to me. It is also due to him (and possibly to Susanna Clarke’s Raven King) that I’ve developed an archetypal attachment for the tall, skinny, pale, black-haired, unfazeable, grim, rather romantic kind of fella–who, despite predelictions towards Mary Sue-dom, manages to be very cool indeed n__n.

Day 16 – Favorite female character

(8/1/11) Mazikeen, from Sandman and Lucifer. It was either her or Integra Hellsing from Hellsing. In the end Mazikeen wins out because she has more close combat ability n__n (but they’re both awesome). Both springboard off an odd tangent to yer usual females-in-fantasy tropes. Mazikeen in particular, starts off as Lucifer’s mook, then goes through a variety of job changes including waitress, war leader, renegade, and then sort-of omnipotent being.

Both also feature in romantic relationships (overt in Mazikeen’s case, implied in Integra’s) with men who by all means should be completely unable to have romantic relationships. It’s a bonus that both have excellent dialogue n__n.

Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book

(8/2/11) “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” It’s not my favorite book, but it’s the start of my favorite first chapter ever.

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you

(8/7/11. This ’30 days’ thing is turning into a ‘however long it takes’ thing n__n). Harem, Dora Levy Mossanen. You read the cover and the little praise-blurbs and figure, ‘okay, this will be an erotically-charged exploration of politics, culture and society, and will star three awesome women of the same bloodline’. And I guess it is all those things.

The problem is something I can’t easily explain o_O. You start reading it and finding the characters less and less believable, but not because they lack any emotional depth. It’s more like, all these weird quirks get introduced. Like one dude just figures he can ascend to godhood by walking into a fire (with predictable results). His wife deals by becoming a scrap metal scavenger / blacksmith / entrepreneur / prostitute, whose  sandals have the words ‘follow me’ embroidered on the bottom, so they leave a ‘follow me’ trail in the mud. Which. I dunno if that’s possible. And then her daughter has musical bones. Or whistling bones. Or something that makes me think her bones must be fucken hollow, and I can’t figure why the hell that is.

I stopped reading about halfway in. It does offer a lot in terms of setting (exploration of culture, yeah?), but those kind of details just completely threw me off o_O. And not even in a ‘so that dude in Kafka on the Shore can talk to cats’ way. Just in a ‘…what?’ way o_O.

Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie

(8/7/11. Making up for lost time o_O). It’s not a movie, but I really like the Game of Thrones series n__n. For one thing it’s HBO (and I have spoken of my love for HBO before). For another thing, it doesn’t try to directly translate the book by George RR Martin. A lot of the moments that make the series awesome don’t even appear in the books. But the way the characters are drawn out, and the way the dialogue is written, makes it so that these scenes can be thought of as occurring in between the scenes in the book – which makes for a much richer story over all.

Examples of such scenes: The Renly-Loras shaving scene, the awesome conversation between Cersei and Robert about their fucked-up marriage, which enriched both characters to no end, and the doubly awesome Tyrion-Shae-Bronn drinking game, which was funny and depressing at the same time.

Day 20 – Favorite romance book

(8/7/11) I don’t read a lot of romance, but I did read Phantom of the Opera, and found it romantic enough n__n. That may be because I had already fallen in love with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. I admit that I like the -idea- of the Phantom way more than the Phantom himself, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying  his ‘Daroga, I’m dying of a broken heart’ spiel in the end (‘enjoying’, being a knife’s edge away from ‘finding helluva annoying due to dripping angst’).

A close runner-up is Marian Churchland’s graphic novel Beast, one of the better Beauty and the Beast re-tellings out there.

Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood

(8/7/11) There was this old story book I liked to read, and which I can only assume is lost somewhere among the decades-worth piled-up crap in the attic, or long thrown away. I cannot remember the title on the cover because the entire cover eventually fell off, so it was really more of a bunch of pages strung together, with huge chunks of it coming off. Each short story was accompanied by drawings in different art styles. It kinda annoys me now that I can’t even name the writers or artists. Was too young to care about those things before o_O.

The most awesome of the stories starred a ‘Grogre the Ogre’ and his wise old friend ‘Dagon the Dragon’. They were so cool they had two stories in the book – one battling this enormous creature, which looked like a lake of green muck, with thousands of eyes and tentacles and a red-muck pool at its center that was its heart. The second was about them fighting this ultimate evil, which looked like a triangular piece of stone with a single eye ball, and sprouted bone-looking tendrils. The illustrations were scary for little children like me (them ogres weren’t pretty o_O) , but that’s part of what keeps it in my mind today.

………………………..Holy shit, the entire story book is on YouTube. Holy flying shit. The book may have been called ‘Story Teller’. …Holy shit.

Day 22 – Favorite book you own

(8/7/11) If there was a fire, which for some reason specifically attacked my books, and I would lose all of them but one, I would save either my copy of Bridge of Birds, Neverending Story, Akutagawa short story collection or Watership Down (whichever I grab first). That’s just because they’d be hardest books to replace. Everything else I can buy again with -relative- ease.

Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

(8/8/11). A LOT. Alan Moore’s From Hell. The autobiographies of Anthony Kiedis, Jay-Z and Russell Brand. The Tales of Genji. A shitload of things.

Among the books I’ve started reading, but stopped for some reason, and still haven’t gotten to picking up again even if i really want to finish it already, is House of Leaves.

Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read

(8/9/11). Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes n__n. Just to lure them in, so they can read the rest of the series n__n.

Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most

(8/10/11). I’m sure there’s been a bunch of characters I can relate with, but right now it’s Hanno Barca from the historical fiction Pride of Carthage, by David Anthony Durham. I’m not a warlord, or a second-born son, and I’ve never been captured and tortured by Romans, but I know what it’s like to be terrified of doing something, so much that you just don’t do it at all, or you force yourself to just do it, but then fuck it up so you go into a cycle of feeling sorry for yourself and being terrified all over again o_O.

(Just realized now, through Wikipedia, that while Hanno’s brothers Hannibal, Hasdrubal and non-H-named Mago are all documented historical personnages, Hanno is the “unnamed son who is often mentioned but details are lacking.” Aww o_O).

Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something

(8/11/11). Curiously, it was only after reading Extreme, Sharon Osbourne’s autobiography, that I decided that reality really is sometimes more interesting than fiction n__n (this also led to reading Lord of Misrule, Christopher Lee’s autobiography, which was incredibly thick a book, considering he’s lived so long).

Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending

(8/12/11). Bridge. Of. Birds.

Day 28 – Favorite title

(8/17/11. Argh o_O. I could’a sworn I updated this like two days ago…). A buncha Gabriel Garcia Marquez titles come to mind n__n. ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’. ‘Strange Pilgrims’. ‘Love and Other Demons’. And also, ‘The Island of the Day Before‘, by Umberto Eco (or that might just be because I can’t separate the title from the awesome cover art n__n). And I hearken back to Lady Snowblood – I really like the chapter title ‘Dead Cherry Blossoms and the Dance of Short Sleeve with White Blade’. Realization: I like long titles o_O.

Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked

(8/18/11). Harry Potter 7 n__n. ‘Hate’ is a strong word, but at the time it came out, a lot of my friends who read it really didn’t appreciate the lengthy camping sequences, and the fanfic-ish epilogue (the word ‘fanfic’ was thrown around a lot, describing that ending n__n). It wasn’t really ‘hate’ as much as ‘zero-ing in on the bits of the book they didn’t like so the impression was that they didn’t like it’.

Wasn’t a big fan of the epilogue myself, but when I think of Deathly Hallows, I think of the Battle of Hogwarts, and that alone was enough to get me ‘liking’ the book n__n.

Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

(8/19/11). Looking back on this list, I see I’ve mentioned Bridge of Birds and the Sandman series the most, so it’s safe to assume they fall solidly within ‘my favorite books of all time (because. I don’t think it’s possible for me to have ‘one’ favorite book). Although I didn’t mention it much, I should also say I’m a big fan of Watership Down and (not mentioned at all) Tale of Murasaki, by Liza Dalby.

So. This is where the list ends with a whimper rather a bang, but with me feeling largely proud of myself for completing in a month and a half what I should have finished in 30 days :D. Incidentally, today is my birthday. So. Yay n__n.

(I had written up Day 30 back in August 19. The moment I hit ‘update’, the internet died on me o_O. And so it has remained in autosave limbo for the last couple of weeks, wherein things like work and a continually dead internet at home has made it difficult to update. Eh. Better late than never n__n. Today is 9/2/11, meaning this meme has technically lasted me a whopping 60 days. 60 days for a 30-day meme. Whoot n__n).

* * *
Image taken from ~Brenda-Starr~ on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  1. Elbert Or said,

    I am so thrilled re: your Bridge of Birds comment haha! Sobrang feeling ko ang galing ko manregalo! :P

    • inthegrayworld said,

      Wahahaha n__n. I have soft copies of books 2 and 3, but haven’t read them yet n__n. (And I continue to feel bad that we’ll never get to see the planned climactic ending .__.)

  2. Alyza said,

    I think I’ll do something like this. Except I’ll dump all “thirty days” in a single day… ahaha. Maybe after exams.

    -and I had mixed feelings for Brief Lives. Was always the one reccing Kindly Ones to everyone and their mother ^___^

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