Sunday, January 31, 2016

Substantialread: Ain't Nobody Here But Us Conveniently Symbolic Chickens

I read a lot of books last year. Too many to really take in, but some of them stuck with me - usually the ones that were already certified as classics by popular approval, and were more involving simply by virtue of them being considerably longer.

This year, rather than not reading any books at all (which was the only other option available, obviously), I've decided to read exactly one good (I hope) book a month, like a normal person or something. And to rectify the sins of the past by reading more women authors and proper, paper books rather than this extremely convenient digital nonsense, ransacking the used book shops at Davao's malls in the flimsy hope of finding some decent titles amid the posthumously fake V.C. Andrewses and Millennium Bug survival guides, then working out exactly how to get rid of them since those places inexplicably don't accept donations unless they're shipped in from abroad.

Since I only decided all this a few days ago, this month's book isn't especially long. And it's an audiobook. By a man. You don't have the power to fail me, only I can do that.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables

1851 / Audiobook / 344 pages / USA


I related to the architectural focus, since we're currently building a house (right, like I've hammered a single nail myself). I also appreciated the open-minded narrator who's sceptical about the fanciful superstitions built up around the real macabre happenings, but still baits us with an undeniable pattern. It hardly even mattered that as a non-Christian I find its core tenet of ancestral guilt being passed down the generations offensive.

With its richly symbolic prose, it's not a book you can passively listen to while playing Slam Tilt, and after falling asleep and having to find my place twice in chapter one, it became a book for lazy mornings rather than atmospheric nights. It wasn't because I was scared, right?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tom (1998-2016)

Another legend has passed. Tom lived the kind of spoiled, indulgent life from start to finish that would be embarrassing in a human. He was a mass murderer who picked off small mammals indiscriminately for pleasure. But you couldn't help but love the guy.

I won't forget the time we played fetch with an elastic band for over an hour to test each other's patience, though I forget who eventually gave in. Or the time we ran out of cat food and he followed me all the way to One Stop and back, skulking under cars, to make sure I bloody well bought some. Or the time I walked in on him "cleaning" himself and visibly enjoying it a little too much.

Thank you to my mum for looking after him during his reign of terror, especially after I left for university and abandoned my duties. Nantwich's mouse, vole and rabbit populations can sleep easier now.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dream journal: Hardly any infidelity edition

I was always under the impression that reading fired the imagination and watching too much TV snuffed it out. So I was a bit confused when overloading on books caused me to have hardly any memorable dreams at all last year, and that the dreams returned when I put the books down and resumed wasting my time with vintage Doctor Who and Children's BBC dramas instead.

There's no consistent theme in this batch, as usual, but if I had to pick one that shows up in at least 15% of them it would be frustrating marriages. That was quick.

Monday, December 14, 2015

No more shall we apartelle

Having a while ago reached my unambitious plateau and curled up like a contented cat only occasionally awakened by infuriating, unnecessary noise, I haven't given a real update on my life since the last time I moved into a new place a year and a half ago. I haven't really done anything since. Well, there was that time I got married, I suppose.

The most exciting thing to happen to me recently was when I over-enthusiastically defrosted the fridge-freezer with a knife, let out the refrigerant gas and worried for a few seconds that I might be about to die in an embarrassingly stupid way (not yet). It's alright, we were about to move out anyway. Deposit refunds are for squares.

I probably wouldn't have bothered taking note of this latest flat - sorry, apartelle, get it right (like that's a word) - except that it will hopefully-definitely be the last in an undistinguished line of temporary accommodations I've called home since leaving the family nest 11 years ago, from Room 8 of Bowland Hall through various passive-aggressive communal flats, bed-bug-infested dorms, claustrophobic hotel cupboards and tyrannically regulated condos.

Beyond the awe-inspiring views, this air-conditioned cube seems like a peaceful enough shelter to make it through another Filipino Christmas, which has been going on since September and is fast approaching its unbearable crescendo. I could do without the racist system of apartelle that means my wife and I have to live in separate buildings, but it's only for a couple of months until our house is finished. And this is about as close as we can get without going for the Alan Partridge static home option.

I'm told it's coming along nicely, but I haven't visited the site personally, since I don't want to turn the suspicion of foreign investment into hard evidence and risk inflated (i.e. more reasonable) prices. My wife's taken photos to chart the construction's progress, I'll post them when it's over and we can look at them together. What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Alrightreads: Faves and worsties 2015

I read quite a lot of books this year. Here's probably what I thought about them, if we're going to pretend I'm capable of mentally juggling hundreds of books read over the course of a year in various moods and states of distraction and to put those into some kind of definitive ranking to find the most alright read of the year.

I've tried, anyway.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Alrightreads: December

That'll do, maniac, that'll do. I read the equivalent of a book a day in 2015, which in reality was nothing like that. There were times I delighted in watching the flimsy titles speed past, other times I sabotaged myself with a long and arduous tome in failed attempts to snap myself out of it.

It was mostly good. Well, it was alright. Next year I'll write a book a day, it's only fair. Tedious stats coming soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alrightreads: November

Last month's theme was a little exhausting, so this month I rehabilitated with worthless trash and another safe round of repeats after hitting 300.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Alrightreads: October

Being able to read what I want is way too much freedom, so I took a quick glance at some of the "books" on my "shelves," trying to identify a common enough theme that would narrow things down and force me to read things I'd never bother with if not the association, and decided to make this funny foreigners month.

More specifically/generally, that means either: (i) things written about funny foreign cultures/people, either by funny foreigners themselves or by normal people, or (ii) just anything that wasn't originally written in the English language. I read the English translations though, obviously. I'm not magic.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Alrightreads: September

Another month of repeat authors/series/themes in reverse chronological order, because why not keep imposing pointless rules on myself?

I don't like these repeat months all that much, I'd rather be reading something new. But what can you do? Next month, only titles starting with Z.