Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Monday, March 23, 2015

Where do you find the time to read?

If it isn't obvious yet, I am a reader. :) Even at my busiest time, there is always space for books. However, this is not to say that I have read every book I own, or every book I wanted to read. 

And I know that there are many of you out there, who are just like me who often say: 

So many good books. So little time.

And when people are new to the fact that I read a lot, this question is sure to be asked:

Where do you find time to read?

Some just flat out declare: 

I'd love to read, but I just don't have the time.

Here's the truth. I don't often have the time either. In fact, I didn't get to read much last year. 

Was I busy? Stressed at work? Preparing for a big life event?

No. Not really. And, Yes. 

My days were full, so I guess I was busy in a way, but it doesn't feel like I was too busy I couldn't pick up a paperback. In fact, I picked up a new game - FarmVille 2 on the iPhone. I also spent lots of time with my Loom Bands. 

There were days when work was stressful, but it's a far cry from three or so years ago when I was spending long hours at work. Last year was actually the first time things got lite. So no, I can't blame work for not having had time to read. 

Yes, I got married last year!
 But no, the wedding preparations didn't make me too busy that there was no time for an ebook or no space for a book in my bag. 

Fact is, I tried to read more and just couldn't.  There is no other way for me to explain this. Many times I'd pick up a book and I'd read a few lines, a few pages, but I get nothing. No reaction. Nothing clicks. So I put it down and try again another day. Or I try another book. And so on. 

It was frustrating, but it taught me something: You have to be ready to read. It's not enough to just want to read. For me, it wasn't about not having time to read. It was as if there was a barrier to reading. 

So what is one to do?

MAKE time to READ

Does it sound like I'm contradicting myself? This is for those of you who feel that the barrier to reading is time. Schedule reading into your daily activities. It could be 15 to 30 minutes after each meal. Or it could also be part of your night-time routine when you wind down for bed. Get in 5 pages before breakfast. Pick a schedule and stick to it. 

For those really, really busy with WORK, errands, and house chores, this means always toting a book along with you so you can use the pockets of time when you do nothing but wait
  1. Read a few pages at the waiting area at your doctor's appointment, or anywhere you need to wait in line. 
  2. Scan a few lines while your food cooks
  3. A chapter or two during your commute to and from work 
  4. Read while the little one watches Hi-5 or is busy building a tower, or setting up a road rally. 
  5. While the husband is out shopping, I read in the car, or at a cafe. He doesn't need fashion advise from me (be sure to regulate the cash he has on hand!)
If you find yourself mindlessly clicking thru online articles, one after the other, evaluate whether you'd rather finish your book instead. You have time.

Don't force it 

If it doesn't spark your interest after a few pages. Let it go. It doesn't mean it's a bad book, or that you don't have to ever read it again, it just means that now's not the time for you to read it. 

That's how it was when I read Wicked, which turned out to be one of my favorites. Same thing with Revolutionary Road. And again last month while reading Love Walked In

So if you and your book don't click, just move on to the next one. Don't force it. That's why it's also important to -

Have more than one book accessible to you

If it's still reading time when you realize that book 1 isn't your thing, pick up another book. Or open your reading app and start actually reading one of your ebooks. 

If you are a true bookworm, even if you're more of the old-school reader like me who prefers the touch of the page and the smell of books old and new, you already have a growing digital book collection. Now's the time to open that Kindle app and get reading. 

Setup your reading space

I read while sitting upright, but I can be just as comfortable lying down. Find your own spot where there isn't a lot of distraction. 

While vacationing for the first time with my husband's family last year, my spot turned out to be a lounge chair at the second-floor balcony. At home, I can sit anywhere. I also find that I really like reading at the driver's seat - while parked of course. 

Challenge yourself

Goodreads has really helped jump-start my reading year 2015. In January, I decided to read along with the monthly book discussions with The Filipino Group. We are reading High Fidelity all through April.  

I also set a goal of reading 15 books this year as my 2015 Reading Challenge. Since I didn't read much last year, I figured 15 is achievable. I hope to read more though. You can check the widget on my sidebar to know how I'm keeping up. :)

So I hope I've helped convince you that you can read more, NOW. Do you have other tips to cultivate a reading lifestyle?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Have you ever heard of a Traveling Book? I am a member of The Filipino Group on Goodreads and we currently have three of them.  Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman is the 3rd traveling book, but the first one I've been fortunate to receive and read. 

It took me five days to finish the 162-page book, but I probably would have finished sooner if I really wanted to. This is a collection of essays and each one, to me, was relatable. So relate-able that I was compelled to write a response to the essay, or to the marginalia from previous readers.

As you will see in this photo, readers before me have enriched the book with their comments. I followed suit and enjoyed the exercise. Truly enjoyed it.

Ex Libris is a book about books and reflect much of how I feel about reading, and about my books. As for my own confession, there was a time that I was wont to be jealous or envious of the kind of books in Ms. Fadiman's library. I am not as acquainted to the classics as I would like to be, and much of the authors and great writers she mentioned I have never read. Does that mean she is a better book lover than me? Is she a better reader? 

I quickly corrected myself. As much as there are body image issues, it occurred to me that there may be, among book lovers, a book collection image issue. No matter what trash one might find in my library of books, if I choose to keep it in my library, then it means that in one way or another, that book struck a chord in me. So perhaps I should also rethink about my tendency to look at another's collection of books only to turn up my nose at all the Tagalog romance novels I see there. Just because I don't read those books means they are not good ones. 

Our home is overflowing with books. One thing that needs to be done is to curate our growing library. In the book, Fadiman wrote about the marriage of her library to her husband's. In my case, it won't be a difficult marriage. Alfred, my husband, is not as much a reader as I am. Still he has gathered a small collection of photography books and magazines, along with some graphic novels and short stories by Filipino writers. My parents are readers, but they have long learned to part with books they've already read. Perhaps it's all the moving we've done thru the years.

Already on my wish-list of home improvements is to curate our book collection. 

  1. List all the titles in every nook and cranny of our two-storey home. 
  2. Categorize between keepers and non-keepers. 
  3. Find the proper home for the keepers in the limited shelving available. 
  4. As for the non-keepers, that is yet another project to undertake. List them for friends to freely choose from; sell them for a bit of profit; or leave them on the sidewalk; or build  a little free library and put them on display. Non-keepers don't mean bad books, they're just not going to be part of our collection because we have to admit that we can't hold on to every book and magazine we buy. 
Anyway. How's your library?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

This book has been sitting on one of my TBR piles since the NBS book sale in January 2014. Anticipating having to wait in line for errands we had to take care of over the weekend (I first started writing this post back in November – don’t get me started on that), I grabbed it off the shelf and shoved it into my bag. As it turned out, I didn’t have a lot of waiting to do but I still found time to read. I was quite happy to have started and finished a novel over the weekend. 


The book was published in 2011. At the time of its release, the book and its author, Samantha Sotto, had been featured on blogs that I’d been following. More than the mystery that her character Shelley had to solve, I was more interested in reading a novel set in Europe, written by a first-time Filipina author.
There were no dull moments in Before Ever After. It wasn’t just the story of Isabelle and her ancestors that got me hooked. It was the virtual tour of Europe that was even more interesting. I had visited Pere Lachaise (a famous cemetery in Paris) before I turned 18, but I didn’t get to know much about the events that took place there. I also took that arduous walk up the steps of Sacre Coeur Cathedral and its tower – so while Shelley was describing it, I felt like I was rushing to keep up with her. I still dream of going on trips to Europe, and the story took me for a ride that further fueled my longing.

Apart from my bias for the setting, I was gripped by the sadness, the emptiness, that the main character felt after having lost her husband. It brought to mind writings of another blogger who counted the days since her world was turned upside down by the sudden death of her husband, and her transition from happy parents of two kids, to single mom of two. It was something i couldn't, and wouldn't, grip.

What’s gripping is the story. I can’t explain it. I can’t say that it was well-written. It actually felt rough around the edges, in a manner of speaking. But it was good. What’s conflicting to me was that it felt like reading serious historical fiction, but with a chick lit vibe. You know what I mean? I won’t even try to explain.

It is a recommended read though. I wonder when her next book comes out?

To know more about what the book is really about, here’s the book trailer.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mini Library at Papemelroti

While waiting for lunch to be served at RUB a few weeks ago, I took the time to finally checkout the mini library outside the Papemelroti flagship store at Roces Avenue. I see those shelves often when I pass by, but this was the only time I got to get up close and personal.


I was right! Just like the Little Free Library, those two bookshelves were free for all. People are encouraged to take a book or leave a book. Or both. Of course, I had to take one!

My pick was a children's classic - Laura Ingalls-Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. I hadn't read it before though I've heard of the author and the Little House series in the past. There was a good variety of books on those shelves, definitely something for everyone.

I'll have to go back one of these days to drop off a book from my own stash.
I really wish I could have my own free little library outside the house. It's a wonderful way to share the love for reading.

Have you seen this mini library? Would you take or leave a book?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Ladies Farm by Viqui Litman


The book’s description over at Amazon starts with this line, and I immediately found out why:

Steel Magnolias meets The First Wives Club in a touching and hilarious novel of friendship, love, sex, dreams, and good hair.

The Ladies of THE Ladies Farm are what you’d call experienced ladies. They are past middle-age, and have been married once (even twice) before, maybe even widowed. It’s like chick lit for older chicks Smile And it was a fun read.

Together they built a wonderful home for themselves – a forever home, really – as well as a transient home for other ladies (young and old) where they could rest, nourish their spirit, relax, and have fun. 

The clincher is that more than one woman in the story was in love with the same man, and they didn’t know about it until after he died. How they stayed friends despite it, is what makes the story quite interesting.

When I picked this book up to read last week, I didn’t know what to expect. I flipped it over to find out where and when I had bought it, and saw this price tag:


Pick A Book. This means I’ve had this book since before November 2010, which was when I posted about missing that old place. Good thing I finally got to read it. Smile Now it’s time to give it away. No, not for free. But if you’d like to have it, I’m selling this copy for PhP 100.00 plush shipping fee of Php 50.00. Just leave me a message.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Summer Reading Camp 2014

I’ve never heard of a reading camp before, but it sure sounds fun. Smile


DiksyonaryoAtbp is a non-stock, non-profit organization that aims to encourage love for reading, and help raise literacy in the Philippines. They collect storybook and dictionary donations, as well as support scholars in Benguet schools.

Here are the details of the reading camp (lifted from an announcement in Facebook):

• READING CORNER –read all the books they want from Filipino writers c/o Adarna House Publishing
• ART CORNER – unleash their inner artist by engaging in art activities related to their favorite stories
• STORYTELLING CORNER – listen as your favorite Filipino children’s literature comes alive in the voice of the best storytellers around

Aside from participating in these events, parents/ children can also avail of Adarna House books on site, which they can donate for DiksyonaryoAtbp 's future projects or take home for themselves.

To register your child, please visit

(Official Poster designed by Risa Angela Rodil)

This really looks like my kind of event. I wonder if Amir would be interested? Since this is a Saturday I doubt if Alfred can join us, so maybe I’ll ask the grandparents if they’d like to bring Amir. I’ll tag along but I’ll try to get some reading done under the trees myself rather than watch the little boy. Hehe.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Marie Forleo interviews Arianna Huffington re “Thrive”

What is our definition of success? Marie Forleo and Arianna Huffington discuss it in this insightful interview revolving around Huffington’s latest book: Thrive.

Well-being, wisdom, and wonder.

Sleeping. Being in the moment. Dropping things off your perpetual to-do list. And much more. Already, I’ve picked up tips I’d like to work on in my life.

The interview, specially Marie’s excitement, got me really interested in owning the book and reading it. I know my birthday isn’t for months yet, but if you’re getting me a gift, would you kindly choose this one please?

Anyway… do watch the video, it’s 15 minutes and well worth your time. Let me know if and how it inspires you too Smile