Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reader's Block

I have yet to start/finish another book. The South Beach Diet is still in my bag because I haven't read it in its entirety. There have been opportunities in the past two days when I could have just kicked back and checked in between the covers of any of the gazillion books in my TBR list, but I didn't. 

Is it possible that I could be having a reader's block? Is there even such a syndrome?

Urban Dictionary does have an entry for reader's block, and it is defined as such:
Related to Writer's Block, this is when you cannot, for the life of you, pick up a book and read it. Sure, you may be able to read a paragraph or two, or maybe even a page, but you don't retain anything of what you just read or have the attention span and/or will to go on. This is common for those who have ADD, are in possession of garbage literature, or are just so exhausted from having to read so many books during school/college that reading anything else, even for pleasure, has become impossible. To those who love to read, this is worse than heart disease and cancer combined.
Oh this has definitely happened to me more than once. I think that while attempting to finish Les Miserables, I had reader's block several times. Yep, not just once. Haha!

So I think I'm going through another episode right now, though I hope it won't last for long. In the meantime, I can just blog. 

Or not.  

Apart from reader's block, I'm actually having a bit of a writer's block too. I recently made a list of blogging ideas but when I sat down to start writing, I ended up having two intros to two different topics for my newbie photographer site, and then I just could not get to the point of the post. So I just saved them in draft, to wait another day.

I blog hopped this morning and was on this lady’s blog about her travels around the Philippines. There are times that she travels alone. Now that is something I’ve never done before. Imagine being like Bea Alonzo’s character in And I Love You So, and traveling to Anawangin Cove on your own, with not much else other than your beach cabana tent on your back, along with just a few supplies.  Knowing me like I know me, I probably would pack a LOT of things, but I’d just as soon ditch them because I don’t want to carry a very heavy backpack. I’d also be scared of spending the night out in the wilderness alone.

Then I thought about how we haven’t done any traveling lately; and how we couldn’t even bring to reality our plans to head to Ace Water Spa for an afternoon of swimming and lazing around their massage and dipping pools. We had all summer to go, but we didn’t. L I remember my nephew Esban telling me that the last time he and the boys were there with my parents, they were relaxing on the foam pool floats that took them through the Lazy River without much effort. Though, Ace to me is a water theme park, customers are not allowed to bring in any of their own inflatable water floats. And I get it; they’re selling the hydrotherapy massages and the herbal infused dipping pools more than the concept of a water fun park.

It would be nice to get to travel again, but maybe next time we can try a nice hotel. We’ve always been on a tight budget so we couldn’t afford luxurious accommodations. Maybe when we go to Cebu in February, we’ll book into a nice hotel and for once enjoy all its furnishings and in-room services. Maybe even get a suite with a balcony or a terrace with nice agio outdoor furniture that we can lounge on for some chillax time.

Haha. How did I just get from reader’s block to dreaming about vacations and travels? J

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The South Beach Diet

I picked up a paperback copy of Dr. Arthur Agatston's bestseller, The South Beach Diet from my favorite used book shop. Anyone who's interested in going on this lifestyle change doesn't really need to read the book because there are resources available online. There are sites offering condensed versions, seeking to explain the diet in a few paragraphs. But I wanted to check out the book anyway.

I've only read the Introduction and the first chapter, and already, I don't regret the purchase. 

Some misconceptions about SBD:
It is a low-carb diet – it is low in processed and refined carbs, but it encourages the consumption of “good carbs”
It is a high-fat, high-protein diet – it is a low saturated fat diet; encourages the good fats essential for general health and preventing heart disease and cancer; healthy omega-3 fats

And the biggest gem?

"It is your job to eat until your hunger is satisfied. No sane eating program expects you to go through life feeling discomfort."

I so agree. I remembered the two weeks on Phase One that I had had food delivered to me. The food was really filling, and I'm not just saying it. I think that was a very important element - the food has to be satisfying, both in terms of taste, and volume (for lack of a better term).

What's important, really, is to choose what we eat. And contrary to popular belief, it isn't that hard to choose healthy. There are so many food choices these days that even fast food can offer you something better than their more popular regular fare. You just need to be willing to make the switch.

The SBD is in the heart of my current efforts to seek better health. It will also be prominent in a new blog that I'm brewing. Stay tuned for that too. :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Same Kind of Different as Me - Ron Hall & Denver Moore

The subtitle on the book cover goes: a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together. Same Kind of Different As Me the story of Denver Moore, Ron Hall, and how Deborah Hall drew them together.

Denver grew up in a world of slavery. As a child, he had never been given the chance to go to school, or to learn to read or write. He has learned to love people, and to live on after losing them. His life was tied to the land that he didn't own, spending many hours baking under the sun to harvest cotton for the Man. He, and many others like him, received no salary. Instead, they received some provisions from the Man, or else had to 'borrow' from the store that the Man also owned. All their work was payment for debt that seemed to grow rather than diminish.

At around the same time, Ron was born to a middle-class family that owned a farm. He had grown up spending his summers at his granddaddy's farm; accompanying him when he takes his truck out to pick up black people interested to work. Where he lived, there was such a place called Nigger Town. He'd gone to school, finished college, served in the military, fallen in love and got married. He worked hard, and then he hit the jackpot.

Their lives were as different as oil and water, never to mix. 

Their story was told in two voices so in a way, you were hearing two perspectives on two stories that eventually merged into one. It was interesting, but I must admit too, that it was a bit dragging in the beginning.

So for me, the book really started to pick up at Chapter 22. There, we bear witness as a new friendship unfolds. One that is most unlikely. In all appearances, it hardly seemed genuine that one person would be so serious about another's offer of friendship. And it was also easy to doubt the other's real intentions for offering to be that friend. But they were both genuine, and real. Once they made the commitment to be friends, they caught on and never released each other.

Their story reminds us that we're not really all that different from each other. We need to stop thinking that other people won't accept us because we're different, we have our quirks, and so on. Drop your blinders. They also have their own insecurities, they have secrets, demons. But once you strip them of that, and take down yours, you'll find that you're all just the same. People. People who are just passing by. 

I had so many thoughts running through my head while reading this book. I thought about debt bondage and how it still exists in rural areas in the Philippines. About Deborah and her dedication to her faith. Her strength, to me, was shown in how she dealt with a cheating husband. It wasn't her passion and charity that struck me most, but her grace and determination to keep her family intact without becoming the poster girl for the suffering wife. 

Miss Debbie's visions again reminded me of what we witnessed while my grandma was battling death. She'd been talking about visitors, friends and relatives who were long gone. It seemed that they were her angels, come to take her home. 

The book is about faith too. Faith in oneself, in others, and in God. It was, thankfully, not that preachy. It doesn't push you to go to church or go volunteer, or anything like that. But it does prompt you to think about how you deal with the homeless, how you spend your money, and how you manifest whatever you faith you believe in. 

There were some elements near the end of the story that seemed out of place. Particularly what seemed to be an evil entity that was going to attack the two characters in their visit to Denver's sister's old place. I just didn't see the point, nor the relevance...

All in all though, it is a good read. In fact, I want to reread some parts of the book to lift some quotes to share with friends. 

I am thankful to Book Sneeze for sending me a copy of the book for this review. You not only provided me with 235 pages to read, but about as many insights to ponder. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sinestro Corps War

Weeks after reading and posting about Green Lantern: Rebirth, I finally got to sit back and read the next cross-over event in the trilogy: Sinestro Corps War.

The Sinestro Corps War came in two volumes, and I read those one after the other after deciding to skip work. Yes, I should be in Monday night, but because of (how will I share this?) personal health-related circumstances, I decided to stay in and read about Sinestro instead. I am okay, I will go out to see a doctor in the morning, but everything should just be okay. 

Back to the War.

So we've already seen the rebirth of Green Lantern, and I've talked about the Blackest Night as well. Turning the pages of the Sinestro Corps War, I thought that I should be fairly familiar with what would be happening, if not of bulk of the characters. Boy was I wrong.
In this part of the series, we see Hal Jordan, with the help of friends and fellow Earth Lanterns, re-establish himself in the eyes of other Green Lanterns. There were others in the corps who have not yet forgotten what had happened when he was possessed by Parallax. We also see how Ganthet of the Guardians was banished along with Sayd, for speaking about the prophecy of the Blackest Night and daring to go against what majority of the Guardians wanted - to suppress the last chapter of the Book of Oa. 

Now I understand more of how Sinestro thinks. I understand him now when he says that he's still loyal to the ideals of the Green Lantern Corps. He only sought to achieve it in a very different way. He believed that Fear was the way to control the Universe. Instill fear, and everyone will follow you. Very Machiavellian. 

He built his Sinestro Corps and equipped his recruits with yellow power rings. He then unleashed them to instill fear and destroy the Green Lanterns. He allied with other villains too, Superman Prime and the Cyborg Superman, and the Anti-Monitor. When the Guardians rewrote the Book of Oa to include ten new rules, Sinestro had actually won the battle. The Green power rings were now equipped to use Lethal Force.

The Green Lanterns could kill. 

But the Lanterns' greatest feature is the strength of their willpower. Who was it that said that, in the end, it is still the ring's wielder who will decide when to go for the kill. Lethal force is still the last option. 

For Sinestro though, the fact that the Green Lanterns could now kill is the victory he sought. With Lethal Force activated, others would fear the Lanterns, thereby making their task of policing the universe easier. Or something like that.

When I read the Blackest Night, I thought that the other power rings of the emotional spectrum have long been in existence. In the Sinestro Corps War, I learned that it was something that happened recently, with Ganthet and Sayd creating the blue power battery, as a beacon of Hope. When the Anti-Monitor seemed to have been destroyed, it actually took on another form, in another place, as what looked to me like the Black power battery. Events in the Sinestro Corps War really set off the prophecy of the Blackest Night.
Green Lantern fans cannot miss these three events: Rebirth, Sinestro Corps War and the Blackest Night. Now, I want to read more graphic novels. Hay.