2017 Read: How I survived the year’s storms

A lot of things happened in 2017. Many things have changed, too. I fell in and out of love, I awakened higher consciousness with the help of my guides, pursued my old dreams and  managed to read a few books, too.

Reading a book, fiction or non-fiction, takes me to places in the past, present, and future. It gives me the opportunity to meet diverse characters and personalities, some of them leave a mark in my heart most times.

Reading helps the multidimensional beings inside of me learn and grow. Every time I finish a book, I become a different person.

Here are some of the books I read in 2017, and the compilation of my random thoughts on each, which I initially published on my IG @harumie_chan.

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Lone Wolf. First for 2017! Jodi Picoult is undoubtedly a master storyteller. I’m definitely going to collect and read all her books (this year, hopefully) – one of my goals for 2017.

The Girl With All The Gifts. Time flies. A few days ago, I was still at Chapter 25. Yesterday, while bracing the rush hour traffic, I finally finished The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey.

I find reading and watching post apocalyptic genre interesting, even if it’s not a favorite. I think humanity’s end could happen not only through alien invasion but through diseases or environment related causes, too.

The description of the Hungries in the book scared me, as well as, the image of dystopian Britain. It’s haunting. 😱 The writer was successful at making the book’s reality as vivid as possible. 👏🏻

Another interesting highlight of the book is education – what and how we teach our children impact the way they view the world. It’s also interesting to note that even in a world of chaos, even infected humans still crave for sex. It’s as basic as food, water and the will to survive. Omoshiroi desu! 🤓

Another good read for January. I’m not sure if I’m ready to watch the movie yet. Anyhow, sayonara for now 🇬🇧! I’m off to my next time travel – 1970 🇯🇵 with my fave Murakami san.

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Hear The Wind Sing. Finished the first book and here are some of my takeaways. I’m bringing these thoughts as I travel to the present. “But try to think of it through a little further. All of us are laboring under the same conditions. It’s like we’re flying in the same busted airplane. Sure, some of us are luckier than others. Some are tough and some are weak. Some are rich and some poor. But no one’s superman- in that way, we’re all weak. If we own things, we’re terrified we’ll lose them; if we’ve got nothing we worry it’ll be that way forever. We’re all the same. If you catch on to that early enough, you can try to make yourself stronger, even if only a little. It’s okay to fake it. Right? There are no truly strong people. Only people who pretend to be strong.” – page 77

“All things pass. None of us can manage to hold on to anything. In that way, we live our lives.” – page 97

Second book later, 1973. I’ll conquer my present first. Yosh! 💪🏻

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The Element, How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. A week ago, I finished one of the best books I’ve ever had. The Element, How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson basically talks about how we can maximize the resources we all have within ourselves.

The Element is when natural talent meets personal passion; it’s about discovering yourself; it’s when we are able to connect with something fundamental to our sense of identity and purpose.

After reading the book, I realized that I’ve already figured out my elements long before I knew there’s actually such a term.

The first, I discovered when I was 5, and until now, every time I do it, everything I needed to create just comes out naturally.

The second, I discovered when I was 10, thanks to the influence of my father. This element allows me to make sense of the world, both real and imaginary, takes me to wherever and whenever, and helps me heal. These first two discovered elements have allowed me to experience many things, brought me to people and mentors who have helped me made many, many of my dreams come true, gave me hats I’ve never imagined Ii’d be wearing, and humbly took me to greater heights. I had an epic early 20s and I won’t trade everything for the world.

The third, I rediscovered when I was 22. When I am at this element, I feel light, happy, relentless, and I always conquer. This element keeps me sane, balances my life, and fuels my fire for everything I’m passionate of.

I’m still young, and honestly, I still don’t know where my elements will take me further, however, I am determined to do my best. The future is never certain, but I don’t want to die without maximizing all the gifts I have been bestowed with. I reaffirmed these thoughts after reading the book.

Currently in Alaska with Chris McCandless. 📚

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Into The Wild.Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”

Even before reading 📖 Into the Wild, @refinyaj and @daphneduhaylungsod already showed me, and reminded me what McCandless was meaning to tell his friend Franz. You both will surely like this book. 🤓 Thank you for staying up late with me, Jay san. Cheers to more our-version-of-into-the-wild adventures (not in Alaska). 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

18011562_289977911446605_1106316118693249024_n.jpgWhen To Rob A Bank. Another book gift from the former kareshi that took me forever to finish because I had to read more articles, blogs, and literature related to some of the chapters. 😂 It has reinforced the inner “ins(ik)economist” in me. 😝

One of the best non-fiction reads thus far. Moving on, I vowed to devour all Jodi Picoult books at hand before April ends. Oyasouminasai! ~

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A Wrinkle in Time. There are books you will never get tired of reading again and again, like A Wrinkle in Time of Madeleine L’Engle. First of May time traveling. 🤓

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The Catcher in the Rye. After my adventure with Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin O’Keefe, I met with Holden Caulfield. 🤓

J.D Salinger digresses but never bores. His book The Catcher in the Rye is timeless, simply because it tells a universal story about how we try to make sense of this world.

It’s a coming of age story that anyone, even those who have conquered the coming of age stage, can relate with. In a society where knowledge and intelligence are often associated with school, the structured institution, sometimes those who are simply not into all these four cornered walls feel out of place.

The norm tells you to be somebody, be a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, but there are people who want to be a catcher in a rye. Nothing is wrong about that but many wont understand why. We have our own timeline. Surely, there are times when we want to be like somebody – successful entrepreneur at 25, CEO of his own firm at 29, Best So and So awardee at 23. However, our timeline doesn’t work the same.

Our opportunities are not the same. Our circumstances are not the same. Our skills, our talents, our attitude towards things. These make us unique and in this diversity are hidden potentials.

All we have to do is dig deeper and keep going, keep discovering and rediscovering ourselves and the world around us. We don’t need to understand everything at the moment, and there are things we just have to leave at that. One day, everything will make sense anyway.

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How To Be Good. After some serious soul searching with Holden, I joined Katie Carr as she struggles to keep herself and her family intact while trying to adapt to the changes in her husband David after meeting GoodNews.

This book gave me hearty laughs. Hornby’s writing is funny but clever and this book left me wondering how to really be good nowadays. What do you think? 🤓

The Translation of Love. I’m currently in Tokyo, 1947. I’m back to writing again, thanks to @deercharisma, for the opportunity, and I can’t contain my happiness. When you’re doing something you are passionate about, you’ll always be in a state of love when you’re in the zone. Gambatte kudasai, Self. 😂😂😂

Oh, and may this book and my time travel with Fumi san give me more inspiration to beat deadlines. 😋😁💪🏻

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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Yesterday, I finished Kutsukake san’s thoughtful and commanding story about The Translation of Love. It took me to the post-war times of Japan, where I met people who have struggled to make sense of their lives during those haunting and agonizing days with grace.

I admire the author’s and the book’s graceful simplicity in telling such a sensitive story. It’s an example of a book you should never judge because of its cover and title. Its spells lie inside its pages and it’s truly magnificent. I had a truly life-changing time travel.

Back to the present. I started reading Dave Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Read the rules and suggestions for enjoyment of the book but turned out I just broke them because I already found myself devouring the very long and funny preface. It was a succinct intro and if only Eggers isn’t as interesting and brilliant as he is, I wouldn’t bother to start the book’s first chapter at all. But yeah, I’m in it now and I also needed his kind of wit these days, so off I go! 💪🏻

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Plan Truth. Yesterday, I came up with a three-page (notebook) assessment of how the mid-year was. Checked the goals hit and missed. Listed down other surprises, achievements not found on the list, as well as, lessons learned and important takeaways. 😊

Realizing short-term goals, no matter how little, no matter how silly, no matter how crazy, makes us feel good. Yesterday, despite feeling feverish, I really felt good knowing that everything I have done mostly in silence and haven’t done, too, resulted in something remarkable. I often do not credit myself but yesterday I did ghostly-hug myself a lot. You did awesome, Self! Keep it up!Here are some of the gentle reminders, too, for the next half to go:
》Desiderata
》Show less of what you have, talk less of what you know
》Be a better writer today than yesterday, and tomorrow than today
》Run light, run happy, be relentless and neverstop
》Never stop learning
》Love simply is. Love truly.
》Daddy God’s time is always the right time 💖

P.S.
I’m currently in an Amish farm in Penn, uncovering the Plain Truth with Atty. Ellie. Got myself another fail-proof plan from one of my fave people on Earth, too, @mickiego, who let me borrow some of her Jodi Picoult treasures, as well. 💕

Last Sunday, I finished the Plain Truth and I left the Fishers’ farm learning a few things about the Amish. Amid the culture of individuality most of us were taught to grow up with, the Amish are deeply entrenched in community, where it is important to fit in.

To us, diversity is respected and expected. To the Amish, there’s no room for deviation from the norm and similarity of identity is what defines the society. The story surrounds a celebrated lawyer, Elle, who saved her distant cousin, Katie, an Amish accused of killing her own baby.

Katie has been brought up to believe that there was only one way to get from point A to B. She’s like many of us who thought that if life didn’t march down that path or turn out as perfectly as expected, that it was unacceptable.

Some of my takeaways from the book are as follows: “It’s hard to change the way you’ve always thought about things.” “If you are afraid of everyone leaving you, what do you do? You leave first so you wont have to see them walk away.”

The Plain Truth reminded me of my father’s dream for me to become a lawyer, too. It reminded me of life in the province. It also reminded me of my own deviations from the norms I grew up with, and how I conquered the indifference I’ve got from some of the people I considered my family.

Anyhow, I’m in Westerbrook now with Sage Singer. This new book of the same author, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, accounts some of the things that happened during the Holocaust. 🤓

My brother and I have been obsessed with anything related to the Holocaust (Shoah) ever since. We recently watched again the film Schindler’s List, and i’m currently reading a book that tells different grim stories of Shoah.

My brother and I are not only in sync with bullying each other, we also share similar interests, history and physics included. Fine. I’m a little bit sad that I’m going home tonight without him waiting to bully me, but I am happy and proud for him. Have a safe trip, @ebrhym09 ! Keep the dreams alive. Separation anxiety kicking in 3 2 1. ☹️😘

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The Art of War. Strategy. Everything in life needs the art and science of planning. In achieving goals, in solving a problem, in running a business, and even in pursuing human desires, strategy plays a very important role.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has also been known for this famous phrase, “winning without fighting”, and this book tells exactly how to do just that. You probably already know but let me just include it here that the word strategy is derived from the Greek word stratigia, which means leading an army. This book is such a treasure. Now that i’m finished with this, I’m going back to Sage’s world.

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Start with Why. Last Saturday, I finished reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. Some of my takeaways from the book include insights about leadership, like how being a leader is different from leading.

Sinek said a leader means either earning a highest rank, or having it because of good fortune, or because of internal politics. Leading, however, means that other people willingly follow you not because they have to and are paid to but because they want to. Are you a leader or are you leading?

Another interesting insight is the affirmation of my view that we all desire to win. No one wants to lose, and the reason we live life is to win. Our metric in measuring our winning differs but our desire is the same.

Basically, the book tells us that regardless of what we do in our lives, our WHY or driving purpose, cause or belief, never changes. As long as you know why you do what you do, how to do it follows. Why do you run? Why do you read? Why do you write? Why do you work hard? Why do you live? 😼

Geisha of Gion. My sister @zinnovskie always finds a good Japanese author for me to read. She bought me one from her book hauling the other day, Mineko Iwasaki’s Geisha of Gion. It is a memoir of the atotori (successor) of the Iwasaki okiya herself. My sister also bought a hard bound Jodi Picoult book which she only got at 250. Happy reading day everyday, everyone! 😚

My journey into ‘the flower and willow world’ (karyukai) ended earlier today. Reaching the last page of the book made me feel so nostalgic. Now, it still feels like I have been inside the book for years, and that being back in my realm gives me an intense feeling of separation anxiety. It feels the same with all the other books I read.

Sometimes, it’s hard when you’ve already developed a certain attachment to a book and its characters. Mineko Iwasaki san’s book is a brave, eloquent and fascinating tale of what it is really like to live the life of a geisha, who are the professionally trained female artists of Japan. In the Gion Kobu district of Tokyo, the most famous traditional karyukai, was the Iwasaki okiya (geisha house) where Mineko san was raised and trained as an atotori (successor) from an early age of 3.

In this karyukai, the geishas have more specific terms – geiko (woman of art) and maiko (woman of dance). Maiko and geiko perform at very private banquets known as ochaya (tea house), but before they can do that, they undergo first an extremely hectic and strict trainings, classes, and rehearsals.

I have always been fascinated by the geisha culture and lifestyle and I have nothing but so much more respect and admiration after reading this book. This is a true story of Japan’s foremost geisha and on this day on, this is already one of my precious treasures.

Women Who Run With The Wolves. It’s hard to say “my fave book is” because all the books I have read so far, even those genre I don’t collect, ended up to be my favorite. However, among these books there are a few I will never get tired of reading again and again and again, and this book of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women who run with the Wolves, is one of those books for keeps.

Estes said in a single human being there are many other beings, all with their own values, motives and devices. In my case, one of beings within me is a Wolf who eats a lot and whose fave is gyoza. 😂😂😂 .


Men Without Women. Started my day with a slow and steady non-stop run, followed by a seminar, and now dating Haruki Murakami. 💚 .

“The proposition that we can look into another person’s heart with perfect clarity strikes me as a fool’s game. I don’t care how well we think we should understand them, or how much we love them. All it can do is cause us pain. Examining your own heart, however, is another matter.” ~ Haruki Murakami .

Murakami san’s short stories are as magical as his previous long form works. Nobody knows the form and language of magical realism better than Haruki Murakami. Men Without Women took me to a world of curiosity and loneliness.

We can all be curious about just everything and most of the time we feed those curiosities we thought we could handle, but we can only know so much so we always end up realizing that even our capacity to open our eyes and hold on to truths is limited. It also took me to the ocean of loneliness of men without women. These are stories of real people, Japanese men for instance, who have lost their “wonderful west wind” to the sailors of the real world. I can go on and on but I must stop here. My reality awaits for me. 👧

“Life is strange isn’t it? You can be totally entranced by the glow of something one minute, be willing to sacrifice everything to make it yours, but then a little time passes, or your perspective changes a bit, and all of a sudden you’re shocked at how faded it appears. What was I looking at? you wonder.” ~ Haruki Murakami

One Hundred Names. Everyone has a story to tell. I’m currently in Dublin with Cecelia Ahern who introduced me to the journalist Kitty Logan.

Kitty’s in possession of a list of 100 names. She’s supposed to track the people on the list and write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to complete. She has managed to talk to three people so far, and nothing about them seem to be interesting to her journalistic senses.

With a publication deadline to meet, an editor who distrusts her and a libel scandal to deal with, and a broken heart to mend, how is she going to manage to track down 97 others and weave the story that connects all of them together? I’d find out myself. 😊

The traffic on my way to work was worst today because of two vehicular accidents. I finished this book on the road today, while waiting for everything to move past the scenes. Just like everyone has a story to tell, every traffic has a story to tell, too.

Ahern’s One Hundred Names is truly uplifting. The book reminded me of why I took up Journalism in the first place, and why I love to read, listen to and write stories. The author’s take on writing a good story strikes me most.

“To seek the truth is not necessarily to go on a mission all guns blazing in order to reveal a lie, neither is it to be particularly ground-breaking – it is simply to get to the heart of what is real.”

Journalism will always be my first love. No matter where my dreams and new goals take me, my passion for Journalism remains. I will always strive to get to the heart of what is real. Thank you for reminding me of where my heart truly belongs, @official_ceceliaahern . 💚

22710185_332315330569505_1994732934254297088_n.jpgNever Let Me Go. One of the lovely souls I am blessed with in this Universe gave me Amazon gift cards. I’m a happy kid!!!

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The Time Keeper. My sister @niz_autor gave me one of her fave books as birthday gift. It was painful for her to give this away, for sure. However, she said she loves me more than this book. 😂😂😂 Anyhow, last Monday I finished the book while waiting for someone at one of my happy places. I wasn’t killing time, I was just making the most of it.
Reading Mitch Albom’s The Time Keeper is like watching a play. Every chapter is like a smooth transition from one act to another.

The wisdom from this book is also a timely reminder for people like me who think I’m always chasing time. One of my takeaways from the book is that it isn’t too late or too soon for anything we wish to do in this life.

We cannot get hold of time but we can definitely take control of how we spend it, who we spend it with and what we spend it for. 💚

The Book of Dust. The rain makes commuting harder. The traffic makes it hardest. I missed my 8.40 trip and I would have to wait for the next bus. I cannot afford another Grab or Uber or even another taxi ride.

But I worry not because I’m enjoying my time in Lyra’s Oxford. I’ve met some old good friends and meeting new ones, too. It’s a gloomy Tuesday. May we all find comfort in our current reads. Have a blissful day, folks!

Love is like reading a book. You never know what will happen as you breathe through each chapter, and at some point you’ll be happy and sad as the story unfolds, but you keep reading up until the last page, wondering how the story will end. Love endures…even if endings aren’t always fairytale-like.

Chotto matte…this book isn’t about love. Hahaha. Forgive my random thoughts. It’s almost 3AM, that’s why. Also, I still don’t want to leave Lyra’s Oxford. 🤓

Reading The Book of Dust takes me back to my childhood, and to those times when I started naming my stuff with names of notable characters from Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

In this volume, the characters I have come to love are Asta, Ben and Jesper, the deamons of Malcolm, Alice and Dr. Hannah Relf, respectively. Oh, I’m not sure if I just missed it but I don’t remember the name of Bonneville’s daemon, the hyaena everyone disliked. Poor thing.

Anyhow, I’m back to my world from Lyra’s Oxford. In my world, I have an emotional battle to conquer. I still couldn’t accept the death of my dearest uncle. He perished in an ambush perpetrated by an infamous extremist terrorist group in Basilan three days ago. He has served my home country and protected it from terrorists for most of his life. I knew Death is a soldier’s constant companion, but accepting this truth doesn’t heal a broken heart so easily. The struggle is real.

Back to being a lone Wolf, and to Pinkola and Picoult’s worlds.

The recent turn of events in my life lately reminds me of Pinkola Estes’ note on belonging as blessing. She mentioned that women shall see to it that we spend less time on what we never got from people who we thought our tribe and spend more time on finding the people we belong to – our family.

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The Storyteller. Glauben Sie, dass es regnen wird, Fräulein Lewin?
Ach ja, ich denke wir sollten mit, schlechtem Wetter rechnen.

Finishing Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller before returning to its beautiful owner the next time I see her. It’s taking me a while to finish this book because I couldn’t stand the images of violence woven vividly in chapters. I couldn’t stand the agony everytime it hits me that while this is a work of fiction, the Holocaust did happen and it was absolutely harrowing.

When I read, I don’t just read, I actually time travel into the book’s timeline and become a part of it. Like an omniscient character the main storytellers of the novel won’t ever noticed. I picked up this book again because I just can’t let go a beautifully written work of one of the best-selling contemporary authors of our time. At least, what doesn’t hurt is learning a German word or two.

Happy Monday, earthlings! May we all treat our brothers and sisters with respect regardless of our religious beliefs. .

I finished The Storyteller while my sister and I were on our trip home to attend the funeral of our uncle. This book, while its stories are harrowing, was a real comfort during those lonely nights after I got the saddest news.

As I turned the last page of the book, I startled my sister when I suddenly blurted “ohmygaaad!” as if I just found a gold mine. Some of the passengers stared at us, too, and probably wondered what was the fuss about.

My sister kept listening to me when I shared with her the plot twist and the ending of the story that I didn’t saw coming at all.

Jodi Picoult is a master storyteller and this book is another magnificent proof. I finished the book almost two weeks ago, however, the stories of the Holocaust survivors linger. I know it happened and the same thing is happening in Myanmar right now, but I can’t believe our people are capable of such horrible acts. It’s also sad that while we know these are happening in our neighborhood, we can’t do anything to be of help. Can we?

Moving on, I’m now reading my copy of the Philippine Constitution just because I promised someone something I cannot disclose as of yet.

Happy reading! 

 

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