Archive for the ‘Books’ category

Lisbon

November 4, 2014

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This was probably one of our best family holidays. Every element of the holiday turned out to be perfect, which really was quite a feat! Weather (most important variable which can make or break a holiday!), was absolutely stunning. We arrived just in time (at the end of October) when the city was experiencing an unusual heatwave. It was 26C everyday with sunny blue skies. At night, we turned on the fans to cool us in bed. What bliss. Because it was no longer tourist season, we had the wonderful summery weather without the crazy crowds! At many tourist attractions we visited, there were less than 20 people. We stayed at a very gorgeous AirBnb apartment on a street dotted with convenience shops and affordable restaurants. Eating out was cheap and food was always good. We had fresh seafood every day. The boy was very well-behaved throughout the 5 days and really was a pleasure to be with. He’s at an age where he is able to appreciate the surroundings and enjoy different sights and attractions. It also helps that Lisbon is so staggeringly attractive. Everywhere you turn there is a photo opportunity. The place has a real rustic charm. There was nothing pretentious, and ways of life are still quite traditional and old-school, which I find really appealing. My husband asked me last night, “So, do you want to go back to Portugal?” And my answer was loud enough for my whole street to hear. “YES!!!!”

The Book Thief

January 29, 2011

If you want a good book to read, pick up The Book Thief. It’s different, it’s creative, it’s clever and it made me cry. In fact it’s so good I might wanna just go read it again.

Ashes to ashes

January 14, 2011

She fed it to the fire. If her hands hesitated for a brief moment, her heart didn’t once flinch. She heard it cackle and watched how the orange flames licked it up greedily. Strangely, this image had a calming effect on her. She thought about doing this on many occasions, but she held on for old-time sake. For the joy it brought her. But the pain was inconvenient, and definitely unnecessary. She looked at it again one day and discovered what she had once treasured had slipped away over time. An empty void was in its place, arriving so silently. That did it for her. When the fire fizzled out, all that was left was a pile of grey ash. Gently she reached out and touched it. The sensation surprised her. It was warm, powdery and smooth. She sat down quietly in the dark and buried her hand in the mound of ash to enjoy the warmth. She tried to think of a word for what she was feeling. After what seemed like hours, she swept up the ashes and threw it out in the garden, in a hole next to the partially crumbling wall. Relief, was what she thought of eventually. Goodbye, was what she whispered.

p. 247, I Must Be Blind? (2064), by C. Hope

China Cuckoo

November 24, 2010

… is an extremely good book about Mark Kitto, a Welsh guy who moved to China. He writes so elegantly and eloquently he makes me read and re-read his sentences just to savour and appreciate the beauty of his creation. I started the book in September. It is now almost December and I still haven’t finished it. I’m sorry Mark, your book’s excellent but I’m just always too god-damn tired at the end of each day to be able to open my eyes for more than 10 minutes.

Awesome, literally!

September 3, 2010

I’m loving these cute accessories created by The Literary GIft Company for us bookworms!

I read

August 4, 2010

Reading keeps me sane. I now hardly have time nor many opportunities to cook, bake, go shopping, travelling, surf the internet, get a pedicure, haircut or massage. The only way I relax now is to read. And I’m thankful I still can. The beauty of reading is you can take as long or as short as you like. If I have more time I can read a chapter. If I am tired I just read a few pages. When I read, I am not thinking of anything else. I can’t. I am in the story. I am the protaganist. I am living his/her experiences. I free my mind of everyday worries. Picking up a book at the end of the day is my little treat. I lie in bed and read till I fall asleep. What would I do without books?

Gilbert on Marriage #1

June 14, 2010

Marriage & Expectation

Meeting the Hmong women that day in Vietnam reminded me of an old adage: “Plant an expectation; reap a disappointment.” My friend the Hmong grandmother had never been taught to expect that her husband’s job was to make her abundantly happy. She has never been taught to expect that her task on earth was to become abundantly happy in the first place. Never having tasted such expectations to begin with, she had reaped no particular disenchantment from her marriage. Her marriage fulfilled its role, performed its necessary social task, became merely what it was, and that was fine.

By contrast, I had always been taught that the pursuit of happiness was my natural (even national) birthright. It is the emotional trademark of my culture to seek happiness. Not just any kind of happiness, either, but profound happiness, even soaring happiness. And what could possibly bring a person more soaring happiness than romantic love? I, for one, had always been taught by my culture that my marriage ought to be a fertile greenhouse in which romantic love can abundantly flourish. Inside the somewhat rickety greenhouse of my first marriage, then, I had planted row after row of grand expectations. I was a veritable Johnny Appleseed of grand expectations, and all I reaped for my trouble was a harvest of bitter fruit.

p. 43, Committed (2010)

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Marriage & Infatuation

Felipe didn’t answer for a long time. Then he said, “When I used to go down to Brazil to buy gemstones, I would often buy something they call ‘a parcel’. A parcel is this random collection of gems that the miner or wholesaler or whoever is bullshitting you puts together. “I used to get in trouble because I’d get too excited about the one or two perfect aquamarines in the parcel, and I wouldn’t pay as much attention to the junk they threw in there. After I got burned enough times, I finally got wise and learned this: You have to ignore the perfect gemstones. Don’t even look at them twice because they’re blinding. Just put them away and have a careful look at the really bad stones. Look at them for a long time and then ask yourself, “Can I work with these? Can I make something out of this?”

“It’s the same with relationships, I think, People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of that’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.”

p. 129, Committed (2010)

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I am enjoying the insight from Elizabeth Gilbert’s sequel to Eat, Pray, Love. More excerpts to come.