“The Uncommon Reader” is the first book I’ve heartily enjoyed in ages. I found myself laughing out loud at the awkward reactions of Her Majesty’s staff to the Queen’s sudden love for reading. Since Ethan, I haven’t really had the time to read for myself. I’ve read tons of children’s stories and parenting how to’s but I haven’t gotten stuck in a book as I often was in the good old days. The Uncommon Reader brought me back to that place, that magical space where only you and your imagination exist. Indeed, “A book is a device to ignite the imagination.”
And so I’ve decided to resume my reading again. After all, as noted by the queen, “Books are not about passing time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.” Happy Reading! 🙂
Whew! I had to cross-examine two witnesses today. I’m hoping that I was able to raise doubts and I’ll leave it at that.
In the stress that followed that marathon hearing, I now sit and ponder on the books that I recently bought from Booksale. These are the things that bring me absolute joy. I spent two hours browsing through a pile that they were supposed to pull out for storage at the warehouse. The two hour search yielded “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter, “The Teddy Bear” by David McPhail, “On the Day You Were Born” by Debra Frasier, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst, “Winnie the Pooh” by A.A. Milne, “The Moon Came Down On Milk St.” by Jean Gralley and a host of other books, all at Php25! (That’s approximately .50UScents). I actually bought a total of 20 children’s books. Haha. (Talk about an overkill).
My parents raised me with the help of books. 🙂 Our mongrel dog was even named Babar, after Babar, the Elephant King. My younger sister and I looked forward to hearing the tales of beautiful princesses, brave tailors, handsome princes or Bible heroes before our bedtime. It was the highlight of our day.
Suffice it to say that I grew up fond of books but that fondness became a full grown love affair when I turned 7 years old. I transferred schools when I was in Grade 2. It was a harrowing experience for a little kid. I was plucked from classmates I’d grown up with, who played with a “game and watch” gadget fashioned with paper, who chased each other ala “Dayuhan” and was enrolled in a new school with classmates who had the latest Fisher-Price toys and who had more than one Barbie. It wasn’t easy being the outsider. The usual bullies made my life difficult (Although, I must admit I can’t actually recall what they actually did to me 🙂 In the library, I found a home and in the pages of the books I found characters that inspired me to dream and to imagine. I found the courage to approach every situation with positivity from my favorite characters. Enid Blyton’s Fabulous Five taught me to embrace adventure, Nancy Drew showed me that using your smarts and keeping your wits about you would get you through any scrape, The Little Prince taught me about compassion and love, the Little Misses and the Little Men showed me that no one is perfect, we are fine just the way we are.
Eventually, I found a new best friend in my new school. She loved books as much as I did and together we would spend hours in the library with our beloved friends. Sometime later, I found myself happily adjusted to my new school..but the love I found in that library has never left my heart.
Soon, hubby and I will be welcoming a little boy. While other moms-to-be are busy buying baby clothes and the like, I am busy scouring bookstores for my favorite childhood reads. =) I hope to introduce him to my dear friends. I pray that through their adventures, he too will view life with wonder, that blessed with a vivid imagination, he will dream wonderful dreams and have the courage to achieve them.
Thank You Lord for the gift of reading. =)
Excerpt of Velveteen Rabbit culled from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/williams/rabbit/rabbit.html
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
The Skin Horse Tells His Story
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
It’s lunchtime. After a morning of discussing the probability of an approved plea bargaining agreement and the preparation and filing of proposals for my clients, (Sadly, most of the accused cannot afford to post bail and will opt to plead guilty and avail of probation to escape detention) I reward myself by listening to the harmonious tunes of Disney classics and begin thinking of my childhood. I grew up on nursery rhymes, fairy tales and Disney flicks. We had the kind of household that encouraged learning, books were in abundance and we had cassette tapes of our favorite kiddie tunes to lull us to sleep. Our favorite cartoon characters were made even more alive by the drawings Mom would make for us while Daddy took our imagination to new heights with tales of adventures told every bedtime.
Hubby and I hope to make such a home for our child. I am truly excited at the prospect of introducing him or her to the tales of my childhood, to teach him or her about the strength of the elephant king Babar, the stories of the courageous and kindhearted Madeline, the silly and fun adventures of Dr. Seus.
I continue to thank the Lord for this blessing. We have about five more months to go. Hubby and I haven’t gotten things in order yet but we trust that the Lord will guide us. When the time comes, we will be ready. In my heart of hearts, I whisper a prayer of thanks for this gift.
On a fine Sunday morning, I woke up feeling refreshed and eager to start a day of “getting my life in order”. I had papers to file, a closet to organize and a host of errands to schedule. But fate had other plans for me, it seemed.
When the power went out as it does in this part of the world every so often, I felt a little dejected. I really was bent on being productive. Fortunately, the feeling left me as soon as I chanced a look on “The Historian”. I had been planning to read it for weeks since I discovered it at our local Book sale but work and life and my Kindle supply of free e-books had gotten in way.
It’s now 4:30 pm and I have been to Bulgaria, Romania and back. I cannot wait to plan a trip to Eastern Europe. The Historian reads part history and part travel book, a sumptuous read that satisfies the adventurer in me. An enthralling and thrilling investigative journey into the life of Vlad the Impaler, I found myself at once scared and excited to get to know the fates of Paul, Helen, Elena, and the many characters Elizabeth Kostova so cleverly conjured.
Not since the Life of Pi have I read a book that I have fallen in love with. The melding of history, dracula folklore and church tradition in one novel is a feat in itself. I am disturbed by the capacity for cruelty of our race but I am comforted by the truth, that it is in the face of cruelty that heroes are born.
“History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so. Good is not perfectible, but evil is. Why should you not use your great mind in service of what is perfectible? … There is no purity like the purity of the sufferings of history. You will have what every historian wants: history will be reality to you. We will wash our minds clean with blood”
“For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me that history’s terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could have never told me. Only history itself can convince you of the truth. And once you’ve seen the truth — really seen it — you can’t look away.”
“Today I will go to wait for her again, because I cannot help it, because my whole being seems now to be bound up in the being of one so different from myself and yet so exquisitely familiar that I can scarely understand what has happened.”
“I’ve always been interested in foreign relations. It’s my belief that study of history should be our preparation for understanding the present rather than an escape from it.”
Indeed, history is a great teacher. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon of learning, Ms. Elizabeth Kostova.
I discovered these gems in our local 2nd hand bookstore costing from 20php to a 100 (2.5$). Hmmm…which book should I start with?
Ever since I read the “Life of Pi”, I’ve fallen in love with Yann Martel’s prose. I love the humor he brings to even the direst situations. I love how I find myself laugh and cry over the same lines. Thus, when I saw The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios hidden behind tons of other books at Booksale, I knew I just had to buy it. It was wonderful to revisit the literary brilliance of a man whose simple language evoke a power of emotions. Devoid of form whatsoever and using only his gift for storytelling, I am swept into the tale of the lasting wonder of friendship. As if to stall death, Paul and his friend tell the story of The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, one year at a time. As with “The Facts”, the other short stories are poignant tales of love and loss.