What I’ve Been Reading Lately: The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings

wpid-2015-01-12-09.23.19-1.jpg.jpegIn 4 days, I will have spent an entire year in Sydney and in about another 13 I will be going back to Manila for some much needed r&r. But, before I go on my holiday I decided it would be a good idea to at least attempt to finish reading one of the books in the small pile I’ve managed to accumulate.

To be honest, I started reading The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings a good 3 or 4 months ago and got through maybe a fourth of the way and haven’t really made much progress since. My last semester at uni was just plain ‘cray’ so there really wasn’t enough time for me to sit down and read a book. Basically any downtime I had was spent either catching up on some much needed sleep or talking to my folks back home.

I’ve read Poe before (as a former-Literature major I think it would be pretty embarrassing to say that I haven’t lol) and was really into his dark humor and themes so when I saw this at a QBD for $10 AUD, I thought it was about time I got to reading his other, less notorious, poems and short stories. For a super cheap copy, I feel like this edition has a pretty choice selection of Poe’s work. So, if any of you are looking for an introduction into the world of Poe I think this would be a good one to start with.

As always I’m keen to hear what you have to say, so let me know in the comments below what you think of this book if you’ve read it or what you’re reading right now. xx


An Abundance Of Katherines

I have finally finished reading An Abundance Of Katherines, inclusive of the appendix that explains all the Math that was involved in the book; apparently the equations used are, get this, REAL.

Colin Singleton is a washed up child prodigy (and it is repeated again and again in the book that being a prodigy is different from being a genius) that has a strange love of anagramming that has only ever dated girls named Katherine. After wallowing in self-pity and rejection his friend Hassan picks him up off of the carpet and takes him on a road trip that leads them to Gutshot, Tennessee. They get hired as the oral historians of the town and somehow Colin manages to fall in love with his first non-Katherine.

This book is actually John Green’s follow up to Looking For Alaska, and tackles the usual coming-of-age problems that most of us are familiar with. I hate to say it, but I didn’t really like this one as much as Looking For Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars. The plot was a bit boring and predictable (this has nothing to do with the Math I swear) but there is a lot of trivia crammed in the book which makes it an interesting read. If you’ve just recently decided to start reading John Green books I do not recommend that you start with this one, go for Looking For Alaska first and then maybe venture into this one.


The Fault In Our Stars.

I’ve heard about this book many times before, how it will make you cry like nothing else you’ve ever read. I, of course, doubted that. I didn’t doubt John Green though (I’ve read Looking For Alaska and it will forever be one of my many favorites) and so I thought even if it didn’t make me cry like sappy Tumblr bloggers told me it would, I wouldn’t have completely wasted my time with another teenage hit. (I’ve learned my lesson after I got sucked into trash that we call Twilight — something that I will forever regret, and so I’ve been a bit more weary about the stuff that I read now.)

Last night, I came across another blog post that told of the buckets of tears she (the blogger) shed while reading the book. So I got a Kindle version of the book, played some Death Cab For Cutie and started reading. I finished it last night and I am here to tell you (that in my case) those bloggers were right, I was crying buckets upon buckets upon buckets of tears while reading this book. The story itself is quite moving, how two cancer-stricken teenagers find each other and have that opportunity to fall in love before one looses the other. But, that’s oversimplifying it, and you should probably read it yourself to understand the complexity of the character’s situation.

I had a grandmother who died of cancer when I was in the 5th grade, and I could see that she was fighting. She was one of those people who just wasn’t ready to leave yet, but she did anyway, because her body wouldn’t let her anymore and I guess she just got really tired in the end. But before she went, she tried to live as normally as the frequent hospital visits, extreme weight loss and slow loss of control her own body would let her. Cancer is a terrible disease that robs families of loved ones and people of their lives, and I suppose we can only hope that in the future some miracle man finds a way to get rid of this stupid disease. But, you have to find ways to live with your disease not live as if all you ever did in life was have cancer. I know what you’re thinking, it’s a lot easier said than done. But I’ve seen my grandma do it, and somehow it’s been reinforced by this fictional character I had just read about last night.

Just as the book ends there’s this line Augustus wrote in his letter to Van Houten, I thought it was wonderful so I wanted to share it with whoever reads this blog post.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you.”

I can’t decide why I like this book so much, maybe it’s because it reminds me of my grandmother or maybe because John Green’s writing is just great (and can hold it’s own even without my sentimental thoughts towards my grandmother.) Well, whatever the reason is, it was well worth my entire evening of tears.


ps. About the crying part. I suppose this all depends on the person reading the book. I will not tell you, that you will cry as much as I did or as much as any other person did because it’s all subjective. To add to the melancholic vibe of the book I was listening to What Sarah Said by Death Cab For Cutie so that might have added a few more buckets, but that’s just me.

Never Let Me Go.

I finally finished reading Never Let Me Go last night. I enjoyed it very much. It’s plot, in my opinion, is quite unique. A “student” named Kathy recalls her life at Hailsham and the life long friends she’s made there.

The story affected me quite a bit. I was surprised by how the characters came to accept their lives as easily as they did. There was a bit of fight and hardly any fuss made about how their lives were planned for them in the future. It also shows us the cruel side of humanity, how we refuse to take responsibility for the “undesirables” in our society, how we sometimes like to pretend like they do not exist.

This book had an air of melancholy the entire way through, but the most haunting part for me was the ending. The way Kathy stood there in Norfolk, waiting for that person that she had lost. The movie had a much more hopeful air to it, I remember a line that went “we were lucky to have any time together at all…” I suppose the melancholy made the book.

It’s a bit frightening to think what our society would be like if we had clones that were essentially raised for the harvesting of vital organs. It makes me wonder how we would treat them. Of if they would so calmly accept the fate that waited for them at the age of “maturity.”

The Perks of Being A Wallflower

This book is just.. wow.

I’ve been hearing a lot about this book from my friends ever since my senior year in high school, but I never really got around to reading it. But lately, I decided that it was high time to see what the fuss was all about since I had already read Looking For Alaska and I heard that The Perks of Being A Wallflower was really similar to it.

It’s about a boy named Charlie and how he eventually learns what it means to “participate” in life. I don’t know what it is, but I can just relate to the character and most of what he’s gone through.(Although, I have this strange urge to try weed with my friends now. I don’t know if that’s because of the book. I just thought I might share that.)

I must admit I didn’t expect much from it. I thought it would be this conventional teenage love story between Sam and Charlie, but it’s not. The epilogue was kind of shocking for me and a lot of other parts of the book really make you think, and I guess that’s what makes a great story, great.


Animal Farm.

I just finished reading Animal Farm by George Orwell.

I remember being in my Global Society class and not giving a rats ass about politics. I knew I really liked being in a democracy and didn’t care much about the reason why. All I knew was that I liked living in a democracy and that I enjoyed the privileges and freedoms that came with it. When I read Animal Farm I realized that the privileges and freedoms I take advantage of everyday might be something a person under a communist regime would appreciate more.

What I loved most about this book was that it made the concept of communism so plain that a child could read it and still enjoy and understand it’s message. But at the same time there are so many symbolisms that make it adaptable to a present day government.

After reading Animal Farm I wanted nothing more but to roast Napoleon alive for taking advantage of his loyal followers, especially after the pigs had sold Boxer to a glue factory (of sorts). This book also made me appreciate the form of government we have in the Philippines at present, I think I’m going to be more mindful of the little things that I usually take advantage of.

This has been one of the best books I’ve ever taken out of my school’s library. I’m planning on buying it for my own personal collection.