April 2017 Book Haul

In all honesty, I am trying to slow down on my purchasing, or should I say, hoarding of books. Unfortunately, whenever I drop by the mall, I couldn’t resist going to the bookstore and do a purchase. In April, I got more chances to go to the mall resulting to multiple purchases, unfortunately. So here’s what I was able to purchase in April. My Scholastic Warehouse Sale book haul will be published in a separate piece.

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Title: Half of a Yellow Sun
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Harper Perennial, 2007
No. of Pages: 433 pages
Accolade(s): 2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Winner
Synopsis: “In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university lecturer. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. The third is Richard, a shy Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. When the shocking horror of the war engulfs them, their loyalties are severely tested as they are pulled apart and thrown together in ways that none of them imagined . . . ”

To diversify my reading, I’ve lately delved in the works of various nationalities, from Japanese to Africans. One of the names I’ve come across was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie but it was quite difficult to avail of her works in regular book stores. Luckily, I was able to grab one in a second hand bookstore sale.

Title: Smaller and Smaller Circles
Author: F.H. Batacan
Publisher: Soho Press, Inc. 2015
No. of Pages: 357 pages
Accolade(s): Philippine National Book Award Carlos Palanca Memorial Award Winner, Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award Winner
Synopsis: “Payatas, a 50-acre dump in northeast Manila, is home to thousands of people who live off what they can scavenge. It is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in a city whose law enforcement is stretched thin and rife with corruption. So when the eviscerated bodies of preteen boys begin to appear in the trash heaps in the rainy summer of 1997, there is no one to seek justice on their behalf-until two Jesuit priests, forensic anthropologist Father Guz Saenz and his protégé, Father Jerome Licero, take the matter of protecting their flock into their own hands.”

Admittedly, I am quite reserved about Filipino works. To date, the only Filipino novels I’ve read are Dr. Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo which we were required to read in high school. Nonetheless, I still want to explore the works of Filipino novelists, and this one seems promising.

Title: Possession: A Romance
Author: A.S. Byatt
Publisher: Vintage, 1991
No. of Pages: 511 pages
Accolade(s): 1990 Booker Prize Winner
Synopsis:Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire—from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany—what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas.” (Source: Goodreads)

I was reading the 1991 Booker Prize Winner, Famished Road by Ben Okri, when I came across this work in a second hand bookstore sale. Like a reflex action, I immediately grabbed it.

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Title: Soul Mountain
Author: Gao Xingjian
Publisher: Flamingo, 2001
No. of Pages: 506 pages
Synopsis: “In 1983, Chinese playwright, critic, fiction writer, and painter Gao Xingjian was diagnosed with lung cancer and faced imminent death. But six weeks later, a second examination revealed there was no cancer — he had won “a second reprieve from death.” Faced with a repressive cultural environment and the threat of a spell in a prison farm, Gao fled Beijing and began a journey of 15,000 kilometers into the remote mountains and ancient forests of Sichuan in southwest China. The result of this epic voyage of discovery is Soul Mountain.

Bold, lyrical, and prodigious, Soul Mountain probes the human soul with an uncommon directness and candor and delights in the freedom of the imagination to expand the notion of the individual self.”

I’ve barely ventured into Chinese literature so I decided to grab a copy of this book. Plus, Gao Xingjian is Nobel Prize in Literature winner.

Title: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publisher: Arrow Books, 2004
No. of Pages: 490 pages
Synopsis: “High in the pine forest of the Spanish Sierra, a guerrilla band prepares to blow up a vital bridge. Robert Jordan, a young American volunteer, has been sent to handle the dynamiting. There, in the mountains, he finds the dangers and the intense comradeship of war. And there he discovers Maria, a young woman who has escaped from Franco’s rebels.”

During a book sale, a fellow reader gave this to me from a pile of books he have already scavenged. Apparently, he has read it already. I’m not going to pass up the chance. It’s Ernest Hemingway after all!

Title: Song of Solomon
Author: Toni Morrison
Publisher: Plume/Penguin, 1987
No. of Pages: 337 pages
Synopsis: “Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.” (Source: Goodreads)

I’ve already read Morrison’s The Bluest Eye so I am yearning to read more of her works. Morrison is after all a Nobel Prize in Literature winner.

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Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2005
No. of Pages: 487 pages
Synopsis: “Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other words, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets-an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.” (Source: Goodreads)

I wasn’t familiar with Carlos Ruiz Zafon but I keep seeing his works in bookstores. Upon research, I learned that he has quite a reputation so when I saw one of his works in a bookstore, my curiosity got the best of me. I am looking forward to a great book.

Title: Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
Author: Fannie Flagg
Publisher: Vintage, 1999
No. of Pages: 467 pages
Synopsis: “Sweeping from the gentler confines of the late 1940s small town America to the tough side of the New York media circus in the ‘70s, Fannie Flagg’s new novel mines golden seams of goodness and gritty determination, prejudice and despair, love and survival, in the story of a young TV interviewer, Dena Nordstrom, whose future looks full of promise, whose present is an emotional mess, and whose past is marked by mystery.”

There’s a certain comedic and nostalgic quality to Fannie Flagg that I like though I’ve only read one of her works so far.

Title: The Law of Love
Author: Laura Esquivel
Publisher: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1996
No. of Pages: 266 pages
Synopsis: “The story is set in Mexico City three centuries hence, when humanity was discovered that everyone goes through 14,000 reincarnations in order to achieve a perfect fusion with their twin soul (the ultimate goal of life). Our heroine, Azucena, is an astroanalyst, a sort of highly evolved psychotherapist who, with the help of her Guardian Angel, ministers to the karmically challenged using the power of music to reacquaint her patients with their past lives. As an astroanalyst and an enlightened soul, Azucena has finally been allowed to meet her twin soul, her true love, Rodrigo. But after only one night of supreme passion, the lovers are separated, and Azucena must search of Rodrigo across the galaxy and through 14,000 past lives. She encounters many obstacles and adventures in her search, inadvertently regetting involved in a plot by a fraudulent reincarnation of Mother Teresa who wishes to use her false identity to become President of the Planet. Azucena is forced to expose the fraud and replace the capstone on the Temple of Love, destroyed when Cortes conquered Tenochtitlan, which will restore harmony to the galaxy.”

I got curious when a saleslady, upon seeing this book in the heaps of other second hand books, screeched in delight and said that it should be displayed in front, saying “Laura Esquivel, it’s a bestseller, it should be displayed in front.” I didn’t know why until I saw the cover. Apparently Esquivel is the author of the highly praised work, Like Water for Chocolate. Silly me for not being able to associate the name immediately. I am still to read Like Water for Chocolate though.

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2010
No. of Pages: 444 pages
Synopsis: “Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver…

There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from college, who want to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.

Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary to tell…”

A book turned into an award-winning movie, this novel piqued my curiosity especially after a friend gave it praises and recommended it.

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