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Books galore!

I’ve been meaning to get this out for quite a while now… this is one of those 30 drafts I’d mentioned. Just wanna take note of some books on my mind...

Books, unfinished:

Me and my voracious appetite, I usually devour all the books I pick up and read. There have been a few exceptions. Here’s a list of what I remember not finishing, in relatively chronological order of abandonment:
  • Roots - Alex Haley:
    Can you believe I tried to read this when I was probably about 8 y.o.? The mini series was on TV, the book was on the reading shelf, and for some reason I wanted to sink my teeth into the story. Unfortunately I was too young, and really didn’t know what I was reading about. I remember Kunta Kinte being kidnapped, and a horrendous journey by boat. I’m not sure how much beyond that I got to before stopping. My only take-away: I learnt that “privates” were used to refer to “down there.”

  • Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Dee Brown:
    I think I got a third of the way through before stopping… just couldn’t bear to continue reading about all those broken promises and horrid treatment of Native Americans during the U.S. expansion into the west. It was physically painful for me to read this book. The take-aways: just because something is agreed upon doesn’t mean both parties will actually honor the agreement, even if (or, especially if?) one of the parties is a country’s government… and they’d probably get away with it too.

  • Sophie’s World - Jostein Gaarder :
    The draw of this book was the overview of the history of philosophy (combined with a supposed mystery), seeing as things like philosophy were never taught in school, and I hadn’t thought to take it as an elective during my studies. However, I only read about a third of it, because I got really bored at the mini philosophy lessons. Oh well… maybe it’ll be appreciated later in life? Or I can try it, skipping those mini-lessons?

  • The Tower on the Rift (The View from the Mirror, Book 2) - Ian Irvine:
    One of the unknown-to-me series I explored during the time I was in a craving-anything-new-fantasy stage. Maybe I was in fantasy overload by that time? I felt Book 1 was fine all by itself, but Book 2 seemed to be a repetition of Book 1, or it just wasn’t going anywhere. Either way, I was NOT hooked. I may just give away the two books when I’m back in KL.

  • Shadow (The Scavenger Trilogy, Book 1) - K J Parker:
    Very very very slow-moving book. It’s probably good, but once again, this was a bit too “deep” for me at the time – I wanted to escape, not have to think hard about what it was I was reading about. I’d struggled through the author’s previous trilogy that followed a man who went from forging swords, to bows, to armor: definitely a different style, which is why I risked trying another of his series. I’ll give this another chance; I think I may be more appreciative of the tale of an amnesiac god this time around…

  • Wolfskin - Juliet Marillier:
    After totally enjoying her other series (The Sevenwaters Trilogy), I was all excited about exploring other works by this author. Unfortunately, this book so did not hook me that I don't think I even made it through Chapter 1!! Which is a real pity, seeing as it seems to be set in a Norse-like culture, which always appeals to me (more about that in another post...)

And a bunch of management-type books:
  • First Things First - Steven Covey:
    I was really taken by Covey’s 7 habits (my A-HA moment was with Habit #1: the power of proactive vs reactive language, sphere of concern vs sphere of influence, etc), but I really had a problem with procrastination, so tried to get through his time-management-specific book.
  • The Power of Simplicity - Jack Trout:
    This so appealed to me, seeing how everyone likes to hide how much they don’t know my making long and complicated presentations, for example. But I very quickly got reminded that there was only so much cutting through of bulls**t I could do by myself when the rest of the system is totally corrupted.
  • Approaching the Corporate Heart - Margot Cairnes:
    This author resonated very well with the transformation effort being carried out in my ex-employer, but for some reason or other the con-sultan-ts had never made any mention of this book as a resource. It was via conversation with Allie that she recommended, and lent me, this book (i *have* given it back, right?).
For most, if not all, of the above “management” books, I abandoned them because it’s obvious very quickly that they all say things that are simple common sense. It’s all up to the individual to make it a point to do things differently. Of course, in order to make an actual difference, there must be a collective effort by many individuals in the same area, otherwise, well, either you do what you can or you get more and more frustrated…
Books, yet unread:
  • Millennium (1999): (couldn't find this book online, LOL!)
    It was getting close to the new (false) millennium, and I very much wanted to reflect on what humankind has done to itself in the last 1000 years. I wanted a better understanding of things like the Israel/Palestine conflict, why the U.S. and the USSR had the Cold War, why it ended, the Crusades, so many other things! Fyi, I am someone who HATES history with a passion due to the horrible way it was “taught” in school, but by this time I knew that understanding of current events lies in exploring what had happened in the past. And since this book seemed to provide a comprehensive overview, which seemed just what I required, I went ahead and bought it. Unfortunately, I felt somewhat intimidated by the prospect of reading it, so in its plastic wrapper it remains to this day!

  • The Magic of Recluse - L. E. Modesitt:
    Bought in 1999 or so, when I was looking around for some new fantasy books to read. Seeing as this author had so many books, I figured it would be a good place to start. Then, by some amusing series of coincidences, the book ended up packed away in storage, and I spent the next 5 years wondering what had happened to it. Found it the last time I was back in Malaysia. Rescued it. Brought it here to the U.S. Have yet to pick it up. May bring it back with me to read, LOL!

  • Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M Pirsig:
    I’d mentioned this in an earlier post – given to me by my MD/CEO when I transferred out of that company to another post in another part of the organization in 2001. Meant to read it but was caught up in the new job. Then got transferred to a special project which mutated transformed into an organization-wide transformation program, had to live out of a teeny cubicle so non-essential stuff was packed away, including this book. Last April/May I made sure it got out of storage and onto my bookshelf. I’ll read it when I’m back this time around.

  • Currant Events - Piers Anthony:
    If you like puns, check out this series. I thought this was going to be a "trilogy" of 27 books, the author keeps on churining them out... by this time, the books are really not that great, but I was so surprised that there was a #28 to the series that I went ahead and got it (and I see there's a #29 out too!). Anyways, so I bought it last October, but haven't had the "calling" to pick it up yet :p

Books, outstanding from my youth:
  • Seal Morning - Rowena Farre
    A girl recounts her childhood, which includes major interactions with seals.

  • Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
    The adventures of a horse… I do not remember any details, except perhaps that I learned what “blinders” are. And I think I cried at the end.

  • My Side of the Mountain - Jean George
    Does every kid long to run away and live on their own somewhere? I know I certainly did. So this story really struck a chord with me: a boy who ends up living in a burnt out tree trunk, befriends a falcon/ eagle, and successfully weathers winter in his tree. While doing this post I found out that there is actually a trilogy for this book and the other similarly-veined Julie of the Wolves: may just check it out.

  • The Outsiders - S E Hinton
    I don’t think I’ve seen the movie, but I read all about the new brat pack members who acted in it, thanx to all those teen magazines I read at one stage in my life. Curious about the tale, I managed to find & buy the book. Don’t remember much about it, but I’m sure I cried at the end.

  • The Dr Doolittle series - Hugh Lofting:
    I was totally in love with this whole series and I think I own all volumes... hey maybe I should reread them, or at least scan them again... I remember being struck by a tale of all these birds who take a stone/pebble each and drop them into the middle of a lake, over and over, in order to build an island for a giant turtle in Lake Tanganyika. A giant turtle who had lived through the Great Flood, btw. Oh, and that birds/stones motif, I was surprised to later hear about a similar tale in the Koran where the birds defeated elephants in this manner... ... and what about the pushme-pullyou animal: was that the inspiration for Austin Powers' Japanese fans Fukmi & Fukyu, I wonder.... oh and please, do NOT judge this series by the atrocious movies with Eddie Murphy!!

Yeah, yeah, yeah – so most of the outstanding ones are those that made me cry… and why not? After all, it’s all too easy to make a tear-jerker movie with the swelling music, and camera angles, etc… but with books… so much of it must have been building in your mind’s eye, you need to have been drawn to characters that exist there only in the written word… it's a compliment to the author, and the indication of just how into the book you got...

Oh, and another note on these outstanding books of my youth: did you notice they are mostly about animals? I really really loved animals, and all I wanted to do when I grew up was to be an animal doctor. Then I discovered that I couldn’t deal very well with blood… and at age 12 or so, I decided that I would NOT be an animal doctor. (I wonder what my life would be like if I had not chickened out [pun intended] so easily… that’s a topic for another post, I suppose!)

And last but not least, a recently re-read book that again brought tears to my eyes....
  • The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley:
    The Arthurian legend, told from a fantastically different perspective... there are so many characters, yet you get to know them intimately... you get a peek into the life of priestesses of Avalon, of the Druids... and how the coming of Christianity affected the island of Britain. Explores the then-already obvious divide between Christianity as preached/practiced by Jesus vs Christianity as forced down throats by narrow-minded priests... It's a fantastic, thought-provoking read. I've read it three times in 10 years, and will probably continue to re-read it every 5 years or so - yes, it's THAT good. :-)

You know, all the above are just the tip of the iceberg.. there have been many books that swam in and out of my memory while I was working on this ... gosh, I wonder just how many books I *have* read in my 33+years on this planet... all those Enid Blytons, Trixie Beldens, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drews of my early youth would already bring the total to ovver 100, for sure! And I've read at least 6 (space tyrant series) + 7 (incarnations of immortality series) + 27 (Xanth "trilogy") = 40 books by Piers Anthony right there!!

I think this year I'll keep a tally of how many books I read, just to have some sort of idea of record out of curiosity. Will share that list at the end of this year :-)

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