stacked: monthly book picks

True to my ever dorky self, I keep a list of books to watch out for every month. I have slight tendency to go haywire in a bookshop because of the need to purchase everything I get my hands on.

Does that happen to anyone else or is that just me?

If it happens to you too, then this list might help. These are books you can check out first so you don’t get lost in the sea of perfection that is books. If not, then these may be books you wanna start with. They’re all fun reads with a certain degree of social significance. Although all of them are already available, I’m aware that some books stores may not carry them yet, so you might want to check online to get them (e.g Amazan, Goodreads, etc). Anyway, onto the list.

1. The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis

If you’ve read any of Tregillis’ work, then you must be expecting a lot (like me, obviously). The first thing I read of his was the Milkweed Triptych where the retelling of the second World War was so vivid and believable; I could almost imagine British warlocks and Nazi super soldiers being introduced into history textbooks. After that, I just got every single book he wrote, and he has never failed to deliver the same amount creativity and intrigue since. I would go so far as saying that he’s one of my favorites from this genre.

At the core of The Mechanical, which is a new imagery for steam punk, is the age-old question of determinism versus one’s free will and how it relates to artificial intelligence. Despite the complexity of that, it’s told in a very engaging context where ‘clakkers’, mechanical men, are powered by alchemy to protect and defend the Brasswork Throne – now, the only superpower. Trust me, even if this isn’t usually a genre you go for, this book is a worthy read. It delves into a lot of different topics which I think you’ll enjoy.

2. Find Me by Laura van den Berg

It’s for the scifi-loving book lovers who gravitate towards strong female leads and a steady dose of mystery. The book chronicles Joy’s life after she discover she’s immune from an Alzheimer’s-like pandemic that wipes out most of the population and how she makes sense of the world by studying survivors of that disease.

3. The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi

If you follow me on twitter, you would know that I’ve been raving about this book for awhile. The humorous and quirky writing style that Amanda took was so strategic and appropriate in delivering a stance on a very prominent social issue (that you all know I feel strongly about), the concept of beauty.

The book is about two friends, one ‘objectively’ beautiful and the other not (for lack of a better word), who attempt to make the people around them see who they truly are. Here’s the catch: they do it while masking their appearances. It’s a light and funny read with an undertone that persuades you to question your personal identity and how other people see it and shape it.

4. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Much to my dismay, I have not read this book yet, but my recommendation is based on the massive postive reviews it got and the summary I was sent to read. I’m definitely getting a copy soon though. Also, I’ve supported ALL the books this author wrote which includes Never Let Me Go.

Personally, I loved the intimacy of the relationship between Axl and Beatrice as they remember their past and see how much effect it has on their future. I’ll definitely tell you on a different post if the book holds true to the summary I got.

5. Dirty Pretty Things by Michael Faudet

Faudet’s writing style and content is definitely not for everyone. There has been polarized views on the ‘dirty’ aspect of it. Personally, I thought it was sensual, but delivered with a certain degree of sophistication and humor that reads Faudet all the way.

I could keep describing this book to you and how it must have looked when I read this while walking around, shopping with a few friends, but I’d much rather leave you with quote that I think underlines how he was able to deliver a book that a lot of readers can keep referencing back to.

“She was a curious girl who loved the smell of old books, chasing butterflies and touching herself under the covers.”

So those are the books that are breaking my bank – okay, maybe just some of them. I tried to give you as much diversity as I could to cover everyone’s preferences. If you want more entries like this, you can email me or comment below. You know I love talking about my favorite books so if you enjoy reading about them too, I’d love to make more.

Also, there will be a massive announcement on the post after this so stay tuned – especially my fellow book geeks. You’ll love it.

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weight for me

Get it? Weight? Forgive me, my very patient readers, I feel unusually punny this morning.

I was still young when I first discovered the social standards of what’s an “acceptable body type”. Even then, it perplexed me. How can there be a standard for bodies when there are at least 7 billion people in the world, with obviously very different frames and figures? What’s even more confusing is the decreasing number on the scale that’s religiously celebrated by TV ads, magazines and fashion shows—soon enough in the streets of cities and the hide outs of far flung towns too.

Body image is both a personal and a social concept. Much of how we objectify beauty  is caused by the culture we live in. Beauty in an African town, not yet reached by the claws of New York runways, may be an exquisite, dark-skinned lady with a short, curly hair and hefty womb, ideal for child-rearing. In Japan, it could be captivating doll eyes and a petite frame, emphasized by a bright eye make-up and pastel, baby doll dresses. In fashion week, it’s a size zero, thigh-gapped, perfectly-sculpted, 5’7 and above model walking down the runway for some of the biggest names in the industry.

What’s my point there? That even in a very superficial and judgmental society,  beauty is and always will be relative.

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This isn’t the part where I say, well be unhealthy and and raise you middle finger in mock salute to those who eat greens. That’s not my intention.

If the world gets to set standards on beauty, so can you. Make it personal; make it about you. Embrace your curves, your slim figure, your bum, your muscles—everything about you. If you still wanna lose some weight, fine. Go for it! Before you do that though, make sure you love yourself first because if you’re counting on loving yourself when you’ve lost all the weight, it might not work. Often, body image issues aren’t even physical. It’s what you see, not what really is.

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I want you to look in the mirror and see someone beautiful.

I hope you’ll step on that scale and love yourself whatever number it shows.

I beg that you walk in any store and ask for your size confidently, not caring if it’s in one or two digits.

I pray that you’ll be happy with who you are, proud that you’re beautiful in every single way.

 

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a #dearme poetry

Because I know that 16-year old me will not appreciate a narrative advice from a 23-year old,

I wrote a poem that she’ll most likely pretend to brush off (but go back to when the lights are off).

So #dearme at 16,
you dearme copy

#teaminternet youtuber TYLER OAKLEY

As the hashtag was coined by the queen himself, I though why not start with the self promotion genius that is Tyler Oakley. I’m gonna assume that as you’re reading this post, you’re one of 3 people: a. You’re a loyal subject who has watched every video, RTed every tweet and donated so much money and time to his causes. YOU LOVE HIM and are happy you at least breathe the same air no matter how much long that air may have traveled. b. You’ve heard of him, not really seen any of his videos or just a few of them. c. Who the hell is Tyler Oakley? (You’re missing out!)

As you may have already guessed, I’m a proud A. I adore Tyler, what he stands for and how he delivers it.

I’m aware that there’s haters out there, as there is for everyone. Thus making the 4th kind of person. If you’re one of them, you can either find another entry that’s more suited for you to read because there’s no way I’m slamming my queen (loyalty counts for something) or you can read on and find out more of the greatness that is this cotton-candy-colored-hair human being. You never know, you just might like him after this. *wink*

IF YOU FEEL LIKE A LOSER

THE ‘BOYFRIEND’ TAG

Tyler Oakley Interviews Michelle Obama

After all those videos, I think Tyler’s happy disposition and no nonsense stance on issues he feels strongly about is more than enough to give you a glimpse into his character and his usual vlogs. If it’s not, then here’s a run down. He’s a twenty something youtuber with videos that range from self image pep talk, coming out tips, thoughts on books and movies to opening fan mail and answering silly questions from devoted (slightly stalkerish- *coughs*ME) fans. Although he’s well known for his humor, fashion and pastel hair, he supports very serious campaigns like the Trevor Project, a group that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBT since 1998. Last year Tyler wanted to raise a hundred thousand dollars for them and ended up with half a million. Now that’s an achievement, proving that good people come in all forms and packages- sometimes REALLY colorful packages.

I’ll end this entry with Tyler’s 2014 round up and with my fingers crossed that you loved his videos as much I do. If you do, subscribe to his channel linked below and find time to support his campaign to raise half a million dollars for his birthday this month, again for Trevor Project.

LINKS

Tyler’s channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/tyleroakley

To chip in with your donation to Trevor: http://prizeo.com/tyler

 

 

 

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#RESPECT

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What you say about other people reveal more about you than it does about them so the next time you decide to pick on people with words you know are deliberately hurtful, think twice, thrice, a million times. Ask yourself, ‘Who am really calling out, that poor kid or me?’

 

CUT NO MORE

Someone in the world commits suicide every 40 seconds.

That is a terrifying number, as if encountering one suicide attempt in your lifetime isn’t traumatic enough. I was in a senior in high school when it happened. Before the commotion, all I could remember was being sleepy in Math class, seated beside my best friend and trying my hardest to look the least bit interested. Then we heard screams and feet running. Because we had quiet hallways, you immediately knew something was up.

I tugged at my friend and motioned towards the door to check it out. Half the class, including my teacher was headed to the same direction. Most of us thought it was a drill or a school emergency. Very few, if not none, would have guessed what we were to see next.

In the middle of a four storey building was a student holding on to the ledge already about to jump. At that moment, I thought I was seeing everything in slow motion. She was struggling to maintain her balance as there was very little foothold on the other side of the ledge while her hands were slowly slipping from gripping the safety bars too tight. Students from our side of the building were running towards her in a desperate attempt to help her because it won’t take long for her to fall off. If she does, it doesn’t look good. There are a bunch of decorative rocks and statues in the middle of the garden where she’ll fall. We already know she might do it as she has always been depressed and we often see her with cut marks on her arms so we were all hoping for a miracle.

Miracle there was.  James and Ken, guys from our batch, came swooping in and carefully lifted her away from the ledge and into safety. She was still crying and inconsolable though- according to my friends who were right there with her as I did not get to see her up close. After our math teacher ushered us back in, I remember thinking to myself what if she did jump?

photo from theeonlyeexceeption.blogspot.com

I’ve had my personal battles with depression and what it reduces you to but this isn’t the time for me to talk about that. I’m still trying to muster the courage to narrate difficult times in my life, times when I was too vulnerable for my own liking and too devoid of understanding to be better. I wanted to share this story not just to show you that there are people who feel as hopeless or as depressed but to persuade you to think twice or thrice or a million times before you hurt yourself.

I know it seems that nobody cares, that nobody understands. The latter may be true, the pain may be unique to your experience but I don’t have to understand the premise for you pain to care about you, to be here for you, to just hug you and tell you I love you. At that moment when she was about to jump, I wanted her to know someone cares. Someone always cares- often more than you think they do.

The next time you feel like hurting yourself or ending it altogether, give me call or send me message. I’ll tell you how big a loss you will be, not just to stop you but because it’s the truth.

You’re worth a life.

perfection is boring

Huh! Got your attention right? After all, who in the right mind wouldn’t aspire for perfect but let me just get this out. I’ve been going through thousands of tweets, tumblr posts and facebook notifications in the last few days and they all harp a similar thought- it’s tiring, almost consuming trying to be perfect.

It’s frustrating because perfection is a moving target and often it’s one that others dictate. We all know the truth. There is no objective perfection because no one will agree with a specific set of standards to assess it and even if they do at one time, it changes too quickly to matter. So why do we aspire for it, to be it?

What does perfection offer that’s so appealing that we’re willing to change so much of ourselves and give so much of what usually makes us happy just to embody it?

photo from umsonho-de-garota.tumblr.com

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be better, wanting to please others. It’s human nature- we’re built to wanna interact with others and the best way to do that is to have them like us thus the constant pursuit of being everyone’s idea of  likable. Have you ever considered though that people who expect you to be perfect, to never commit mistakes- they too are dictated by somebody else’s idea of perfect? Those that dictate them also adhere to somebody else’s standard. In the end, perfection- especially with people- is nothing but a cycle of standards that although it wasn’t designed to, pressures us to be the best version of a non existent human being.

So here’s my take on it, you can wear yourself out trying to achieve a goal that is impossible but more importantly hollow or you can accept your unique, possibly not everybody’s idea of a perfect self. You can finally work on being the best you, no matter how eccentric and different rather than being the best somebody else. Makes sense?