over the holidays

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neri's reads / on whatever

For Christmas this year, I went home. It was a welcome respite from the avalanche of last-minute deal making (seriously, Japanese banks… please stop e-mailing, everyone else is on holiday mode :( ), frantic reading (not pleasant books like what I talk about here, but facility agreements and termsheets and sales agreements and on and on), and… well, work and studying, in general.

I had a couple more posts I wanted to write, three more scary books I wanted to share for Halloween, a theme I wanted to explore for Christmas. I put it all on hold.

I will not make excuses for ignoring this little blog for so long. But I do call bull on those EliteDaily-type articles that attack the word “busy” and people describing themselves as such, en masse. Yes, it’s unacceptable if people think their time is more valuable than others because they’re too “busy.” But when one genuinely has a great deal to do then one is, simply, busy. Full stop.

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My awesome baby sister managed to carve out time from her own busy teaching schedule to make little crafty gifts for each of us. I got a milky brown, clay-baked letter N. (In the picture is my other sister’s P.) I still find it difficult to not think of her as a baby. Most of her students are taller than her, she still hangs out with the same set of high school friends (who I still think of as little kids), she still loves anime (though it’s morphed to a passion for honing her Japanese language skills).

I managed to read a couple of books too over the holidays (and finish at least one!). All excellent reads:

  • Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace (2006, Back Bay Books) – I resolved to read Infinite Jest at some point and, being a complete Wallace virgin, decided to start with Consider the Lobster first. It was the thinnest, I think, of the row of Wallace books on the Kinokuniya shelf. Super decision — I love this book. Wallace writes in concise, clear language. His essays are smart and droll. He’s like that smart uncle at the corner of the room at your family reunion whom you simultaneously seek out (for his one-of-a-kind stories) and avoid (he makes you feel kind of dumb). Heh. Still reading.
  • Against Interpretation and Other Essays by Susan Sontag (1961, Picador) – Sontag is another ‘wish-list’ author for me. I’m going through this one slowly though. Sontag’s 1960s universe is vastly different from today. A lot of the names and movies she drops in her essays I haven’t heard before (and it makes me keen to learn, but is at the same time overwhelming). My favorite so far is the title essay “Against Interpretation.” The thought remains very relevant, I think. “To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of ‘meanings.’ It is to turn the world into this world. (“This world”! As if there were any other.)” Interestingly though, no one seems to have listened, as evidenced by the ‘authoritative’ tone in some book reviews and adopted by some critics, haughty forewords in classics, continued popularity of Cliffs Notes, and the like. Still reading.
  • Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (2011, Vintage) – My kind of book. A juicy read with words to chew on, and sentences like: “The lambs roasted so slowly and patiently that their blood dripped down into the coals with a hypnotic and rhythmic hiss, which sounded like the hot tip of a just-blown-out match being dipped into a cup of water.” Hamilton is the head honcho at the famous New York restaurant Prune. I enjoy novels like these with long sentences and paragraphs devoted to description of food and cooking. The more details the better. Her story is amazing too, with the rather loveless marriage to her ex-husband very honestly told.

Here’s to a fresh year and a fresh set of reads. Happy 2015 everybody.

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The Author

I am 100% Filipina. I've lived in Manila, Jakarta, and London. Right now, I'm firmly planted in the tiny island of Singapore! I caught the travel bug early on. I also love reading, dark chocolate, spur-of-the-moment food trips, Fridays, dachshunds, and lazy weekends with my family or the Hubby.

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