2016 meant my first article published on a national broadsheet, two consecutive heartbreaks, a temporary relapse to eating animals, major political issues, and a dismal total of nine books.

Nine books.

For someone who claims she loves books, that is pure horror.  Not even one book per month.

But as much as I’d love to I can’t turn back time to read more, so here’s my dismal list of 2016 reads:

1. “Why Men Marry Bitches” (Sherry Argov)

I got this book because I wanted a certain guy to marry me.  So I tried every single principle in this book.  I played it cool.  Either he isn’t a man or my manipulation tactics were too obvious.  The bottomline: didn’t work.

2. “Outliers” (Malcolm Gladwell), 3. “The Tipping Point” (Malcolm Gladwell), 4. “Blink” (Malcolm Gladwell)

I wasn’t a fan of business/success books.  I thought that since I don’t consider myself an ambitious person, I won’t like these books.  But that changed because of our schools division superintendent.  She gets her Monday morning anecdotes from the books she has read in varied subjects.  More importantly, she is a genuine reading advocate.  I feel it.  I love her.  Moving on, she once told us a story from Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.”  When I next went to the bookstore, I found “Outliers.”  It was both hilarious and inspiring that I bought all the books.  I’ve read three of the five this year.

5. “The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything” (Fr. James Martin).

“Jesus Before Christianity” by Fr. Albert Nolan is the first book by a Roman Catholic priest I’ve read.  This is the second.  You can read my review here.

6. “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O” (Shel Silverstein)

Shel Silverstein, author of the classic “The Giving Tree,”  turns out to be a popular choice for librarians.  I haven’t read “The Giving Tree” – I know right? Shame on me – but “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O” is the one book I’d read over and over again.  (Now tell me who I am, Francois Mauriac.)

I stumbled upon it for the first time four, five years ago.  I was to give library instruction to freshmen at the public high school I previously worked for and was looking for a motivation video.  (I’m not sure they’re formally called “motivation videos.”)  By some random twist of fate, I found this on Youtube.  And I cried.  The Missing Piece was everything I was at the time and what the Big O said was everything that changed my life.

As implied by my opener, 2016 isn’t my best year.  But it’s also in 2016 that I finally found a copy of my favorite story on Fully Booked.  I also bought one for our superintendent – the one person I want to be – in high hopes she’d like it as much as I do.

7. “Eleven Minutes” (Paulo Coelho)

I overstayed in a cafe reading “Eleven Minutes” over a large cup of iced matcha soya.  It was six days after I got humiliatingly dumped for the second time this year.  Maria helped me get over it.

I consider this my second Paulo Coelho.  Technically, “The Alchemist” is my first, but I was in high school and I didn’t understand any of it.  I consider “The Devil and Miss Prym,” read three or four years ago in a bus on the way home, as my first Paulo Coelho and is one of the stories that changed my life.  Someday, maybe, I’d write about that.

But let’s go back to “Eleven Minutes.” I felt Maria is a reflection of every woman’s heart.  I should believe so, or else I’d turn narcissistic claiming Paulo Coelho has been studying my heart without my consent.  It calms my soul knowing I’m not alone in my inner struggles.  Most importantly, it showed me that love should not be painful.  Nor should it humiliate.

Therefore, I conclude, that the heartbreak I just experienced was not love… but I knew that from the start, didn’t I?

8. “Lahat Tayo May Period at iba pang Punctuation Marks” (Rod Marmol)

Rod Marmol was my school mate at the CLSU Science High School and I’m very proud of him.  You can read my short review here, if you can understand Filipino.

Otherwise, here’s the pathetic translation:

“As I was reading this book written by the boy who once upon a time I was shipping to Perry, on a nauseating bus ride to San Jose from NE Pacific where I had pedicure instead of joining the brave anti-Marcos protesters in Luneta yesterday on the birthday of my favorite hero, the memories of the times I thought of suing Star Cinema for making a movie out of my autobiography without my consent came crashing like an avalanche.  I’d like to tell the writer, hey, are you stalking me?  Why did you write about me?  How dare you publish my heart and soul?  But that is the beauty of writers writing and me reading.  With this I know that I am not the only one who rode the love rollercoaster.  With this I know I’m not the only one with memories of things.  With this I know the stories of my past are not special and one of a kind.  With this I know that maybe there’s still hope.  Maybe there’s still hope I’ll have a story no one else has written before.”

9. “Manuscript Found in Accra” (Paulo Coelho)

I have a confession: I’m pretty selfish when it comes to books.  When I hold a book close to my heart, I would never let it go.  I would never recommend it to anyone because I want to keep it all to myself.

But it’s different with Paulo Coelho’s “Manuscript Found in Accra.”  For the first time, here is a book I wish I could buy a hundred million copies of and give one to every single Filipino.  Or seven billion and distribute them to everyone in the entire world.  Every single word resonates to every cell in my body – as if, finally, finally, all of my questions have been answered.  Maybe this is blasphemy, but I think if everyone reads this and lives every lesson in this book, God’s kingdom will come in this generation.

With this, I humbly end my 2016 reading list.  How did you do?

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