Here is a list of books that have ended up on my shelf or my iPod... (this list is a work in progress)

Water's Edge by Robert Whitlow

This is the first book of Robert Whitlow that I read and what a pleasant surprise. Water’s Edge may not be as thrilling as John Grisham’s novels or may even lack the romantic flavor found in Nicholas Sparks’ books. It offers us however an invitation to sit down, examine our life and evaluate how much of it we have actually lived, both for ourselves as well as for others.

Some quotes from the book that made me stop and think...

"A small step away from selfishness is a long journey for the heart."

"Only when we focus our attention on others can we become who we're intended to be ourselves."

"Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

While I didn't particularly enjoy the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy, this last one was a little bit better. Set in a time of war, what else could it be but both heart-breaking and horrifying. Collins managed to take me on an emotional ride with this book. With Katniss and every other character, I felt the horrors of war, fell apart by the painful blow of being made into a pawn by the power that-be, and mourned the pain of losing loved ones. Mockingjay was as intriguing and complex as the whole Hunger Games set-up; how does one really choose when nothing is clearly good nor clearly evil? Having said that, I still thought Katniss' character did not come into her own. Most of the time here, she was a passive bystander, observing things from the outside. Her inner struggle was never fully resolved nor was there anything to show her realization of the task she'd been able to accomplish. 

Some memorable quotes though are not amiss...

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”  

“You're still trying to protect me. Real or not real," he whispers.
"Real," I answer. "Because that's what you and I do, protect each other.” 

“That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.” 

“It's impossible to be the Mockingjay. Impossible to complete even this one sentence. Because now I know that everything I say will be directly taken out on Peeta. Result in his torture. But not his death, no, nothing so merciful as that. Snow will ensure that his life is much more worse than death.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I was excited to continue with the Hunger Games trilogy that this second book was quite a disappointment. Not as fast-paced as the first, this second installment looks more on what goes inside Katniss as she is made to go through a second Hunger Games. That would have been alright except that Katniss' character seemed to have changed here - from the strong, independent woman she was made to be in the first book, she's is portrayed here as someone who seemed to just go with the flow, never decisive nor took the reins of command herself. Maybe it happens in real life, but it was such a let down.

Anyway, there were still some good quotes from the book.

“You know, you could live a thousand lifetimes and not deserve him.” 

“I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.” 

“We had to save you because you're the mockingjay, Katniss," says Plutarch. "While you live, the revolution lives.” 

“At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.”  

"Yeah, I guess so,” I said, But it’s not true. A mockingbird is just a songbird. A mockingjay is a creature the capitol never intended to exist. They hadn’t counted on the highly controlled jabberjay having the brains to adapt to the wiled, to thrive in a new form. They hadn’t anticipated its will to live.”

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans 

Another book that's meant to inspire readers with life lessons, this book is in the same category as Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie. The book is emotional and sensitive to the human spirit and what it can do in the midst of trials and loss. This is a "feel good" book, the sort I'd read on a cold rainy day when there's nothing much else to do. The book reminded me once again of the real things that matter in life. I enjoyed it except perhaps for the "walk" part and the repeated reference to diners and meals Alan Christoffersen had on the way.

Still, there are a number of quotes I loved:

"Life has taught me that to fly, you must first accept the possibility of falling.” 

 “It is better to be loved by one person who knows your soul than millions who don't even know your phone number.” 

 “The assumption of time is one of humanity's greatest follies. We tell ourselves that there's always tomorrow, when we can no more predict tomorrow than we can the weather. Procrastination is the thief of dreams.” 

"Some people go to such lengths to avoid pain that they give up on life. They bury their hearts, or they drug or drink themselves numb until they don't feel anything anymore. The irony is in the end, their escape becomes more painful that what they're avoiding."

The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

This is the final book to the trilogy on Lisbeth Salander. I didn't find it as upbeat as the second but it was still as gripping as the first two. Though well-written, I really thought Larsson must have had his mind somewhere else with some events that seriously could not have happened in real life. Like getting shot in the head and still survive???? I did learn however that you can use duct tapes to close up serious wounds to keep the blood in and the germs out.

Some quotable quotes from the book:

“Nobody can avoid falling in love... They might want to deny it, but friendship is probably the most common form of love.” 

“I'm unhappy. I don't want to fall in love with you. It'll hurt far too much when it's over”  

“But if you want to win, you're going to have to fight.” 

“She wondered what she thought of herself, and came to the realization that she felt mostly indifference towards her entire life.”

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is an easy, quick-read and action-packed book. No wonder people raved about it. It touched on a lot of themes such as love, hunger, poverty, family, sacrifice so that even if it was written for young adults, a lot of people outside this age range enjoyed it as well.
I'm not a big fan of violence but the suspense and the speed of the novel kept me up late at night turning page after page after page. Like any good story, I got so immersed in the Capitol and District 12 that for a while, I imagined what the world would be like if we ever came to that. 

Some memorable lines from the book are:

"Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games”

"Scores only matter if they’re very good, no one pays much attention to the bad or mediocre ones.”

“It's strange to be so physically close to someone who's so distant” 

“For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.”

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson 

The second book in the trilogy, I enjoyed this book more than I did the first. Perhaps because it is more fast paced and reveals the details into the life of Salander -- a young woman, broken by the very institutions who ought to have cared for her. So reminiscent of real life events, this book is both powerful and intriguing that it leads readers to hurriedly turn to the next page.

Some lines that reveal Salander's troubled character:  

"She had discovered that the most effective method of keeping fear at bay was to fantasize about something that gave her a feeling of strength. She closed her eyes and conjured up the smell of gasoline." 

"There are no innocents. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility."

"She felt that some fundamental change had taken place or was taking place in her life. Maybe it was having access to billions of kronor and not having to think about every krona she spent. Maybe it was the adult world which was belatedly pushing its way into her life."

“Always retain the ability to walk away, without sentimentality, from a situation that felt unmanageable. That was a basic rule of survival. Don't lift a finger for a lost cause.”

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This is the first book of a trilogy and I've only finished one so far. The book is like other crime novels but what I really loved about it is the main character, Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a broken young woman who makes good of the gifts she has. It's a simple good vs evil story but Salander's slow integration into the world with her warts and blemishes make her more real and attractive.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”   

“Friendship - my definition - is built on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don't have trust, the friendship will crumble."

“Then I discovered that being related is no guarantee of love!”
“impulsive actions led to trouble, and trouble could have unpleasant consequences.” 

Out of Status by Jen Furer

Another book that is close to my heart simply because the author is a very good friend. 

Jen's book gives us hope that dreams do come true. The story is every Filipino's dream of pursuing a better life and finding happiness for oneself and one's family. While happy endings are never guaranteed, Jen's story shows us that as long as we keep the faith, never lose hope and continue to work hard, life will eventually take care of us. Her poems, included in some chapters of the book, provide readers with words of inspiration that make us believe there is a pot of gold waiting for us at the end of the rainbow. In the end, this book is an invitation to live life to the fullest and a challenge to face our battles. Those who are still in pursuit of a dream should read this book. 

In moments both happy and sad, this book is most inspiring. Quotes from the book I will never forget:

"The difference between learning and regressing,
The difference between happiness and misery,
The difference between victory and losing,
The difference is your attitude in moving forward!"
"Nicole’s diploma meant more than the hard work she put into her studies; it meant that our family had survived the challenges of life. Her graduation was the key to new good things that would come our way. It was the beginning of a path that reminded us that hope does survive…"

You Can't Steal Second with Your Foot on First! by Burke Hedges

The book is sub-titled "Why you should choose to become independent in a job-dependent world." More than making money and running a business, this book convinced me that letting go is as important as making a choice. Too often, we think we're making choices but we fail to see that not letting go of old practices can ultimately put to waste our best efforts in playing out those choices. 

Some interesting quotes from the book:

"The only way you can achieve independence is to exchange your wishful thinking for purposeful action. Which means you're going to have to make a tough decision to step out of your comfort zone... take a calculated risk... and go for it!" 

"There's no getting away from risks. There's only recognizing them, managing them, and deciding which ones you can take."

"Each of us is the captain of our lives. We have a choice of changing our course and surviving... even flourishing, for that matter. Or staying our course and plunging head first into disaster."

"There is no future in any job. The future lies in the person who holds the job."

"True, "better safe than sorry" is good advice. But "better successful than safe" is the best advice of all." 

World without End by Ken Follett 

Many times while reading this book, I felt I was listening to a history lesson. Yes, history with all its intrigues, conflicts and reverses of fortune. Quite an interesting read except that it takes the reader once again (like in Pillars of the Earth) on a long and arduous roller coaster ride. Also like Pillars, the reader can almost feel and breathe the characters that putting down the book is just too difficult to do.

Among the many and rich dialogues, this is the one I remember the most. Too graphic to forget, even if I tried to...

“You should first follow the plow if you want to dance the harvest jig.”  

Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson 

Many books talk about making life more meaningful, finding our core, breaking through the crises life brings. But none has been as overpowering as this little book from the Breakthrough Series. Wilkinson talks about breaking through to reach a more abundant life. But this isn't about making money. Rather, it's about reaping what we sow and finding happiness at the same time.

Some personal favorites....

"He knew that deep down her empty basket was part of her misery."

"The vine's ability to produce growth increases each year, but without intensive pruning the plant weakens and its crop diminishes. Mature branches must be pruned hard to achieve maximum yields."

"You were created for a life-mission of abundance for God. But you can't accomplish the work on your own."

"More is always possible, but you'll have to do something opposite of what you're currently doing."

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

Another book from Mitch Albom that I wanted to finish as soon as I started. Heartbreaking yet uplifting at the same time, the book bring very strong emotions we are likely to experience especially with someone we love. We tend to miss a number of opportunities in life that when we consider the "what if" something else happened, we wonder how differently we might have reacted or responded or even loved someone. Albom's book made me understand the value of living the present moment and showing our love to our loved ones while we still have them.

Some lines that touched my heart...

“One day spent with someone you love can change everything.” 

“It’s funny. I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder, ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top, you avoided mistakes. The backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature,” he said. “You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way up.”   

“Sharing tales of those we've lost is how we keep from really losing them.” 

“You can go through your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back. ”  

“You need to keep people close. You need to give them access to your heart.” 

Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans 

Finding Noel is a perfect book to read during the holidays. It gave me a good cry on one page and a hearty laugh in the next. Evans  talks to us about how people come into our life for a reason and that all we really need in life is someone who will accept and love us unconditionally. 

Some lines that made me laugh and cry, all at the same time... 

“If love isn't blind it's at least horribly nearsighted.” 

“Often the greatest hurts of our lives come from running from the smaller ones.” 

“Usually life's greatest gifts come wrapped in adversity.” 

“I am grateful for new years and new beginnings.  It is a great human need to be periodically reborn...for we are all amateurs at life, but if we do not focus too much on our mistakes, a miraculous picture emerges. And we learn that it's not the beauty of the image that warrants our gratitude--it's the chance to paint." 

“Love is like a rose: we fixate on the blossom, but it's the thorny stem that keeps it alive and aloft...The things of greatest value are the things we fight for. And in the end, if we do it right, we value the stem far more than the blossom.“ 

"Nothing heals the soul like chocolate," she said. "I just love chocolate. It's God's apology for broccoli."

With Hearts' Aflame by Victor Ordonez  

This book’s special for two reasons. One, it was written by a friend. Two, the story is set during the Filipinos’ struggle for freedom against their Spanish overlords.  I received a copy soon after it was released and read it right away.

Ordonez said that when he wrote this book, he remembered two things.  “I remembered what it was like to fall in love, and I remembered what it was like to be proud to be Filipino. I hope when you read this book, the same two things will happen to you and set your hearts aflame in turn. In these troubled times, there is nothing we more desperately need--love, not war; hope and pride in our country, not despair and shame.” 

Some lines that made me smile and made me cry...

“There was a settled permanence now to their bond, and Tom had become comfortable with the prospect of settling down with one person in a land other than his own.”
“Each group bore a broken body as they strode in opposite directions, each to their respective camps and destinations, each to their respective destinies.”

“As the Manila skyline faded in the distance, Tom Wilcox turned his moist eyes away to face the open ocean and his uncharted future once again.”

“As he breathed his last, he knew he would not live to see that day. But he died happy in the conviction that a new era was sure to come.”

The Witch of Portobello by Paolo Coelho

“How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of whom we are?” That is the question Coelho asks in this book and that was enough to get me to read it. As is his usual manner, Coelho empowers us by allowing us to find the power in ourselves, to fight against the norm and be our own person.

Some quotes that willed me to self-reflection:

“NO one can manipulate anyone else. In any relationship, both parties know what they are doing, even if one of them complains later on that they were used.”

“Faith is not Desire. Faith is Will. Desires are things that need to be satisfied, whereas Will is a force. Will changes the space around us,…”

“Writing reveals the personality”

“What does learning mean: accumulating knowledge or transforming your life?”

“Elegance is the correct posture if the writing is to be perfect. It’s the same with life: when all superfluous things have been discarded, we discover simplicity and concentration. The simpler and more sober the posture, the more beautiful it will be, even though, at first, it may seem uncomfortable.’

Don’t allow your wounds to turn you into a person you are not.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Haven't we all had someone who at one point in our life mentored us, believed in us and showed us the way to be truly human? Mitch Albom's book is truly inspiring. The book is filled with words of wisdom that reading it in one seating, though possible, somehow takes away the richness that it offers. Like most things in life, the value of Albom's work is achieved when we drown ourselves in his words and allow it to influence our actions. 

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

“Accept who you are; and revel in it.”

“I thought about all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves. How useful it would be to put a daily limit on self-pity. Just a few tearful minutes, then on with the day.”

“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand 
This book is deeply philosophical and essays the author's philosophy of Objectivism. While I don't fully agree with her on this, I find Rand's book compelling and pretty powerful. It impels us to evaluate the choices we make and the steps we take to achieve our happiness and help others achieve theirs. 

Some of my favorite quotes from the book: 

"Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. If he abdicates his power, he abdicates the status of man; and the grinding chaos of the irrational is what he achieves as his sphere of existence – by his own choice." 

"No one’s happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy." 

"We trade achievements, not failures – values, not needs. We’re free of one another, yet we all grow together. Wealth? What greater wealth is there, than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish."

The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler

I don’t really read non-fiction but as a teacher, I do come across a number that not only enlighten my mind but do give me several points to ponder. And when I do, it’s just too hard not to pass them on to my students. This allows for a much more invigorating discussion notwithstanding some question marks flying out the window.

Toffler’s book divides human history into patterns. Both complex and even contradictory, the patterns however have helped me teach world history in a more fun, interesting yet critical manner. A few friends have told me it’s almost like a doomsday kind of book. I disagree. Toffler’s musings about the future can sometimes be frightening but to be forewarned is far better than lame ignorance. 

Some of his thoughts that have influenced mine:  

"Any decent society must generate a feeling of community. Community offsets loneliness. It gives people a vitally necessary sense of belonging. Yet today the institutions on which community depends are crumbling in all the techno-societies. The result is a spreading plague of loneliness."

“If you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy.”

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  

"Change is not merely necessary to life - it is life.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." This is the main message of Coelho’s book. I think a lot has been written about people looking for something that will give meaning and purpose to their life only to find out that everything they needed to know is written in their hearts. The message of Coelho therefore is nothing new but I loved the way he weaved his story – like a warm embrace on a cold rainy day. 

His many memorable quotes from the book also arm me with treasures more precious than gold.

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision. “

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”  

It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”

"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I could never imagine the life of a geisha until I read this one. While much of what happens to Sayuri is dictated by Japanese culture, I think the main theme of the story rings a bell for all of us. We all determine our destiny. The choices we make can be such a powerful force that can turn the events of our life around. Both historical and fairy tale like, I thought this book was exotic and impressive, romantic and sad.

Some unforgettable lines from the book:

“I never seek to defeat the man I am fighting, I seek to defeat his confidence. A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory. Two men are equal only when they both have equal confidence.”

“Adversity is like a strong wind. I don't mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.”

“We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.
“A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course of victory"

“If you keep your destiny in mind, every moment in life becomes an opportunity for moving closer to it.”

“We human beings are only a part of something very much larger.”

Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

A very thought-provoking novel, Dorian Gray is a picture of youthful innocence in spite of a monster growing inside his soul. Written many years ago by Oscar Wilde, the book continues to speak to us today. Living in a world where instant gratification, materialism and hedonism have become the norm, the story of Dorian Gray makes us consider questions we'd usually toss aside: What happens when we get blinded by our passions and desires?

I was deeply disturbed by this book. Oscar Wilde sketches the character of Dorian Gray in a manner that makes one confront the skeletons in his closet up close. I don’t think anyone remains the same after reading this book. The messages are as clear as they are powerful.

A few quotes to keep us thinking:

"Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different."

"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful."

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

“We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices.”

“I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit.”

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

This book is really about the history of philosophy wrapped in the silver cover of fiction. One needs a special faculty to enjoy the book and the author writes it somewhere in the book. “... the only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder...”

This is one book I read for quite some time and totally enjoyed. Compared to other works of fiction, Sophie’s World brings the reader closer to the world we live in and discover why things are the way they are.

I asked a student once why she explained her answer to one of our discussion questions the way she did and she simply answered me “why not?” That’s what this book does to you – it compels you to look at things in a completely different way. You just need to be ready for the surprise on the other end.

Take a look at some of those surprises in a few of my favorite quotes:

“Acting responsibly is not a matter of strengthening our reason but of deepening our feelings for the welfare of others.”

“The most subversive people are those who ask questions.”

“Where both reason and experience fall short, there occurs a vacuum that can be filled by faith.”

“A lot of people experience the world with the same incredulity as when a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat.… We know that the world is not all sleight of hand and deception because we are in it, we are part of it. Actually we are the white rabbit being pulled out of the hat. The only difference between us and the white rabbit is that the rabbit does not realize it is taking part in a magic trick.”

By the River Piedra, I sat down and wept by Paolo Coelho 

I still have not found another book to replace this beautiful story about love, forgiveness and the many possibilities life offers. Coelho teaches us that love takes time, dreams are hard work and that the most important things in life really come in simple packages. 

Some of the more memorable lines from the book:

To love is to be in communion with the other and to discover in that other the spark of God.”

You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”

 “I could have. What does this phrase mean? At any given moment in our lives, there are certain things that could have happened but didn’t. The magic moments go unrecognized, and then suddenly, the hand of destiny changes everything.”

It’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggle for your dreams than to be defeated without ever even knowing what you’re fighting for.”

“The universe always helps us fight for our dreams, no matter how foolish they may be. Our dreams are our own, and only we can know the effort required to keep them alive.”

“Only a man who is happy can create happiness in others.”

“Miracles occur all around us, signs from God show us the way, angels plead to be heard, but we pay little attention to them...”

"Sometimes happiness is a blessing - but generally it's a conquest. The magic moment of the day changes us and makes us take off in the direction of our dreams."
Einstein’s Dreams by Allan Lightman 

How would we live our life if there was no time? Lightman’s book is a collection of essays about the existence of a parallel universe and where time runs a different course. Far from the usual fiction books found in my shelf, Einstein’s Dreams took me on a wild ride exploring the different ways people live, love and make choices and the consequences these had if time was not as we know it to be. Einstein’s Dreams offers new insights into the different perspectives of looking at time. 

Here are a few of my personal favorites. 

“Each person who gets stuck in time gets stuck alone.” 

“Time is the clarity for seeing right and wrong.” 

“A person who cannot imagine the future is a person who cannot contemplate the results of his actions. Some are thus paralyzed into inaction.” 

“What sense is there in continuing when one has seen the future?” 

“While people brood, time skips ahead without looking back.”

 Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt 

If there was a book about adversity from beginning to end, this book would win hands down. But despite the pain, hunger, poverty and misery that Frank McCourt describes of his childhood, there are still blessings like love, strength, wisdom that are won in the end. The story is something we've heard of many times before yet unique at the same time. 

This book is a real drama soaked in the funny thoughts of a young boy. Here are some of his thoughts: 

“It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.” 

“Stock your mind, stock your mind. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”  

“Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell your tale.” 

“There’s no use saying anything in the schoolyard because there’s always someone with an answer and there’s nothing you can do but punch them in the nose and if you were to punch everyone who has an answer you’d be punching morning noon and night.” 

“I can't go back. The past won't go away in this family...” 

“I appealed to my mother. I told her it wasn't fair the way the whole family was invading my dreams and she said, Arrah, for the love o' God, drink your tea and go to school and stop tormenting us with your dreams. ”

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett 

I’ve read Follett’s other books but enjoyed this the most. It is as engaging as it is both rich and informative. I was so taken by the story that I felt I was transported to the Middle Ages and met the characters themselves. Follett’s description of each character and each scene are so rich in details, it’s like watching a movie in your head. As a teacher of world history, Pillars of the Earth is one great ride back to the Middle Ages!  

Some lines that got me thinking...
“...when things are simple, fewer mistakes are made. The most expensive part of a building is the mistakes.”

“Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing you would find success if you did your best honestly and energetically.”

“Proportion is the heart of beauty.”

“She loved him because he had brought her back to life. She had been like a caterpillar in a cocoon, and he had drawn her out and shown her that she was a butterfly.”

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris  

I am not a fan of thrillers, whether in book or in film. But there are some exceptions and this book certainly is. Saw the movie before I read the book and it was not disappointing. Sure, the book was creepy but Harris managed to tell the story without necessarily making them look or sound gory.

My most memorable quotes from the book: 

“Be very careful with Hannibal Lecter. Dr. Chilton, the head of the mental hospital, will go over the physical procedure you use to deal with him. Don't deviate from it. Do not deviate from it one iota for any reason. If Lecter talks to you at all, he'll just be trying to find out about you. It's the kind of curiosity that makes a snake look in a bird's nest.” 

"Listen to me, a crime is confusing enough without the investigation mixing it up. Don't let a herd of policemen confuse you. Live right behind your eyes. Listen to yourself. keep the crime separate from what's going on around you now. Don't try to impose any pattern or symmetry on this guy. Stay open and let him show you."

"What does he do, Clarice? What is the first and principal thing he does, what need does he serve by killing? He covets. How do we begin to covet? We begin by coveting what we see every day.”  

"Nothing makes us more vulnerable than loneliness except greed.”

Exodus by Leon Uris  

I read this book when I was in high school and was totally clueless about the history of Israel. When I started the book, I just knew it was a love story between an American nurse and an Israeli freedom fighter. A few pages after, I was addicted and couldn’t put it down. This was my introduction to the history of every nation – the displacement of a people, the struggle for power, the birth of a nation.

I remember crying buckets with this book and it wasn’t even a love story... 

“All you have the right to ask of life is to choose a battle in this war, make the best you can, and leave the field with honor."

“Like so many creative men of his school he was hounded by an incessant restlessness.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

I read this book back in school and did not enjoy it as I saw it as just another book to read and get ready for class the following day. Later, I got curious because of the remarkable reviews it received. I’ve read it many times since and some new insight almost always pops out after I read the book. Truly a classic!

"There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible."

"Atticus says cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white."

“ ... remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat people's gardens, don't nest in the corn crib, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us.”


  1. What a collection...=)

    I've often thought about adding a page to my blog w/ a list of my favorite books and noting why they made a impression on me.


  2. To Kill a Mockingbird is also one of my favorites. I read it from time to time as well. I love it so much I've promised my future daughter the name Scout. Seriously.:P



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