[BOOK] The Alchemist.

I’ve been busy with work these past few days that I have not had the time to post about the latest book I’ve read. After reading Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho, I decided to continue my Coelho experience by reading one of his most famous novels, The Alchemist.

The+AlchemistLots of people have proclaimed that their favorite book is The Alchemist. It appears to have a very influential and motivational message that some even deem the book very life-changing. I’m not surprised to hear this since the novel tells the story of a shepherd named, Santiago, who goes on a journey to find his Personal Legend. Stepping out of the comfort zone of tending his flock of sheep, Santiago goes on an adventure to look for the treasure that he was told he would find. This is something most people are not willing or afraid to do because of risks involved. Imagine leaving everything – family, stable job, familiar environment – and travelling to look for something that might not even exist or something that you are not sure would lead to success. It’s an extremely terrifying journey to embark upon and this is why it has motivated and influenced readers to also follow their dreams without fear, just as Santiago has done.

Santiago’s journey was not always smooth-sailing. He encountered a number of hardships and misfortunes but that’s part of the adventure. You know how people say, “Everything happens for a reason.” That was definitely appropriate in Santiago’s case. Had he not experienced the trials and harships, he would not have found success in the end. It is through those unfortunate circumstances that he found his way closer towards his goal. This is one of the lessons we should learn from this novel. There will be times when we would think that everything is going wrong for us. There are even times when we would want to just give up. “The Alchemist,” however, is one of the best examples of how some misfortunes can actually lead to a good fortune. It might not seem that way at the beginning but if you look back to that moment years later, it would seem apparent that such misfortune was necessary after all.

Another message one can learn from “The Alchemist” is to take risks. More often than not, it pays to take a risk. It does not mean we should just go ahead and gamble our way through life but sometimes it is necessary to step out of the box and see where the path may lead you. If it made you worse off, then at least you know you should not take that path again in the future. Every failure is one step closer to success. (That is, of course, if you know how to learn from your mistakes. It would be pointless if you keep repeating the same mistakes.)

Read this if you want to be inspired. Read this if you want to be motivated to be who you are meant to be.

Don’t read this if you want to be an ALCHEMIST.

NinthMelody rating: 3.75/5 

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[BOOK] Eleven Minutes.

Eleven Minutes is my first Paulo Coelho book. I’ve always wanted to read his work but I haven’t gotten to it. Well, now I have and I like his writing style. For me, it’s more important that I like the author’s writing style because no matter what the story is, I believe he/she would be able to tell it in such a way that would appeal to me. Just after reading Eleven Minutes I can already tell that I would enjoy his other novels.

eleven_minutesThis novel follows the journey of Maria, a young, intelligent, Brazilian woman on her search for success in a foreign land. She is promised a high paying job as a dancer in Switzerland but this turned to be too good to be true. Instead of immediately going back to her hometown, she decides to look for another job so she could earn enough money that would help change her and her parents’ fate back in Brazil. An opportunity arises and she is offered a handful of cash in exchange for her “services.” At first, she was conflicted whether she could stomach accepting the offer but she eventually just swallows her pride and grabs the chance to earn easy money.

The story was interesting enough even though it did not show much action. It was an adventure for her mind and soul. Maria, being an intelligent woman, had a series of revelations throughout the book that most of her character development were of self-reflection after her interactions with different characters in the novel. This book actually reminded me of the series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which starred Billie Piper. The TV series showcased the life of Belle, an escort, and it presented how call girls or escorts also live normal lives during the day after engaging in such kind of work at night. Both the TV series and Eleven Minutes give a first-hand perspective on the matter. Although the book was written in a third-person’s point of view, it was still able to tell the thoughts of Maria fluidly especially with the help of some excerpts from her diary.

NinthMelody rating: 3/5

[BOOK] Eleanor & Park.

Immediately, after I finished FANGIRL, I read Eleanor & Park and finished it over the weekend. I was excited to read it since I’ve had friends recommend the book to me.

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The book follows the story of Eleanor & Park, (Surprise, surprise!) two unlikely pair who end up falling head over heels for each other against all odds. The two meet for the first time on a school bus when Eleanor had no choice but to sit on the vacant seat, right next to Park. It was not love at first sight. Far from it. Their love story grew over time with much hesitation and denial until both of them just decided to fall deeply into their own emotions for each other.

What makes the story interesting is that it is not the kind of love story we see or watch in movies where the hot/cool guy falls for the hot/cool girl and they live happily ever after. Eleanor & Park represent the normal boys and girls who have insecurities and personal conflicts who decide to take a chance at love despite of everything. Both the characters are very much relatable especially since the story is told in both their points of view. We are given a glimpse of the thoughts of both Eleanor & Park during the same situation and there are times you just want to push them both towards each other because you know they want to but they don’t want to act on what they really want. They show us that there are things that we miss out on in this life simply because we make these arguments in our heads as to why we shouldn’t do this thing we’ve been wanting to do all along. Most of the time, our pessimistic side wins and we are just left not knowing and simply wondering what could’ve been.

A friend told me that she cried while reading the book. There goes my expectation. I read the book expecting I would shed a tear or two so I was bracing myself for the worst (cancer, car crash, death, etc). But it ended and no waterworks. Imagine my disappointment. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like the book, because I did. It did not make me cry, however, let me tell you that.

NinthMelody rating: 3.75/5

[BOOK] Fangirl.

I first read about Rainbow Rowell after looking up her book, Attachments, after I saw it in a bookshop. I didn’t end up buying the book but I told myself that I would in the future. During the December holidays, my sister and I went on a book shopping spree (one of the best parts of vacation) and we decided to buy Rainbow Rowell books – Fangirl, Eleanor & Park and Attachments (Landline was out of stock.. bummer). I left Attachments with my sister for her to read while I took the other two.

FANGIRL_CoverDec2012-725x1075FANGIRL tells the story of Cath, a major Simon Snow fangirl who is also a well-known Simon-Baz fanfic writer. (Think of Simon-Baz as Harry-Draco from the Harry Potter, I suppose. Yes, it’s a guy-guy fanfic.) As a college freshman, Cath finds herself treading the new chapter of her life alone in the university especially after her twin sister, Wren, decides it’s time for them to grow up and individually find their own identity. Reagan, Cath’s roommate, lets Cath do her own thing, with just an occasional “Hi-Hello” and Cath is very much thankful about that since it lets her focus on the thing she wants to do the most – finish her fanfic – at least before the actual FINAL BOOK of the series comes out. (It’s a race against, well, the release of the final Simon Snow book.) With Reagan comes Levi, a boy whom Cath supposes is Reagan’s boyfriend. One of the many. He pretty much stays in their dorm room all the time and there are instances when he initiates conversations with Cath too. She doesn’t encourage their small talks to go beyond what is necessary for fear of overstepping the bounds of friendliness with her roommate’s boyfriend and well, to prevent any sort of unwanted attachments.

It was a sweet, satisfying journey to see Cath evolve and break out of her shell and it left me wanting the same for myself – break out of my own shell. I was able to relate, oh so much, with how Cath preferred to just stay home, be by herself and do her own thing. It’s familiar, comfortable and safe. Who wouldn’t want that? There are times when I find myself wanting someone to just nudge me and pull me out of bed and take me out to meet people but just thinking about it is exhausting enough, what more the real thing.

A part of me feels the ending was too rushed. Like it just needed to end so there you go, ending. Or it could also be because I did not want the book to end. Whatever it is, it left me wanting more.

 

NinthMelody rating: 3/5

 

[BOOK] Freakonomics.

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I don’t normally read non-fiction books but this caught my attention because of 1) the title – Freakonomics and 2) the weird questions it poses.

What is more dangerous? A swimming pool or a gun?

What do schoolteachers and sumowrestlers have in common?

Those are just some examples of the questions that don’t normally cross our minds. Steven Levitt is not your typical economist who dwells on demand-supply but instead looks more on the bigger picture, forming unusual connections on things we don’t normally see to be related.

Freakonomics proved to be quite an interesting read and it helped give me a different perspective on issues of the world. Not only does it provide such interesting information, it also encourages deeper thinking and a creative way of looking at information. This is a perfect example of thinking outside the box, forgetting about everything conventional and breaking away from the status quo.

NinthMelody rating: 3/5

[MOVIE] FOXCATCHER.

foxcatcher-posterGiven the number of Academy Award Nominations and the array of cast of this movie, my friends and I decided to give this movie a shot without knowing what the movie was even about. This movie stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo depicting the true life story of John E. Du Pont, Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz respectively.

Foxcatcher was nominated for:

• Actor in a Leading Role for Steve Carell, who played John du Pont
• Actor in a Supporting Role for Mark Ruffalo, who played Dave Schultz
• Directing for director Bennett Miller
• Makeup and Hairstyling for Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
• Writing and Original Screenplay for Dan Gilroy

The makeup and hairstyling was pretty convincing. It took me awhile to figure out that it was Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo from the poster image. It’s unfortunate that Channing Tatum did not get nominated though. His performance was great too.

Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz were International freestyle wrestling champions who both won gold medals on the 1984 Olympics. This movie tells the story of how Mark and Dave got involved with John E. Du Pont and the events that led to the murder of Dave. Since I had no idea what the history of the movie is and the actual events that inspired the movie, I was surprised at the sudden murder of Dave Schultz.

Did I like the story? Sure. The story was pretty interesting and it showed the real behind-the-scenes encounter and struggles of wrestlers when not in the spotlight. It showed John Du Pont’s hunger for attention and recognition from his peers and especially his mother, who did not approve of his hobbies and interest in wrestling. I believe this was the main motivation of John Du Pont, apart from his fascination in the sport, that he organized the Foxcatcher Team. He wanted to show that he can boast of success even with the “lowly sport” of wrestling which is how Du Pont’s mother sees the said sport. With the help of Mark Schultz’s recognition and success in the world of wrestling, Du Pont becomes the “Coach” of Foxcatcher and presents himself as Mark’s “mentor.” It is also sad to see Mark’s struggle with himself in stepping out of the shadow of his also-champion brother, Dave. His insecurity is what drives him to spiral out of control and turn to drinking and drugs. Although at first Dave refused to join the Foxcatcher team, he was eventually convinced to uproot his family and move to the Du Pont estate to train and help manage the Foxcatcher wrestling team. It is at this point that we see Mark really lose his respect for John Du Pont especially after Du Pont calls him “an ungrateful ape” and goes ahead and recruits Dave to join the team. Mark felt that John Du Pont did not trust him enough with the Foxcatcher that he had to seek the expertise of Dave Schultz. This was a big blow to Mark’s ego, especially when he was already feeling he was able to leave behind being in the shadow of his big brother.

Did I like the movie? No. Why? Because it was slow and dragging.

I have no issues with story, the cast (they were great, by the way) or the plot. These elements show great promise, in fact. I don’t know why the movie was such a drag though and I don’t get why it needed to be like that. The movie was full of scenes where the actors were just staring at each other in awkward silences, waiting for one to speak. I get that there are times when this is necessary but this movie was just crawling with it. Too many unnecessary scenes, in my opinion. I have no idea who was responsible for this but I’m sure they could’ve made this movie more enjoyable.

I don’t know either if it was just me because other people seem to have liked the movie according to reviews. However, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking that the movie was a bit too dragging for its own good. There were a bunch of groups at the cinema who even walked out in the middle of the movie because they couldn’t take it anymore. That, to me, is not a good sign.

Or maybe I’m just not the target audience of this movie, really, I don’t know.

I wonder though if there were scenes edited out due to censorship policies in this country.

NinthMelody rating: 2/5