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I am currently sitting here at one of my favorite coffee shops and while waiting for the traffic to loosen up, and for my cup to be served, I came across one of James Franco’s articles in vice.com called, Franco’s Summer Book Club where he shared a list of books, which he have read, and basically is, on top of  his list.  It was awesome!  Inspired by his idea, “What the heck!”  I resolved to come up with my own.  You can call me a big time “copycat”, but I thought, it would be nice to share these fantastic books, and perchance you can enjoy them on a weekend or make them your perfect company during one of your trips.  Happy reading!

Dracula by Bram Stoker

In the early 18th century, reports about vampire encounters swept Western Europe, triggering widespread hysteria, including the staging of corpses.  For some reasons, the vampire curse was able to migrate westward from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, where the legend of bloodsucking creatures feeding on the life essence of humans held sway for centuries.  Fact: This legend has haunted me since I was a kid, which progressed me not to be interested in vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and other manifestations of superstitions as well as the supernaturals.  I’ve avoided horror in both literature and film basically because I hate being scared, but when I bothered to read it, (out of too much curiosity, of course)  surprisingly, Dracula is a hybrid between an Epistolary and Detective Novel, which I found really interesting.  This Victorian Novel,  has been around for over a hundred years, and surprisingly, compared to its contemporaries, it is a good deal more readable book than many other in the late 1800s.  Leafing through its pages, I have learned that it’s more than a vampire story, but I will not throw any spoilers here.  It’s for me to suggest, and for you to know.  It’s “A Must Read Before I Die”.  Twilight fans, you should pay homage to Abraham Stoker, and break up a copy of Dracula.

Living Loving and Learning by Leo F. Buscaglia

I generally hate self-help/inspirational type of books; however, this one has a very particular spot in my affection.  So simple, yet so powerful.  Living, Loving and Learning is a diamond, full of positivity, and hope!  It is a collection of Leo Buscaglia’s lecture series.  It will prompt you to be fearless enough to live the life you’ve imagined as you learn to accept and appreciate the craziness in you – your humanness.  I threw all sorts emotions as I read this book that I’ve almost completed the emoji chart.  It gave me a roller coaster ride, and read this book countless times – one of my favorites indeed!

 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This book is a very good comrade in the coffee shop.  It raises the never ending saga between Print and Electronic Media, which is one of the favorite topics of any AB graduate like me.  This dystopian novel, which was published in 1953 is regarded as one of Bradbury’s best works.  Television is a different medium than books, and has its own strengths and weaknesses, but what is it about books, about poetry and literature that it is so essential to us?  I love books that challenge me, stimulate my mind and make me think.  Perhaps a little intellectual stimulation wouldn’t hurt once in a while.  It makes life much more fulfilling, and Fahrenheit 451 just did that.

El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal was a versatile genius.  He was an architect, an artist, a businessman, a cartoonist, an educator, an economist, an ethnologist, a scientist, an ophthalmic surgeon, a poet, a propagandist, a psychologist, a scientist, a sculptor, a sociologist, a theologian, and yes, he is a novelist.  El Filibusterismo (The Subversive) second novel and sequel to another satirical novel Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) was written while Rizal was traveling and studying in Europe.  In the story, Ibarra, the main protagonist in the previous novel, returned in disguise as Simoun to have his revenge.  Both novels, along with the other writings, caused Rizal’s death by firing squad on December 30, 1898, around two years before Spain sold the Philippines to the United States.  I first read El Filibusterismo as a requirement in Senior High.  I did not pay much attention to the story not until a confidant at work told me to read it, as it can be a powerful tactical tool in the corporate world – and it did not fail my expectations.


Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Okay, I got this book as a Christmas present. Three things to distinhguish it: This book is a novel, a doomed love story, a philosophical travelogue. In the story, Roberts was sentenced to imprisonment in Australia after being convicted of armed robberies of building society branches, etc. who escaped from prison and flees to India.  What’s more interesting is that the novel is reportedly influenced by actual events in the life of the author.  A lavish and sometimes overwritten swashbuckling adventure, an ambient study of Bombay, it was fast paced, interesting, thought-provoking and adventurous.  I genuinely enjoyed hearing the accents, slang and expressions in all the versions English as a second language spoken by Spanish, Italian, French, Pakistani, Afghan, Indian city village and slum dwellers, imagining Urdu, Hindu, Marathi and other languages.  I could listen all day  to conversations with Prabaker!  If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, but wanted more blood, guts, and guns in it, this book is definitely for you, with a bonus of some scenes that reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s play or two.

A Pirate Looks at Fifty by Jimmy Buffet

FACT: I am not a Parrot Head, but I loved this book.  I enjoyed learning more about the Caribbean, Fly Fishing, and all of Jimmy Buffet’s thoughts, especially his most famous airplane in 1954, the Grumman HU-16 Albatross.  Packed with life’s lessons, it’s perfect for Summer, and a good company at the Coffee Shop.  What I found in this literary was a well-written, contemplative story of a man assessing his life at the half-century mark.  I’d recommend this book.  It’s an interesting travelogue, and also a journey through another man’s life.  Not a great literature, perhaps, but easy to read.  A Pirate Looks at Fifty gives a unique bird’s eye view into the lives of those in our life.  It is for people who have a sense of freedom and adventure, and has a quench for tequila, which by the way includes – ME.

You can as well check out James Franco’s article, Franco’s Summer Book Club.                              Link: http://www.vice.com/read/francos-summer-book-club

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