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Shelfwalking: Books By Life Stages

by Celestine Trinidad

This is quite possibly the hardest list I’ve ever had to make, because I like reading a little bit too much. I read everything, even the nutritional information off food packages, and when I’m sad, book shopping is the equivalent of retail therapy for me.

So I decided that, for Shelfwalking, I will choose one book each from a genre I like for this list, books that not only do I highly recommend, but also meant a lot to me at different stages of my life.

 1. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Margaret Atwood is one of those writers who I absolutely love to read, no matter what she writes. And she writes everything, from realistic literature to speculative fiction to children’s books to poetry, and recently, a graphic novel. I find her prose poignant and powerful, for many times lines from her books hit me quite hard. Like this line, from the book:

“Hatred would have been easier. With hatred, I would have known what to do. Hatred is clear, metallic, one-handed, unwavering; unlike love.”

Cat’s Eye, though, is a deeply personal book for me, because it deals with issues of growing up and finding yourself, self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness, as well as complex, even unhealthy, friendships that you form along the years. And that sometimes, bullies are not the people you consider your enemies, but the ones who you consider your friends. Friends can actually give more emotional torment than anyone else, even while remaining the people who love you. Elaine’s relationship with her friend Cordelia is very much like that, and something that many of us can relate to.

2. Sabriel by Garth Nix

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

I love YA fantasy, because not only do I already love fantasy in general, I love how the characters stay realistic, even while they’re set in an imaginary world. Sabriel by Garth Nix is no exception. The world-building in this book is amazing, and Sabriel is an awesome female heroine. She is brave, smart, self-reliant and determined to do her duty, even while still staying completely human, for she has her own flaws as well, which she works hard to overcome. There’s plenty of romance in the book, too, without being cloying or overdone. It’s action-packed and can be pretty dark at times, but also balanced by humor (particularly Mogget, I love his sarcasm, teehee).

This book is the first book in the Abhorsen trilogy, and I’m still patiently waiting for more books in this series.

3. Mass Murders by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo

Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel

I love Philippine mythology, and I love crime stories and mysteries, and this series combines both, so how could I not also love this?

“When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.”

Trese solves cases that the police cannot handle, because they usually involve creatures of the underworld, including a murdered white lady, aswang gangs, and tikbalang drag racers. Trese is also a very strong female character, but just like Sabriel, she has her own flaws, which make her still someone who is relatable, and all too human.

Mass Murders is the third book in the series, and while the first two books had chapters that were episodic in nature, the cases in this book are now interconnected, and we are even given the backstories of the main characters, especially Trese. It’s really nice seeing these characters being developed all the more, and we are also given hints to the bigger story line that is being set up in the next books.

4. The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Genre: Crime, Classical Literature

My most favorite detective of all time is still—of course—Sherlock Holmes, but I have a special place in my heart for Father Brown. For one thing, he doesn’t even look like a detective, and people seem to mistakenly take him for a sort of country bumpkin, a naïve parish priest of a small town. But in fact, Father Brown has a very keen mind, and not only is he observant, he also deeply understands the motives behind the crimes, and why people would even think of committing them. While others think of criminals as people to be persecuted, Father Brown thinks of them as people to be saved. This, I believe, sets him apart from all the other detectives in literature. In the Father Brown stories, Chesterton not only tells stories of crime, but of faith, as well.

5. Keep the Faith by Ana Tejano

Genre: Romance

And lastly, speaking of which, this book is something I loved not only because it’s a happy, cute and very hopeful romance, but because it deals with faith, something which is very important to me. This is a recent read (and actually helped me get through a few difficulties quite recently), and part of the independently-published books by #romanceclass.

One of the tropes I never get tired of is a main character moving on from someone who broke her heart, paired with a love interest who helps her heal along the way, and this book deals with exactly that. I also love how it portrays the importance of faith even in relationships without being preachy or sanctimonious, and I also like the glimpses we see of community development workers and their passion and commitment to help other people. Because how can you stay broken-hearted, after all, when you still have to save the world? (Related: “Bookbed reviews: ‘Keep the Faith’ by Ana Tejano”)


And so, there go five books from my shelves! I love all these books, and so, so many more. Do check these out! And remember, never stop reading and learning. 




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