Tears of the Trufflepig by Fernando A. Flores

My sister brought me back Tears of the Trufflepig as pasalubong from when she visited Strand in New York. I’m proud to say that I did not wait more than a year to read this book—only five months. At least now I don’t feel like I missed out loving a book for so long. I’m also glad that it was this book she picked up; let’s face it: this isn’t the kind of book readily available in mainstream bookstores here in Metro Manila.

The story is divided into two (and a half-ish) parts. Part one mainly sets up the stage: sometime in the future, along the border of United States (Texas) and Mexico. The story moved at a slow pace at first, though, to be honest, I still had a little bit of a difficult time following the characters as I was getting to know the world Flores built. After everything sinks in, part two goes by quickly. It’s action-packed with some cringe-worthy scenes here and there. (Or maybe I’m just easily grossed out… Yeah, that could be it.)

While the story is meant to be set in the future (there are border walls in the story already), I felt that the depiction of business and politics in the story is characteristic of today (or it could be). I appreciated the blend of science and rituals; living in the Philippines, it’s not so strange to hear that people still take their sick to the abularyo (witch doctor) even if Metro Manila has hospitals and modern medicine available.

Sprinkled across the pages were Spanish words, sentences, and verses. I liked this touch. Sometimes some thoughts and emotions are best expressed in the language closest to home. (Surprise, surprise, the main character is Mexican-American.) Unfortunately for me, I don’t speak, read, nor write in Spanish, so most of the sentences and verses flew right past my head. I wish there were translations on a footnote or in parentheses, so that I could know the characters’ thoughts and memories and connect with them more. Ah, well. Maybe it’s time to learn Spanish.

Verdict: Loved it. I am already telling my friends to read it. I’m ready to lend my copy out.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Let me start off by saying how much I love having friends who also love reading. I love looking at my friends’ bookshelves whenever I visit their places, and I’ve found that some of my favorite books have been recommendations from friends. Such was the case for The Name of the Wind: I heard about the book from a few of my friends, so I’d been curious about the book for a while. However, I’d never purchased a copy of the book because I had too many unread new books on my shelf, and I couldn’t in good conscience buy another book to add to that pile.

Thankfully, a friend gave me his copy of The Name of the Wind a few weeks ago—good timing, too, because I was in the mood for fantasy. Since I’d only ever heard great things about The Name of the Wind, I was a little scared I wouldn’t love the book. It didn’t help that the book had ~660 pages; its length was a little intimidating. But I need not have worried. I enjoyed the book.

It started off a little slowly for me. I was less than a fifth through the book, and I was already getting anxious that it was just hyped up to me. I was a little confused with the storytelling and wasn’t sure what the story was supposed to be about. (Does this happen to anyone else?) In any case, I read on and finally connected the dots. And then I became a fan.

Essentially, the first few chapters laid the foundation for the rest of the book. Unassuming little details were dropped here and there, ready to pounce and slap the reader in the face with their importance to the story. When those realizations hit, I was hooked. I kept my copy on my bed and read a few chapters before sleeping each night. By the end of the book, 660-ish pages didn’t feel long enough, and I wanted to know more.

Truth be told, the end felt rushed. It’s funny to think that a book of that length could possibly be rushed, but the end was so abrupt that I felt a little cheated when I reached the last page. Clearly the book was meant to be part of a series, and I was a little disappointed by that. To me, books should be able to stand alone whether or not they are part of a series, and I did not feel this was the case for The Name of the Wind.

Regardless, I still want to know what happens next. I already have a copy of The Wise Man’s Fear (my friend was feeling generous with his old copies), and it’s another long one. I have a feeling it will also feel incomplete to me, but I bet I will enjoy it as much as I did the first. I am itching to know how things turn out, and I’m incredibly disappointed that the final book has not yet even been published. I do hope Rothfuss publishes soon—preferably by the time I finish the second book, but that doesn’t seem likely at this time.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

This was a new book, a book-buying ban exception since it’s nonfiction. I had fully intended for Atomic Habits to be my first read for 2020, and I am proud to say that I have no regrets: this was a great book to have started my year with.

Before I started reading, I had mixed feelings about the book. I usually find it very hard to appreciate self-help books—personal preference—but James Clear had me at chapter one and all the way through the end of the book. I enjoyed his examples (compounding interest, my friends; invest in yourself!) and appreciated his writing style (straightforward and approachable). I didn’t find Clear tiresome to read; his points were actionable and just made sense.

Granted, I’d read a some of his references already (Duhigg, Eyal, Csikszentmihalyi, and part of Kahneman), so the ideas in the book were quite familiar to me. In that sense, Atomic Habits wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it was a worthwhile read. (Despite the familiar concepts, I still marked up many pages with highlights and sticky notes. I wanted to be able to easily come back to them anyway.) I appreciated how James Clear put all of these ideas together into one cohesive and relatable book.

This is the book I would tell my friends to read if they’re interested in habit formation.