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My 2014 in Books

Hi there! Happy to be here again! Haha.

Before turning the page and welcoming the New Year, I look back to the year that was… in terms of the books I’ve read and bought.

For the fourth consecutive year, I joined Goodreads.com’s Reading Challenge, where readers set a certain number of books to read within the year.

When 2014 began, I pledged to read 12 books, or one for each month. (In 2011, I completed 12 out of 15 books; in 2012, 11 out of 12; and in 2013, 6 out of 15.)

At the end of 2014, I finished reading 7 books. (Meanwhile, I enter 2015 with 2 unfinished books. Haha.)

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge

Here are my reviews, posted on Goodreads.com, for those I have completed:

Prayers for the Assassin, Robert Ferrigno

I’ve read the [sequel], Sins of the Assassin, before this one, so I already know how the ending will go here. Nevertheless, the edge-of-your-seat element was still there. Darwin is so cunning, so deceptive.

I like Prayers… more than Sins… (pun somewhat intended).

It was nice for the author to compare today’s freedoms in the USA (or in any other democratic country) with a fictional Islamic USA, where almost all freedoms were regulated, if not stifled. The argument was between tolerating excesses and setting up controls.

I did not mind the religion in this book. Besides, this is a work of fiction. The author has free rein to point out both Catholicism and Islam’s strengths and flaws. And I felt that he did not favor nor dislike either one.

Prayers for the Assassin is a fun read. Nice story, too. Lots of twists. 🙂

Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence, Bill James

Get ready for lots of crime stories… and lots of theories/proposals, too!

You really have to pace yourself when reading this book. You’ll learn so much in every page! From the details of each crime to the flaws of the US justice system through time, Popular Crime is an enlightening book, and an impressive undertaking on the part of Bill James.

An engrossing and entertaining read.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell

Learned a lot from this book. Amazed at how little things, however insignificant or unrelated, can make a big difference.

But the keyword here is “sometimes.” In my opinion, tipping points are of a case-to-case basis. There would always be exceptions to the general rule (yes, even the rules in the book itself).

In fact, 2 of my officemates have raised valid arguments against some points in the book. For instance: with regards to small things making big, “sudden” impacts, sometimes, a “boiling point” is effective, too.

I particularly liked the sections about teen smoking, The Power of Context, the Fundamental Attribution Error, and the Stickiness Factor.

A good read, overall. 🙂

A Journey of Struggle & Hope, Jovito R. Salonga (borrowed from one of my editors)

[I was] inspired by Sen. Jovy’s life story. He’s truly among the best Filipino statesmen.

Nowadays, putting the country first before one’s self – like what Salonga has done – is a rarity in Philippine politics. I hope a new breed of selfless public servants would emerge, because the country is in urgent need of some of them right now.

Habibi, Craig Thompson (borrowed from an officemate)

Amazing storytelling, captivating illustrations. Can’t stop turning the pages. Lots of feels while reading this book. Learned a lot more about both Islam and Christianity, too. 🙂

Person of the Year 75th Anniversary Celebration, Time-Life Books

When I discovered this book in our office library, I completely geeked out, excited to read it from cover to cover!

I’m very happy to have read this. It’s inspiring, thought-provoking. A peek into TIME’s character, and a nice glimpse into the past through the persons and objects that mattered in the news, for better or for worse.

The Memory Collector, Meg Gardiner

Like Memento, but in the proper playback and with a high-tech flavor. Lots of twists and turns. Bittersweet ending. Kept me hooked, to say the least.

—–

My 2014 was also full of “book-searching.” Whenever I am in malls, bookstores are my first destination (National Bookstore, Booksale, Fully Booked, and that mini-bookstore at the entrance of Market! Market!), hoping to chance upon interesting on-sale books, as well as books on my wishlist.

I also browse for good titles in book fairs. (I wasn’t able to go to this year’s Manila International Book Fair, though.)

Back in August, I almost got lost in Pasig City looking for the Books for Less warehouse, which hosted a month-long sale. Most of what I bought were books about the media.

I also had the opportunity to visit cool bookstores outside malls: Books from Underground at an underpass near the Manila City Hall, and Bookay Ukay at Maginhawa St., Quezon City.

So here is a list of books I have bought from all these places in 2014. I hope I could read them all in 2015.

  • Chaplin: The Tramp’s Odyssey, Simon Louvish
  • Don’t Touch That Dial!: Radio Programming in American Life from 1920 to 1960, Fred J. MacDonald
  • Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald William Clark
  • Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings, Craig Brown
  • Macroeconomics, a textbook under the McGraw Hill series
  • PBS: Behind the Screen, Laurence Jarvik
  • Peter Jennings: A Reporter’s Life, Kate Darnton
  • Prize Journalism: A Collection of Jaime V. Ongpin Award Winners, CMFR
  • The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961, Jeff Kisseloff
  • The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw
  • The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, Martin Merzer
  • Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, Bob Woodward

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#ShamelessPlug: Add me as a friend on Goodreads. Haha.

Fun with Numbers: Population Swap

Metro Manila. Nearly 13% of the entire Philippine population live here. In fact, 10 cities here are among the top 50 cities in the world with the largest population density. (Manila, the nation’s capital, is at #1!)

But what if, suddenly, all the residents of a Metro Manila city/municipality magically swapped with those of a province with almost the same population?

Besides the “culture shock” that would ensue in both camps, here’s how that scenario would look like in Metro Manila:

Switching Populations: Metro Manila

And here are the “new homes” of Metro Manila residents:

Switching Populations: Provinces

All population figures are from the 2010 Census of the National Statistics Office (NSO). Blank maps used here are from Wikimedia Commons.

For comparison: the total land area of Metro Manila is 638.55 km2, roughly the size of Dinagat Islands (at 604.57 km2), the 7th smallest province.

Meanwhile, the total land area of the selected provinces (and regions… and city) is around 90,000 km2, or 30% of the entire land area of the Philippines.

It’s interesting to note that arranging these provinces by size, Palawan (the largest in the country) is followed by Occidental Mindoro, the 15th largest.

You might say: Wait. Angeles City in Pampanga is obviously not a province.

I selected that because there is no province having a population closest to Mandaluyong City (with 328,699 people). The population of Romblon (283,930) would not match. Neither that of the next largest province, Tawi-Tawi (366,650), which closely resembles the population of another Metro city, Malabon (353,337).

The same reason goes to the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region IV-B, which are technically, groups of provinces. They could play “host” to the people of Manila and Quezon City, respectively.

Here are more details about the “population swap”:

Metro Manila city/municipality Population (2010) Swap with region/province/city Population (2010)
Caloocan City (North) 908,394 Lanao del Norte
(and Iligan City)
930,738
Caloocan City (South) 580,646 Zamboanga Sibugay 584,685
Las Piñas City 552,573 Surigao del Sur 561,219
Makati City 529,039 Aklan  535,725
Malabon City  353,337 Tawi-Tawi  366,550
Mandaluyong City  328,699 Angeles City  326,336
Manila  1,652,171 Cordillera Administrative Region  1,616,867
Marikina City  424,150 Nueva Vizcaya  421,355
Muntinlupa City  459,941 Surigao del Norte  442,588
Navotas City  249,131 Catanduanes  246,300
Parañaque City  588,126 Northern Samar  589,013
Pasay City  392,869 Basilan
(and Isabela City)
 391,179
Pasig City 669,773 Compostela Valley  687,195
Pateros  64,147 Camiguin  83,807
Quezon City 2,761,720 Region IV-B   2,744,671
San Juan City 121,430 Dinagat Islands 126,803
Taguig City 644,473 Agusan del Norte
(and Butuan City)
 642,196
Valenzuela City 575,356 Ilocos Norte 568,017
TOTAL 11,855,975 TOTAL 11,865,244

P.S. Being a Makati resident myself, it wouldn’t be a problem if we switched with Aklan. One boat ride, and we’re in Boracay, baby! xD

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