Books/Films/TV

Books or anything that is printed whether online or hardcopy, and it could be actual books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, etc. that have caught my interest. This section also includes movies and TV shows that I have watched and loved to this day and could still be watching.

There are some writers we like and I would like to mention some of them whom I have loved through all my “growing up” years. I loved Harper Lee and her Atticus Finch character. Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage.” What a wonderful storyteller!! I loved Gertrude Stein’s repetitive repertoire. Marilyn French’s pragmatism in, “The Women’s Room.”

There’s just so many to mention…and I will write them bit by bit until such time that Alzheimers will get me… hahaha. But I would love to hear from some of you guys out there who loves to read as much as I do and just in case you land in these pages and share some of your thoughts and we might learn from each other too.

Alex Haley’s Roots

One of the first books that have moved me is “Roots” by Alex Haley. Until this day, since it has been more than 30 years since I’ve read the book, the name Kunta Kinte and his most poignant experiences as a man literally and brutally kidnapped from his small African village, is still fresh in my mind and it will always remain in my memories. I have learned a lot about slavery and the most brutal way they were transported from their African Villages to the cotton farms of North America. Reading this book is a learning experience. Alex Haley wrote it in such a way that you feel you are with the characters of the book. The craziest thing about it is that its not fiction, it is a fact. Anyone out there who never had the fortune to read this book should do so.

The Women’s Room by Marilyn French. A fantastic book, saying it is fantastic is even an understatement. My short education about feminism has been due to this book. I don’t actually call it feminism, I call it independence. Marilyn French is a great writer, using layman’s words that can easily be understood by all people. Its not even radical, maybe it was radical during the time it was printed, but nowadays, its just the way life is. I’m not condoning things or circumstances which are out of the norm in this book but neither do I want to judge because I am not perfect myself. But reading this book will open the eyes of women who has been so closeted most of their lives and who had fear of facing the world should they try to do things which are out of Society’s norms.  I loved this book so much that I sent a first edition copy to my best friend in the States and she phoned me after reading this book because she loved it as much as I did.

I could not recall when I read Somerset Maugham’s book, “Of Human Bondage”. I think it was in my second year high school, 14 years old I guess. I just know that I cried when I read his book. It was simple, it was life and it chronicles the life of a human being cradled with a bit of a disability. I would like to quote what I learned best from this book that, “the simplest pattern, that in which a man was born, worked, married, had children, and died, was likewise the most perfect”. Ain’t that the truth?

John Le Carre and George Smiley, the author and his famous character, best characterized in his novel, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” and so many other of his bestsellers, such as “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “The Looking Glass War” is one of the few novels listed as Time Magazine’s  “All Time 100 Novels”. I love John Le Carre’s novels. I’m not sure if I’ve read all, but these are the few which I’ve read and I have enjoyed every word written on them. He is a great novelist and a prolific writer. I surely recommend these to all those who love Spy thrillers.

One of my all-time favorites and whose novels, all of them I guess, I have read and loved, Robert Ludlum for me is an incredible writer. The first book of his which I’ve read isScarlatti Inheritance” and since that first one, I didn’t stop, I kept on reading all his books, The Matarese Circle, The Chancellor Manuscript, The Matlock Papers, The Rhineman Exchange, and of course the Bourne Trilogy which had gone into films. Most of Ludlum’s books are page-turners and you will not feel satiated after reading his first book, you will still continue to look for his novels because it is that good.

Murder on The Orient Express, the film version of it. A novel by the famed Dame Agatha Christie, is one of the few old films I have always loved. It stars the who’s who of the film industry: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, Jacqueline Bisset, Richard Widmark, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam, etc. That casting alone features several dames and knighted fellows. It is a great book as well as a very good “whodunit” movie. I may have seen this movie also when I was in high school together with my dear father Rudy, who has instilled in me the love of books as well as the love of good movies.

The Godfather” trilogy, Mario Puzo‘s masterpiece is for me one of the few novels that have been turned into film by Francis Ford Coppola and have been credited as one of AFI’s 100 years..100 movies. Simply a very great movie chronicling the mafia’s notoriety in the 1920s all the way to the 1960s. One of the few movies too which have been nominated by the Oscar Academy in 10 categories and won The Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actor for Marlon Brando, that’s an incredible feat for a movie with a measly budget of US$6.5 million but have gathered more than US$250 million gross revenue. It was declared as the greatest film of all times by Entertainment Weekly and Metacritic. Dare I say more? I have always considered watching this movie as one of my greatest experience in my younger years because I watched the movie together with my father at its premier showing in my hometown of Davao City, a long, long, time ago. Whenever, there are great movies in our hometown my father usually receives free premier tickets because of his standing as a prominent labor leader in our city.

On Writing by Stephen King… One of the best books I’ve read my entire life….

I need to say something about Stephen King. I’ve never been a fan of horror fictions or anything of the kind. So “knowing” that Stephen King is a famous novelist of that genre, I shied away from his books, not knowing that he wrote one of the best films I have seen in my life, “The Shawshank Redemption,” starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. I bought the DVD, I downloaded the original novella, of course it was free from the Net. I also realized then that he wrote, “The Green Mile,” a film with Tom Hanks on it, which I so loved watching too. So having known what I knew that time, I read King’s, Dolores Claiborne and, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” I have never been as inspired to write as when I read Stephen King’s, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” I borrowed my brother-in-law’s copy of the book, who is a Stephen King fan. And I read and read the book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” It was written in simple layman’s terms, very frank and quite informative and most of all very educational. This is to try to influence, anyone out there who wants to write, to read this book. YOU won’t be sorry. It is very fulfilling. I can’t seem to get the precise word that would express how I felt then and how I felt now when I read this book again and again. After I returned the copy of my brother-in-law’s book, I kept looking for a copy of my own because I loved the book so much. I searched from bookstands and booksellers, and I couldn’t for the life of me find one! I even thought of writing the publisher so I could have my own. Then finally I researched for a copy from the Net and sure enough I found it in pdf format, in a Russian Library’s website… Biblioteka.teatr-obraz.ru . This obviously says Library, but a Theatrical library! So writers and would-be writers, I say, “bon apetit!”… hahaha… I have included below, Stephen King’s second foreword of his book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” so everyone out there interested in the craft will know what I mean…

This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do—not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less the bullshit. One notable exception to the bullshit rule is The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. There is little or no detectable bullshit in that book. (Of course it’s short; at eighty-five pages it’s much shorter than this one.) I’ll tell you right now that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style. Rule 17 in the chapter titled Principles of Composition is “Omit needless words.” I will try to do that here.

I kept thinking to myself how I should call movies, moving books. Some are truly amazing, life-changing and poignant. I sometimes call them moving books, literally and figuratively, because most if not all are based on books, both fiction and non-fiction. Like Alice Walker‘s, “The Color Purple.” I am sincerely touched by this movie and I kept watching and watching it. Even if I’ve lost my original VHS tape of it, I still watched it on Youtube because it was well directed, the cast, the cast is so “real” and believable. I “discovered” Whoopi Goldberg from this movie and since that time, I am a fan of hers until now. She is a great actress and a good comedian. Remember, The Sister Act even Ghost was good and funny and Color Purple is for me, one of the greatest films ever made and I salute Steven Spielberg despite the fact that he wasn’t even given any sort of recognition for making that film. Strange and these people call themselves “artists.” The Color Purple for me is the epitome of movie making and even Spielberg’s “Amistad” was also a brilliant film, more so that it was based on actual events during the 1830s.   I am quite sure a lot of people who had seen the film, Amistad would say it truly is one great movie too. Anthony Hopkins, a connoisseur of acting, have made the part of John Quincy Adams as real as can be and who can forget Morgan Freeman in this film? With his quiet unassuming ways as the elderly freed slave Theodore Joadson, and Matthew McConaughey as a young property lawyer in the movie. The intelligence, courage and resolve of Africans who were practically kidnapped in their own homelands in Africa to become slaves in the Americas were so explicitly represented in this film by Djimon Hounsou and I enjoin anyone to watch this film and if you can’t, then try to find a way to download it from any links you can find on the net because I am pretty sure, you will love this film as much as I did.

Eckhart Tolle, wrote the book, “The Power of Now” and in it he explained where and how suffering came about… a few excerpt:

You won’t surrender which means, “Surrender means only, accept this moment as it is.” But you won’t be able to surrender unless you’re completely fed up with suffering. You’ve had enough of suffering. And at some level you recognized that most of your suffering is self-created. It is created out of self-resistance to what is. It is created out of an interpretation of something that is. It comes from thought, from the interpretation not from the situation.

So you realized, that, “I’ve had enough suffering! and only when you’ve truly had enough suffering in your life, are you able to say, “I don’t need it anymore!” Suffering is a wonderful teacher. Suffering is most people’s only spiritual teacher. And suffering deepens you. It gradually erodes the mind-made sense of self, the ego. And for some people the point arrives where they realized, “I have suffered enough!” and that for example is the case, when almost all people come to a retreat. If you ask them, they’ve all had their share of human suffering. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be open to the message. They’ve had their share of human suffering and they’ve reached a point where they need to listen to the message that says, there is another way to live. There is another way in which you can live that does not create further suffering by yourself. Because to a large extent, humans create their own suffering. And so when you are ready to hear that message and that’s really the message in every religion. That’s the central message in Buddhism, that is the end of suffering. And in the central messages of Jesus is, finding the pearl of great prize, finding the kingdom of Heaven that is within you here and now, as Jesus says. And that of course that is the end of living in the state of suffering. So, one could say that you need suffering for you to realize, or for you to come to a point of realization, that you do not need suffering anymore. There’s a paradox there. “If I had not suffered, I would not, this teaching would not exist.” So you could say, it has come partly as a result of intense suffering. Because as a human being I would not have evolved spiritually if I had not suffered. So suffering was my main teacher and suffering is for many people their main teacher. But then some people, when they are ready, they come into contact with their spiritual teacher and that can speed up the process of realization that you don’t need to suffer anymore. That you are ready to hear that. So the Buddha talked about nothing else for more than 2600 years ago, that there can be an end to self-inflicted suffering. And when you don’t inflict suffering on yourself anymore, and remember it’s the thoughts, your thoughts make you suffer more than anything else! Not usually the situation, it’s your interpretation of the situation. How dreadful it all is! And so when you see that, then you see there is another way to live in which…”I no longer mentally argue with what is…” and that’s the end of self-inflicted suffering. If we no longer inflict suffering on ourselves, we no longer inflict suffering on others, because the two go together.”

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4 Responses to Books/Films/TV

  1. Eye Floaters says:

    There are tons of good tv shows to choose from to say it’s the best. No matter what is said though, there is no doubt that this show ranks in the top five of all of them. Yes, there are shows that are a bit newer but this one still has charm. There is comedy, love, and a little darkness, easily moving it up to the top. They just don’t make them like this anymore.

    • thegreatwanderer says:

      You are quite right! But as I have said, so many people might see, read or experience something and would feel it was best for them which could be worst to some and vice versa. Remember? There are always two sides of a coin. Life as it is is a conundrum.

  2. Shereen says:

    You’ve been always a teacher and an inspiration to me. Someone I look up to. Reading was one of the things that made who you are and I admired in you . I’m going to read the books you’ve recommended in this page. Thanks for sharing them with us. God bless.

  3. thegreatwanderer says:

    To be called an “inspiration” is such an honor, even if it came from my dearest friend. Some may call it a biased opinion but my GOD even if its the only great opinion I get, I won’t exchange that for anything else and will carry that to my grave. Thank you so much Shereen, that just made my day.

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