Sunday, September 30, 2007

2nd September 30th Meeting!

Book: "Comfort Woman" by Nora Okja Keller
Attendees: Liz, Kasia, Susan, Leonie & moi

The meeting was held at the same place as usual with the usual members and a new member, Leonie. Welcome to the group, by the way. I was expecting more people to show but I guess they had other things to do. It was great to have the meeting just for the sake of meeting everyone, like always, plus we had a great discussion.

We first waited awhile for more people to show but no show so we started with our discussion.

I'm hoping that we'll have more people next time.

"Comfort Woman" by Nora Okja Keller

"Comfort Woman" is a story about a mother(Akiko, aka Soon-Hyo) who has a past she wants to keep hidden from her daughter,Beccah(Baek-hab), their relationship, and their struggle to survive.

I liked how the author used different aspect of culture within the story. Even though I'm not that familiar with Korean folklores and the customs, while reading the book it reminded me of what my mother used to tell me when I was little. I remember my mother telling me about the story of the frog, which did everything the opposite, when I didn't obey or did what my mother told me to.

It reminded me of the time how my mother seemed so angry and in pain at the same time when she talked about her mother being so obsessed with the shaman belief because she had lost so many children through miscarriages and at childbirth. Furthermore, her first born daughter was mute and deaf, my mother almost died from a dreadful fever and my uncle, the youngest and the only son, suffered from polio and as a result was crippled. My grandmother, may her soul rest in peace, was told by a shaman that she would have no luck in raising a child, that she was destined not to have one at all, did everything she could possibly do to have children and raise them healthy. Hence, my mother had to live all kinds of shaman rituals performed in the house and was dragged from temple to temple giving offerings to the gods.

The love a mother has towards her children and how protective she can become is portrayed in this book.

The hard part of reading this book was me trying to figure out all the Korean words that were written in italics, trying to make sense of everything knowing Korean. Also, the topic being on comfort woman, it did have some disturbing imagery that you just couldn't blot out. She described the awful part very vividly and she does that in ther other book "Fox Girl" as well. "Fox Girl" is a story of a girl who becomes a prostitute in a military camp town in the 1960s.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Week of Freedom

Yes, I am really getting a week off from work.
But no, I won't be going anywhere.
Partly because I do need to save up and partly because there are plenty of things for me to do.
So many things to look into..

As I'm starting to actually form a plan..
well, it's still ain't that definite nor concrete but it's starting to form something.
And that is driving me to get things done.. which is good.

So, yes it'll be good to have a week off doing nothing but ME-stuff.
And actually not having to prepare for classes.
I'll be able to spend some quality time for myself!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

I've been Tagged....

Well, after Susan's been tagged.. she tagged me.. so here goes my answers...

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
- Absolutely paperback! Hardcovers do look great on the shelf but since I read everywhere and sometimes carry around more than one book, I'd have to go with paperback.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
- I'm so bad with names... it took me ages to come up with the book club name(even had a friend helping out).. but if I were to name it, it would be "... with a cup of coffee..." just has a relaxing ring to it.. don't you think?

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
- Now, this is a difficult one... since I don't really take notes when I'm reading...

4. The author (alive or diseased) I would love to have lunch with would be ….
- Well, actually there are several authors that I'd like to have lunch with but if I were to pick one... um... well, I'd pick Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I would really like to as him what his inspiration to writing "The Shadow of the Wind" was, among other things.. and absolutely would have to ask him why he hadn't had any of his other books translated into English..

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be…
- I really hate these kinds of questions.. couldn't I have the whole bookshelf delivered??!! OR!!! what about FEDEX!!! Anyhow, one book you said... so... um... a never-ending book...? Seriously, I think if I can just pick one it'd be "The Shadow of the Wind"

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that….
- Hey How about a gadget that sorts your bookshelves AND your data in your computer! Now that'd be FANTASTIC!!

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of….
- the library that I used to go to every weekend(and the occasional weekdays) during high school.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be….
- I'd like to be Emma in Jane Austen's book "Emma" Not so much because of the character but because of the era.

9. The most overestimated book of all times is….
- The Bible.

10. I hate it when a book….
- starts and ends with not real point to it. It's just a waste of time for the reader AND the writer.

Hoorah!!! I've done my victims...

TAG~! You're it!
- Anna
- Chitra
the Tao of Chi
- Lia
- Liz
- Kasia
- Aisha

Well, since I don't know the blog of the last four.. I guess I'll let them know.. and have them write it up on their facebook or something.. =) OR on our group site!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1st September 16th Meeting

Book: "You Remind Me of Me" by Dan Chaon
Attendees: Liz, Kasia, & moi (Susan, unfortunately, couldn't make it)

The process of getting there was so frustrating because the traffic was so bad and when I got off the bus to transfer to another one, I accidently got on the wrong one and ended up somewhere else totally and had to figure out to get to the meeting place.. But I did finally get there and it was so great to see Liz and Kasia already settled down. (Sorry for being almost an hour late ladies!!! will try to be punctual) After meeting the girls we went to Quiznos, the joint next door, to get a bite to eat. AND we followed our routine of going down to the bookstore and look at some books that were on the shelves... or should we say stacked...

Our meeting, even though there were only 3 of us, went nicely, I think we did have a good discussion.
We all finished the book (I did mostly and had to skim through the last bits..) but it was great. Liz seem to love the book, me, it ain't my favorite but it was a good read. I will definitely go back and reread the section that I skimmed through. Done that, I'll write a proper review of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

waiting for the bus...

I'm sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus that my sister's on..
it should take her about 20 minutes to get here and since I was waiting and had my mac with me..
Thought I'd turn it on and see if I could get any wireless internet connection.. and voila! it works!!

Ain't modern technology just grand!!!

anyhow, today's work was better than the day before.
Yesterday, I had to stay until 1:30am supervising the study hall.
I have one more day left of that which is coming up soon (next week Friday, I think).

The more I think, I feel like I'm beginning to have no life, which is why I'm thinking of finding another hobby..
Or something worthwhile.. OR waking up earlier.. Now that's an idea...

Should try doing it...

"The Witch of Portobello" by Paulo Coelho

The title of the book was very catchy and aroused my curiosity in wanting to read the book.
And that's probably why I had recommended reading it for bookleaves in the frist place. Also, the fact that the 2 books I've read of him was pretty good, I did expect it to be interesting. My final feeling on the book is I guess somewhat disappointing.

The first book that I've read by Paulo Coelho was the well known bestseller "The Alchemist". It was a very good story, a very good teaching and philosophy to be learned from the book. But something that people, or at least I, already knew of. The story was well told but there wasn't any surprise that really sparked my attention. It pretty much ended in how I thought the story would end. However, I do like this way of storytelling. That, I admire a lot and am very jealous of it.

The second book was "11 Minutes". This was very different from the first. It was a little less philosophical than the first and it felt more like reading fiction. (The first felt more like reading a story from the Bible, but that's just me) It was fascinating how he had set up the storyline and the character.

The third, which was "The Witch of Portobello" was much like the first, very philosophical and spiritual. A woman trying to find herself. A very mysterious woman by the name of Athena trying very hard to find the higher being.. Maybe even the purpose of life and being? I did like it overall, but it really irritated me at some point and I can't really pin point the reason of why it made me feel so. Perhaps it's because it didn't really give me a direct answer in what she, the heroine of the book, or me the reader was searching for. Or perhaps it was because it made me think more and question more. I did like the narrative style. The way he used different people to tell the story of the protagonist. It held my interest...

I do like his books (though there may be some disappointing aspects) and I don't think that I've ruled him out of my reading list yet. There still are couple of books that I do want to read by him, "The Zahir" and "Veronika Decides to Die" to be exact.
Though I don't think it will be soon... I know I will read it but not just yet...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


What is bookleaves, you ask?
It's the name of my treasured book club.

When I first came to Korea in 1998, everything was so different and alien: people, places, custom and culture. Being a Korean and looking like one but not having lived in it does make a huge difference. Making friends and meeting people, probably was one of the hardest thing to do. Fortunately though, I did start attending a school and tried to get involved. So for a while the urgency of being in a book club wasn't that important, since I was reading on my own time and was busy sorting out some troublesome part of my life (there were some personal issues to be handled back then).

Anyhow, when I finally brought myself to look for a group, and yes there was one that I did find, I didn't get a single reply for months. That really got me worked up and decided 'heck, I'll make my own, surely there must be people out there who'd be interested in joining a book club'. And YES! there was. After putting the ad for some months out in the classified section I finally started getting emails from people who were interested and we decided to meet up to talk about making it real. Our first meeting was in June 2005.

The meeting was great there were about 6 people to start off with and we first decided on a book and the next meeting date. Then we made a group in Yahoo! in order to get in touch with people easily. I constantly got emails from people who were interested and some came, some never showed up. Many of our members have left Korea and our little club after completing their contract and at the same time many have joined.

Our group is practically open to everyone and anyone. The only thing that we ask for is that the person who joins must love to read and discuss about it. Yes, it has been my experience that some people join for the purpose of practicing English and that does irritate me a lot and sometimes I feel like I'm discriminating my own race. However, the whole purpose of this group, the reason I made this group is to get people who enjoy reading and discussing about books together. As well as meeting people from all walks of life and share thoughts and talk about everyday life. A club where you can relax and be comfortable in.

It has been over 2 years since the group's been active and I think we're doing pretty good with it. There has been a lot of change in members but still I think the groups doing great. If any of you out there who live in Korea, near Seoul to be exact, please don't hesitate to come by our group. We usually meet once a month, sometimes twice, depending on the book, and people's schedule. It's always a Sunday and we're pretty flexible on time, though we tend to lean towards the earlier hours of the afternoon. At the meeting we usually hang around at a coffee shop talk about the book of the meeting and other books that we'd like to share. Then depending on the time and how hungry everyone is we get a bite to eat. The decision on what to read depends on the members, sometimes we take turns and at other times we talk about it think of a whole bunch of books we're interested in and choose from that pile. We always decide about 3 or 4 books and the date respectively so that we don't make plans on those dates and we can all be there.

To find out more about the group, just write to