Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pamer Riddle dari #SecretSanta BBI 2014



Salah satu yang seru di akhir tahun (selain ngebut nyelesaiin reading challenge) adalah event yang rutin diadakan oleh BBI (Blogger Buku Indonesia): Secret Santa. Tahun ini, aku antara bahagia dan bingung setelah menerima kado dari Santaku. Bahagia karena dapat dua buku dari wishlist-ku, tapi bingung mecahin riddle-nya yang panjang dan serasa bertebar clue. Adakah yang bersedia membantu?.....

Ini dua kado yang kudapat dari Santa…



Thanks a lot for my very generous Santa!! Whoever you are, you’ve made my Christmas! ^_^

Dan ini riddle-nya. 



Kalau ada yang bisa memecahkan, tolong dong….kasih further clue aja paling tidak… *pasang muka melas*. Sudah ada beberapa “tersangka” sih, tapi belum ada yang memenuhi seluruh clue-nya, hanya cocok sebagian saja.

Semoga aku bisa menebak Santaku dengan benar di akhir event ini, sementara itu, aku siap-siap membaca Dunia Anna sepanjang liburanku dan mencoba melupakan misteri siapa santaku. Asyik! :)


Monday, November 24, 2014

The 2015 TBR Pile Challenge


This one challenge has proved to be one of the most useful tools in my reading life. As an organized reader, I usually created a reading list each year. Normally I would diligently follow it, but now and then there would be a new published book which is so enticing that I’d be tempted to kick out one or two books from the list to give place for the new comer. And this is why Adam’s TBR Pile Challenge has been very helpful. It helps me to keep on track. It would be hard to neglect a book that is listed in two challenges, as it means I would be failed in both, right?

So, I’m going to do this challenge again next year, and here is my list, complete with the publication date of my copies:

  • The Last Dickens – Matthew Pearl (2010)
  • True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey (2006) – Ind. translation
  • The Bleak House – Charles Dickens (1994)
  • The Ringmaster’s Daughter – Jostein Gaarder (2006) – Ind. translation
  • The Confessions – St. Augustine Hyppo (2002)
  • Empress – Shan Sa (2012) – Ind. translation
  • Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy (2012)
  • Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (2001)
  • The Fortune of Rougons – Emile Zola (2012)
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy – Irving Stone (1987)
  • The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood (2001)
  • The Golden Bowl – Henry James (2000)


Alternates:
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London (1992)
  • Siddhartha – Herman Hesse (1999)


Will you participate too? Here’s the sign up page of Roof Beam Reader’s Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wishlist Secret Santa 2014



Thanks to BBI, event Secret Santa kembali digelar tahun ini. Mungkin ini salah satu kegiatan BBI yang paling asyik bagiku. Di event Baca Bareng aku jarang bisa ikut karena biasanya aku sudah mengatur jadwal baca jauh-jauh hari, sedangkan BBI baru mengeluarkan daftar Baca Bareng belakangan. Jadi gak nyambung semua deh rencananya! :D

Tahun ini, alih-alih ‘mengisi rak di Goodreads’, kita diwajibkan memposting di blog, wishlist kita yang (semoga) akan dipenuhi salah satunya (semoga dua!) oleh Secret Santa kita masing-masing. Karena gak ingin mempersulit Santaku, aku hanya memasukkan 4 buku aja kok. *aslinya sih karena bacaanku kebanyakan English, dan buku-buku impor harganya mayoritas di atas harga maks :(

Ini dia daftarnya, diurutkan dari yang aku paling pengen… #kode






Dear my Santa, aku pengen banget dapat Dunia Anna, karena aku mengkoleksi karya-karya om Gaarder. Meski harganya dibawah batasan harga, gak pa pa kok…. Kalau mau ditambah yang urutan ke 2 boleh jugaa…. Apalagi kalau digabung sama yang no. 3…. *digetok Santa*

Semoga Santa mengabulkan keinginanku! ^__^


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

This might be the last book from Coelho which was still in my to-be-read pile. I have expected it to be good, as I have read many good reviews about it, and even my father recommended it to me. But it turned out to be a bit flat. It is the story of a Spanish young woman, Pilar, an independent woman who was searching for a greater life than hers at present, as a college student. One day a letter came from her childhood friend—on whom she had had a crush when they were at school—asking her to meet him. Eager to add sparks to her dull life, she decided to accept the invitation.

Pilar then learned that he has become a famous spiritual teacher who could perform curing miracles. He told her that he never stopped loving her; in fact he has entered a seminary, and now was in the middle of making an important decision, of to whom he should give his life for: the Church, or the woman he loved most. Pilar at first trusted her logical sense that he was just a childhood crush; that falling in love with him would ruin her perfectly-organized life. But this time her heart betrayed her sense, and she was soon falling in love with him. One only problem: he was going to be a priest; what must she do to keep him for herself?

While accompanying him for several days, Pilar—who had been cold towards God and her Catholic faith—started to learn his spiritual ideas about the feminine side of God. This part was where this book twisted to an unexpected theme, theology; and suddenly the atmosphere became slightly thicker. I am a conservative Catholic, and I am not sympathizing with Charismatic movement. Of course it is just my principle, and I can’t blame the author—any author—to have different branch of faith from mine; but in course of reading a book, this difference would make me uncomfortable, and it affects my whole view of the book. It cannot be justified, perhaps, but I just can’t help it.

On the last chapters, I just could not wait to finish this book. I just wanted to know, will he continue to become a priest or will he marry Pilar. After reading this, I feel that my taste is no longer with Coelho’s works, and I don’t think I would ever read his next books. His prose is still beautiful, but I believe it is me who has changed. Now I prefer books which are more down to earth; reflecting real life, and not just idea. With this book, I cannot relate my emotion or thoughts with the characters; they are too surreal and too far for me.

For all that, I granted three stars for By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.

~~~~~~~~~

I read Indonesian translation, published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama

This book is counted as:



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Reading this dystopian book, reminded me of the lyric of a popular song, Imagine:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

In the song which was released in 1988, John Lennon was imagining a world entirely different from ours. He was presupposing that if we eliminate all painful and restrained elements from life, the world would be a better place to live in. In The Giver, Lois Lowry challenged its modern young readers to question themselves whether a dystopian world as John Lennon has—and perhaps many people have too—imagined would make us happier. So, she created the “Community” where our heroes live.

Community is set by eliminating worldly struggles and uncomfortable things in daily life. Women are exempt from painful laboring by giving the task to some appointed women; and a family can receive a new child from Community (they can ask for exchange if they are not satisfied with the current child!). Elderly are separated from the family—obviously to eliminate the inconveniences of treating them—and when they are too old, the Community will ‘release’ them. They are given medicines to eliminate pains; and a committee will monitor their daily activities to decide what profession are the best for them. And there are so many regulations for all their routines; every aspect of their lives are guarded and controlled, so that all they have to do is just living it comfortably, and finally leaving it quietly. To achieve this, the Community erases their memory of the past, and lets only one person to bear all the memories—including the pains—so that he can act as advisor. This person is called The Giver.

When Jonas becomes 12 he realizes that HE is chosen for the next Giver. For about a year he takes ‘training’ from the present Giver. It means that the Giver little by little transfers his memory to his successor. From the flashes of the memory, we came to understand that our world has once been torn by a terrible war. Jonas must get through pains and sufferings; something he never gets in the Community. However, he also gets beautiful things he has never felt before: warm love of family, beauty of colors, etc. In the end Jonas believes that, notwithstanding the pain and suffering, the former world is worth to live in, compared to the Community. This realization, plus the fact he has revealed about the ‘release’ he often heard of, sets his mind to set up a dangerous plan with the Giver.

People have been praising this book; I have heard a lot of positive reviews of it, and that’s why I decided to read a book from two genres—which usually does not meet my taste—dystopian and young adult. In the end, I liked this book, because it teaches us to accept life as a whole. Life has never been a series of happiness and comforts; it contains struggles and pains too. Without sorrows, we would never know the meaning of happiness; before feeling hungry, you would never realize the value of food. It is after the pain of laboring and raising child, after the struggle in living with your spouse, can you feel the warmth of love and family. Life—however wretched it is—is always worth living.

It is good of Lowry to promote philosophy of life to young adults; a reminder to respect life, and to appreciate the beauty of it. It’s pity that the last part ended too abruptly. I wished Lowry would have dug deeper than that. But considering this book as a YA, it is acceptable.

I can only grant four stars; it’s really good, but it’s not quite shaking my emotion (I think I have read too much Zola’s lately!).

~~~~~~~~~

I read Indonesian translation from Gramedia Pustaka Utama
(I did not put the original cover of the copy I read, as I was annoyed by its childish image—sorry, I just can’t bear it…)


Monday, September 8, 2014

[Puisi] Ekaristi by Mario F. Lawi

Ini mungkin pertama kalinya aku membaca buku kumpulan puisi. Yang membuatku tertarik adalah temanya; aku kurang suka puisi-puisi tentang cinta yang, yah…begitu-begitu saja. Sebaliknya, puisi-puisi karya Mario F. Lawi ini sangat berbobot [baca: membuatku berpikir keras secara logika maupun secara iman]. Ya, seperti nampak pada judulnya, puisi ini bernuansa biblis [(Sakramen) Ekaristi adalah salah satu sakramen yang ditetapkan oleh Yesus Kristus menurut Alkitab—wikipedia]. Ekaristi juga biasa disebut Perjamuan Kudus. Sebenarnya, tidak semua puisi di sini bernuansa biblis, karena Mario memasukkan juga unsur budaya Sabu, Nusa Tenggara, darimana Mario berasal. Sebagian bahkan terasa sangat hangat dan personal karena mengisahkan kehidupan ayah-ibu Lawi sendiri.

Total ada sekitar 68 puisi, sebagian panjang, sebagian hanya sependek dua sampai empat baris, semuanya dikemas apik ke dalam 90 halaman buku ini. Dari cover depannya pun, buku ini sudah terasa puitis sekaligus bernuansa ekaristi, dengan bintang cemerlang di langit berwarna biru malam. Ternyata bila cover depan bernuansa putih dibuka, barulah kau akan menemukan ‘harta’ yang sebenarnya, yaitu sebuah sibori [piala tempat hosti suci dalam Gereja Katolik] bertatahkan emas dan permata. Seolah-olah ingin mengatakan tidak semua orang dapat menemukan Kristus; hanya mereka yang mau menghampiri bintang itu dan mau dituntun olehnyalah yang lalu akan dibawa kepada harta yang sesungguhnya.

Ada banyak puisi yang menggugah dan indah, aku akan ulas beberapa yang menjadi favoritku. Puisi Nazarenus, 2 (bahasa Latin dari ‘orang Nazaret’?) ini adalah yang paling kusukai…

Nazarenus, 2

Membungkus tubuhnya dengan udara,
Ia pun berjalan ke Nazaret.

Wangi rerempah masih
Membayang di belakangnya.
Luka bermekaran di tubuhnya
Seperti roti yang dipecah-pecahkannya
Beberapa malam sebelum.

Dengan tangan yang koyak, ia usap guratan
Lapang meja kayu yang tak sempat diberi kaki
Karena ia lebih dahulu diburu kesunyian
Dan menyingkir ke Getsemani.

Ia menatap ke dalam bilik,
Melihat Maria yang tersedu
Sambil menutup wajah
Dengan telapak tangannya.

Ia pun menangis,
Sungguh sebagai manusia.


Biasanya, yang tak kusukai dari puisi adalah maknanya yang seringkali abstrak; kau harus berpikir keras untuk memahami apa yang sedang disampaikan penulisnya. Tapi tidak dengan puisi Nazarenus, 2 ini. Puisi ini menimbulkan kesan bak menonton adegan film. Aku langsung menangkap bahwa settingnya adalah beberapa saat setelah Yesus bangkit; dan Ia pun mengunjungi rumahNya di Nazaret. Ada rasa haru menyeruak saat ia mengusap meja buatannya yang belum sempat diselesaikannya, juga saat ia mengintip IbuNya yang sedang menangis sendirian di bilik. Puisi ini sangat menampakkan kemanusiawian Yesus. Kali ini kita diajak melihat peristiwa sengsara dan salib Yesus dari sisi manusiawi; Yesus yang tadinya tengah bekerja membuat sebuah meja, harus meninggalkannya begitu saja (belum sempat diberi kaki); dan ada kesedihan menyeruak di hatiNya (sebagai seorang anak) saat Ia harus menyaksikan IbuNya menangis sedih. Namun, ada juga makna yang lebih dalam. Meja yang ditinggalkan sebelum selesai digarap, seolah melambangkan ketaatan Yesus sepenuhnya pada Bapa, sehingga saat waktunya telah tiba, ia pun meninggalkan segala yang Ia cintai (sebagai manusia), untuk menunaikan tugasNya sebagai Putra Allah.

Puisi “Penunjuk Jalan” juga menjadi favoritku, karena endingnya yang menyisakan perasaan… apa ya? #jleb banget lah. Aku kutip paragraf terakhirnya (terlalu panjang kalau semuanya):

Penunjuk Jalan

(…) Sekelompok orang lalu datang dari Timur
Memintaku menunjukkan jalan yang dilalui bintang.
Kata mereka Tuhan akan lahir esok pagi.
Kutunjukkan mereka jalan setapak,
Yang dulu pernah dilalui angin
Menuntun ibu dan ayah untuk saling menemukan.
“Di ujung jalan itu ada padang,
Sebuah bukit tempat kawanan dombaku bermain
Juga tiga kayu palang yang masih meneteskan darah.”

Masih ada beberapa puisi lagi yang istimewa bagiku: Lembing Dosa, Delapan Catatan Kecil Adventus, Retina, Onytha, 3, dan masih banyak lagi. Ada banyak bagian yang tak kumengerti maksudnya, namun secara keseluruhan kumpulan puisi ini menawarkan keindahan dan keagungan.

Empat bintang untuk Ekaristi dan untuk Mario yang sudah mengajakku untuk berpuisi dan ber-Ekaristi. Jujur, selain Kitab Mazmur, aku belum pernah membaca puisi. Setelah ini mungkin aku akan mencoba lebih banyak mengapresiasi puisi, namun tetap aku memilih topik rohani.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré

During the Cold War—when Sovyet was building its influence in the world—‘Control’ was the head of British intelligence called ‘Circus’. He suspected that there was a Sovyet’s mole (enemy’s secret agent who infiltrated intelligence) within the highest level of Circus. He secretly sent an agent to buy information from a defected Czech General, but Sovyet blew the operation, and the agent was shot on the back. The mole did exist!

About ten years later, an eccentric teacher, Jim Prideaux, arrived at a prep school in the suburban London. His body was military-built, and he liked to be alone. A student named Bill Roach maintained a close relationship with Prideaux, who praised him as a very good observer. One mysterious aspect which Bill observed from his new teacher, was that Mr. Prideaux often sent letters to himself and one of the teachers. He also saw Mr. Prideaux was maintaining a weapon which he hid underground his caravan.

Far away from the prep school, George Smiley—once a close assistant to Control, but was suddenly forced into retirement—got a surprise visit from an old friend. Peter Guillam, his ex-colleague in Circus brought him to a secret investigation of their old adversary: the secret mole—code name: Gerald, which must have been within the highest level of Circus. And so Smiley must take a thorough interview and patient investigation from his former friends and colleagues, whom he used to have personal relationship, and perhaps, even, whom he used to admire.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy turned out to be a great-genius spy thriller! I love how Carré opened the book with the school teacher Prideaux and Billy Roach; it made me wondering whether the spy things would happen in a small prep school. Billy Roach might not have any relation with the intelligence world, but his existence—and how he saw things through his eyes—built a solid difference between the real world and intelligence world, and it emphasized how smooth the spies work among us that we won’t suspecting anything. It makes you think, are people who are close to us all these times are really what they told us?

*spoiler alert*
One small problem with Tinker is how we must be groping in the dark for at least the first third of the book, before slowly beginning to understand what was happening. It is because Carré ‘played’ with mystery, and only after that lifted the veil little by little. But the final—and probably the second most important mystery—was not revealed until the end of the book. And we are left with big question mark: who murdered Haydon? When I came to think it over, maybe the biggest mystery is not the identity of the mole Gerald, but who has killed him; another enemy for Circus; another mole?

With puzzles on my mind, I tried to do small research on the internet; and found analysis which suggested that the murder was Jim Prideaux, to revenge the betrayal, and maybe, the people he was working with in Czech—whom were all killed. If that was true, then Carré has cleverly ended the book in an ironic-tragic-but genius way. It was ended just like it has been started, with Jim Prideaux and Bill Roach. It seemed so normal, but what about the gloomy atmosphere which Roach observed on his teacher’s face after his return from “his mother’s-funeral-absent”? Did it pointed out to his real feeling after murdering his best and closest friend? Oh, if that was true, then it became more tragic. And really, Bill might think he knew his teacher very well at the end, while actually there were much deeper and darker secrets in him. What do we really know about people’s untold secret? None…perhaps!

Four and a half stars for such a brilliant story!

~~~~~~~~~~

I read Sceptre mass-market paperback edition

This book is counted as:



Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Silkworm: Cormoran Strike #2

About one year after finishing The Cuckoo’s Calling, I was once again taken by Robert Galbraith to the office of C.B. Strike, the private detective. However, in contrast to the glittering show-biz aspect of a model’s murder in the first book, this time Galbraith took me to a grotesque macabre atmosphere of a writer’s mysterious death.

One day in his fatigue and lack-of-sleep condition, Cormoran has made a rush decision. He has dumped a rich potential but arrogant client to make way to a poor afflicted woman. Eleanor Quine asked his help to find his missing husband, a writer Owen Quine, and to bring him home. Quine was missing right after finishing his latest novel, which he boasted as his masterpiece: Bombyx Mori (the Latin words for ‘silkworm’). The manuscript has been spreading all over the town before Quine’s agent, Elizabeth Tassel, realized that many literary key people were pen-portrayed in this mythical-gothic thriller, including Tassel herself, an editor, a publisher, and Quine’s girlfriend (a writer); an element which stirred anger and, in some, fear in the literary world.

Several days later Cormoran found Quine’s death body in an empty house, tied, disemboweled, and putrid. The murder was performed theatrically, neatly, and cold heartedly, that the Police had no other lead to take than suspecting Leonora Quine of killing her own husband. If Cormoran, at the murder of Quine, might regarded that his job to locate the writer was done, now he took personal responsibility to save the unjustly accused wife from being wrongly convicted. This is what I love about Rowling aka Gailbraith. Her story is not just about crime and detective, there is also a touch of humanity. Cormoran’s decision might not always be wise or logical for a detective, but that is what made him distinguished: he has heart. This single aspect warmed Rowling’s detective story, which is usually cold.

Cormoran and Robin’s personal struggles are also interesting. Although I feel the excessive passages about Cormoran’s ex-fiancé is wasteful and boring; it is interesting though to see how both Cormoran and Robin—logical and intelligent as they are—picked the wrong partners for themselves. We can easily see that Charlotte and Matthew are selfish and narrow-minded people who could never understand Cormoran and Robin. But still, our detective and his assistant love them blindly. Well, maybe love is, sadly, blind indeed…. Particularly for Robin, I still don’t understand how a clever and sensible girl like her could have liked a guy like Matthew. Sometimes, girls can be so foolish when it comes to boys. *sigh*

Compared to The Cuckoo’s Calling, this one is less engaging. The idea is brilliant (but very ‘Rowling’, in her fondness of mythical elements), but it lacks the grotesque atmosphere around the murder. It feels more like a staged act than grotesque. I liked the idea of hiding parts of Cormoran’s actions when we were approaching the climax (and left us in the dark of what was actually happening), which was a bit like Agatha Christie’s; it made us groping and curious, which added the mystery. And I also liked how Cormoran’s and Robin’s relationship developed further; she proved herself capable of being Cormoran’s assistant. And of course, with Cormoran’s lack of physical fitness, their collaboration would be much more interesting in the next series. But apart from those aspects, the crime story itself is not prominent.

Three and a half stars for The Silkworm.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Angel’s Cake (Baking Cakes in Kigali)

On 1994 Rwanda has been torn by ethnic genocide. Now in 2000, six years after the tragedy, the survivors are still in traumatic condition. Distrust and fear are still thickly clouding their daily lives. In this condition, the Turangaza family move in from Tanzania, and live in an apartment. Angel Tungaraza is a professional cake baker, and through this business Angel spread to the neighborhood the spirit of reconciliation. Reconciliation of the two ethnics that were fighting in the genocide: the Tutsis and the Hutus, as well as personal reconciliation with each of their pasts.

In Kigali, seems that everyone has experienced the losing (at least) a family member. Although coming from Tanzania (and did not experience the genocide), Angel and her husband, Pius, are also victims of traumatic experience of losing their children by death. AIDS, as we all know, is another deathly terror in Africa at that time besides Rwandan genocide. The Tungarazas’ children have died of AIDS, and now Angel and Pius must raise their grandchildren (five of them!) by themselves. Fortunately, in the time of resurgent after the tragedy, there are plenty of things to be celebrated. And, what is a celebration without a cake?

Since the best cake in Kigali is Angel’s, her business springs, and people from all background come to her apartment to order cakes. Gaile Parkin described the cakes to tiny details in every chapter, and that—apart from the people struggles—gives the book its unique attraction. Each chapter portrays each cake, each event of celebration, each individual, with each problem. Angel’s cakes are not only delicious in taste, but they are also impressive in decoration. The cakes are rich in colors (as the African like it) and they are tailor-made to the celebration itself (or the person who is celebrating it). But Angel does not run the business only for money, more than that, she helps her customers to regain happiness in her own simple way.

When customers come, Angel would let them sit down, and gives them her portfolio for their reference, while she is preparing her Tanzanian spiced tea, accompanied with cupcakes. She never runs out of these cupcakes because she used to make them from what’s left of the cakes she makes for customers. Over the tea and cupcakes—and most of all, her friendly but professional manner—Angel would drive her customers to tell their success—or bitter—stories of life. Being a good listener with tender heart, Angel often brings hope—if not solution—to them. And, as a bonus, she gets the order, plus the happiness of baking and decorating beautiful cakes, which is her passion.

Her most achievement is facilitating the marriage between Modeste, a guard in the apartment complex, and Leocadie, a girl who opens a local store. Their marriage symbolizes the reconciliation of the two hostile ethnic in the genocide: the Hutus (Leocadie) and the Tutsi (Modeste). The event seems to express that the Banyarwanda (Rwandans) are now ready to forget the past hostility, and begin a new life in peace, trust, and love. And in the end, the spirit of reconciliation and new hope are not only for the Rwandans, but it applies for all Africans (including Angel and Pius), and all of us wherever we live, to reconcile with the dark past, and realize that God offers us love and hope of a new life.

For a debut, Gaile Parkin has written a tremendous work. Angel’s Cake (Indonesian translation of ‘Baking Cakes in Kigali’) is a sweet and pleasant reading which bears a serious theme. It flows naturally and conveniently, offers sweetness (from the cakes things), a bit of mystery (from Angel’s traumatic past), and a lot of humanity aspects (love, racialism, freedom, etc.). I love it from the beginning, and the book certainly made me craving for cupcakes! :)

Four and a half stars for Angel’s Cake and Gaile Parkin!

~~~~~~~~~~

I read the Indonesian translation from Qanita (Mizan Publishing group)

This book is counted as:



Monday, May 5, 2014

Contact

Many years ago I have watched Contact’s movie adaptation without really knowing that is was adapted from a book. Jodie Foster was the main reason we—me and my father—watched it at that time on TV. I didn’t quite remember the story, but it related with space journey and a touching reunion with Jodie’s father. However, I remember vaguely my own feeling while and after watching it. I was touched and amazed; touched by love and amazed by God’s creation. So naturally, when I finally read the book, I expected to find a deeper feeling than the movie. However, either I have a bad memory, or I have expected too much, this time I must admit that I prefer the movie than the book.

Eleanor Arroway grew up in the end of 20th century. She was a gifted child and was interested in science since childhood. Her beloved dad died, and she had trouble of accepting her step father. She had a good career as an astronomer, and in her forties, she has become a respectable scientist and Director of Project Argus, a project dedicated to “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in New Mexico. One day the Argus received a set of codes of prime numbers from a planet Vega which is about 26 light years away from Earth. She suspected that the much more intelligent extraterrestrial life of the planet was communicating with human being. This discovery got full attention of the President (American first female President), and as the codes were sent to the whole world, it then became a prime subject of human existence. The codes (later on became ‘the Message’) were in fact a manual to build a space ship, a technology which was still unknown to them. An international consortium was created, and the whole world focused their attention to the building and the dispatch of ‘the Machine’.

Ellie involved in the whole process, during which she had many debates and discussions with many different people. The main controversy was the eternal debate between religious and scientists. Each accused the other of being skeptical. But nevertheless, the Machine was finally ready to carry five selected scientists from five countries—Ellie was among them—to planet Vega. They went through the Galaxy and for about 24 hours each one had similar experience of meeting an extraterrestrial who took a form of someone they loved most. In Ellie’s case, she met her ‘father’. However upon returning, government officials took the journey as a hoax; the scientists way of conspiring. Because from Earth point of view, there were only 20 minutes elapsed when the Machine stopped abruptly, before the scientists finally came out of it.

If you are a scientist or a mathematician, you would probably enjoy this book, more than I did. I dislike mathematics, and was not impressed by the long explanation on the prime numbers which occasionally appeared. My interest for this book, instead, lies on the humanity aspect, especially the long debate of religious vs scientific. In my opinion, both Ellie (scientist) and Palmer Joss (religious) were too skeptical—reminded me to Pilate’s ‘what is truth?’—about the other’s subject; and too proud of themselves and of their own subjects. I am often grateful for not being born as a scientist like Ellie, who uses too much of her brain than her heart, and thinks that everything must be explained with theory. She cannot understand that we need love and affection much more than the knowledge that there are some high intelligent creatures somewhere in the galaxy. Joss was perhaps more opened to accept scientific things without compromising his faith.

In the end, Sagan portrayed how the nations and people as individual—for once—were brought to unity as they were expecting these extraterrestrial beings. According to Sagan, all human races could now regard themselves as a whole. The extraterrestrial ideas germinated the power of humanity in us; the science caused sparks of religious feelings, and reunified men with God. It would be an interesting idea, maybe, but I still believe that we are God’s highest creation, not because we have the most intelligent brain on the universe, but because He has created us as His image. So, what we need is to pay more attention to Him and others; we should not need extraterrestrial lives to make us more humane.

Although I did not enjoy the book as much as I have expected, I still think Contact is a good novel, and I must thank Sagan to remind me to think more about humanity.

Three and a half stars for Contact.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I read Indonesian translation by Gramedia Pustaka Utama

This book is counted as:



Monday, April 14, 2014

[Guest Post] Pengakuan Emak Alvina: Antara Baca, Ngeblog, dan Rutinitas

Kali ini blog Fanda’s Book Shelf kedatangan seorang blogger tamu. Ini dalam rangka merayakan ulang tahun BBI (Blogger Buku Indonesia) yang ke 3. Untuk saling mengakrabkan diri dengan sesama anggota, kami saling ‘bertamu’ ke blog anggota yang lain sesuai undian. Kebetulan ‘tamu’ blog ini adalah Alvina, salah seorang anggota BBI yang sudah aku kenal sejak awal bergabung, pemilik blog Mari Ngomongin Buku. Ia ingin berbagi tentang pengalaman membagi waktu antara ngeblog dan menjadi ibu rumah tangga. Sebelumnya, yuk kenalan sedikit dengan Alvina…

Nama saya Alvina Ayuningtyas. Saya lahir di Jakarta pada suatu Sabtu di bulan Agustus. Selain membaca, menonton film adalah salah satu hobi saya. Aktor favorit, Matt Bomer dan Leonardo Di Caprio. Suka cokelat, nggak suka keju. Warna favorit biru, cita-cita mau jadi astronot (silakan ketawa). Sekarang saya tinggal di Solo bersama suami yang nyentrik dan dua anak yang imut.  Selain menjadi ibu rumah tangga, saya juga menulis beberapa buku nonfiksi bersama Tim dan sedang mengerjakan Tugas Akhir kuliah (yang belum rampung rampung). Buat yang mau menghubungi saya, entah untuk bertanya ukuran sepatu atau untuk menawarkan unicorn untuk saya pelihara, bisa menghubungi saya di twitter @alvina13 :)

Dan inilah yang Alvina sampaikan tentang ngeblog dalam hidupnya:

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Ngeblog buat saya adalah pelampiasan positif dari apa yang ada di pikiran. Setidaknya dengan ngeblog saya merasa puas telah berbagi sesuatu dengan dunia luar, meskipun jarang ada yang berkunjung ke blog saya, tapi toh saya sudah bangga. (pede maks) XD

Sayangnya saya tidak selalu punya waktu lebih untuk ngeblog, meski sebenernya ngeblog itu semacam 'wisata pikiran' buat saya yang kudu dilakukan minimal seminggu sekali lah.
Dengan dua anak, saya terbangun di pagi hari lalu mengikuti rutinitas : mengantar anak sekolah, menyiapkan makan, mengurus bayi, membereskan rumah, belum lagi kalau ada kerjaan yang harus dilakukan. Semacam koreksi draft, mbahas soal buat naskah, lalu menjelang siang saya sudah harus menjemput si kakak dari sekolah.

Dua bocah aktif jelas membuat saya memilih menemani mereka berdua bermain, dan menyisihkan beban tugas kerjaan untuk dikerjakan malam hari setelah keduanya pulas. Baru deh setelah malam, saya sempat mengerjakan tugas sesekali nyambi blogwalking atau posting di blog sendiri.
Terus kapan “me time” nya? Membaca buku, contohnya, salah satu “me time” favorit saya, sering saya lakukan sebagai sambilan. Sambil menunggu jemput anak, sambil meninabobokan si bayi, atau sambil makan xD. (Iya saya multitasking banget yah?) Makanya saya selalu punya dua buku untuk dibaca, yang satu buku cetak dan satu lagi e-book. Sepet sih kadang baca e-book, tapi daripada nggak baca apa-apa, jadi mulai beralih ke e-book juga, meski ngga sesering buku cetak untuk intensitasnya. Dulu sempat bermasalah dengan membaca dua buku sekaligus, tapi kelamaan akan terbiasa kok. Ala bisa karena biasa. X)

Sesekali saya juga menemani anak-anak sambil membaca buku, si kakak mengisi majalah kesukaannya dan si adek saya berikan buku kain. Tapi buku cetak jauh lebih menggoda, rupanya, sampai-sampai tiap buku yang saya baca selalu direbut oleh Si Adek. Lucu loh ngliatin anak bayi buka-buka buku yang tebelnya 400-500 halaman, tapi kudu hati-hati juga. Soalnya tangan lincahnya bisa merobek halaman-halaman di buku itu. Ada dua atau tiga buku saya sudah jadi korban ‘rasa penasarannya’. :)

Nah, untuk ngeblog biasanya saya sering terganggu kalau sudah online depan kompi. Yang ada malah Blogwalking atau buka FB atau twitteran atau tumblran atau nyari jurnal buat revisian tugas akhir (iya ini bo’ong banget). Saya menyiasatinya dengan menulis review buku yang telah saya baca, pertama-tama di ponsel dengan aplikasi tertentu, ada “Writer” atau kadang langsung saya tulis di gmail (untungnya di rumah pakai wifi). Setelah apa yang ada di pikiran saya itu tertuliskan, baru saya simpan dan bisa saya kopi ke M.word (iya ke word dulu) dicek hurufnya, ditambahin apa yang kurang, termasuk nambahin quote-quote yang sebelumnya ngga sempat saya tulis lewat ponsel. Setelah itu baru deh dikopi ke blog dan siap diposting.

Ribet yah? hahah.. Iya sih kalo diliat memang ribet, tapi ini membantu banget terutama kalau saya lagi banyak kerjaan atau lagi males ngedeprok di depan komputer. Ponsel sangat membantu saya dalam hal-hal kecil beginian, sampai-sampai selama tiga tahun terakhir ini saya sudah menghabiskan dua batu baterai untuk si ponsel. Mungkin kecapekan juga kalik ya karena sering saya pake aplikasi ini itu  XD

Ngeblog saya lakukan hanya sebentar-sebentar, sesekali saya curi waktu untuk membuka dashboard untuk melihat kolom komentar, tapi seringnya kelupaan untuk jawab komen x/ Ini masih belum kalau si kecil nangis tiba tiba, alhasil kerjaan belum selese, ngeblog pun batal. Hahahha. Tapi dibawa enjoy aja kalau saya sih. Karena kan tujuan baca-ngeblog itu buat senang-senang. Lagian saya juga nggak tiap hari sesibuk itu, jadi masih cukup sering bisa berselancar di dunia maya lewat komputer.

Begitulah, saya ‘mengatur’ waktu saya untuk membaca-ngeblog-dan menjalani hari. Hihi, terima kasih untuk Mbak Fanda yang sudah berkenan menerima saya sebagai tamu di blognya. Terima kasih juga untuk divisi event yang membuat saya punya kesempatan bertamu di rumah blogger buku lain. :D

Saya Alvina, si empunya @alvina13. Paling suka membaca buku bertema fantasi yang juga bermimpi bisa memelihara Naga dan Unicorn, apalagi kalau mereka juga suka baca. XD Saya gabung di BBI pada bulan Juni 2011, Kala itu masih newbie sekalee, dan masih ingat postingan baca bareng pertama saya The Day of The Jackal, (bulan Juli) yang saking semangatnya langsung saya buru di toko buku begitu judul baca barengnya telah ditetapkan. Bergabung di BBI memiliki banyak input positif bagi saya, yang emang dasarnya doyan baca dan nulis. Ritme tulisan saya jadi lebih teratur, hampir setiap saya selesai membaca buku, selalu saya sempatkan menulis resensinya, jadi saya lebih sering melatih kemampuan saya mengungkapkan suatu hal dalam bentuk kata-kata. (Iya sih kadang ngeresensinya juga ngasal jadi. Etapi kan yang penting nulis :p) Dari BBI saya jadi punya banyaaak daftar buku yang ingin dibaca, daftar belanjaan buku yang ingin dibeli, dan daftar timbunan yang menuh-menuhin lemari x_x. Semoga tiga tahun ini membuat anggota BBI makin solid, makin berkontribusi terhadap dunia sastra di Indonesia, dan makin berwarna bahasannya. :)

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Terima kasih untuk Alvina yang mau bertamu di blog ini, semoga makin giat membaca dan ngeblog meski dengan segudang kesibukan ya! Selamat Ulang Tahun juga untuk BBI yang ke 3, semoga makin dewasa usiamu, semakin banyak manfaat yang kami rasakan dengan bergabung denganmu! :)

Guest posts lainnya bisa dilihat di sini:


Friday, April 4, 2014

Never Let Me Go

What is the meaning of life? Why do we live? If someday we are meant to die, then, what are we supposed to live for? These questions were swirling in my head right after I closed the last page of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. This novel is a dystopian story about human cloning, where the cloned kids are brought up nicely only to donate their organs for sick people when they have grown up. In this novel Ishiguro is criticizing how, in the era of technology fast advances, human gets bolder in imitating God, by cloning His masterpiece: human beings. But on the other hand, he also brings us to reflect our own humanity, of the true value and meaning of being a human.

This novel is told from the first point of view of Kathy H., one of the cloned kids, when she is 31. All the cloned characters do not have family name, only a character following their first names. Kathy reflects her world and her life as a cloned kid, starting from (and especially about) her happy years in Hailsham, an English boarding school specially designed for the cloning project. Hailsham is the whole world for the cloned kids. They grow up, receive fine education, and socialize with their kinds, all inside Hailsham. Although never been introduced to the outside world, they are brought up as normal as possible like any children on the outside world.

The central figures of this novel are Kathy—a kind and principled girl, Ruth—Kathy’s best friend; a bossy girl, and Tommy—a hot-tempered boy who is often bullied by other students. Kathy is the only one who stands for him while he is bullied, and they become close friends. However, it is Ruth who later on become Tommy’s girlfriend. From the very beginning, they know—or rather have instinct—that they are not normal. Here and there lay mysteries, hinted by the teachers (whom they called ‘guardians’). They are encouraged to create as much and as best art works as possible, and the best ones would be picked by a mysterious woman they called ‘Madame’. Another mystery….

On their 16 years of age, they are ‘graduated’ Hailsham, and move to a closed resident called ‘The Cottages’, where they are introduced to the outside world. They are encouraged to live as normal people, having love and sexual relationship—even though they could not have children, and having a career as nurses—nursing the donors to get through every donation. However they also know that these are only formal preparations before entering life as donors—their main purpose of life (the ‘completion’). Whenever they are ready, they can register themselves as donors, and they would perform ‘donation’ after donation, until the process takes their life eventually. It is in her career as nurse, just before she decides to be a donor, that Kathy reflects her life and tells us the story.

I remember when I was reading Remains of the Day, I was amazed by Ishiguro’s narrative style. It was rather slow-paced, but very thoughtful and deep. And the same aspect comes again in Never Let Me Go. Several of my friends said that in their first attempt, they were stuck at the middle of the book, could not make it to the end. I was worried at fist that this would be slower than Remain s of the Day. However, as I started first chapter, I just knew that I was going to like it. It is even little smoother than Remains, and the moral and humanity theme make it more intense. Now I am grateful, I have swapped one of my books (I forget which one) with this book!

In the end, I came to two reflections: First, that human cloning is totally immoral. Only God can create human, and as creations, we cannot even imagine to be equal with our Creator. Ironically, my second reflection came from thinking about the human-cloning; from the lives of Kathy, Ruth, Tommy, and their kind. Even they are all the same kind (human-cloning), they have different opinion of their lives. My favorite here is Kathy. I think Kathy is the most positive of her friends. Instead of worrying her grim future and—like her friends—registering to be donor as soon as possible to end it; or—like Ruth—trying to hide the fact and pretend to be innocent until it’s time to ‘complete’ her life, Kathy accepts the nature of her fate and enjoys her works as a nurse. In short, she takes what life gives her, and does her best to fill it until it’s time for her to ‘complete’ it.

Then I had my reflection….isn’t Kathy’s life quite similar to us? I mean, besides our different origins, we all know that someday we would also ‘complete’ our life when we die. We do have freewill—unlike the cloned—but basically we are all mortal, and cannot change that. If the cloned—and the guardians—think their life is kind of doomed, poor, useless; that they were brought up only to donate their organs and die, how do WE see our lives? Is life really worth living, if we know for certain that we are going to die? If the cloned had lived only for donating their organs, what are WE living for? Through Kathy, I was reminded of how grateful I am to be God’s child; to be His special creation, and to have been living as myself. If Kathy the cloned can move on and make the best of her life, confound us if we waste ours that are so precious!

Thank you Ishiguro for writing this novel; I am really grateful to have decided to read this book. Please, therefore, accept my four stars for Never Let Me Go.

~~~~~~~~~

I read Indonesian translation from Gramedia Pustaka Utama

This book is counted as:



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wishful Wednesday (25)

Saat Rupiah makin menguat terhadap dollar, hasrat belanja buku mendadak terbit lagi… *sebenarnya meski dollar lagi menguat pun, tetap saja belanja sih…*. Dari sekian banyak isi wishlist, minggu ini ada beberapa buku yang pengen banget segera kubawa pulang…..

By Goethe



Aku belum pernah baca karya Goethe, dan belum bisa membayangkan apa yang bakal kudapat, tapi aku tetap pengen merasakan karya beliau. Jadi, dari sekian banyak pilihan, kenapa aku memilih buku ini untuk Wishful Wednesday minggu ini? Karena covernya paling menggoda!... :P

Buku kedua yang juga sangat aku inginkan saat ini adalah:

By Christopher Marlowe



Gara-gara menantang diri sendiri untuk membaca plays (drama) tahun lalu, aku jadi keranjingan membaca play (terutama yang non-Shakespeare). Salah satunya adalah Doctor Faustus-nya Marlowe. Kebetulan aku menemukan kumpulan play beliau yang lengkap (setelah konsultasi ke Listra @museforesaken) dengan harga lumayan murah.

Lanjut….sebetulnya buku ini sudah pernah masuk ke Wishful Wednesday, tapi karena sampai sekarang belum terpenuhi, maka aku masukin lagi deh…. *sambil komat-kamit baca mantra*

By Colleen McCullough



Rasanya sudah jelas sih mengapa aku pengen banget buku ini, karena minat dan kecintaanku yang cukup besar pada sejarah Romawi. Aku sudah baca versi Shakespeare, lalu Plutarch (biografi Antony), dan udah punya biografi Cleopatra (versi Stacy Schiff). Jadi, rasanya bagaimana pun juga kudu punya buku ini!

Maka, aku berharap sangat, Astrid (and the infamous Monsieur Random) bersedia mengabulkan salah satu keinginanku itu minggu ini! ;)

Tentang Wishful Wednesday:



  • Silakan follow blog Books To Share – atau tambahkan di blogroll/link blogmu =)
  • Buat posting mengenai buku-buku (boleh lebih dari 1) yang jadi inceran kalian minggu ini, mulai dari yang bakal segera dibeli, sampai yang paling mustahil dan hanya sebatas mimpi. Oya, sertakan juga alasan kenapa buku itu masuk dalam wishlist kalian ya!
  • Tinggalkan link postingan Wishful Wednesday kalian di Mr. Linky (klik saja tombol Mr. Linky di bagian bawah post). Kalau mau, silakan tambahkan button Wishful Wednesday di posting kalian.
  • Mari saling berkunjung ke sesama blogger yang sudah ikut share wishlistnya di hari Rabu =)




Monday, February 10, 2014

Read Big Reading Challenge! Wrap Up

This is a challenge of reading bulky books of more than 500 pages, hosted by Dessy. Here are books I have read for the challenge, from February 2013 to January 2014.



Level: Heavyweight

Books I have read: 10 books, but unfortunately I was late to submit the last review. Well…anyway, here they are:

Feb: Little Dorrit – Charles Dickens
Mar: The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Apr: The Mill on the Floss - George Elliot
Jul: War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy -- Incredible Bulk!
       Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows (re-read)
Aug: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Oct: Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Dec: David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
Jan: Roman Lives - Plutarch


Thanks to Dessy to host it! ;)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Buying Monday #1

Ini pertama kalinya aku post meme yang dihost oleh Aul. Sebelumnya belanjaanku gak terlalu banyak, dan gak pernah inget buat foto-foto… Nah, bulan ini entah gimana, tiba-tiba aku sudah belanja di sana-sini >,<” Akhirnya aku kumpulin foto-foto hasil belanjaan, dan kuniatkan untuk post Buying Monday, sekalian mengingatkan diri sendiri untuk puasa belanja buku bulan Februari & Maret! *semoga bisa…*



Jadi inilah tamu-tamu baru di timbunanku:

Beli di @Balibooks



Beli di @BukuSecond_Bdg



Beli di Bukumoo



Dan yang terakhir datang…..jauh-jauh dari The Book Depository



Sebenarnya masih ada 1 buku lagi yang masih PO di TBD, datangnya baru Februari. Lalu ada 1 buku lagi hasil kalap di Maria (Hobby Buku) yang belum sempat terkirim. *berusaha gak ngitung total belanja bulan lalu*

Apa Buying Monday-mu bulan ini? :)
  • Follow The Black in The Books melalui email atau bloglovin'
  • Buat post tentang buku-buku apa saja yang dibeli selama bulan itu, publish setiap hari Senin pertama di bulan berikutnya.
  • Masukan link post tersebut di linky yang disediakan.
  • Linky akan dibuka selama 8 hari.
  • Bila ada yang memasukan link tentang book haul bulan berikutnya (bukan bulan yang ditentukan), maka link itu akan dihapus dari linky.
  • Jangan lupa melihat-lihat book haul peserta lain! :D



Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Racketeer

[rack-e-teer] is one who obtains money illegally, as by fraud, extortion, etc. From the beginning I’ve been curious, who the racketeer is. The story is told from two point-of-views; the first is from Malcolm Bannister’s—an African-American lawyer who has involved in a case which turned out to be a crime, and got imprisoned under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act. The second is from third point of view, the narrator. Malcolm must serve ten years in prison for a crime he was not guilty of; losing his career, his family, his future—in short, he is ruined. When five years has elapsed, a Federal judge is murdered, and Malcolm proposes to FBI to swap his knowledge of the murderer, with his freedom and immunity.

As the FBI doesn’t have any clue about the murder, they give Malcolm freedom and immunity after he gives them the name of the murderer: Quinn Rucker, his ex-friend in jail. Malcolm changes his appearance and gets new name and new life, as well as the money prize as the informant; while Quinn is imprisoned after his under-pressured confession. However, FBI still could not find any solid evidence to indict Quinn; while Max—the new Malcolm—manages to slip away from their surveillance, and begins to busy himself with some strange things. The FBI is now restless, and we—the readers—start asking these questions: Is Malcolm the poor victim or the ruthless villain? If Quinn is not the murderer, who is?

One thing that I love mostly from Grisham, is the variation of his styles. One time he would make a struggling lawyer heroically fighting a huge law firm; another time he would highlight a victim of corrupted judicial system. But once or twice he might make the villain triumphantly outdo the law. In fact, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate the protagonist from the antagonist. But whichever way Grisham takes you, you wouldn’t be able to resist his masterful style of narrating his stories.

This book looks promising on the earlier few chapters, but it gets rather slow after Malcolm is easily freed from jail, and we already got the murderer. Well….in cases like this, we know that the story isn’t over, and things might get twisted to a surprising ending. And so I go on reading, and yes, it gets more and more thrilling, and I was so excited to know the outcome…and the real killer! I thought first that this is about corrupted system, which was punishing an innocent victim, but of course, I was wrong—at least half wrong… :)

Four stars for The Racketeer, another unusual law thriller from Grisham. Love it!

~~~~~~~~

I read Dell Mass Market Export edition

Buku ini adalah hadiah dari Secret Santa #BBI 2013 -- thanks Santa!
Siapa Secret Santaku? Aku buka kedoknya di sini… :D