The best books of 2018

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
totalITemsFound:
maxPaginationLinks: 10
maxPossiblePages:
startIndex:
endIndex:

Eight writers, authors, and publishers declare what they consider the best books of the year.

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Before 2018 draws to a close, CNN Philippines Life asked eight writers, authors, and publishers to declare what they consider the best books of the year.

A lot of comics, zines, and independently published books shone through this year — a testament to the thriving local DIY print culture. A prominent theme among new releases this year is ruminations on our relationship to the U.S., whether by the Philippine-American war, our period of colonization, or our pursuit of the American Dream. Another notable trend was the highlighting of the challenges faced by marginalized groups, from the Lumads to PLHIV. And then there are books written by women meant to challenge prevailing norms and expectations of them.

This year’s best books reflect our history, our constant grappling with our collective identity and the forces that shape the way we live, and our attempts to mold a better future.

Melissa Abuga-a

Melissa Abuga-a, artist

“Marked (The Dark Narrative of Paramilitarism and Militarization of Selected Indigenous Communities in Mindanao)” by Mark V. Ambay III and Mary Louise G. Dumas

“Marked” is a fresh approach to presenting the heavy and even violent issues of indigenous communities. The book is a popularized version of a research on the paramilitary groups in selected Lumad communities in Mindanao. Instead of the clinical presentation of case facts, the narratives are presented in a storytelling approach and the horrors are illustrated through folklore.

“Marked” is available at the RMP-NMR and IBON Foundation offices.

Elaine Castillo

Elaine Castillo, author

“Insurrecto” by Gina Apostol

Immense, as per Apostol’s own immensity of wit, heart, and mind — not just kaleidoscopic but fractal, showing us about a thousand dimensions for every moment, on everything from the Philippine-American War, to filmmaking, to grief as big as a nation, as granular as a life.

“Insurrecto” is available at National Book Store and Fully Booked.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” by Jose Antonio Vargas

The clearest successor to Carlos Bulosan’s project, this wrenching book does for America in 2018 what Bulosan’s seminal autobiographical novel “America is in the Heart” did for America in 1943.

“Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” is available through Book Depository.

The Pilipinx Radical Imagination Reader” edited by Melissa-Ann Nievera-Lozano and Anthony Abulencia Santa Ana

A contemporary primer on Pilipinx writing featuring some of my favorite young Bay Area poets and artists — Janice Lobo Sapigao, Trinidad Escobar — wide-ranging, funky, often ferocious.

“The Pilipinx Radical Imagination Reader” is available through its website.

Faye Cura

Faye Cura, publisher, Gantala Press

“Pag-aaral sa Oras: Mga Lumang Tula Tungkol sa Bago” by Kerima Lorena Tariman (High Chair)

Taong 1996 nang ilathala ng Philippine High School for the Arts ang “Biyahe” na unang libro ng makata at aktibistang si Kerima Lorena Tariman. Sa pagpasok ng bagong milenyo, si Tariman ay inaresto at kinulong ng militar habang nanunungkulang editor sa Philippine Collegian ng UP Diliman. Kasama sa bagong kalipunang ito ang mga tulang sinulat niya sa loob ng 20 taon simula 1996.

Isang makabuluhang paglalakbay ang pagbabasa sa koleksyong ito. Sa simula, madarama ang mga pag-aalinlangan ng batang makata tungkol sa halaga ng pagtula sa pakikisangkot sa kilusang masa. Pagkuwa, sa mga tula tungkol sa pagiging detenidong pulitikal, makakasama ang makata sa pagsahod sa mga “salitang hindi maubos, / hindi masaid.” At sa bandang huli, sa mga tulang sinulat sa panahong bumalik na si Tariman sa kanayunan para ipagpatuloy ang pakikibaka, matatagpuan ang sarili sa dulo ng landas na tinatahak hindi lamang ng tula, kundi ng mismong pagtula: Dahil ang tula, hindi ba, sa simula’y gumagapang, / Makakakita’t titindig, makikinig at tatapang, / Tumatanda, may alaala at may tiyak na asinta.

“Pag-aaral sa Oras: Mga Lumang Tula Tungkol sa Bago” is available at Uno Morato (online).

“Warriors, Poets, Friends: My Life in the Mindanao Mountains” by Joven Obrero (Independently published)

Rinegalo sa akin ng isang kaibigan ang kopya ko ng librong ito, na talaga namang tumataginting na produkto ng pag-ibig. Sinulat ito ng may-akda sa panghihimok ng kaibigan niyang si Teodora, na siya ring pinag-aalayan niya ng libro, bilang ambag sa pagdiriwang ng ika-50 anibersaryo ng kilusang masa. Kinapapalooban ito ng maiikling sanaysay, mga tula, at mga liham tungkol sa pakikibaka ng may-akda sa kabundukan ng Mindanao noon pang 1980s. Nakapiling ng makata ang mga Matigsalog, Umayamnon, at B’laan na malaon nang inaagawan ng lupang ninuno; ang sarili niyang anak na pinagsikapan niyang mapaunawa ang pangako ng malayang kinabukasan; at ang mga kaibigan niyang gerilya sa kagubatan, sa gitna ng digma. Ang mga sulatin ay nagdiriwang sa bundok bilang lunan ng rebolusyon, sa buhay ng mga katuwang na rebolusyonaryo, at sa babae bilang rebolusyonarya: Did you meet with the women today? / Did they embrace you into their fold / And sang a song of love and freedom?

“Warriors, Poets, Friends: My Life in the Mindanao Mountains” is available at Popular Bookstore (Quezon City).

“Daloy: A Collection of Writings by the Filipino Migrant Women of Batis AWARE” edited by Yllang Montenegro (Batis AWARE, The Youth & Beauty Brigade, Gantala Press)

Sinusundan ng tomong ito ang unang koleksiyon na linathala ng Batis AWARE (Association of Women in Action for Rights and Empowerment) noong 2017. Tinitipon nito ang mga kuwento ng mga Filipinang nakaranas ng panloloko, pang-aabuso, at pagkabigo bilang mga migranteng manggagawa sa ibang bansa katulad ng Japan, China, at Malaysia. Kolektibang binuno at binuo ang libro. Bagaman taglay ng bawat tula, salaysay, at guhit ang pangalan ng indibidwal na may-akda, ang mga edisyon ng “Daloy” ay sumasailalim sa mahabang proseso ng kuwentuhan at palihan (workshop) sa pagsulat. Nakalakip din sa tomong ito ang mahalagang Q&A tungkol sa mga suliranin ng manggagawang migrante at ang mga posibleng remedyo rito na maibibigay ng batas, na maaaring magamit ng mga kabarong napipilitang mangibang-bansa dahil sa lalong paghirap ng buhay dito sa atin.

“Daloy: A Collection of Writings by the Filipino Migrant Women of Batis AWARE” is available at Popular Bookstore (Quezon City), Studio Soup Zine Library (Quezon City), Kwago (Makati), Mt. Cloud Bookstore (Baguio), Books, Crafts, and Coffeeshop (Los Baños), and Savage Mind: Arts, Books, Cinema (Naga).

“At the School Gate” written by Sandra Nicole Roldan; illustrated by Nina Martinez (The Bookmark, Inc.)

Ito ay kuwento ni Ella Cortez, isang high school student journalist noong martial law sa panahon ni Ferdinand Marcos. Inaresto at kinulong ang kanyang ama dahil sa gawain nito sa kilusang masa at tinugaygay ng puwersang militar ang kanilang pamilya. Tungkol ito sa pagharap ni Ella sa pananakot at pandarahas ng kalaban, pagharap na alinsunod din sa itinuro ng kanyang tatay: “As long as you see something wrong, you don’t stop fixing it. You never really stop fighting. You just learn to fight in a different way.” Ang kuwento ay umaalingawngaw sa kasalukuyang panahon kung saan patuloy na biglaang inaaresto, madalas batay sa gawa-gawang kaso, ang mga indibidwal na nagtatanggol sa demokrasya at kalayaan. Marami sa kanila ay mula pa sa henerasyong nakibaka noong dekada ’70. Marami rin (tulad noong panahon ni Marcos) ang pinapatay na. Isang akmang tugon dito ang aral ng katapangan: tapang na alamin at panghawakan ang katotohanan, at tapang na ipaglaban ito. “Remembering is an act of courage,” sulat nga ng may-akda nang pirmahan niya ang aking kopya.

“At the School Gate” is available at Ayala Museum Shop (Makati), Bookmark: The Filipino Bookstore (Makati, online), Books Actually (Singapore), The Learning Basket (online), and Uno Morato (online).

“I Love My Body” written by Nikki Luna; illustrated by Julienne Dadivas (Power in Her Story)

Kahanga-hanga para sa akin ang mga artist na kumakasangkapan sa kanilang sining sa pagsusulong ng adbokasiya at (mapagpalayang) pulitika. Mahusay na kumakatawan dito ang unang lathala ng feministang kolektibo na Power In Her Story (PIHS) na itinatag ng feministang artist na si Nikki Luna. Kilala si Luna sa mga art installation niya na tumatalakay sa epekto ng state-enforced violence katulad ng Operation Tokhang sa kababaihan, karahasan laban sa kababaihan, at representasyon ng babae sa sining at kultura. Sa librong pambata na “I Love My Body,” nakipagtulungan si Luna sa isa sa nangungunang komix artist ngayon, si Julienne Dadivas, sa pagtuturo sa mga bata at di-na-batang mambabasa na walang ibang may kontrol at nagmamay-ari sa pangangatawan ng isang tao kundi ang kanyang sarili. Layon ng PIHS na makalikom ng sapat na pondo upang makapaglimbag ng edisyon sa Filipino, na ipamimigay sa mga komunidad na hindi kayang makabili ng libro.

“I Love My Body” is available at Popular Bookstore (Quezon City), Studio Soup Zine Library (Quezon City), Mt. Cloud Bookstore (Baguio), and Savage Mind: Arts, Books, Cinema (Naga).

Hulyen

Hulyen, comics creator

“Hibernation” 1 & 2 by Didi

Hibernation is a diary comic by Didi about her stay in Japan as a foreign student. Her loose and squiggly line art perfectly captured her social anxiety, struggles in language, and the cold winter in Sapporo. I just love Didi’s simple art style and unique sense of humor.

Didi’s comics can be found at https://www.instagram.com/didinyunyu/

“Disembodied” by Jamie Cabatit and “Kili-Kili Mini Komik” by Arnie Asuncion

In Disembodied, a woman is about to undergo a body removal surgery. Beautifully illustrated in red and blue ink, the narrator tells her story as her body parts are slowly dissected into pieces. Both the words and the drawings are painful to read.

“Kili-Kili” is about a woman who is constantly being bullied for her armpit hair. Little do they know that she has a secret super power.

Both comics discuss body issues and sexual harassment that women face in their daily lives. These comics perfectly illustrate that feeling when sometimes you just want to scream at and strangle every person who make you feel bad about your own body.

Jamie Cabatit’s comics can be found at instagram.com/jamiecabatit/

“Is It Okay If I Just Look At You Lovingly For A While?” and “Did You Bring Me Here So You Could Watch Me Love You?” by Austere Rex

The pages of these funny zines by Austere Rex are filled with dicks, doodles, and drama. These are the type of comics that you would want to take a picture of and caption with “lol this is so me” and post as an IG story at 3 a.m. like a cry for help.

Austere Rex’s comics can be found at instagram.com/auyster/

“In Steady Decline” by Sunday Domingo (Julius Villanueva)

“In Steady Decline” is a heart-warming story about Sunday Domingo, an aspiring young cartoonist and Yaya Precy. Sunday can be a bratty teenager, but Yaya Precy is always there behind her, cheering for her beloved Dayday.

Villanueva is a master of crafting stories that can make readers sympathize with characters they might not usually like. He was able to make an “autobio comic” that was not only about the usual sad childhood of an angsty teen but also about the hardships of workers like Yaya Precy.

Visit facebook.com/azhdarchidcomix for inquiries

Sarge Lacuesta

Sarge Lacuesta, author

“The Betrayed” by Reine Arcache Melvin (ADMU Press)

This book is filled with the supple language and fully fleshed-out characters that made the author’s first book, “A Normal Life,” a memorable one — and also a personal favorite. Her debut novel does not so much as weave through recent history as slither through it, disturbing its established realities with sinewy, sensual prose.

“The Betrayed” is available at the Ateneo de Manila University Press.

“Heroes, Villains, and Other Women” by Kate Osias (ADMU Press)

Though this is Kate Osias’ first collection of fiction, it hums with the confidence of an experienced voice. Like many young writers, Osias found her stride in the field of speculative fiction, but unlike them, she has injected uncommon maturity and depth into her writing, going beyond mere world-building, and daring to explore and examine the humanity that lies beneath the imagination.

“Heroes, Villains, and Other Women” is available at the Ateneo de Manila University Press.

“Tatlong Dula (na itinanghal ng Dulaang UP)” by Rody Vera

Screenwriter and playwright Rody Vera (UP Press) gathers three of his plays written for Dulaang UP, which themselves have been adapted from works by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Jean Genet, and Henrik Ibsen — proving how literature can go beyond its original form, and attain new shape and life under the hands of a master.

“Tatlong Dula (na itinanghal ng Dulaang UP)” is available at the UP Press.

“Fantasy: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults,” edited by Dean Alfar and Kenneth Yu

This book covers one of the three genres of fiction — fantasy, horror, and science fiction — that the editors have chosen to focus on. But beyond genre, the focus is really on young readers: curious, adventurous, and, most importantly, eager to create worlds, stir minds and emotions, and visualize the future themselves.

“Fantasy: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults” is available at the UP Press.

“Playing Long After Us” by Shaira Luna (Summit Publishing)

“Playing Long After Us” is a book of photographs, but that would be severely understating its magic. Part narrative, part flight of fancy, it is also a complete dream, where every image is suspended in time and in its own world — composed by the photographer’s quirky, nostalgic, and original eye.

“Playing Long After Us” is available in newsstands, convenience stores, supermarkets, and leading bookstores nationwide.

Honey de Peralta

Honey de Peralta, publishing representative and Filipino ReaderCon Founder

“What Kind of Day” by Mina Esguerra

#romanceclass has been around for the past few years, doing amazing things with the romance-in-English Filipino writing and reading community. And it's all headed by Mina Esguerra, who came out with her latest novel late this year. “What Kind of Day” is a heady and smart romance, featuring a female Manila tour guide and, interestingly, a political aide who is going through the worst day in his career thus far.

Mina’s romances aren’t the alpha-male populated bodice-rippers one might associate with the genre (if you stopped reading romance in the early 1990s). Instead, they are testaments to female empowerment, sensitive beta love interests, and the importance of consent. In “What Kind of Day,” Mina also deals directly with how one tries to do good in an arena that is corrupted and tries to corrupt you. It's a romance for the modern era, populated with women who understand their worth and are unapologetic about what they want, which may be the sexiest thing of all.

“What Kind of Day” is available through Amazon.

“Mga Batang Poz” by Segundo Matias, Jr. (Precious Pages)

“Mga Batang Poz” is admittedly shocking in some of its detail, dealing with the causes and repercussions of the HIV virus on four young teenagers, but it certainly is brave. Through the eyes of four gay teenagers, Matias gives the unfamiliar — those of us who have never had to deal with the condition first or second-hand — an education into the mindset and subculture that have resulted in the country's HIV crisis. The teens tell each of their stories with a lot of honesty, so much so that one's reaction is compassion and, yes, anger that these characters and others like them still deal with the lack of understanding and education about HIV.

“Mga Batang Poz” is available at Precious Pages retail outlets, National Book Store, and leading books stores nationwide.

“America Is Not the Heart” by Elaine Castillo (Viking)

Castillo's riff on Carlos Bulosan's “America Is In the Heart” is a gorgeous novel of first-generation Filipino immigrants in America. It's one of those novels where you’re hard put to outline a plot, but it does not matter because of the beauty of the language and the depth of the characters. Though the story starts with Paz, a Filipina nurse who finds her way to the U.S. with her privileged Filipino husband, the real hero is Hero, their niece, a doctor and former communist rebel who was caught and tortured during martial law, but was eventually released owing to her family's distant ties to the dictator.

In America, Hero tries to put herself together again and manage her new life as a poor immigrant, surrounded by a community of like-minded Filipino-Americans. Many of the things that happen in the book are simply ordinary life. But Castillo's success is in elevating these ordinary events to reveal the grace behind them, the sheer victory in being alive in spite of the pain. There is such glory, too, in reading Filipino languages (Ilocano, Pangasinense, and Tagalog), untranslated and unitalicized (un-othered), in a book published in the U.S. And even if this book details a Filipino-American experience, it is one of the few that speak to me as a Filipino who has always lived in my homeland.

“America Is Not the Heart” is available at National Book Store, Powerbooks, and Fully Booked.

Lakan Umali

Lakan Umali, writer

“Spleen” by Mabi David

In Mabi David's dazzling poetry collection, every gaze and gesture holds the potential for tragedy. Overwhelmed with the frenzy of urban life or life in general — the noises of the city, stress of work, the endless stream of content on the Internet or one's mobile phone — the reader would do well to follow David's voice into stillness. The first poem — aptly titled “Sitting Poem, 1”— states: “If I sit quiet enough, time enough, cup / my attention to drink each matter enough / nothing happens.” But do not mistake David's stillness for stagnancy, or boredom. The power of David's work lies in its startling capacity to reconstruct and respond to tragedy in this very stillness. Her poems — calm, controlled, but pulsing with emotion — offer the reader the potential to name the pain that consistently haunted them. In stillness, one finds the indefinite loss, and the possibility of closure. “Nothing was happening,” concludes “Sitting Poem, 1.” “How happy we were.”

“Spleen” is available at Uno Morato (Quezon City).

“elsewhere held and lingered” by Conchitina Cruz

Earlier this year, the poet Conchitina Cruz put up this collection — originally published by High Chair in 2008 — for free online, which gave readers the perfect opportunity to visit and revisit this groundbreaking work. A novel told in verse, it charts the slow catastrophe of a disintegrating relationship, where mundanity and infidelity mix-and-mesh in the lives of the hapless parties involved. With lyrical dexterity and an unflinching eye for heartbreak, Cruz plunges us into the afterlives of love; “Sweet fever, sweet being, / lie down with me now, / in the middle of this heat, this summer, / now that, now long ago, when we were mad, / we said yes, we were convinced, / never mind what happened since.”

“elsewhere held and lingered” can be downloaded online.

“How to Pacify a Distraught Infant” by Anna Felicia Sanchez

Sanchez's wonderfully emphatic short stories portray the everyday heroics of mothers and the women who keep the world from going to hell. Her characters are tired, drained, burned-out by the demands of basic existence. But Sanchez never falls into cynicism, nor does she romanticize the difficulties of the women at the center of her stories. Instead, she gives us an exploration into the complexities of domestic life, an unflinching but deeply tender look into women's work – necessary, but frequently dismissed. At a time when some of the most powerful figures unleash such poisonous misogyny into the public sphere and structures of power still disproportionately favor men, the struggles of Sanchez's characters become even more urgent and true.

“How to Pacify a Distraught Infant” is available at the UP Press.

“Lawanen 2: Mga Alala sa Pagkubkob/Mga Haraya ng Pag-igpaw”

While Sanchez's stories give a fictionalized account of the everyday trials of women, “Lawanen 2” features women in the time of war. The essays and poems in this collection grapple with the violence — physical, social, emotional — wrought by the Marawi siege. More than the primary subjects and writers of the collection, Meranaw women played central roles in the production and distribution of the book, emphasizing the importance for greater diversity and representation in the local literary industries. Cutting through simplified narratives of martial law, counterinsurgency, and “collateral damage,” “Lawanen 2” presents the harrowing accounts of those who rebuild from the ruins, and those who live and struggle with the tremors of the siege, long after it has been declared officially resolved.

“Lawanen 2: Mga Alala sa Pagkubkob/Mga Haraya ng Pag-igpaw” is available through Gantala Press.

JV-books (1).png

Julius Villanueva, comics creator and author

“Golden Homes 1: Ang Simula ng Bakasayon” and “Golden Homes 2: Ang Awit ng Damdamin” by Lizette Daluz

“Golden Homes” is a comic book biography of a fictional subdivision in the suburban south of Metro Manila. Loosely based on the village the author grew up in, every issue tackles different members of the community. In the first, teenage boys play basketball at a makeshift court in the middle of the street, making way for garbage trucks and apathetic teenage girls, using the neighbor’s outdoor faucet to wash their hands, and letting their younger siblings have a round of basketball as they cheer on the side. It’s a perfect snapshot of summer in the suburbs, where streets aren’t as busy as the city’s, where the empty spaces haven’t been corporatized and turned into paid parking lots or pop up eateries.

The second issue is about two strangers, a high school student and a college girl. Set during the late aughts, before Spotify and other streaming music services were a thing, the story mostly happens inside a neighborhood computer shop where the college girl works as a clerk and the high school girl, a frequent customer. The two don’t make contact or have any meaningful interaction but they’re tied together in musical ether by songs burnt into CDs. Experiencing the same elation and escape. Just like in her earlier comics, “Talumpati” and “Hari ng Komyut,” Lizette eschews autobiography and chooses to chronicle the struggle and triumph of other people. When the world is becoming more cruel and calloused, a bit of empathy reminds us that we aren’t the only ones experiencing hardship and pain, that we are all similar in some way or another, that we aren’t alone despite how much we feel we are.

“Ugh #4” and “April & May Forever” by Hulyen

Hulyen, meme machine and twitter celebrity. Known for her cutesy art and weird but relatable comics, is also a skilled storyteller and artist. This is apparent in “April & May Forever” (written by Adam David), a love letter to The Dawn and early '90s culture but made modern by Hulyen’s art. Much of the comic’s relatability banks on how Hulyen draws the protagonists, April and May. The two are tween best friends who have a shared love for the band, The Dawn. Together they face a shady radio DJ, a booger-eating weirdo classmate, and their school’s alpha bitch so that they could get tickets to The Dawn’s concert at their school. The comic ends with the two seeing their favorite band live for the first time and you could feel the joy radiating from the page. In “Ugh #4,” Hulyen collects her personal obsessions (milk tea, school uniforms, beauty masks, kids with weird names, “likes,” online vs real life persona) into one hilarious zine. The zine contains vignettes and short comics, some of which have reached viral status on social media and for good reason — Hulyen knows how to make comics. Her art style may be childlike but her simple lines have personality and can convey more emotion than more technically gifted artist can muster. This is comics at its purest, words combined in perfect harmony with pictures.

Hulyen’s comics can be found at instagram.com/hulyen/, Haliya Publishing, and Studio Soup Zine Library (Quezon City).

“Malayo Pa ang Umaga” and “Si Telesporo ay Nahimbing” by author unknown

Edward Gorey meets rural Filipino horror, “Malayo pa ang Umaga” tells ghost stories with a provincial gothic aesthetic. The first zine is a collection of the short, illustrated stories found in the author/artist’s Instagram. All the stories are short, none longer than five pages. But they all feel like lucid nightmares, where you don’t know if you’re still asleep or awake. The zine reminds me of Edward Gorey’s The Ghastlycrumb Tinies with the characters being mostly children who suffer unfortunate ends, but “Malayo pa ang Umaga” has more emotional range. The stories vary from scary to tense to tragic.

In “Si Telesporo,” the author tells a longer story about a child’s lucid nightmare, a city filled with the unmourned dead and a population that has long lost sympathy for them. It’s a subtle reference to the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings and how we’ve become grown accustomed to them. The zine ends with a bible verse, mirror flipped, with an accompanying image of a tombstone adorned with the devil defeating the angel Michael — a fitting reminder of the times we live in.

“Malayo Pa ang Umaga” comics can be found at instagram.com/malayo_pa_ang_umaga/ and Studio Soup Zine Library (Quezon City).

“The Real Face of Terror: Unmasking Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao” by International Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission

A sobering report on the effects of martial law on Mindanao. The delegates of the IFFSM (which includes Sister Patricia Fox) uncover the abuses done by the military and police against farmers, their families, and indigenous people. From harassment to illegal detainment to torture to extrajudicial killings, the report shows the scope of abuses the government has committed against the people it’s supposed to serve. Even the delegates themselves were not immune from the military’s harassment. And one can only wonder who benefits from a militarized Mindanao? Certainly not its people, not the farmers and the Lumad who lose their lives and land. But rather, as the report concludes, the big foreign and local businesses carving out the countryside and stealing ancestral lands.

“The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs” by Steve Brusatte

When we think of dinosaurs, we usually see images of giant, brutish monsters or, as shown in Jurassic World, fast and clever lizard-like animals with a taste for flesh. In this easy-to-read book, paleontologist Steve Brusatte shows how different and weird actual dinosaurs really are. Starting as lithe, niche dwelling reptiles in the early Triassic. They were severely outnumbered by other tetrapods, namely by the mammal-like diapsids and the crocodile-like archosaurs. They were also victims of the harsh Pangean climate, they were trapped in pockets of land because of the concentrated heat in the middle of the supercontinent. But once Pangea broke up, new environments popped up, the climate became more stable, and they were able to travel to different areas and diversify.

Adapting to new biomes and niches, some of them grew incredibly large while others small. Some of them grew horns, serrated teeth, grasping claws, plated armor, and even feathers and wings. And at their height, the once humble niche dwelling reptiles have now become the dominant life form in the planet. But at the end of the Cretaceous, a giant asteroid strike wipes almost all species of dinosaur out. But from the ashes, their ancestors rise, birds, continuing the dinosaur bloodline, diversifying into a thousand species until today.

“The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs” is available through National Book Store, Powerbooks, Fully Booked or Book Depository.