Four things to do this week of Jan. 3 to 9

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In “School of Chocolate,” Insta-famous pastry chef Amaury Guichon twists the food competition format by choosing not to eliminate chefs at the end of each episode. Screencap from NETFLIX/YOUTUBE

At the start of the New Year, submit poetry about fandoms, keep track of your reading habits, purchase a calendar with a cause, and enjoy not-quite trashy reality shows.

Get Bookly

For everyone who’s still into “new year’s resolutions,” there’s a chance that one of the things you want in there is “read more books.” I don’t blame you. The increasing disinformation and annoying levels of social media has made me turn to books more. While there’s Goodreads to track your reading throughout the year, the app Bookly gives you the metrics of your reading: your pace, duration, and even how many hours are left until you finish the book. I use Bookly when wrestling with doorstops, your garden variety “Moby Dicks” or “Anna Kareninas.” I used it to finish the 782-page “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell'' by Susanna Clarke last year, which took 14 hours and 17 minutes to read (spread in less than a month), with a pace of 40 pages per hour. Learning about my reading metrics encouraged me to read the whopping 1001-page “The Way of Kings,” the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. It took me 22 hours and 8 minutes to finish at a pace of 52 pages per hour in a span of a month and a half. Perfect for taking on Russian classics or, really, just any book, so you can get to know more of how you read. The free version lets you add 10 books so choose wisely. — DON JAUCIAN

Add to cart: the Gantala Press 2022 Calendar

Sure you probably have a bunch of calendars by now but if you’re looking for something meaningful, there’s the Gantala Press 2022 Calendar. The vibrant 12 x 18 inches calendar features 12 illustrated portraits of women leaders from the peasant, indigenous, urban poor, LGBT, and labor sectors in the Philippines, all by Marian Hukom. Copies are limited so head on to the Gantala Press Shopee page. Proceeds will go to the feminist press’ publishing work (focused on communities in the margins) and advocacy, which supports “the dispossessed and other victims of state violence.” — CNN PHILIPPINES LIFE STAFF

Learn more about Gantala Press here.

Write poetry about your fandom

The online journal Horde Poetry is calling for submissions for “​​poems on fandoms and fan interactions, idols, biases and bias wreckers on any fandom written from a Filipino perspective,” with priority on Filipino fandoms. The issue will be edited by Palanca winner Paolo Manalo (“Happily Ever Ek-ek: Poems,” and “Jolography”). Deadline for submissions is on Feb. 14, 2022. For more details visit the Horde Poetry submissions page. — CNN PHILIPPINES LIFE STAFF

Enjoy these not-quite trashy reality shows

Some of my recent favorite shows on Netflix have been complete surprises — the food competition show “School of Chocolate” and the ongoing Korean dating show “Single’s Inferno.” Between the two shows, I quite like how they’ve refreshed their respective sub-genres into something refreshing. In “School of Chocolate,” Insta-famous pastry chef Amaury Guichon twists the food competition format by choosing not to eliminate chefs at the end of each episode. True to “school” in the title, he instead relegates the bottom two of each round and gives them one on one tutorials to perfect their craft; they’re allowed to rejoin the next round, this time much better equipped to vie for the top prize. Guichon is a fantastic teacher. He is generous with knowledge, strict, but always delivers his critique with diplomacy. I like that a show forewent with cattiness and instead created an environment where you’re rooting for everyone to win.

Post-”School of Chocolate,” the algorithm thought it would be funny to suggest “Single’s Inferno,” a Korean reality dating competition. Attractive individuals are stuck on a deserted island (the eponymous inferno) with the intention of pairing up with the other castaways. Once they are able to genuinely form a connection and “become a couple,” they’re airlifted away to a fancy hotel (called “paradise”) where they can eat good food and ask each other questions about their age and profession (asking these are not allowed on inferno). What got me hooked on this show is how well the casting was; though I would later on learn that all the contestants are a mix of content creators/influencers/models, I do find most of them — okay, the women — incredibly charming. Unfortunately it’s very heteronormative (otherwise, the men might never get picked), but it’s got enough charms for me not to mind that. The last two episodes are on Jan. 8, but I do warn you to budget your binge watch because the cliffhanger will make you very impatient (like me). — MARGA BUENAVENTURA

“School of Chocolate” and “Single’s Inferno” are available on Netflix.