On Reading, Review, and Book Clubs


READING

I’ve been introduced to reading at a young age, but not because of another person’s influence, but because of curiosity, or say, inclination. Plus, there wasn’t any shortage on reading materials. My mom used to read a lot of newspapers and magazines (Women’s Today magazine’s Tales from the Unknown, anyone?) back then, my Dad not much (except the Bible, I think?). They bought us four sets of encyclopedia, and my sister and I hungrily used them. To look at pictures, initially, but when I learned to read, well of course, to read, too. Those Maggi recipes? Del Monte Kitchenomics pamphlets? Soap boxes, shampoo bottles, candy wrappers, chips labels, everything – I read everything. The defining moment, I think, was when my sister brought home books from our school library. They gave away very old books in favor of the new ones to be displayed at the modest shelves in our school library. Those books were mostly from the 30s-50s, where the pages broke when folded, and powdered when rubbed. Very old, but those were the first books I ever read in their entirety – about the Aztecs and American Indians. There were also a couple of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books which I was very fond of. My father’s sister brought my sister a complete Mother Goose nursery rhymes collection which we truly loved (Goosey-goosey gander…), but unfortunately lost it, rather, got it stolen. My Speech teacher borrowed and never returned it. Then my cousin had a collection of Grimm’s fairytale, that one I borrowed and never returned. Also, my mother brought us one of those story books with cassette tapes narration and I extremely adored that set. Unfortunately I cannot remember what happened to it, but let me just say there was no money wasted – the tape was too used, the books too worn out. Moreover, my father’s sister brought home from abroad a lot of books and stowed them all in our cabinet upstairs. They were for grown-ups, because hello, Cardinal Sins by Andrew Greeley, The Haj by Leon Uris and The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton, and a lot of other books I don’t remember anymore but read. The first Cosmo Mag I read has Claudia Schiffer on the cover, wearing a skintight white dress with plunging neckline. My library card was always completely stamped during my elementary and HS years, which gave me no  problem with the library clearance (we were required to check out books all-year round and promptly return them and complete the boxes in the library card or else you don’t get the librarian’s sought-after signature at the end of every school year!) I remember Time Magazines feature on East Timor when I was in 5th grade. And it just continued on. To this day. I read everything from philosophy, crime (a lot, always), horror, thriller, theories, history, contemporary, young adult, fantasy, poetry etc, etc… but not self-help books because no thank you. If I want help I turn to fiction. I know, weird, but fiction gives it to you dead on without the pretentious air of someone who knows how to do what, you know what I mean? Or better yet, ask from people who’s been there and done that. Anyway…

REVIEW

I must have read hundreds of books but never reviewed them. Okay so maybe a couple of lousy ones, but not the real blow-by-blow review. I could never do it. It would always be subjective (all reviews are, anyway – no matter how you try to be objective) and would give the reader no useful explanation whatsoever. It would be totally a waste of time. If somebody asks, did you like this and that, I’ll say yes, and when asked why, I’ll say because this and that. Likewise when asked about something I don’t like. It’s just the way it is. I don’t even interpret the beauty of the prose, the measure of this and that, the climax, the use of language… I read and enjoy. That’s basically it. Do I learn something? Of course. I don’t like breaking apart a book to review it. Somehow with a book it’s different. I enjoy reading other people’s reviews, however. I just don’t like doing it, too lazy or unimaginative perhaps. I read to experience, to live, to learn, to break out, to escape… It’s a part of me. But no reviews.

BOOK CLUBS

Oh yeah. I have joined one, The Filipino Group in Goodreads, and I must say, they are really nice, and very well-read people who continually explore all sort of genre in literature. Most of them I believe are friends in real life, and what great friends they might be! I joined in 2012, joined a couple of buddy reads, participated in a few discussions, attended a ReaderCon with them, met a few (KD, Angus, Tina, Ranee…) and… now I haven’t been back in a long time. It’s not them, it’s me. I don’t know why. It’s a productive and friendly club, certainly welcoming, but maybe book clubs are just not right for me. Or maybe it’s a mature reader thing and I don’t have that sort of maturity to dive into book clubs yet. Or maybe its selfishness and the desire to not want to share my reading experience, or maybe I’m a sheltered reader, or… there are a lot of reasons, but can’t pinpoint exactly what. But many thanks to Goodreads -TFG for the warm welcome. 🙂 If you guys are looking for a wonderful and diverse book club, just go and be a member of The Filipino Group.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, (after three long paragraphs) is that reading has no requirements. If you love it, great! And if you don’t, then I’m judging you. Kidding. Not. Sorry, really, I’m kidding.

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Book bites:

Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book.” – Stéphane Mallarmé

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Day 20: A Hobby of Yours


READING.

We have been taught to read since we were toddlers, and frankly, it is one of the most pleasurable activities ever!

Reading is where my mind can get both privacy and provocation. It opens new avenues for me, it takes me places I have never been and it acts as a time-machine, too – I experience different eras through it.

I read almost anything, but especially works of fiction. I love well-established characters, highly-charged scenarios and detailed dive in the human psyche – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual. Fiction touches my heart, my soul and my mind. It is an escape at the same time a time to look into my self. It’s just the way it is with me with reading and books. 🙂

I am never giving up this hobby.

EVER.

Lost in the Pages


It was a fine, sunny Sunday afternoon. I was reading Caleb Carr‘s The Alienist, and Justin, my beloved, who is an extremely talented photography hobbyist, and an avid reader, too – snapped photos of me while reading. I tittered a few times when I saw him in awkward positions, trying to catch the light coming in from the window. 🙂 OH and yes, I enjoyed this novel very much!

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“For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.” -Louis L’Amour

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“Life is too short to read books that I’m not enjoying.” -Melissa Marr

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“But, how do you know if an ending is truly good for the characters unless you’ve traveled with them through every page?” -Shannon Hale, Midnight in Austerland

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“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” -Jane Austen

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“A book is like a key that fits into the tumbler of the soul. The two parts have to match in order for each to unlock. Then—click—a world opens.” -Brad Kessler

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“Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you can’t expect a genius to look out.” – J.K. Rowling

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“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” -Lemony Snickett

My parting words, from Gustave Flaubert:

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”

Scavenger Hunt (for books!)


Scouting sale bins for books is always a great experience. Sure, I don’t get great stuff all the time, but when I do, oh boy, the purse considerably lightens.

Last Saturday after my Toastmasters meeting duties, I dropped by SM Manila to check out Booksale. Turns out it was SM’s Three-Day Sale, so prices are splendidly cut-back to half, which made shoppers so happy. I didn’t waste time looking around clothing boutiques (God knows I was so tempted!) and proceeded to ransack the book haven.

There were a lot of people outside and inside Booksale – reaching for books at every nook and cranny of the shelves. For the first time in my life, I resented a lot of people inside a book store – ha ha, it made looking for books very hard. After almost two hours of tip-toeing, squatting, dusting, resulting to one of those very bad migraine spells – I found five great books – one was for my sister, Anna.

My buys were:

The Beautiful and Damned – F. Scott Fitzgerald (35 pesos! Ha!) – My first Fitzgerald novel. Who are you to judge me?! Hahaha! I am fascinated by this book – the jazz age, the carelessness of the nouveaux riche, the glamour, the twist. AHHHHH.

Hannibal – Thomas Harris (35 pesos!) – I have seen all the movies but haven’t read any of the books. Perhaps I should have started with Silence of the Lambs but… but…

Farrier’s Lane – Anne Perry (70 pesos) – Oh yeah I love Victorian murder mysteries!  You know, the “beneath-the-respectable-mask-is-a-scandal” type of stories, and Anne Perry sure delivers. I love murder and crime mysteries – my collection is full of them.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty – Anne Rice (145 pesos) – This is my answer to all the 50 Shades madness. The writing style is light but the story, the setting, and the characters surely aren’t. It’s a very unsettling novel, to say the least, and I have read some very bizarre erotica.

From Bahaus to Our House – Tom Wolfe (50 pesos) – This is the book I bought for my sister who is currently taking up Architecture.

My pile of books is mounting up, the to-read list getting longer by the month, and still, time is limited. Rather, I can’t find the time to do all the nothing I want to do.

Well, one day…

My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors


I don’t know why I haven’t heard of this song until the other day!

It’s a funny song – about a man and woman in a relationship, and the woman is all about her books and reading.

The lyrics of the song is hilarious! If you, dear readers, haven’t heard this song yet – give it a go! Then tell me what you think! 😉 In the meantime, here is the lyrics of the song.

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This photo is pretty accurate!

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My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors

(Dave)
Well you should see my story reading baby, you should hear the things that she says,
She says “Hon, drop dead, I’d rather go to bed with Gabriel Garcia Marquez.”

(Mike in funny voice)
Uhh-huh!

(Dave)
Cuddle up with William S. Burrows, leave on the light for Bell Hooks,
I’ve been flirtin’ with Pierre Burton ’cause he’s so smart in his books

(All)
I like to go out dancing,
My baby loves a bunch of authors
My heart’s so broke and bleedin’
(Dave)
Baby’s just sitting there
(Murray)
doing some reading

(Dave)
So I started watching some TV, played my new cd player too,
She said: “Turn it off or I’ll call the cops and I’ll throw the book at you.”
All this arguing made me get dizzy, called my doctor to come have a look
I said: “Doctor hurry!” He said:
(Murray)
“Don’t worry, I’ll be over when I finish my book”

(All)
I like to go out dancing,
My baby loves a bunch of authors
We’ve been livin in hovels
(Dave)
Spendin’ all our money on
(Murray)
brand new novels

(Dave)
So I got myself on a streetcar and it drove right into someone,
You know the driver said:

(Jian in grizzly voice)
“I was lookin’ straight ahead!”

(Dave)
But he was reading the Toronto Sun

(Jian)
“So?”

(Dave)
So my honey and me go to a counsellor to help figure out what we need
She said: “We’ll get your love growing,

(Mike, in funny Dr. Ruth voice)
but before we get going, here’s some books I’d like you to read.”

(All)
I like to go out dancing,
My baby loves a bunch of authors
Lately we’ve had some fricton
(Dave)
‘Cause my baby’s hooked on
(Murray)
short works of fiction

(Dave)
So we split and went to a party, some friends my girl said she knew
But what a sight ’cause it’s authors night and the place looks like a who’s who

(Dave)
Now I’m pounding the ouzo

(rest)
with Mario Puzo

(Dave)
Who’s a funny fella?

(rest)
W.P. Kinsella

(Dave)
Who brought the cat?

(rest)
Would Margeret Atwood?

(Dave)
Who needs a shave?

(rest)
He’s Robertson Davies!

(Dave)
Ondaatje started a food fight, salmon mousse all over the scene

(All)
Spilled some dressing on Doris Lessing, these writer types are a scream!

(All)
I like to go out dancing,
My baby loves a bunch of authors
We’ll be together for ages
(Dave)
Eatin’ and Sleepin’ and
(Jian in grizzly voice)
Eatin’ and Sleepin’ and
(Mike in funny Dr. Ruth voice)
Eating und Sleeping und
(Murray)
Turnin’ pages.

(All)
Yeah!

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