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