I haven't touched them yet.

The First and the Recent

My stripey collection is growing. I still need two more to complete my Kazuo Ishiguro striped set. And I wish Never Let Me Go will also have its own striped version.

Anyway, here are the new additions in my book shelf and in my new place. Hurray!

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro – the most recent Ishiguro book. It was given by our very generous friend Aldrin last July 28 during our book discussion. It used to have this “travelling book” sticker on the front cover but I took it off. Good thing the adhesive isn’t stubborn.

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro – the first Ishiguro book. I bought it yesterday, July 30, at Powerbooks – Greenbelt 3 for Php 515.00. It’s so fresh! I haven’t taken it out of its plastic wrap yet. Well, I slipped it out a little so that I could take off the price sticker.

Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal – I also bought it yesterday at National Book Store – Greenbelt 1 for Php 196.00. It’s the Filipinos’ great novel, a required reading in high school, and our book of the month. Since I’m not a fan of rereading, I bought an English translation (the required high school reading is the Filipino version), the one translated by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin. I chose hers because I read somewhere that she did the most loyal job.

I first intended to buy the Penguin edition just because it’s Penguin, but I think it’s better if a Filipino does the translation to another language, no? Or does it not matter whatever the nationality of the translation is?

The Filipino ReaderCon 2012 Filipino Friday 2: School of Reading

Filipino Friday
Filipino Friday

Filipino Friday is a meme in celebration of the upcoming Filipino Reader Conference. And here’s this week’s topic (no time for a lengthy introduction this time):

July 27 – School of Reading. We all started reading somewhere, and more often than not, we were influenced by someone. Who got you into reading? Your parents? A friend? A librarian? One teacher who always lends out his/her books? How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit/fueling your book addiction?

Who got you into reading? – Hmm, no one really. I just realized one day in college that I have to read books outside the requirements of school. I felt that I needed to do it lest my brains stagnate from boredom. How I came to that realization has to do with my discovery of Book Sale. You see, in my hometown, the first time that a Book Sale branch opened was only in 2004. When I checked out the books, I realized that I could read a lot of good books without having to spend much on them. So there, it’s Book Sale that really got me into reading.

But that doesn’t mean that I never read as a child. I used to collect Disney fairy tale books when I was nine. And then there were also my X-Men comic books. I eventually outgrew them a couple of years later.

Your parents? – My parents aren’t readers, but I remember that my mom used to buy me those informational books about random stuff. One of them is about dinosaurs. It’s one of those books that have full-page illustrations with accompanying texts. I wish I still have that book.

A friend? – I don’t have a lot of bookish friends outside our book club. All my bookish friends, I met them there. So yes, I just initially wanted to meet people who hoard and read books. That was granted, and I was also granted their friendship.

I have only one bookish friend who’s not from our book club. I met him when I was a college freshman. We were seatmates in a theology class. One time, I went to Book Sale, bought a copy of Independence Day by Richard Ford, and brought the book to class with me. He saw it and probably read its blurb. Whenever we talk of our college days, he always claims that that was the moment he got into reading. And yes, Ford is one of his favorite writers.

A librarian? – Our high school librarian was very fond of me maybe because I used to hang out a lot in the library and assist them in any way that I can. But that alone did not spur my voracious reading. A trivia: just to please our librarian, I used to borrow books without even reading them! I did that so that I could fill out my library card and impress our librarian. Good thing that she never asked about the books that I borrowed.

One teacher who always lends out his/her books? – I actually never had a teacher who does that. And if I were a teacher, I don’t think I’d lend out my books to students. I might, only if I sense that the student has this real desire to read.

How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit/fueling your book addiction? – The one important thing that sparked my reading was our high school book report in sophomore year. I picked To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, just because the most popular student of our school that year also picked that one when he was a sophomore. But I enjoyed the novel. In fact, I want to reread because I have mostly forgotten the details.

What does all of these say? I think reading is an acquired habit. No outside force could sway one to the reader’s path unless there’s a reader within the person in the first place. True, the media may from time to time inspire someone to read a bit of say, Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray. But after that, what?

I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but there are a lot of people whose set of read books include only those promoted heavily by the media. To illustrate, I have a cousin who has a big crush on Robert Pattinson (okay, I also like the guy, but I like him better in the adaptation of Cosmopolis). So this cousin bought all the Twilight books, and they’re the only books that she ever read. I even think that she was only able to finish the first book (my sister tells me so).

The real reader will get out of his way to find the books that he really wants to read. Of course, there’s some help from the media (it’s a huge help, really), but the real readers choose not to be spoon-fed and aren’t spurred by sheer crush or overhype.

The 2nd Filipino ReaderCon 2012
The 2nd Filipino ReaderCon 2012
First set of books for July

After the Bad Weather

I resolved not to buy any books until I move out, but I just can’t help dropping by book stores for two weeks. It’s like having withdrawal symptoms from methamphetamines or going cold turkey, and it’s not like I am hoarding. Actually, it’s hard to hoard now because my books-to-hunt list is narrowing month after month.

Amidst the bad weather and uncontrollable flood, here are what I got for the past two weeks.

Steps by Jerzy Kosinsky (July 14, 2012, Book Sale – Robinson’s Midtown, Php 115.00)

I am curious about Kosinsky. Something’s telling me that I will like his works. I have always been rescheduling The Painted Bird in my reading plan, and whenever I do that, it’s always with regret. So yes, while waiting for my bookish friends, I looked around and found his National Book Award winner. I didn’t have second thoughts, just because of that gut feeling I have for him.

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (July 21, 2012, Book Sale – Farmer’s Plaza, Php 50.00)

My first Forster experience was so bad that my reading buddy judged it with a one-star. I didn’t enjoy A Passage to India as well, but I was more forgiving with two-stars. And why did I buy this? I was enchanted by the cover. Okay, I know, we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but in a literal sense, it’s sometimes hard not to. Besides, it’s not too expensive for a book on sale, so

The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter (July 23, 2012, Book Sale – Edsa Central, Php 10.00)

I am hunting for The Homecoming, his arbitrary masterpiece, but I didn’t pass on this early play of his. It’s only freaking Php 10.00! That’s roughly two dimes. Besides, it might take me a while to find The Homecoming. The Birthday Party is welcome to my Nobel quest. And just in case my bookish friends are wondering, I didn’t base After the Birthday Party from Pinter’s play. (wink, wink)

The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst (July 23, 2012, Book Sale – Edsa Central, Php 115.00)

I first found a copy of this during our book club’s Christmas party and immediately gave it to our generous senior moderator, but not without second thoughts. He told me that he’ll give it to me once he’s done with it, but I don’t think he has to give it back because I have a better edition. True, the cover looks bleak, but flipping the first two pages reveals that I found a signed copy! Are you not convinced? Here:

 

That looks authentic, doesn't it?
That looks authentic, doesn’t it?

Now tell me that isn’t Hollinghurst’s signature.

After the Birthday Party: Tales of Love, Loss, Hope, and Regret

Beautiful, Beautiful Memories – After the Birthday Party

This is a surprise. I didn’t consider adding our little book of memories here at Goodreads. Yes, I said “our” because this is not my work. I may be attributed as the Author, which I changed to Editor, but it really is the collective effort of my beloved friends at our book club, The Filipino Group.

The project was sparked by the reading of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. Miss Kenton said to Mr Stevens that we cannot be forever dwelling on the what-ifs and could-have-beens. One has to move on. But aren’t there occasions when we sit over a cup of cocoa, watch the pouring rain, and relive our unforgettable, and sometimes painful, memories?

I thought it was an easy task. We all have our memories, and what better material does a writer have than the unique experiences that he or she has gathered through the years? Yes, reminiscing our tales of love, loss, hope, and regret isn’t so hard in itself, but the associated feelings complicate the act. Putting them on paper is another matter. I then realized what a demanding task it was, and what pain and discomfort I have caused my friends. I felt that I was having a therapy session with each contribution, so if it was hard enough a task for the contributors, just imagine how many times I had to fix myself for having my heart broken every time I read a new one.

Memory is such a mysterious thing. It is like a television on mute switching from one channel to another on its own, making it hard to ignore. You may temporarily control which program to watch, but it will inevitably change to a different show the moment you start to lose your will in controlling it. And you wonder, do you own your memories, or do they own you?

I am quoting myself. That is lifted from the first entry, Birthday Cake, which deals with the indelible memory of my stepsister’s first birthday party. It may be just another retreat story for the rest of the world, but what makes it so special is that it is mine.

This is true with all the tales included in the project. They may be stripped of their individual authors, but they evoke strong feelings of empathy. They are real love stories. They are real family dramas. They are real desires and aspirations. And they are written by real people who happen to support my little assignment.

They are the products of readers who may have never published anything, but who are courageous enough to deal with certain realities of life. Who would ever want to relive memories of family death? Who would ever want to recall relationships that failed? Who would ever want to recapture the harsh days of poverty?

And yet, we still do. We always do. It is a necessary act for us to have a better life perspective and for us to fully realize how blessed we are. We may have summoned our own little demons, and we do so to cast them aside, to make us stronger than what we think we are, to be grateful for the grace of God, and to value the virtue of hope.

Not all stories are about the bad memories. There are also the good and happy ones, and the existence of these is a proof that life can be bountiful. Memories of the unexplained first love and memories that are yet to become real memories are told with good-hearted bravura.

But we don’t segregate the good from the bad memories. It is only my manner of speaking. Our memories are more or less a representation of who we are, hence, we should take pride in them. And in all these tales of love, loss, hope, and regret, there is something that we have attained. We have somehow captured, compiled, and transcended them beyond human life.

5 star - it was amazingI admit, not everything is pitch-perfect in terms of literary skill. I don’t think I was even able to edit the stories properly, but I fear that the mere cutting of a sentence destroys the essence that the contributors wish to capture. This is not to say that there’s bad writing here and there. It was actually a surprising revelation, one that shows promise in the pieces.

And really, we don’t mind that. The knowledge of life between the words makes the reader throw all standards of literature. For what is literature if not the containment of life in letters, regardless of being fictional or not?

And I believe there is no closure, as it is in good literature, for we will always hope as long as there is an abundance of it. My warmest thanks to all the contributors. My promise remains: you will be anonymous. And yet, I will never forget your names every time I flip our little book over a cup of cocoa, waiting for the rain to pass.

Fellowship Bookmarks!

TFG’s Book of the Month for June – The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

This post, again, is way too late, but as I mentioned before, I don’t intend to make these posts on time. For what reason, you might ask. First, there’s the question of time. I am either too lazy or too swamped up with work. As one commenter pointed out, I’d do anything not to do anything. Second, there’s the question of resources. I don’t bring my camera during such events, so I rely on other members to upload the photos. And then I steal them. I don’t exactly steal them because I always acknowledge the owner of the photos, right?

Anyway, June’s discussion was a little rowdy for there were a lot of participants. Also, there were a lot of newbies who attended, which is a feat for our book club. Perhaps this is because of the book’s popularity among various types of readers, and maybe because I think we are doing pretty well in making those lurkers come out in the open, no?

The discussion of the book is light and fun. This was the intention of the discussion leader, Maria, or whom I fondly call Chami (it’s a really a local food: Chinese noodles with eggs and stuff). She mentioned that she didn’t want to induce headache among the members, so she decided to keep the questions in line with what she had in mind.

Heck, I even had the nerve to wear a wig while the discussion was ongoing. Let me just clarify that I did not intend to bring a wig; it was lent to me by the other members. They were nice enough to make me feel like Lady Galadriel.

An Element of Freedom
An Element of Freedom

This does not mean though that the discussion wasn’t stimulating. There were a lot of us who aren’t fans of Tolkien’s work, so a lot of information about his works were divulged to us by the Tolkien fans, or the Tolkien scholars as we put it.

The questions were stuffed inside chocolate wafer sticks. The members had to break the food à la fortune cookies. Sure, one could bite through it but one should take extra caution lest he swallows and ingests the paper with the question. When my turn came, I picked up a wonderful question about Tom Bombadil. I say it’s wonderful because I love this character. He seems funny in my imagination, the sort of person who has no room for worries.

So what was my question about him? Who is he? Will I trust him? The first one, I was not able to answer (as always). I don’t know if he’s a man or an elf. I don’t remember what the Tolkien scholars said about this. The second question, well, I suppose I won’t trust him at first sight. I think that’s a standard. One should be wary of strangers. More so, if Tom Bombadil were real, he would have seemed a little crazy to me, what with all that skipping and hopping in the woods. Also, his immunity to the ring is a little baffling, but this was given clarity by our Tolkien scholars. They said that he has a sphere of his own, something to that effect, which disables the ring from having any power over him.

We also had a little activity where we quoted songs and explained why we chose it. We did this because hobbits are fond of breaking into songs. I picked one by Alicia Keys, Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart. It’s already years since I first heard of it, and I still love it up to this day. I still have it on my play list. But no, I no longer want to bother you about the reason behind my choosing it.

After the discussion, we were supposed to try some archery available at the venue, but there were too many archery enthusiasts outside our club that we weren’t able to reserve even a single lane. I think that’s just as well because the café has poor service. The food that I ordered was served so late that I was already eating half of my seatmate’s pasta. When the food already did arrive, I was a bit full and I didn’t have the appetite to finish it.

I also had a little tiff with the cashier because she was on the verge of being ballistic when payment time came. She even put an obnoxious air when she thought that we will pay for our food individually. I don’t think I will ever come back to this place, but I am having second thoughts because I still want to give archery a try.

Anyway, the staff and service of the café did not dull our book discussion. It was indeed light and fun.

The Attendees of the Sixth TFG Face to Face Book Discussion
The Attendees of the Sixth TFG Face to Face Book Discussion

The Fellowship of the Ring Book Discussion Details

  • Date: June 23, 2012
  • Place: Gandiva Cafe, Julia Vargas St., Pasig City
  • Time: 3 PM to 6 PM
  • Attendees: Me, AaronAenna and her friend, AlexaAlona (late), Ayban, Beejay, Bennard (newbie), Billy (newbie), Camille, Cary, Celina, Charles Tan (newbie), Ella (zombie), Ingrid, Janus (newbie), JL,  Jzhun, KD, Kristel, Kwesi (late as always), LS, Maria (discussion leader), Marie, Milo, Atty. Monique, Nico (newbie), Patrick, Po, Doc Ranee, Rollie, Tina, Tricia, Miss Veronica, Wilfred
  • Food I Ate: Some vegan cheese burgers, fries, leftover pasta of Atty. Monique, leftover pizza of KD.

(Photos courtesy of DC and Maria.)