Tag Archives: Books

Literary Snobbery Series

A Bit on Literary Snobbery

There is a war being waged on literary snobbery. It has been discussed since I’ve learned to follow bookish sites and forums, most likely even earlier than that, of course. It seems that this is something that will never end because there is so much to talk about it and the results are always open-ended. Hence, the restlessness of it.

I don’t mean to jump in, but the term literary snob strikes a deep chord within me. I realize that for the past few years, I’ve been trying to prove to my friends that I am not one. Sure, people get that impression, but what can I do? Maybe I am. Are you now jumping into conclusions? Why judge me? Why hate me?

But before that, just what is a literary snob? Who can we call as such? Literary snobbery is probably one of those terms whose definition cannot be pinned down, but one knows one when he or she encounters one.

I hope there is litmus test for literary snobbery to make this easier, but the fact is this isn’t as easy as that and it probably never will be. My being complicated, which I am loving, kind of makes it harder. So yes, I will try to gauge my level of literary snobbery. I say that because I think there is a literary snob in each of us. While we’re at it, I will also try to identify the kind of literary snob that I am.

1. Do I only read classics, literary fiction, or translations? Do I avoid self-published books, bestsellers, genre fiction, feel-good books, easy books, or books published after a certain decade?

No and no. If you’ve been following my blog for the past few years, you’ll see that I’ve dabbled into various genres. I admit though that my preferred genres are classics and literary fiction, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You can’t bash my head with a baseball bat for not choosing genre fiction as much as I can’t do the same to those who prefer it.

I guess this is a case of double standards. But since I proclaim preference over the highly arbitrary “literary fiction,” well fine, that’s one notch higher on the snob meter. At least I’m not bashing.

2. Do I hate ebooks?

No. I don’t have an eReader only because I have too many paper books. A lot of my books are gathering dust and mold, so a newfangled device will most likely induce more hoarding than what I can handle. At least eBooks don’t gather dust and molds.

The fact that I’m making an excuse not to buy an eReader raises the snob meter a notch higher. Yeah, yeah, I love the smell of books, even if they are moldy and they make me sneeze.

3. Am I a diehard fan of Assumed Literary Writer (ALW)?

I guess I am a diehard fan of ALW if I have read all his or her novels. Now this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Read #1; this is a merely a matter of taste. How much of a fan I am and how I rub it on others is what matters.

I may have recommended the novels of ALW, but only because at certain times, I’m such a rabid fangirl. I shove books to people’s faces, I lend my copies to them, I get overeager, but I don’t remember recommending condescendingly, something like this: if you’re going to read ALW, you have to drop everything. I’ve heard this offline and it made me raise my eyebrow. I wasn’t entirely sure what the speaker is driving at. Is the speaker mocking my ability to focus and understand? Or is the speaker merely hinting at the power of ALW?

Either way, it’s snobby. When it is already imposing and has this tone of superiority, that’s it. No changes on the snob meter.

4. Do you read ALW in public places?

I read in public places, ALW or not. Another one of those double standards. Snob meter is steady.

5. Do I quote ALW during unlikely situations?

I quote books, ALW or not, once in a while because sometimes, it’s fun to quote. Snob meter is still not moving.

6. Do I hate another ALW for being so good?

Yes, I kind of hate James Joyce and Henry Miller but not because of their respective critical acclaim. I don’t let my hatred for them take over me. Perhaps what I mean to say is that I don’t dig their novels. I find them uncomfortable. We all have those books that we don’t like, right?

A few lines up on the snob meter. Why? Because I think I get these writers but really, I don’t. So I’m just going to sneer at everyone who says Ulysses is amazing. After all, it’s something supposedly written for academic debates. Maybe this should be more lines up on the snob meter?

7. Do I tell people what they should read?

I tell people what they might want to read. It’s one of the reasons I have this blog. But to put up a placard and join the campaign is something that I’m not keen on doing. I do wish that people would read more ALW, but that’s it. I will not go out of my way to tell them what his or her novels “really mean” and impose their importance on our lives.

A level up on the snob meter because of my secret wish.

8. Do I look down on other readers and flaunt an assumed superiority over them?

No. Why would I do that?

A dip on the snob meter.

So yeah, the snob meter declares that I am a literary snob. A lukewarm snob, if that’s possible. It is because I read genre fiction (I like sci-fi), young adult fiction (I like John Green), bestsellers (I like Harry Potter), but I wouldn’t go out of my way to wallow in these. I doubt that I’ll declare one of these as my best books (but I still like them).

And you know what? The fact that I am in a book club and that I religiously read all our selections, which are all sorts of books, lowers my literary snobbery. Again, the snob meter’s reading fluctuates, but really, I am fine with it. I’m used to being called one and so far, no one has threatened my life. Yet.

This is part of the Literary Snobbery Series (LSS).

Book Report: August 2014

Book Report: August 2014

And just like that, it’s already September. From where I live, time speeds up when this month makes its entrance. I’m a little concerned because this has not been a good year for me in terms of the number of books I’ve read. But yeah, I know, that is just a number. It’s just that I wish I could read more.

Anyway, at least I managed to finish three books this month. I’ve actually finished five (the other two, I’ve included in the previous month’s report). Not bad, I guess.

Books Finished:

  • The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer – 3 out of 5 stars. Quite a difficult book. I’m not sure that I got this at all. I’m still trying to figure out a lot of things in it.
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – 5 out of 5 stars. This is not your conventional Russian literature. This is a great work on injustice, faith, and dignity.
  • Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver – 5 out of 5 stars. This is more like a skim and scan because I’ve read most of the stories in this collection. My rating, therefore, is based on the handful of new stories that are included here, which are the selections from his UK-only Elephant.

Currently Reading:

  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Currently on page 211 of 604. I know I promised to touch this, right? But no. I got distracted with other projects. Whoops.

New Books:

  • Postcards by Annie Proulx – I’ve always meant to read another Proulx but I don’t which book of hers to pick next. Maybe this? (Php 75.00, Undertow Books, August 27)
  • Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz – Because it is on sale and because it is by a Nobel laureate. (Php 87.50, Undertow Books, August 27)
  • Palace of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz – And so is this one. Now I only need Sugar Street to complete The Cairo Trilogy. (Php 87.50, Undertow Books, August 27)
F2F32: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

TFG’s Book of the Month for August: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

Fear of Flying Face to Face Book Discussion Details:

  • Date: August 16, 2014
  • Place: Titania Wine Cellar, San Antonio Village, Makati City
  • Time: 2 PM to 6 PM
  • Discussion Leader: Marie
  • Attendees: Me, Aaron, AlonaCamilleElla, Gwaxa, Farrah (newbie), Ingrid, Louize, MariaMelizaMonique, Peter (newbie), Ranee, Rhett (newbie), Tricia, Ycel, Veronica
  • Food I Ate: I had lunch at a nearby resto (buffalo wings, rice, quesadillas, beer), so I just sipped red wine. I forget what kind of red wine it was.
  • Activities: Charades. The words we guessed were, well, adult words. Such as the now infamous blowjob, thanks to one of our members’ “great expectations.”
  • After the Book Discussion: Most of us watched the musical The Last Five Years. A few of us ate dinner and had coffee. I was with the latter.
  • Other Nominated Books: The Lover by Marguerite Duras and Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.
Discussion Time
Discussion Time
The F2F32 Attendees
The F2F32 Attendees
  • Next Month: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. If you wish to join us, please visit the discussion thread and the Facebook event for more details.

Photos courtesy of Monique and Ycel.

F2F31: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

TFG’s Book of the Month for July: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Face to Face Book Discussion Details:

  • Date: July 26, 2014
  • Place: Cab Cafe, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
  • Time: 3 PM to 6 PM
  • Discussion Leaders: Camille and Ycel
  • Attendees: Me, Ella, Gwaxa, KristelLouize, Marie, Monique, Ranee, Veronica
  • Food I Ate: Cafe latte and violet guava tea (I already ate before arriving at the venue).
  • Activities: A trivia game à la Game of the Generals where you have to scream and send the other team to the guillotine. Well, not really but I guess it could work that way.
  • After the Book Discussion: Dinner at Cafe Juanita.
  • Other Nominated Books: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Discussion Time
Discussion Time
The F2F31 Attendees
The F2F31 Attendees

Photos courtesy of Camille and Monique.

Book Report: July 2014

Book Report: July 2014

This is super late. If you really want to know why I am only posting this now and why I haven’t been keeping you updated, I just moved to a new place. Hurrah? Hurrah! And I am still in the process of transferring my Internet account to our new humble hole.

So yeah, I’m using my break time at the office to blog. Here’s the July Report (plus the first ten days of August):

Books Finished:

  • Fear of Flying by Erica Jong – 4 out of 5 stars. I didn’t give a flying fuck about morality when I read this. Yeah, I just typed fuck because this is about a woman’s search for a zipless fuck. It’s our August book of the month. (Php 648.00, Fully Booked – Rockwell, July 12)
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – 5 out of 5 stars. Read with Kristel, Maria, and Monique. This is such a great book that I managed to post a review of it a few days after I finished it. A discussion over lunch with two of my reading buddies topped off my HoL reading experience.
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – 5 out of 5 stars. I’m a fan! Each character in this book is just so real.
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – 3 out of 5 stars. Our September book of the month. I’m ahead because I only borrowed Monique‘s copy. Should I get my own copy? If you read my rating again, you’ll find out the answer to it.
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – 4 out of 5 stars. Our July book of the month. This is my second serving of Dickens and I think there’s still space for me for more.

Currently Reading:

  • The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer – Currently on page 69 of 267. Gordimer’s death pushed me to read this. I’ve paused for a couple of weeks and now I’m back on track.
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Currently on page 211 of 604. Now I can really face this again. I have more time for I am done with my required readings and I’m done unpacking my stuff. Wooh!

New Books:

  • A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion – Didion is known for her nonfiction, but her fiction is also great. (Php 250.00, Undertow Books, July 21)
  • The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart – How can you resist that cover? (USD 14.00, The Book Depository, June 26)
  • The Captive Mind by Czesław Miłosz – From a Polish Nobel laureate. (Php 200.00, Undertow Books, July 21)
  • Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman – My second Grossman. I haven’t read him yet, but I can’t resist this copy. (Php 200.00, Indio Bravo, July 23)
  • Jakob von Gunten by Robert Walser – Instead of refunding money from TBD, I refunded a book. (USD 12.27, The Book Depository, July 31).
  • The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion – Another novel from someone whom I think will be another favorite writer. (Php 250.00, Undertow Books, July 21)
  • The Murderess by Alexandros Papadiamantes – This is also another refund. (USD 10.50, The Book Depository, July 31)
  • Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth – A National Book Award winner. I’m not keen on those winners, but since I have too many of those books, it wouldn’t hurt to add another one. (Php 180.00, Indio Bravo, July 23)
  • Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton – Yes, this is an NYRB Classics month. (Php 646.20, Fully Booked – BGC, August 2)
  • View with a Grain of Sand by Wisława Szymborska – From another Polish Nobel laureate. (Php 300.00, Undertow Books, July 21)