Wow, I think I have just surprised myself more than anyone else. I figure that I write mostly for myself. Just mostly because now, I am posting something in support of Filipino Readers Make It Social: The 1st Filipino Reader Conference. And besides, I think it’s about time to get out of my nook and try being a little social.
So you might have noticed that little banner at the top of this post. It says Filipino Friday, if you are having doubts. I am not trying to insult anyone or be my obnoxious self, it’s just that it’s already Monday. So yes, I am participating this weekly meme. There have been some stray visitors here lately, so I might as well say something about myself. However, I apologize to everyone who’s behind this meme because I’d rather do this on Mondays. I hope you don’t mind; I post my pseudo-reviews every Friday.
Anyway, here’s the topic for this week:
This being the first topic, let’s all get to know each other better. Tell us what kind of reader you are. What are our favorite genres and books? Who are our favorite authors? Do you have a comfort read? And what’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? You can also include links of where other readers can find you online, such as your book social networking sites, etc.
Alright. I read mostly novels. I am a picky reader. I don’t read something that can be labeled as just-about-anything. I rarely do that. The book has to be something, so I make my picks based on recommendations. And from whom do I get these recommendations?
From award-giving bodies. If a book is stamped with the Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, I’ll buy it and hopefully read it soon. I also get my hands on books that are on the All-Time 100 Novels, Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels, Radcliffe’s Rival 100 Best Novels, and The Novel 100. And oh, I am not including those 1,001 books because it’s just too huge of a reading task to complete in this lifetime. And yes, I also read some books written by Nobel laureates. And anything that people might call serious books, contemporary classics, or literary fiction.
So what does all that collecting say about me? That I am a literary snob? Alright, I admit that, I am a snob. Someone has recently told me that when she was urging me to join her in reading the first book of The Song of Ice and Fire series. I understand her; my expression told her to drop it because I am not going to budge. Go ahead and bash my brittle bones. Go ahead and cast stones on my way. But what can I do if I can’t help it and if these books are giving me a lot of pleasure?
I think this is rooted from my desire to make the most out of my time. I am a slow reader so I want to make sure that I am always reading a very good book. That way, I can justify the way I spend my reading time. And I think that the critics behind the prizes and the lists are the best sources of recommendations.
Well. Not always.
But I have been into it for years, and it has become a hard habit, almost biological, pathological. And I am enjoying the books anyway, despite the unimpressive number of readers who read the same books that I do.
So that’s the kind of reader I am, those are the genres that I read, those are my comfort reads. And now, for my favorite author: Jose Saramago!
He’s like a grandfather to me. Reading his books is like spending an afternoon with coffee and biscuits and talking about the heat, the dust, the dog, folklore, legends, random stories, both real and imagined. Just like having a chitchat with your grandfather. And you have to give it to the old man. The surreal plots, the distinct voice, and the overall storytelling are just mind-blowing.
A runner-up would be David Mitchell. The irony of it is that none of his books have won any of the four aforementioned awards or made it to any of the four aforementioned book lists. I don’t know why, but it actually started on a crush. Then I read a couple of his books and got really impressed, and then I decided to have a contemporary favorite writer. Saramago’s in a different realm now, if you haven’t heard yet.
And I always say this: I love Saramago like my grandfather, I love Mitchell like my lover.
For the last question, here are my favorite reads for this year:
- Hunger by Knut Hamsun – the first person narrative gets more gripping as it moves along. It’s a book that’s very hard to put down. I even read this on a jeepney. Just imagine pantheism on a heavy traffic.
- Independent People by Halldor Laxness – all that talk about coffee and sheep may put a reader off, but the love and rivalry of the father and daughter is more compelling than the sheep matter.
- The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jose Saramago – the simple inversions from my grandfather makes a grand statement about theology. Make sure not to have a shaky faith in religious matters lest you suddenly have a reevaluation of beliefs.
- Atonement by Ian McEwan – one word (cunt) and one phrase (come back) produced a magnificent novel with a worthy film adaptation.
- Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – the style, the layers of plot, the sheer skill of my lover! How could it not win the 2004 Man Booker?
- The Known World by Edward P. Jones – the only grand slam winner to date, grand slam meaning bagging the Pulitzer or Man Booker Prize, NBCC Award, and IMPAC Award.
- Black Swan Green by David Mitchell – you can accuse me for being biased, but really, this is just as good as any 5-star novel. The raw emotions and anxieties of a tweener and a stammerer are sympathetic. This is a revelation, especially since it is semi-autobiographical.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – although I didn’t give it five stars, it is a real door-stopper, a huge brick, a reading milestone that grants anyone who finished it the ultimate bragging rights.
To wrap this up, people can find me at GoodReads. It’s the only book social networking site where I can be found.