The Hobbit

Filipino ReaderCon 2013 – Filipino Friday 3: The Pinoy Book Drop

Filipino Friday

Filipino Friday

The 3rd installment of the Filipino Friday, a meme that is a sort of preparation for this year’s Filipino Reader Conference, is an interactive activity called The Pinoy Book Drop. It’s basically leaving a favorite book (and yes, as the title implies, you can actually drop the books) anywhere.

Did I or did I not participate?

Did you participate in the Pinoy Book Drop?

If yes:
–  First, kindly detail all the books that you have dropped, and where and when you dropped them.
– Next: tell us all about your experience. How did you feel before and after you dropped the books? How did you choose the places where you dropped them? Did you check back and see if the books were still there? Do you have any idea who might have found them?

If no:
– Tell us about your most memorable or favorite book hunting experience. Have you ever found a book in a most unexpected place? If you find a dropped book somewhere, what would you do with it? Where do you get your books nowadays? Do you still go to bookstores, or do you buy/order books online?

Yes, I did participate. I chose books that I both love and have extra copies. These books are the following:

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Dropped today at Starbucks – Podium, around 2 PM. I detoured from my normal route to work so that I could pass by this branch. The upper floor has a couple of patrons. One of them kept looking at me. It was a little unnerving because he’s a hot guy in his late 30s (a hot daddy, yes). But I didn’t want to spend too much time at both taking photos of the book and at ogling this guy. When I stood up, he stared his last stare. I think he’s aware of my intentionally dropping the book. I know he saw me taking pictures of it. I hope he might pick it up. I wish he would. Perhaps I should have left my contact details?

I chose to drop To the Lighthouse here because I noticed that most of the people here are older. I suppose a modernist novel would have more appeal to an older person (but really, appeal is relative and has little to do with age).

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Dropped today at Coffee Bean – Emerald, around 2:15 PM. This was an easy drop because the al fresco area is nearly empty.

I chose to drop The Hobbit here because I see some kids around this area. When my team mates and I went out for our break, I checked the table where I left it. Fortunately, somebody adopted it. I’m a happy book dropper!

The 3rd Filipino ReaderCon 2013

The 3rd Filipino ReaderCon 2013

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

An Unexpected Adventure – The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Before I started this, I didn’t know how to read it. That sounds a little foolish for reading to us fortunate people is like breathing. What I mean is how should I read it, what approach is needed for me to enjoy it. These are necessary questions for me because I intend to read The Lord of the Rings books. I thought I’d appreciate the books more by reading the prequel first.

Some of my bookish friends say that it’s like a children’s book. And with that, I read it with childlike curiosity. I’m not used to this genre, but this does not mean that I am not familiar with it. Growing up playing console games allowed me to appreciate and even love this book.

So what’s it about? Just in case you are one of my kind who never really bother with facts, the book is the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. What is a hobbit? Well, hobbits are a race of creatures who inhabit the earth along with men, dwarves, and elves. I suppose they are more related to dwarves by virtue of height, but what distinguishes them from other races are their furry feet.

I think the hobbits are the author’s own. Anyway, hobbits are timid, quiet, peace-loving creatures. They may not seem to be your typical heroes (read: The Avengers) but I think they are just as courageous and noble as any adventure hero could be.

Bilbo almost stopped breathing, and went stiff himself. He was desperate. He must get away, out of this horrible darkness, while he had any strength left. he must fight. He must stab the foul thing, put its eyes out, kill it. It meant to kill him. No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried to yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. All these thoughts passed in a flash of a second. He trembled. And then quite suddenly in a another flash, as if lifted by a new strength and resolve, he leaped.

It is not unusual for books like this to have enemies to be slain and treasures to be found. For this prequel and for the rest of The Lord of the Rings books, it is The Ring, a powerful object created by a great evil to rule the world. Something like that. Bilbo Baggins, being our hero, finds it, and it is actually this first encounter with The Ring that makes this book an important reading to fully grasp the nitty-gritty details of Tolkien’s epic.

This is not to say that the prequel is merely an account of The Ring’s history. In fact, we barely know what it’s for. We just know that Bilbo becomes invisible every time he slips it on his finger. The power of invisibility allows him to save himself and his friends whenever troubles come across their way.

His friends, a dozen dwarves, come to his house one by one at the start of the book. This is at the recommendation of a wizard, saying that taking the hobbit to their westward journey will do them good. The reluctant hobbit, being disinclined to adventures as hobbits usually are, goes with this crew of fourteen.

4 star - really liked itAnd what is the intention of this journey? To reclaim the treasures hidden within a mountain that is guarded by a dragon. But before they come face to face with the dragon, Bilbo and the dwarves will encounter trolls, goblins, orcs, wolves, giant spiders, and one strange slimy creature. So yes, there is nothing really much here except fantastic adventure.

And is there something wrong with that? No. In fact,  I suggest that if you have a kid no older than thirteen but old enough to read and appreciate a fine tale, get the kid to read the book. I think this book is a great way to introduce anyone to the world of reading. The adventures of Bilbo might seem like stuff that adults will read and enjoy to pass their free time, but to children, this book might be a world filled with wonders: action-packed traveling, suspenseful battles, marvelous creatures, legendary settings.

And oh, I think I haven’t yet mentioned that this made me look forward to the rest of The Lord of the Rings books.

Illustrations do help the reader's imagination

A Preparation – The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

I didn’t expect to read this as soon as now. I have always been curious what is it with The Lord of the Rings but I never really got around to it because I am not a fantasy reader. Besides, I was traumatized when I was forced to watch the film adaptation of the third book some good years ago. It bored me to death that I spent 75% of the movie sleeping.

And surprise, surprise, last Christmas, I asked my office mate to gift me the whole series. Excuse me for the verb gift, but I think you know what I’m saying. The gift was pretty neat and timely because the first book of the trilogy will be our book club’s upcoming book of the month.

I asked some of my bookish friends if it would be better to read the prequel of the trilogy first. It doesn’t matter, they said. But I insist. I should read The Hobbit first.

I heard random strangers before complaining of the difficult language that Tolkien employs. I want to laugh at them now because I think the language is understandable enough. Sure, he has a penchant for the word confusticate, but that’s about it. Remember that he’s telling a story set way earlier than our popular Victorian novels.

The narrative is simple, engaging, fast, and unpretentious, which, I think, is a quality shared by most fantasy books. Take a look at this:

There was the usual dim grey light of the forest-day about him when he came to his senses. The spider lay dead beside him, and his sword-blade was stained black. Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath.

“I will give you a name,” he said to it, “and I shall call you Sting.”

Not the vocalist of The Police, mind you. Anyway, I’ve been a little fond of Bilbo Baggins. In fact, one night, after reading a huge chunk of the novel, I had a dream that had a feel of the movie Inception. Let me tell you about it.

I was on a sort of pirate ship with a number of unknown people on it. The ship was sailing through the air, through an “imaginary sea”, and then suddenly, it came to a “waterfall”, which leads to a real sea. While the ship was crashing down the sea, I realized that this will send me back to my “normal” consciousness, because the “imaginary sea” is like a “higher” place of consciousness, where time is slower and where one is supposed to be at peace.

And then I woke up, still seeing in my head that sea where we crashed and the island smacked in the middle of it. That’s more or less the dream, with a lot more details that I won’t be boring you, because my point here is that the next time I attended to my reading of The Hobbit, I got to that part where Bilbo and company escaped from the wood elves by way of the river, which led them to a lake town, not without a lot of barrel-crashing, bruising, and losing of consciousness.

That’s the best that I could do to link my dream to that chapter and to make my dream a little more significant than it actually is.

Date Started: May 20, 2012. 11:15 PM. Book #30 of 2012.

These are pretty important books

The necessity of these books

Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams by Alexander McCall Smith – It is necessary to have this book because the Celtic god is my namesake. I’ve been longing to have a copy of this for that reason. Our bookish friend, Doc Ranee, promised to give me this book, and yes, although the promise was delayed for almost five months, it’s now a promise fulfilled. Promises are never broken; they remain to be promises until you can come back to make them come true. Anyway, the book is a hardback first US edition. I don’t know what to expect from this, but expect something to come out of this, like another blog project. Wink, wink. XXXX. (May 7, 2012. Thanks Doc!)

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien – It is necessary to have this book because this edition, this orange trade paperback, matches and completes my Lord of the Rings books. The mass market copy that I have before this one, the green one, I will still keep for the purpose of sentimentality, if ever sentimentality has even a vague purpose. That green one was a Christmas gift from an office mate, so there. (May 8, 2012. Book Sale – Makati Square. Php 180.00)

Uncensored: Views and (Re)views by Joyce Carol Oates – It is necessary to have this book because there are write-ups about some of the books that I’ve recently read and books that I love and books that I’m looking forward to read. The mishmash of books and life fragments of Sylvia Plath, Willa Cather, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Yates, Muriel Spark, E. L. Doctorow, Anita Brookner, Kazuo Ishiguro (yes!), Andrea Barrett, Hilary Mantel, Pat Barker, Emily Bronte, Ernest Hemingway, Carson McCullers, and Don DeLillo made me run to the counter to secure my ownership of the book. (May 8, 2012. Book Sale – Makati Square. Php 115.00)

TFG Christmas Party Gifts

Holiday Book Gifts

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are over. Gifts have already been opened. For book lovers and book hoarders, piles of books that will probably be stocked on the shelves must have been wished for and granted. And life resumes to normal programming.

But before all that, let me just list down the books that I got during the holiday season. Some of these I bought for myself, some given to me, and some I wished for.

Company Christmas Party Gifts

Company Christmas Party Gifts

First is my set of J. R. R. Tolkien books, The Lord of the Rings series plus The Hobbit. The last two of the LOTR series were given to me by my office best friend during our Christmas Party last December 16, 2011. She, or rather we, couldn’t find the first installment, so I had to hunt for it online. Fortunately, I found one at It was delivered last December 23, 2011. I didn’t realize that these used trade paperback editions are hard to find as one set.

The Hobbit was given to me by my team mate the Monday that followed our Christmas Party, December 19, 2011. I don’t mind it being a mass market edition. It is really touching because she, being a reader of Rick Riordan and J. K. Rowling, knows the importance of having the prequel of a series. And I haven’t given her anything yet in return.

TFG Christmas Party Gifts

TFG Christmas Party Gifts

The next set is given to me during our book group’s Christmas Party last December 17, 2011. Money and Tess of the D’Urbervilles were given to me by our book group’s leader-grandfather, KD. He also gave me The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre, but a friend borrowed it before I could even sniff its pages. Hence, its absence from my book shelf as of this moment.

Revolutionary Road is from my Chami, Maria. I already have a copy of this, but it’s in Baguio City. She insisted that I have this because I have no idea yet on when I could haul all my Baguio books with me. And the movie tie-in edition is irresistible. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Any objections?

My Name Is Red is from my loyal buddy Atty. Monique. She actually went to the trouble of buying two books from my wish list just to make sure I don’t get a duplicate. The other book that she bought as a reserve is The Land of Green Plums, which of course she is keeping for herself.

What I got from our exchange gift is the Herta Muller book, given to me by Ayban. I suspect his real name is Ivan, but being a hardcore Filipino, he chooses to spell his name the Filipino way. Ayban had the good humor to make a joke during the exchange gift by first giving me The Piano Teacher. Well, this book is also in my wish list, but it’s the one written by Elfriede Jelinek. The expression on my face was really funny because I swear my eyes went out of their sockets when I saw the title. I didn’t even mind that it’s a used book. But I couldn’t fight my disappointment when I saw who the author is. He relieved my disappointment by giving me my real gift.

Pre-Christmas Books

Pre-Christmas Books

Before and after the Christmas Parties, I have also been going around book stores to buy books for myself and books for giveaways. Below are the books that I am keeping for myself.

December 16, 2011

Ten North Frederick by John O’Hara – Php 10.00 at a neighborhood thrift store.

A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis; The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa – Php 145.00 each at Book Sale Cityland.

December 18, 2011

The Gathering by Anne Enright; Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson – Book Sale Edsa Central, Php 20.00 and Php 70.00 respectively. I already have and read Enright’s Booker winner, but I couldn’t resist cheap trade paperbacks.

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell – Book Sale Farmer’s Plaza. Php 115.00.

Virginia Woolf Pencil

Virginia Woolf Pencil

And finally, a pencil that I might never sharpen. This beautiful Woolf pencil is again from my Chami, Maria, who bought this at one of the book stores in Singapore.

To everyone who shared all their bookish blessings, thank you, thank you!