Category Archives: Bibliophile Blahs

The Classics make a Comeback!

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I’ve been reading for as long as I could remember, but strangely enough, I didn’t really grow up reading the classics when I was a kid. For most bookworms (especially those who are blessed to be raised in a home environment where reading is strongly encouraged), fairy tales, adventure books and classics are always their babysteps to the inevitable, bibliophilic path of geekhood. Me? I am the eldest among four children, raised by parents whose idea of pampering is showering you with thicker-than-life encyclopedias and bible stories serialized in Sunday-school-ish comics. My chef dad reads nothing but recipe and gourmet books while my mom is a hardcore hoarder of inspirational and self-empowerment literature. Yeah, I grew up with these things, and maybe the occasional pocketbook romances from my yayas that I secretly read when they’re not looking after me and my siblings.

I was in my third grade in elementary when I saw this injustice: students my age could only care less about their text books, while I, who was deprived of my own textbooks at that time, can only borrow from my classmates whenever there’s a chance. And boy, they just let me borrow these books like it’s not even worth a penny. So I read and read and read and read some more. I was inexplicably hungry for words and stories, so I make do with what is around me. I remember skipping lunches just to linger in the library; I remember reading biographies soaked to the core with highfalutin words about famous people I don’t even know. I remember reading petty doodles and vandalisms on school chairs and bathroom doors, I remember staying awake during car trips just so I could read road signs and traffic posts and banners and billboards and sidewalk scrawls. I’m not ashamed to admit that even in my late teens, I still beg my baby brother who’s in grade school to lend me his textbooks in Filipino and English because those books are rich with stories and brings back so many memories of my early days as a reader. And finally before I officially entered high school: me, chancing upon a book of poetry, stunned by the loveliness and genius of rhymes, metaphors. I was weeping because I know that the love of reading will be with me forever.

So anyway: ‘tis the season for sales again at the malls, and, well, I’ve got a job that can somehow shoulder my insanity for books. So. I ended up buying twelve brand-new gorgeous titles, all of which I’ve been dreaming of owning for as long as I could remember. They’re all now sitting beautifully on my shelf, still wrapped in glorious, shiny plastic, inanimately awaiting me. And yes, there is a reason for that dramatic prelude for this post. Like I’ve said, I only knew of classics through word of mouth and media adaptations, but I never really got around reading them in paper. Oh well, I guess most of us really started with Disney, so I’m not really alone in this particular statistic. So I figured, hey, my wallet can back me up on this, this must be the chance! And just look at these colorful, artsy covers! Irresistible, irresistible.

I can’t wait to dive towards these pages and catch up on what I missed when I was a kid. These days, after all, are the days that I need these stories the most–no I don’t need happy ever-afters; I need my kid-self who believed in them regardless of the impossibilities, my kid-self who hopes, my kid-self who sees magic in every day, my kid-self who dreams.

The Aww, The Ouch and The Whoa!

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In the sweet introduction to Amy Benson’s “Sparkling-eyed Boy“, Editor Ted Conover playfully mused, ‘To the list of the three events that anthropologist say characterize human life around the globe–birth marriage, and death–I wonder if it isn’t time to add a fourth: first love.” And already I am exclaiming at how brilliant that idea was. 179 pages later, I’m not just nodding my head in vigorous affirmation; I am clench-fisted crying yes, yes, all first loves deserve documentation as heartstoppingly beautiful and honest as this. The Sparkling-eyed Boy is a book which presents itself as a memoir of a love grown-up and it is, in every sense and in each sentence. The charming nuances of childhood crushes, the unforgettable tremors of longing, the gut-wrenching regrets and the maddening what-could-have-beens—it’s all here.

I have never quite encountered a book as intense and intelligent such as this and that makes Amy Benson’s voice so special and set apart from an otherwise vague and faceless genre. It was exceptional as a memoir but it has also been many things to me from chapter to chapter. From a no-holds barred diary to a devoted ode, a fiery loveletter, a disquieting requiem, to a shameless journal of imagination and hesitation, a bible of sorts about the many dangers and delights of passion, a penultimate serenade to young love.

She writes: “Is this what I want from the sparkling-eyed boy, then? I want him to have triumphed where I failed. I want him to be an emblem of what won’t ever be possible: to be of the stars and not just a visitor to them. It was important, dangerous, fathomless, to stand over a crying teenage boy turning himself inside out on the sand. But I merely watched as if I were preserving the moment instead of living it. Time–the things we think it takes from us–allows us the dramas of our lives: Take a last look, take a last look. It’s going to be a long time. “ Read the rest of this entry

Books and Pictures

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A brief aside: I can’t draw to save my life. And for some insane irony in my uneventful life, I have actually taken up Multimedia Arts as my degree on my first two years in College. You know what they say about people who can’t dance having two left feet? Well in my case, in the sole context of drawing skills, it is legit to say that I have two left hands. That didn’t mean I fail to appreciate good drawing skills whenever I see one.

It’s probably true that I’m more inclined towards watching anime and cartoons, but I get a kick out of reading mangas too when I’m in the mood. And it happens to be one of those days, you know. I just happened to be casually strolling around a bookstore after an excessively stressful day at work when I went past this shelf of colorful book spines. The story synopses at the back weren’t bad either.

Or I don’t know. Probably I’m just feeling so adult and so worn-out these days that I subconsciously had this idea at the back of my head that reading mangas would bring back the feeling of being a child again. Enough about my gloomy nostalgia though, on to some kick-ass zany fun!

Little Queen, Yeon Joo Kim
Kamen Tantei, Matsuri Akino
Otogi Zoshi, Narumi Seto
Threads of Time, Mi Young Noh

Because Women Writers = Rockstars

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Here’s your latest update from this absentee-blogger extraordinaire: I still procrastinate. A lot. Which is of course, never news, but that’s beside the point. Postponement will always be part of the package, I suppose, and I know how predictable that sounds.

Anyway, off to something more relevant: I’ve gone a bit sexist on my very recent episode at my favorite bookstore and decided to limit my purchases to books exclusively written by women. Because, as the title of my post very explicitly implies, they are rockstars to me. Relax, I’m not spearheading a gender debate here. I’m just openly (and affectionately) expressing how much I adore women who are never afraid to write their imaginations, beliefs and memories, on paper. Being an aspiring one myself, I know how much gut it takes to write, and understanding first-hand how accomplished these women are in their writing also evokes a sense of pride and fulfillment in me. Somehow, I can feel through their words that they’re encouraging me and cheering me on, the way they must’ve influenced a lot of dreamers and readers around the world. Almost like they’re telling me, “Someday, you’ll have your own book too.” Of course, maybe that’s just me hearing voices, but hey, this is my blog and I’m my own heroine. Or whatever.

Though not thoroughly premeditated, I planned to be as extensive as possible on my choices, so this time’s haul has been yet another peculiar yet lovely mix. I’ve got historical romances, chick-lit, short story collections, YA fictions, a memoir and a poetry collection. On a sidenote, I also like taking pretty pictures of books, and this one’s taken on a lazy sun-drenched afternoon. I was so happy seeing this picture set against a backdrop of soft, glowing light. I looked at the colorful spines of these books and the names of the women who wrote them, and I smile to myself, saluting in soliloquy, “How beautiful, how beautiful.”

Snow flower and the Secret fan, Lisa See
Emma, Jane Austen
The Brightest Star in the Sky, Marian Keyes
A Girl becomes a Comma like that, Lisa Glatt
The Inheritance of Beauty, Nicole Seitz
The Year of Disappearances, Susan Hubbard
The Little Friend, Donna Tartt
Shake Loose my Skin, Sonia Sanchez
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, Alice Munro

Summer so far

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Hard to believe that we’re already done with the first quarter of the year, I suppose. So much has already happened, and yet summer still feels like on a standstill. What is irony. I learned so far that books can sometimes be the perfect barometers of days, and I’d like to believe that with every book I add on my shelf, I hopefully become a better, more grown-up person. Besides, summer sales abound a-plenty in the malls these days, and my resistance is relatively weaker than the usual. Finally purchasing books I’ve been hunting and wanting for sometime also kindled my ecstasy. (John Green, Agatha Christie & Alan Bennett! Yay!) I wish there are enough exclamation points to contain my emotions. Ahhh, joy. Just look at these lovely spines awaiting me. I know this is an odd mix of historical romances, mysteries and angst-ridden YA fiction, but hey, I REGRET NOTHING.

  • Mystery of the Blue Train, Agatha Christie
  • Someday this pain will be useful to you, Peter Cameron
  • No shame, No fear, Ann Turnbull
  • The Fault in our stars, John Green
  • Life Mask, Emma Donoghue
  • Time is a River, Mary Alice Monroe
  • The Man on the Ceiling, Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem

Filipino Lit, represent!

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It’s high time I give my roots some lovin’, so I figured spending some moolah on buying books by Filipino authors wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I’ve always wanted to support Filipino Literature in my own little way, and of course, as a reader, buying books is obviously the simplest way to do so. It also happened that I’ve got two book-loving friends who also rally for the same cause. Dotay kept on tagging and updating me on Facebook about recent releases from Ricky Lee and our beloved Bob Ong, while Marga’s review of Sotto’s Before Ever After just won me over completely. I’m sold, and I’m holding the two of them responsible. Well yesterday, I finally had the chance to stroll around bookstores in Trinoma and I went home grinning like a whacko with these three books. My lustful bookslut heart rejoices!

I’m a blessed BookWhore

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How do you make me tremendously happy? Send me a boxful of books. Which is exactly what salbehe did to fulfil my Christmas Wishlist for 2011, organized by Prinsesa Musang. Opening that massive package made me understand how long-lost heiresses must’ve felt on primetime dramas whenever their identities get ultimately revealed. Oh, what fortune! I squealed and squealed and squealed some more. And aside from these sixteen promising books, Miss Salbe also sent me an orange lipstick from Etude House, a handy 2012 planner and a cutesy headband! Seriously, how awesome is she? Thank you Miss Salbe, I officially love you!

Ang mga kaibigan ni Mama Susan, Bob Ong
The Captain’s Daughters, Benita Brown
Dog Walker, Leslie Schnur
Turning Thirty, Mike Gayle
Marly’s Ghost, David Levithan
Here on Earth, Alice Hoffman
Truck: a love story, Michael Perry
The Cabal and other stories, Ellen Gilchrist
The Good Guy, Dean Koontz
The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
The Nanny Diaries, Emma Mclaughlin
Where the Heart is, Billie Letts
Big City Eyes, Delia Ephron
The Valkyries, Paulo Coelho
Heal my Heart, Doreen Laroya
Shut the door, Amanda Marquit

January: all booked out!

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…And this is how you open the year with a bang, bibliophile-style. I went on another mad book-shopping spree for the holidays and to gear myself up for a more awesome 2012. Two of these books are written by some of my favourite authors of which I am dying to read more about, like Alice Hoffman and Emma Donoghue, while some are very intriguing finds. All in all, I’ve got nine promising books which will make the first month of my year spectacular.

Ah, nothing could possibly be wonderfully dorkier than this.

  • Here on Earth, Alice Hoffman
  • Your own, Sylvia, Stephanie Hemphill
  • The Gardens of Kyoto, Kate Walbert
  • Chain Mail, Hiroshi Ishizaki
  • The Burn Journals, Brent Runyon
  • Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  • Slammerkin, Emma Donoghue
  • Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet, Joanne Proulx
  • Open House, Patricia Williams

 

I read, I wept, I loved.

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I’m very iffy about Romances and I swear it has nothing to do with my apparent lack of experience in the love department. Sure, I sit down for the occasional chick-lit from time to time, but I usually avoid hardcore love stories because most of the time they end up pretty much generic; it’s either too draggy and full of fluff that I get bored waiting for my tears to come out or it’s too plain melodramatic that I get bored to tears. I blame it on my having read Nicholas Sparks at age 9.

I am therefore wonderfully caught off-guard by Christopher Castellani’s A Kiss from Maddalena, because it shattered all my juvenile traumas about romances. For once, no one’s dying from cancer, suffering from alzheimers, divorcing or killing each other, finding their lost parents, or are secretly vampires. It’s ironic because the plot and backdrop of the novel is in fact on a grander scale and yet the intimacy and the genuineness of the characters’ lives still resonate from cover to cover. We get a vivid first-hand account of the second world war and its aftermath in Italy—we don’t just meet a pair of lovers or a family; we meet an entire town and the many ties and traditions that binds them together. Most importantly, the book is still very much anchored around the bittersweet affair between Vito and Maddalena—probably the most passionate and saddest tale I’ve read for this year.

I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I still repeatedly read the last paragraphs like these are from a page torn off a haunted love letter my soul has been wanting to write for so long. This book gives heartache a voice. Thank you Mr. Castellani, my faith in Romances has been completely restored. Read the rest of this entry

The Joys of Re-Reading

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So okay: It really does look like I have abandoned my  blog, what with the two-month long hiatus I intentionally gave myself as a gift. And I know that whatever excuse I’m gonna give will sound lame anyway but here’s a brief rundown of my life so far: I recently just resigned from my job and cut all of my used-to-be-waist-length hair. So not only am I blissfully unemployed, I also look very much like a boy now. (More on this on a later post.) Yeah, even my own mom is worried about me, and whether I’m in some sort of post-adolescence crisis or something. But no worries: I’m good. I will be fine. In fact, I spent these lovely weeks hibernating with my beloved books. And since I temporarily have no stable source of moolah lately, I realized it’ll be fun to re-read some of the really old books I have on my shelf, some of which are books I’ve had since high school. Some pages are already wrinkled and dog-eared, but they still feel like new books to me after such a long time. Okay, so much for my book-romantic self. Here’s my October-November Reading List.

  • The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (Maggie O’ Farrell)
  • Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Dyan Sheldon)
  • A Million Little Pieces (James Fray)
  • Just in Case (Meg Rosoff)
  • The Honk and Holler Opening Soon (Billie Letts)
  • Scribbler of Dreams (Mary E. Pearson)
  • Funny Little Monkey (Andrew Auseon)
  • The Liar (Stephen Fry)
  • Exchange (Paul Magrs)
  • The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)