Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Eureka (or “Why I Love Book Sale”)

There is this thing I do when I’m feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders…

After a long day at work (and when things don’t seem to going my way), I have a favorite pastime…

I lay down all my bags and work stuff on the floor…shake my hair out from the tight ponytail, put on my dorky glasses,  put on the most comfortable clothes and go to this little nook in the mall called “Book Sale”.

For an escapist in a urban landscape, I find it meaningfully relaxing to lose myself in the piles and stacks of books. It is a rummage of sorts, a free-for-all hunt for that elusive second-hand volume which you can’t otherwise get for less than 200 pesos if it’s new.

I’m a sucker for sales… especially for books. I’m a self-professed cheapskate who has never had a lot of books of my own growing up (unless of course they were text books.).

Whatever I learned, I learned on my own… I never had a teacher, a guide, no one to recommend to me the next Pulitzer prize read that would inculcate the values of the masters… And I suppose, not a lot of people who could talk to me about the finer points of reading the classics, such as Dostoevsky or Nabokov.

(My older cousin, a voracious reader himself, was, but he once told me that I was as fickle as they come, and that I had never stuck to one interest, so that turned me off.)

I would fancy myself a connoisseur, because I had read a little of everything, from encyclopedias, to comic books, to the illustrated books over the years,  to graphic novels, and now, just recently, to the classics and poetry. I’d love to someday just be able to have the time to sit down and read through a book without having to worry about work tomorrow.  I just plain love reading…
Growing up, I didn’t have much money to buy books… they weren’t high on the priority list of wants.

So, I rented… =) 

When I was in grade school, I had a classmate, Ellezer, who rented out his paperbacks and Archie comic books, for 3 pesos each. This shouldn’t have been a problem now, but then I do remember that in 3rd grade, I only had a meager allowance of 20 pesos a day. Smile I could still remember him, E., thin and fair, with spiky hair, a slight overbite, and a a mole that took up most of his little chin, (in an adorable childlike fashion, of course). He also had long fingernails, with thin fingers, which I remember really well because I remembered how his hands looked like when he asked for the "fee". He’d bring a number of books to school and rent them out to us during recess, and then we’d read them during the day. My seatmate Michael and I were regular customers. So was Antoine (he has a ton of books now.). 

We’d read them in our desks while the teacher was giving a lecture.  I almost got in trouble with this, but I couldn’t help it, because in third grade, it seems, every book is a page turner. Smile 

One day, while we were in English class, I was reading this beautifully thick picture book about the Ancient past (which Jyanne pronounced as “An-See-Yehnt” then), my teacher caught me, and asked me a question,

“Ok, Sonia, tell us, what happened next in the story?”

The class was talking about a story in the textbook about the Legend of how the Hundred Islands came to be, and she was going around class, asking us questions about the story.
Looking up from the book I had [discreetly] read at the side, half hidden in my schoolbag, I answered, “Well, Ma’am, they became envious of each other, and started arguing.”

Satisfied, I suppose, she left me alone, and called another of my classmates. I had already read the all the stories in my third grade textbook weeks before, of course. I had moved on to other books. Sadly, I didn’t get to finish the book as English was the last class of the day, and the owner of the book took it home with her.


I don’t know why I’m writing about memories from when I was a kid. I’m not even middle-aged yet. *grin*


Anyway, I buy a book when I feel worn out, or sad, or just plain tired, usually. Its always a pleasure to burrow into the book shelves, and lose my self in the titles in the stacks. It’s a shot of dopamine right there.
(As of that moment, the whole, wide, crazy world had dropped away, and I was lost in the mellifluous harmony of beautiful words in my mind.)

I bought myself a bookshelf supposedly for my textbooks for residency…well, I ended up with books from Alvin Toffler to Tennessee Williams to even…Dacre Stoker (right, Bram’s grandson.haha).

A book is a drug, and I’m a junkie... Smile with tongue out

When I was younger, I was really into someone who read a lot of books…  And you know how I have the tendency to try to do things for a boy if I really liked him (i.e. practice writing in Chinese, learn how to cook)? Well, I tried that…I tried to read books he had already read… so he’d be impressed, and maybe, well, like me too (haha).

It ended badly. It was fun at first, but then it seemed like a chore after a while. It was almost like a race, a competition…it even felt like…studying. *grin*

So I don’t do that anymore….well, maybe I’d read some of the books on his list, but I wouldn’t want that to be the end-all and be-all. The joys of reading is not meant to be of any pursuit of a goal, except of course, that of pleasure.

So help me.

Maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have to do any catching up. Maybe someone out there might like the books I like too. Maybe he’d go giddy at reading Christopher Marlowe, or drool over the majesty of Neil Gaiman’s work…or, quiver with pleasure at reading Rilke, swoon at the or blush when he reads Shakespearean sonnets… *sigh*

I’m hopeless.



Speaking of books..and sales… here’s a line from my latest acquisition, a novel by Julith Jedamus, The Book of Lies :

You may think that the sheaf of paper you hold in your hands is a book. It is not.  You may presume that the fine black lines that fill its pages describe a world that exists, but you are mistaken. Do not be deceived. What you are about to read is as empty as a locust shell, and as immaterial as smoke.
It is a house of lies.”

(Antaray… Winking smile)
So anyway, I bought that. And now, I’m going to read it…




Pardon Me, I'm a charm-school drop-out. :-p (March 17,2012. Leila's party.)

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