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Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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Book Talk

Book Talk: Tsundoku in times of “addutucart”

Did you buy a book again? Have you read the books you bought last week? Last month? Last year?

I have seen how COVID-19 brought a significant boom in ecommerce — at least on my side of the Earth. Despite the tough economic times, the pandemic has drastically shifted people’s buying and selling behavior. Digital technologies, especially mobile devices, made it easier to locate (goods/services), transact (without breaking social distancing measures and taking the risk of catching the virus), and obtain (needs/wants).

But before I get tempted to stray off topic, I’d like to talk about this one subject that concerns me as a reader. And probably you, too!

Tsundoku. Described by BBC as the art of buying books and never reading them. A Japanese word whose morphology combines “tsunde” (to stack things); “oku” (to leave for a while); and “doku” (to read). While it illicit no negative opinion in Japan, Tsundoku is often viewed incorrectly by others. It is, at times, confused with the obsessive collecting of books for the sake of building a book collection. But at the heart of Tsundoku is the intention of reading — an intent so intense that leads to its eventual collection.

I find it interesting to think about the potential of this habit in times of “addutucart” (a word phonetically coined by Lee Minho during Lazada’s 11.11 sale). When adding to cart and checking out items are just few clicks away, what is there to stop a curious book lover?

Three things come to mind:

1. Cash – Like it or not, money will always be a limiting factor to our needs and wants. I’m all support for “do it for happiness” — so long as it’s your hard-earned money — but we must be conscious, still, that our spending would not overtake our savings.

  • Here are some tricks that I personally use as a bookworm on a budget:
    • Track your spending (set a monthly budget for books so you won’t go overboard)
    • Opt for pre-loved books (aside from a sentimental POV, used books are also the financially and environmentally healthier choice)
    • Patience is a virtue (though I don’t exactly follow the 30-day rule, I give myself few days to find cheaper alternatives or to make sure if I really, really need/want that book)
    • Give yourself some space (stay away from temptations: bookstores, marketplace, online stores)

2. Trust – While technology made it easier to acquire what we need, it has also made it easier for other people to deceive. Scammers are on the rise and we find ourselves developing trust issues. Thankfully, ever since I started buying books online, I haven’t met one yet.

3. Guilt – Tsundoku brings with it a sense of guilt whenever books start to pile up and rest longer on the shelf. It’s sad, almost depressing, when we find our curiosity nicked by our moods, the busyness of the real world, and pressure from others and our own.

  • Whenever I feel guilty for my habit, here are four things I remind myself with
    • Do what makes you happy
    • Read at your own pace
    • Books are a lot cheaper than a psychotherapy session
    • It’s your hard-earned money

Tsundoku has always been around even before COVID. I hope we don’t let this misplaced guilt stop our curiosity of the worlds inside every book. I hope we continue to cultivate this love of reading in our own little circles. Be a good-natured bookworm. Keep reading and tick off your TBR list. Addutucart those books you’ve been itching to read! 🤓📚

Book Talk: Stuck in the mood

a girl wearing yellow sitting on a bench with a Sherlock Holmes book

In the past few months, I gave you a rough sketch of who I am as a reader. I talked about having to choose between a book versus its movie adaptation, being emotionally/mentally unprepared for a read, going out of my comfort zone, hoarding books, and dealing with my bookish pet peeves and fetish.

This time, I would like to share with you the biggest bane and boon of my reading life. My moods.

Most of us, if not all, go through this kind of dilemma. There are days when it gets frustrating to pick a book to read, especially when it’s hard to pinpoint what you’re in the mood for. Some days, you try and give it a few pages, yet halfway through, you’re like “Nope. Not this one. Abandon ship.” Even those copies that you’ve been so excited to get your hands on feel distant now.

So you wait until you feel that pull to read again.

Last November, I promised myself that I will not be spending any more money on books until the end of 2020. That I will continue ticking off my TBR list instead. So far, I have not given to temptation ─ but, problem is, I have not read any book either.

All my moods seem to be in perfect unison and point me to one man and one man alone: Sherlock Holmes. The well-loved Victorian detective in the literary world. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous antihero with an impressive knack for solving cases in a strange and singular manner. And the only high-functioning sociopath I am most in love with (Sorry, Sheldon. It’s not you, it’s physics.)

I have read the anthology of stories, watched all versions of film adaptations and, just this month, listened to all audiobooks I could find in the public domain. If only I have my book with me, I would re-read all 700 pages once more.

Oh, I am SHERLOCKED again. What do you do with such a mood?

Book Talk: Books or movies? A reader’s dilemma.

a stack of books that have

What do you prefer to do first: read the book or watch the movie adaptation?

Mine would be the latter. The book ─ in most cases, if not all ─ will give you a much better experience. But as much as possible, I try to watch the film first. This way I get to enjoy the cinematography without prior judgments.

But that’s just me. I still believe that whether it is a book or a movie, each has its own singular merits. Instead of pitting these two against each other, we should search within ourselves how we can appreciate both mediums.

Below are some noteworthy reasons why people choose to read the book first before watching the movie (or vice versa):

BOOK FIRST

  • A book allows you to be part of the story as it gives a personal insight into each character’s thoughts and feelings.
  • It gives you the power to create the character/setting/mood that is unique to your own mind.
  • More. A book gives you more detail, more background, more focus, more depth that some movie adaptations tend to leave out due to constraints in time or limitations in dialogues.
  • A book allows you to take your time to savor every scene.

MOVIE FIRST

  • A movie lets you experience the story without prejudice and expectations.
  • It allows you to get to know the characters or see the places portrayed in the book.
  • Visualization. It brings to life all the elements of the book that were confined in a reader’s imagination ─ from the concrete details of each character/setting to the intangible aspects such as emotions.
  • A movie lasts about two hours at most. It’s time efficient.

Book Talk: Meeting Grendel up close

I’m taking my bookmark off Grendel — for now.

Grendel, the murderous monster in Beowulf, tells his side of the story in this John Gardner book. The first few pages speak of Grendel’s anger. He was angry at his mother, humans, their living condition. He was angry at life. I would have continued if he only haunted the moors, went on rampage and made hell on Earth. But by Chapter 2, Grendel’s anger turned into nihilistic ramblings. He began thinking, exploring and questioning the meaninglessness of life.

Then, I was worried.

Knowing my fragile mental and emotional state, I knew I wasn’t ready to take in Grendel’s troubles. I have my own existential crisis to manage. It’s the healthier choice. Me first. Perhaps one day, when life gets a little kinder, I’ll have a better reaction to Grendel’s view that “the world is nothing but a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears” other than nod.

Have you tried switching books? Did you feel guilty for not being mentally/emotionally ready for a certain read? 🥺

Book Talk: The uncomfortable zone

Readers come in different sizes, shapes and preferences. Aside from a shared love of books, no two readers are alike. Some people are series junkies, others are literary snobs. Some are polygamists, others are genre loyalists. Some are faithful to physical books, others are new gen e-readers. Some read by author, others read by mood. Some skim, others underline. Most often than not, they can be any of the above mentioned at the same time.

I, for one, have my own comfort zone as a reader. As much as I try to make sure to keep my reading attitude open and flexible, there are still some walls that I find hard to take down. Like stepping into the world of paranormal fiction.

A novel could have the goriest deaths in its pages and that would be fine ─ so long as it is done by a human. Ghosts, on the other hand, make me uncomfortable and uneasy. The thought of having them in my mind scares me. And unlike movies, books have a way of staying in our memories much longer.

So what made go out of my comfort zone now? Yesterday, James and I went book hunting in two branches of Booksale (a thrift bookstore) after 6 months of quarantine. It’s like being reunited with your loved ones after years of being separated. But for some reason, I didn’t feel like looking for books that I’d normally take. I had this nagging voice at the back of my head that wanted me to take a horror novel. Long story short, I randomly picked Sophie Hannah’s The Orphan Choir (20 pesos) and Andrew Pyper’s Lost Girls (83 pesos).

I still don’t know where this decision will take me. Or if I can see these books through the end. Maybe, maybe not. That will have to wait. 😊

What’s your comfort zone as a reader? Have you tried reading out of it?

Book Talk: Forgive me book-god for I have sinned

“So many books, so little time,” says a book hoarder who promised two minutes ago not to buy any more books until her TBR list gets cleared.

At the onset of 2020, I made a promise to minimize my spontaneous book buying and to start reading the ones that are piling up on my shelf. I told myself to buy books only ─ and only if ─ absolutely necessary such as coming across must-reads or hard-to-find copies. But little did I know I was bound to cheat on that faithful afternoon on February when I entered Booksale and saw Velocity by Dean Koontz.

Fast forward to September, I find myself having my highest number of book haul in a month. Six books.

I know this desire to buy more books than what I can read in a lifetime is a universal guilty pleasure for book lovers. The question is, should we feel bad about it? Are we taking away the true essence of a book which is to be read? I cannot speak for others but, in my defense, here are three reasons of what triggers me to hoard books:

1. The bookstores. Do I even have to explain this? Here in the Philippines, the biggest distributors of books are National Bookstore, Fully Booked, and Booksale. The delight of walking along bookshelf aisle, the excitement of what awaits in book pages, the smell of books, old and new. Who would not be tempted to buy a book?

2. Book rescue. I have mentioned in my previous post that buying pre-loved books is one of my bookish fetish. I am a sucker for them. Aside from frequenting Booksale, I follow legit pre-book resellers, join “pasabuy” Facebook groups, turns on notification for book listings on marketplace, and just recently included Shoppee and Lazada in my go-to sites. I have always believed that every book deserves a home and this is my little way of helping. It’s like animal rescue, only books. Plus, hey, it’s a very cheap bargain too!

3. Happy hormone booster. Dopamine? Serotonin? Oxytocin? Whenever I add another member to my growing family of books, I feel like all my happy hormones are spiked up. If I am not reading or writing, buying books is my next resort during gloomy days.

Some people would say that book hoarding is a sin or a shame. That it is just vanity and greed masked as love for books. But as long as you are doing what you enjoy the most, shrug it off.

Book Talk: Bookish Pet Peeves and Fetish

It’s that time of the year again… Happy Book Lover’s Day, everyone!

August 9 is a day for bibliophiles, bookworms and reading addicts around the world to celebrate their love of books. Although it is an unofficial holiday, people never run out of fun ways to commemorate this day — from visiting libraries and bookstores, re-reading old favorites, hosting parties and book clubs, showcasing awesome bookshelves and book hauls, recommending must-reads, and many more. Did the quarantine help you pursue your bookish delights?

The first two quarters of the year were productive for me. I’ve read more books than I had last year which is an incredible feat. But, halfway through June, work started piling up. It dragged on and to this day, I haven’t had a decent read.

So, for now, I’m sharing my personal pet peeves and fetish when it comes to reading. Can any of you relate?

Pet Peeves

  1. Interruptions while reading
  2. Having no one to talk to after reading an awesome book
  3. Plot changes in movie adaptations
  4. Careless borrowers
  5. When a book got the movie poster as cover
  6. When someone judges a book without reading it

Festish

  1. Having your dream bookshelves
  2. Hoarding!
  3. The scent of a book
  4. Paperback copies
  5. Preloved books
  6. Highlighting favorite quotes/intriguing lines
  7. A good book hug after a good read
  8. Making your own bookmarks
  9. When you have a complete copy of your favorite series
  10. Covering books

Book Talk: When poetry does not come easy, read.

The last time I wrote a poem, I was mad. Angry and frustrated with the world, the people, the reality — everything. And though it feels so good to pour these emotions on paper, I miss the other triggers to my writings. I miss writing about smiles, laughters, tears of joy. Even writing about heartache brings you loving memories. I miss the girl who likes spinning castle in the air. I need to call her back.

So, for now, while the ink stays dry, let’s read. 🥀❤️


These two books of poetry and prose were written by Rod Marmol, a poet here in the Philippines. How about you? What are you reading this weekend?

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