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Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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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! 🤓📚

Quick Notes: The Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A book titled The Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on a table with a cup of coffee

Genre: Mystery/Crime/Detective
Copy: Paperback
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌖

Quick Notes: The Hound of Baskervilles is the third of four novels in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon of Sherlock Holmes. I won’t write how superb this book is for I know I will just be repeating what most people have already said. Instead, let me just point out two aspects which made this particular story unique to me.

1. Dr. John H. Watson – Sherlock Holmes’ best friend and confidant. The romantic and often sentimental medical doctor that perfectly complements the emotionally-detached and analytical consulting detective. The ordinary against the brilliant.

Despite being wrongly perceived (and portrayed) as being a fool in most tv/film adaptations, Watson’s role is undoubtedly crucial to every Sherlock Holmes adventure. He serves as both a storyteller and a shock absorber of Holmes’ uncanny deductive flair for the reader. I personally find the few stories in which Watson plays a minor role (or none at all) a little lacking and dry. This is one reason why I enjoyed The Hound of Baskervilles.

In this novel, we get to see a little more of Watson in action. He sets out to solve (try) a crime ─ on his own ─ even just for a short period of time. We follow him as he simultaneously employs Sherlock’s methods and his own in search for clues. And although, Sherlock gets to hammer down the mystery in the end, this book made it apparent that there is more to Watson than meets the eye.

2. The setting – The Hound of Baskervilles is one of the few stories that uproots readers away from 221B Baker Street. Instead of a warm, comfortable sitting room, it takes you to the cold, wet English moor with nothing but fogs, bogs and fire-breathing hounds. With an added Victorian air and a touch of supernatural, this book stands out from the rest of Doyle’s detective stories.

I have mentioned in Book Talk: Books or movies? A reader’s dilemma. that I prefer watching the adaptation first over reading the book. And I’m glad I did so because a lot of the scenes were changed in the films that I wouldn’t have enjoyed had I known the original plot. Of the three versions I have seen ─ 1939, 1959 (unfinished) and 2012 ─ the latter took a complete turnaround. It was enjoyable nonetheless, thank you Benedict Cumberbatch, but definitely not the movie you’d want to see if you’re looking for Doyle’s original plotline.

Overall, The Hound of Baskervilles gets two thumbs up from me! A great read after a month of craving for Sherlock Holmes. 😀

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?

Wrap-Up | November 2020

Monthly Blog Update

So, we are down to final month of this challenging year. I know it has been hard all of us but I hope everyone is safe, sound and thriving.

November — the month that was. It’s when half of the world transitions from autumn to winter. It’s when dead souls are honored and bounties are celebrated. It’s when creatives around the world try their hands at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

I guess for me it would be “Nah, no writing November.” Anyhow, here’s a quick wrap-up.

Things I’ve written…

Continuing my #throwbackpoems, I have shared two from IG this month: Two Ghosts and Her name spells resilience. November 11 also marks Fyodor Dostoevsky’s birthday who would be 199 years old had he lived today. To commemorate, I shared Writer’s Quote Wednesday – On knowing, thinking and doing.

Books I’ve read…

My book collection is still continuously growing — all thanks to online resellers and Booksale. And despite the rise of scammers online, I was lucky enough to transact with kind and honest people who helped me find the books in my TLF (to look for) list. For this month, these are the gems that I got:

  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe (Php180 @a_bookworms_closet)
  • Famous Tales of Mystery and Horror by Edgar Allan Poe (Php150 @a_bookworms_closet)
  • Isle of Dogs by Patricia Cornwell (Php25 @Robinsons)
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (Php44 @Robinsons)
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Php125 @Robinsons)
  • After Nature by Purdy (Php39 @Robinsons)
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Php100 @mgaaklatnitanna)
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Php125 @mgaaklatnianna)
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Php85 @mimilybluebooks)
  • Politically Correct Guide to the Bible (Php75 @mimilybluebooks)

For some bookish thoughts, I have written Book Talk: Books or movies? A reader’s dilemma. and
Quick Notes: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Meanwhile, I kept getting sidetracked in between reading with all the chaos brought by typhoons, work and politics. I was able to finish two books though: Letters To My Son by Kent Werburn and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

A big shoutout as well to LibriVox for their free public domain audiobooks. I was able to revisit once again the good ol’ favorite, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes this month.

Places I’ve been…

My SMS friends and I got a chance to catch up and hike the Spartan Trail for the first time after lockdown. The heavy rains weeks before brought the trail to life. The riverbed was filled with water, the leaves were greener, the wind was cooler — it was the lovely day indeed to convene with nature. I went back to Spartan Trail on the third week of November, this time with James and his colleagues.

Posts I loved…

My virtual presence during this month was faint. I didn’t get a chance to read other people’s posts or interesting reads from the likes of Brainpickings/Medium. Let’s strive to do better this December, shall we? 😀

Quick Notes: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Genre: Modern Classic/Dystopia
Copy: Paperback
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌖

Quick Notes: “Are there any questions?”

To some, this might just be an ordinary statement of inquiry. But to those who have read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, these four words carry too much weight.

Originally published in 1985, Atwood’s dystopian novel takes readers to the fictional Republic of Gilead. It follows Offred, a Handmaid assigned to a high-ranking commander and his wife. In an age of declining births, Handmaids are valued only for their capability to procreate. They are held prisoners — stripped off their past and future. They are forbidden to read, write, or interact with the outside world. They are meant only to bear children for their assigned commander and failure to do so warrants death.

The story ends with Professor Pieixoto’s final line, “Are there any questions?” To me this seems like a rhetorical question asked not to get an answer but instead to emphasize a point. It forces us to question our role as witnesses — both of Offred’s tale and of our own history of oppression.

Do we forget and stay silent? Do we remain neutral and indifferent? Do we stand up and fight?

The Handmaid’s Tale, told in simplistic prose, is a clarion call for upholding women’s rights to take control over our own bodies, choices and lives. With the current political climate, this book is definitely a must-read.


This post first appeared in Writers Quote Wednesday: Are there any questions?

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – On knowing, thinking and doing

“It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, one of history’s finest novelist and whose philosophical thinking endowed life with new meaning, was born on this day in 1821. I have only read Crime and Punishment (still looking for preloved copies of his other works) but I could say with confidence that I love the man’s writings. The moral dilemma after reading his novel still clings to me to this day. Ah, Raskolnikov.

Have you read any of his books?

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.

Quick Notes: The Poet by Michael Connelly

Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller
Copy: Paperback
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌖

Quick Notes: Stephen King was on point when he said that the ending was unexpected. The succession of plot twists. The revelations. The truths — and lies. It was all carefully weaved into a story that played like a movie in my mind.

Like Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly’s novels are often seen in Booksale. For years, I have been curious about his works but it took a pandemic for me to pick his book. I initially bought this one for four reasons: 1) the title, 2) the lure of Edgar Allan Poe, 3) i’m a sucker for crime thrillers, 4) it’s cheap. After the first 100 pages, I knew then that there are far more better reasons why anyone should read this book.

The Poet is unique in a sense that the main POV is seen through the eyes of a journalist whose beat is death. Not a police investigator like Montanari’s or a forensic pathologist like Cornwell’s who directly deals with murders. This book gives you a glimpse of how reporters, the local police and the FBI work together (or not) in solving a case. I like how Connelly takes time to build the thrill and explain the curiosities surrounding the scenes without dragging the story. The killer’s life is gradually revealed in bits and pieces BUT just when you’ve settled with catching a pedophile, Connelly delivers a series of unexpected twists. I was Jack turning to see a gun pointed at my head. I did not see that coming.

Would I read more of Michael Connelly in the future? Definitely yes. Would I read the sequel (yes, there is)? Probably. Because after all the guessing and profiling characters on my own, there is one thing I got right: The Poet got away!

Wrap-Up | October 2020

Monthly Blog Update

After three days of undisturbed rest, I am back to the “real” world again. With this comes my late wrap up for the month of October.

I have already mentioned most of them in my last blog update but here’s a quick overview of what I’ve been up to.

Things I’ve written…

This month, I’ve decided to revisit the old poems from my Instagram account and start sharing them here in WordPress while I am taking a writing break. But, apparently, I’ve only reposted two: we molded this valley of memories with love and Vignette: Stolen gazes, knowing smiles, paperbacks. The rest were just mishmash of random things.

Books I’ve read…

If there’s one area in my life that is doing really great, that would be my reading life. My bookish heart was filled with joy this when James and I started the month with a book hunting day. We hopped to all three branches of Booksale in metro Cebu (Robinson’s Fuente/Emall/SM City) and took a few gems with us at a very cheap price! Here’s my October book hoard:

  • The Choir Boys by Sophie Hannah (Php20 @Robinsons)
  • Lost Girls by Andrew Piper (Php83 @Robinsons)
  • The Bookseller of Kabul by John Krakauer (Php154 @Robinsons)
  • The Poet by Michael Connelly (Php83 @Emall)
  • Grendel by John Gardiner (Php10 @Emall)
  • Blowfly by Patricia Cornwell (Php83 @SM City)
  • The Abortionist’s Daughter by Elizabeth Hyde (Php50 @SM City)
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns (ordered online for Php250 @bookprojectph)
  • The Swallows of Kabul (ordered online for Php175 @bookprojectph)
Continue reading “Wrap-Up | October 2020”

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