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Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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Book Talk

Book Talk: Portrait of a scared reader

Do you have a book that scares you? It could be of any genre but mostly it’s horror or suspense thrillers that raise some hairs.

Five years ago, on this day, I found and bought this book in Booksale (SM City Cebu). Fast forward to 2021, I still have not finished it.

Why? Nightmares — every. single. time. i. read. it.

I am a sucker for crime thrillers, books or movies. Give me gore, give me blood, give me mystery (so long as there is no paranormal involved). I also love watching and researching true crime stories. I am passionately interested in what goes into the mind of the mad. So, my experience with Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer honestly came as a surprise. I’ve had countless attempts of continuing the book which resulted to countless of nighttime terror too.

By 2018, I gave up. It’s not about Cornwell’s writing (I am a big fan of her Scarpetta series by the way). It’s just that the scanned letters, the sketches, the newspaper clippings and the police reports — they all felt so close. It’s different when you’re watching things on the screen. Touching the pages with my hand felt like Jack the Ripper breathing on my nape.

Will I ever get over this book? How do you deal with such fear? Hmm…

Book Talk: In defense of Doyle

Many have compared the two volumes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in terms of quality and singularity. I have read comments stating that its second collection ─ two novels (The Hound of Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear) and two short story collections (His Last Bow and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes) ─ fell deeply short of people’s expectations.

But, I would like to set one thing straight. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has had enough of Sherlock Holmes by 1893. When he wrote “The Final Problem,” Doyle was resolved to kill Sherlock despite the growing demand for his brilliant and remarkable hero.

Why? I see two reasons: first, it was to save himself; second, it was to save Sherlock Holmes.

Doyle did not see himself as a writer in a box. Although the adventures of his Baker Street duo greatly appealed to readers, he continued to explore other genres including fantasy, poetry and historical fiction. Killing off Sherlock had the purest intention, but it unfortunately received the worst reaction. The people of London were utterly disappointed and mad. It took Doyle eight years to give in to their pressures and release The Hound of Baskervilles in 1901 which is the first novel in Volume II.

Doyle knew that the quality of Sherlock’s adventure stories would inevitably decline. Each case required an intricate plot and, in turn, meant a lot of mental work for the writer. Additionally, the public’s demands and his publisher’s deadlines did not make it easier. This is why I empathize with Doyle. He wanted to preserve the greatness of Sherlock Holmes without the influence of fandom.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Volume II revived Sherlock in print, yet some people would say that it did not carry the same fire. Maybe, maybe not. But one thing’s for sure, kudos to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for writing such superb work.

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.

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”

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.

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