Pared-down Book List

I’ll be flying to San Francisco, California in three weeks to visit my mother and her family. I told myself I’ll set out and buy a few books while I’m there so I took a look at my book list a few minutes ago to go over the books I want to buy and realized that when I said “few”, I was really underestimating. I have 67 books on my list… I’ve already accepted that I cannot buy them all no matter how much I scream myself hoarse to the heavens, so I’ve pared them down to twenty and twenty is already stretching it. I’m not happy about this number. I want to add more, but at the same time, I know twenty is still far too much. But here is my tentative list:

From Hell by Alan Moore

Sleepwalk and Other Stories by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics by Adrian Tomine

Human Wishes by Robert Hass

In Search of Duende by Federico Lorca

Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac

Hunger by Roxanne Gay

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado

My Life in France by Julia Child

Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death by Irvin Yalom

100 Tales of Ray Bradbury

Complete Poems of e.e. cummings

Letters of Marcel Proust

Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray

Reborn: Journals and Notebooks by Susan Sontag

The Complete Essays of George Orwell

As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh by Susan Sontag

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

Selected Stories of Alice Munro

As you can see they’re a mixed bag of nonfiction essays, memoirs, journals, graphic novels, fiction, correspondences, and poetry. I’m still going to pare these down because I think it is impractical to buy twenty books on one trip, but….. Well, we’ll see. I’ll definitely put aside the authors I’ve read before so I have more room for new authors. Honestly, it’s times like this when I wish I were a billionaire. I’d buy all the books I want and not feel guilty for spending at all!

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When I Said I Wasn’t Going to Spend Money on Books This Month

I lied. I was quite surprised when I went over my purchases for the last month and realized that I had bought fifteen books in less than 30 days… but, well, I don’t really have any vices other than reading, and buying and borrowing books, so I thought this was better than, oh I don’t know, snorting lines of coke up my nostrils or nymphomania. So I passed by a secondhand bookshop on my way home today and told myself I was just going to have a browse. An hour later, however, I already had a stack of books that I wanted to buy propped up in my arms. Of course I had to kick myself and force myself to only get one, but after debating with myself for a couple more minutes, I finally settled on two: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and Selected Fiction by Henry James. I had to put Sue Monk Kidd, Leo Tolstoy’s biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a collection of letters penned by soldiers during the Vietnam War on the back burner for now, much to my heartbreak.

To be honest, though, the real real reason why I went to the bookshop today was to look for the book I hid there a month ago. I was planning to buy it, but never got around to because 1). I was already buying too many books at that time so I thought I should just go back for it some other day and 2). At that time, the book didn’t call out to me as strongly. I was adamant on going back for it today though, in hopes of still finding it. I wanted to give it to this really special friend of mine whose younger brother took his own life just this week. The book is called An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness and I searched and searched and searched with pigheaded devotion until my fingers were covered in soot, but I couldn’t find the book anymore. I’m honestly so heartbroken that I won’t be able to give it to my special friend, but I’m looking at other options. I am not the best in comforting and communicating my emotions, and most of the time I wish I knew the right words to say, so when I show my concern and love to others, I’m not very upfront about it, and I hope the warmth that I want to convey shows through little things I do such as penning long and winding letters and giving books that I believe is a perfect match to the receiver because spoken words always fail me. I can only hope, but hope is never lost.

Rereading Wislawa Szymborska’s New and Collected poetry collection. This poetry collection is the closest thing I have to a bible, and Szymborska is my favorite writer. If I were to choose only one writer across multitudes of genres–although I hope no one would ever make me do that because that’s fucking criminal–Szymborska would always be top of my list, right next to the Dons of my dreams Pablo Neruda and Federico Garcia Lorcaaaaa!!

Reading Man and his Symbols by Carl Jung (for my Philosophy of the Unconscious graduate class)

Continuing When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom

Something mundane: I finally utilized the full potential of my Evernote and made a separate notebook for all of my terrible poetry drafts and fragmented thoughts, AND made a separate note for each poetry draft. This is it, this is my life coming together… hahaaaa I hope to work on these soon so I don’t continue hating myself.

My forever mantra: Dr. Manhattan’s monologue on Mars. As I was on my way home today, I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken over what my friend is going through. I will never know his pain, and I will never know what it feels like to lose my younger brother, but in these darkest hours I believe that my friend is more resilient than he thinks, with an unmatched reverence and vitality for Life. I know he will keep on. I have the utmost confidence and faith in him. And so, while I was lost in my reveries, I pulled out the small folded paper from my ID case to read while walking; I keep this with me every single day, for times such as this. It’s got Daily Mantra scribbled on it. Here is what it says:

Thermodynamic miracles, events with odds against so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter… Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold… that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle.

But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget… I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take our breath away. Come… dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes… and let’s go home.

Most days I try to be like Dr. Manhattan and improvise a monologue in my head while, say, walking or sitting by myself during the morning commute, but I never sound as poetic as him, and never as articulate. But I try.

Monday Currently + book haul

Reading way too many books all at once again. Such is the life of a haphazard reader; I cannot ever just stick to one book throughout. Right now I am reading When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom, Women in love by D.H. Lawrence, It Must’ve Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Just finished Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke three days ago and I keep forgetting how cruel and unsparing it is. What a fucking writer, Alan Moore.

Writing this blog post. I haven’t written anything to completion these past couple of weeks and I’m still trying my best not to hate myself for that.

Listening to Alice by Cocteau Twins. I’ve been listening to Cocteau Twins for the entire week and my favorites so far: Cherry-Colored Funk, Pandora, Blue Bell Knoll, Ivo, Donimo, Alice, Carolyn’s Fingers, All Flowers In Time (DUH!!!!!!! I know it’s not Cocteau Twins but it’s still Elizabeth Fraser! And Jeff Buckley is just LOVE)

Thinking about how this Monday is going to be. I woke up relatively early, around 6:00 am but got up around 6:45.

Hoping to figure things out soon. My graduation is this Saturday. I canceled my attendance, so I wont be marching. I don’t have the patience for rituals and ceremonial bullshit; of course finishing university means a lot to me, but the marching I just cannot fucking understand. Well, now I am trying to figure out what I want to do and I find myself lost.

Wanting to speak to and see this certain person more… Ahhhh why am I so meek! Why am I so afraid of coming clean with my feelings! Why! Why! Why!

Feeling a jambalaya of feelings!!! So I’m enjoying Irvin Yalom the most right now, I would totally recommend him. I haven’t read anyone like him; secretly I want to be like Lou Salome in the book.

I’ve pared down my duties to only one—to perpetuate my freedom. Marriage and its entourage of possession and jealousy enslave the spirit. They will never have dominion over me. I hope, Doctor Breuer, the time will come when neither men nor women are tyrannized by each other’s frailties.

and

I hope too, you and I will become friends. I have many faults, as you’ve seen: I am impulsive, I shock you, I am unconventional. But I also have strengths. I have an excellent eye for nobility of spirit in a man. And when I have found such a man I prefer not to lose him. 

I mean?!?!?! God, if I were as brave as Lou Salome then I’d never have to feel anxious around this man I have feelings for! I could just go up to him and say, HEY, I DONT NEED ANYTHING FROM YOU, BUT I LIKE YOU. A LOT…… Ahha sometimes i gross myself out ngeuhhh

I am also past the first 100 pages of Lolita and I don’t know how much of Vladimir’s beautiful prose I can take to excuse the content. Truth be told, I am getting squirmy and squeamish reading about Humbert Humbert’s affairs with little Lo and now I am just angry at Humbert and don’t find the book that enjoyable anymore, but I am adamant about finishing it. I am still on the first pages of Women in Love and I’m still trying to get into the swing of Lawrence’s writing. As for Steingarten, I adore his food essays thus far. He’s the food critic of Vogue if I’m not mistaken? And happening upon his book was mere chance. I dropped a coin and when I picked it up, my eyes landed on his book, which was hiding beneath the shelves of the book thrift store. The pea cover attracted me and, well, I bought it. I’m really into food literature right now and have a couple of others lined up for my next purchase. There’s just something about food in literature! Reading about food, it always feels like home, even though I do not really have a home in the physical sense because this house does not feel like home, there is always that warmth in reading about food.

Eating nothing. I don’t eat breakfast because I get lethargic when I’m full. I’ll probably drink white tea later though.

Loving these perfect pair of trousers. I’ve been thrifting a lot of clothes lately and I found THE perfect pair of pants. I’m still debating with myself whether its color is burgundy, shiraz, maroon, or dark cherry red but who fucking cares, they fit perfectly and elongate my legs and it was such a steal. It’s very very difficult for me to find a good pair of pants, so finding this pair is like finding a best friend. Lol.

I also thrifted a lot of books and magazines. Sometimes I feel guilty for buying so many books and the occasional clothes, but I tell myself most of what I buy is thrifted anyway, and that’s the cheapest I can get them so I try not to feel too bad…. Everything is thrifted except for The Dispossessed and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I got from a commercial bookstore.  Here’s what I bought these past two weeks:

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King- bought this the same week I watched It. Feels good to be reunited with my favorite childhood writer. I was never brought up on the classics, but read a lot of Stephen King and Gaiman in grade school and high school.

Wired magazine’s one and only scifi issue

Conde Nast Muhammad Ali special commemorative edition

It Must’ve Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery- I’ve read this in my second year in university as a PDF version and loved it so much. I cried when Renee died and I cried when Palome promised she’d never try to kill herself or try to ever burn a thing again because from now on, she will look for moments of always within never–Beauty in this life, and I cried when the book ended so there you go. I love this book so much. :((

Volume 1 of John Betjeman’s letters

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin- I figured I needed another scifi gem to satiate me while I wait for my Bradbury short story collection

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman- Bought another Gaiman. Just because.

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais- the movie was just alright so I thought to read the book, because books are always better…… ahha you didn’t hear that from me though!

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

Two New Yorkers from the past two years

The Simple Things magazine

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan- I regret putting this book down because the first paragraph reeled me in. His prose is such a joy to read, but since I am reading so many books right now, I told myself I’d just read him once I finish Lolita.

Will start soon with: 

John Betjeman’s letters

On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche

Some other things I am grateful for: 

My brother. He’s my rock. Last night we stayed up until midnight just talking. Of course, we talked about his emotions. We need to do this constantly, because I hate the idea of him keeping everything to himself and not knowing who to run to when he’s fed up with everything about life. He is doing well with his affairs; his ex is being crazy and is spreading rumors about him in class to ruin him, so he’s been avoiding everyone… Why do people do this? When you break up with someone, how can you be so cruel and ruin them to other people as an act of punishment? Why cant you just let them live? Why can’t you just move on? His ex supposedly still loves him and wants him back, but my brother is soooo done with her manipulative narcissistic bullshit. Rightly so because he doesn’t deserve swine like that. Sigh sigh. Anyway, I also taught my brother how to play Dungeons & Dragons last night and he is floored. He’s jealous, obviously, because I didn’t teach him sooner. I’ve yet to teach him how to create a character, but at least I’d have someone to play with now!!!! Life doesn’t have to be so lonely

common things

I’d like to remember things. One day, when I’m old, I’d want to remember things, so I’ve resigned myself to writing diary entries every now and then (not as often as I’d like, to be honest, but I’m working on that) to remember ordinary happenings and common things in my life. While most would write about their most memorable experiences, I would like to remember some of the most mundane things in my life. Sometimes, really, it is the quotidian that is sublime.

Nothing much has been happening in my life lately, but I don’t sit around waiting and wringing my hands for an adventure. As trite as it sounds, I’d like to think everyday is an adventure as long as I decide that it will be. Personally, nothing major has happened, but I’ve been talking to my brother a lot these days. He is recuperating from his heartbreak and he’s been so resilient throughout, but there are small moments when the gravity of it all weighs on him and I can see the weariness in his eyes. He talks about his emotions with me, something I find very special because it is so rare, I’d like to believe, for men to open up their emotions to someone. I think men are conditioned to keep everything in and not talk about feelings and as a result, a lot of things are repressed, but I think that’s quite dangerous. It hurts me, though, when I see him so hurt. How he hurts so silently, my younger brother, and so as his sister, I find that this is a special role I must play, in filling that void, his emotional suppression. I’ve never been lucky enough to fall in love yet, but I am learning so much from his own heartbreak. Yes, perhaps there was love, perhaps it didn’t work out because they are young and confused and have a lot of things to figure out for themselves, but the primal emotions are there. The girl has since moved on and is going out with a new prospect. My brother, on the other hand, has resigned himself to solitude. It’s funny, this thing we have in common. We have this affinity with writing long letters, and when he told me he wrote his ex a long letter, I had flashbacks of times when I wrote long winding letters for people. Some were for friends, some for ex-friends, rare were for special friends, and some were letters that I will just never send because I am far too meek. It’s definitely uncommon these days, but letter writing is something so special I cherish it and only give it to people who mean to me. For my brother, it was cathartic more than a thinking-through or a mulling-over, but he needed the release all the same. I know he is not the kind of person to throw a pity party for himself and I can see he is trying his best to gain back his sense of power and confidence. A couple of days ago he asked me for help; he plans to write and illustrate an illustrated dystopian book for his thesis on his final year and asked me if I had any book recommendations for him. Being the only bibliophile in this house, of course I had a couple up my sleeve. I lent him my copy of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and the classics, 1984, Animal Farm, The Handmaid’s Tale, and some Stephen Kings such as The Long Walk and The Running Man. For illustrated books, I showed him a copy of my Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, and The Little Prince. I plan to make him read a couple of graphic novels in the next few weeks too. As you can tell, I am excited for my brother’s reading journey! I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, and writing just as long, and to see him, a non reader, explore this world is so special for me. I mean, what is life without books? You tell me. It’s nothing.

I also started my internship at the MET museum a few weeks ago. It’s been alright so far, but I cannot help but be affected by ennui every now and then, and it’s something I’m having a hard time with. Regardless, I am learning so much and I cannot complain about that. There is wisdom in everything, yes, and in this listlessness there is something to learn too. Something curious happened a week ago though, while I was in the museum. This dragonfly, somehow, managed to find its way inside the museum and it freaked everyone out. They were screaming and swatting at it, but of course the dragonfly kept flying higher and higher above our heads and settled on the ceilings, but it stayed in the office the entire day. Around lunch time it started to flutter towards me and perched on the lower part of the wall behind me and it stayed there for the remainder of the afternoon. And here’s when it gets curious: Around 5pm, while I was preparing to go home, I hear something clatter to the floor (the office is very quiet by the way) that sounded like a bunch of metal paper clips. So I turn and saw the dragonfly on the floor, stiff. I take it in my palms and its wings flutter a bit before finally dying. I thought there was something so huge and overwhelming with this little dragonfly’s death and it affected me so much that I started tearing up. I’ve since brought the dragonfly home and am planning to preserve and mount it soon on a frame. Did I mention that this entire thing happened while I was making an Instagram account so I can document my foray into vernacular entomology? Because I’ve been wanting to collect bugs again as a hobby and at that time, I was googling how to preserve different types of insects, and it was so uncanny that the dragonfly just died there, next to me, while I was doing that. So is this synchronicity? Is it also synchronicity, I must digress, when I was choosing a random poem by Louise Gluck to read and found one about spring, and when I chose another random poem to read, this time by Robert Hass, it was also a poem about spring? What is it about spring? But going back to the dearly departed dragonfly: I thought it so strange, so curious, and so meaningful. There was something so eerie about it, too, and at the same time, something poignant. Personally, I found its death momentous. I am still affected by it. God knows why I do not cry at people’s funerals but this dragonfly’s death touched me beyond comprehensibility.

Another curious thing that happened to me last week. I dreamt about Umberto Eco, but I find it uncanny because I’ve never read Umberto Eco, ever! But in my dream, I knew it was him. I was sitting on a monoblock chair outside the Student Media Office in school when Umberto passed me. He smiles at me and walks on; I don’t know how I knew him as Umberto Eco, but I identified him as him in my dream. Somehow, I just knew and named him. After a while he went out of the office and started talking to the people and students around us. He was writing something on a blank sheet of paper and teaching something to the people, god knows what, but it was in a different language that I cannot understand, but I know that Umberto Eco is Italian (I googled it after I woke up). However, when I looked at his paper, I saw that his spelling was off. Among other words, he misspelled the word “cognitive” as “cvgnitive” with a letter V. (So he cant have been writing Italian here, right? Because I recognized the misspelled words, but I only remember cvgnitive) So, I showed him how to spell cognitive in English and wrote it down on his paper. He smiled at me and then… that’s it, I don’t remember the rest. I think I woke up. Again, prior to this dream, I have never read Umberto Eco in my life, but I just suddenly knew in my dream that it was him. It’s so weird, but perhaps I ought to read him. He is known for his difficult and dense postmodern works, but perhaps my unconscious is trying to tell me something. I’ve since gotten a copy of The Name of the Rose and planning to have a go at it soon. By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve dreamt of a writer. I dreamt of Nick Joaquin once, and we were talking while walking in the rain at night (no umbrellas) and he was telling me something, but I couldnt hear him because of the rain, but his face looked serious and grave. I was struggling to hear him, but I really couldnt make out anything and it was so frustrating when I woke up because I wished so badly to know what he was telling me, what if it was an important message? And I remember, everything was black and white in that dream and the end of it was he brought me home in a dark car, I stepped out to my gate and then… that’s it. I find all this so peculiar, dreaming of revered writers. I don’t know what my unconscious is trying to tell me or show me, but I also know that I have to write. A lot. And be serious with my writing, otherwise I would be sacrificing it. I can’t seem to bring anything to completion these days, preferring to bank on the unsteady influx of fickle inspiration and motivation, but I know I have to put more worth and value and seriousness in pursuing writing. There’s no other way.

What other common things? Well, I am graduating from university this October (I am seriously considering not marching since I’m not proud of myself at all. I am not graduating with honors, I must painfully admit, and I have no patience at all for rituals and ceremonies); my lettuce, chili, mustard and tomato seeds have since germinated and they are looking great; I am contemplating if I should submit my application letter for the daily newspaper. It’s pretty huge, among the top 3 in the country, but I don’t know if I want to be a content strategist, I mean, is it taking me further away from writing fiction and creative nonfiction? Although I don’t think it’s bad for my first job, I guess. Oh, and I started sitting-in at my professor’s Philosophy of the Unconscious grad school class for this term, so it’s something I’m looking forward to. I wanted to sit-in because I also want to see what a master’s class is like and if it works out, maybe I can take my master’s degree sooner or later. It’s a mature class and I’m loving it thus far; the students are much, much older than me! Perhaps around their late twenties, thirties to fifties! And I’m only 21 and do not know much at all, and I like the atmosphere, being in a class with people who are much much smarter than me, people who know so much more, and have more experience in life than I’ve ever had! And even more, I am taking the class with a really special friend! If everything were right in the world, I would choose among an MA in Philosophy, Anthropology, or Literature, but not much is right with my life right now to be honest, and I’d hate to give up on my dreams for practicality’s sake, but I guess we’ll just have to see. I’d like to have some kind of balance some day; I am not thinking about the money, but the “life”. What kind of life do I want to live? It’s so hard trying to live a meaningful life doing meaningful work. And in terms of my future, I’m honestly not so sure where to go from here. I really have no idea at all. I am grasping at straws, though it isn’t as scary as I once thought. I’ve since accepted that life is just a bunch of “I don’t knows.” It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. (Szymborska, 1996). And it is in uncertainty and unknowingness wherein I will truly learn. I know only that I know nothing (Socrates, Of Yore lol).

Lastly, I’ve been struggling with a couple of reads lately. The problem with being a haphazard reader is I read books all at the same time. Right now I am reading Pablo Neruda’s posthumous poetry collection, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cuisine recipe book. So help me.

book hauls, book dealers, and my search for patience

I met with a book dealer, a new one, a few hours ago for transaction. Well, they’re actually just strangers who sell their old books or give them away for free because who knows why, but I call them book dealers because it sounds cooler. My default book dealer, who I will refer to as G, is a tall, lithe, birdlike man with a scruffy beard. He teaches yoga and is, perhaps, one of the most interesting people out there. And I don’t even know him as much as I want, but I can tell he’s a very profound guy. A couple of my favorite books came from his own collection that he was downsizing, actually, so I know he has good taste in literature. My other book dealer, the one I met earlier, is K. She is a pregnant woman who wears all black. She’s actually a vegan and is a practitioner of zero waste living, so she’s been getting rid of a lot of her stuff to minimize her waste, and also to make way and give space for her baby. One of the things she was getting rid of were her books so she gave them away for free. My heart hurt a bit; I’m a vegan and want to get into zero waste (failed attempts so far, but who’s counting?!) but I cant get into the whole minimalism thing when it comes to books. I can give away anything, but books I really can’t. I know I should get rid of my clothes and shoes. I have way too many, and far too few that I actually put to use. I’m thinking of giving them all away and just buying/thrifting same sets of everything: dark jeans and trousers, white button ups, black shirts and turtlenecks. Never been a fan of fashion to be honest, and I have way too many clothes picking up dust in my closet. Perhaps after my graduation this October!

Anyway, I felt guilty of taking advantage of my book dealer’s kindness (she had a couple of books up for the taking, but I unabashedly and selfishly took four when I know I should’ve just stuck to one or two, because for sure other people want these books as well, but well, the idea of free books was just too tempting, sorry!!!) But yeah, I felt guilty so in exchange for the books that I asked for, I gave her a bunch of oranges in return, which didn’t really cost a lot. I got the following from K:

New copies of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

I was never brought up on the classics and reading for me has been a solitary thing ever since, so the things I read from my childhood were all from my own discovery, which means I read a lot of contemporaries. I’m acquainting myself with the classics bit by bit, and I’ve heard Twain’s writing is way ahead of his time, so my fear of being alienated from his language is kept at bay. The books were still sealed with plastic and have never been read, and I thought K was crazy for giving them away, so I snatched them up and told her I’d take them. They are in perfect condition!

Norwegian Wood by Haruki  Murakami.

I am on the fence with Murakami. I enjoyed South of the Border, West of the Sun very much, as well as his short stories, but I couldn’t get into After Dark even after I finished it. I tried Kafka on the Shore and Hardboiled Wonderland and gave up on them as well. I don’t exactly know what’s wrong; perhaps my eyes and judgments are clouded, but I tried so hard to get into the last three books to no avail. So here’s hoping I like Norwegian Wood! Anyway, I got it for free and it’s still in very good condition, so I’m definitely not complaining!

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

It’s a battered copy and has definitely seen better days. The cover is completely ripped apart, it’s totally gone, and the book itself is split in half, unhinged from its spine. But hey, free is free and it’s what’s inside that matters, plus I already fixed it with masking tape! I love it either way. I can tell this is a well loved book. I’ve had numerous paperbacks give up on me for being abused and read so many times, so this Anansi book isn’t really surprising to me. It would’ve ended up the same way, would be the imago of the book should I get it brand new. I never liked mint condition books anyway. Those are sad books because you know they’ve never been read, and books are lonely when you don’t spread their pages apart to reveal their secrets. A battered book is a happy book!

Also, I just find it so funny because buying another Gaiman reminded me of this encounter I had with my staff writer weeks ago. She asked me why I’ve never read Sylvia Plath and she was shocked that I’ve never read The Bell Jar in my teens. She said, and I quote, “Whaaat? You’ve never read The Bell Jar?! But it’s every sad teenage girl’s story…”

To be true, I was a sad, prepubescent girl, okay, I had my emo phase, but let’s not get into that… BUT I was more of a Gaiman-Tolkien-King girl during those times. High fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror were my shit. My reading tastes back then weren’t sad at all, even though I was terribly sad and alone in real life. Perhaps I channeled my energies to the weird and the angry, the macabre and the violent, the angsty and the Other instead of wallowing in sadness even more. I got those from Gaiman and King. Coraline, The Sandman, Fragile Things, Pet Sematary, The Shining, Duma Key, It, Carrie, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, these were my teenage companions! I was a sad prepubescent girl, but my literature was never sad. I guess I didn’t want to wallow in my sadness so I didn’t search for it in the books I read, which is great and all because I think if I read Plath during those dark hours, I would’ve gotten it all wrong. I would’ve romanticized suicide and thought it was all cool to be depressed and to be cutting myself. Maybe at that precarious prepubescent mind I would’ve been driven to do something unthinkable, like stick my head in a gas oven or something, and think it’s cool. Knowing my idiotic self back then, I would’ve done just that and thought it was cool, so I’m totally not complaining about growing up on Gaiman and King and Tolkien instead of Plath. If I were to read Plath, I’d like to do it now since I’m older, more mature, grounded, and have a stronger sense of self. But right, I’ve never had that sad teenage Bell Jar girl phase… that would’ve been interesting to see… I did have a Carrie stage though!!! I believed I was Carrie and could control people with telekinesis and read and communicate with other minds with my telepathy snort snort but let’s not get into that I am cringing so hard (tho to be fair, Carrie will always occupy a special space in my heart!)

Anyway, after meeting with my book dealer, of course I just had to indulge myself even more and head next  to the book thrift store to get two more books! The good books were stacked at the very top of the shelf, as if the people in the book thrift store didn’t want them to be bought off, but thanks to my 5’9 height I was able to pry them off from the top shelf by standing on tiptoe. I bought The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie and New Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney! They’re still in good condition, though they’ve totally been read through. Still, they are holding shape and, like what I said, I hate cookie cutter perfect books since those aren’t well loved books.

The Heaney poetry collection’s got scribbles on every page and I am swooning. I love it when past owners do this!!! Someone left their bookmark in the Rushdie book though, probably its last owner? The book has an address from India. The bookmark says INCY BELLA THE BOOK SHOP and it’s in Jew Town, Synagogue Lane, Cochin in Kerala, India. Wow… this book’s traveled to so many places. I hope I can visit that Indian book shop one day! I’m imagining that the bookshop is a small, independent bookshop, thriving and transcending against all the big business and corporations. It’s probably a little two-story brick house with the ground floor converted into a bookshop, in the middle of a bustling street… Ahhh that would be so cool. I wish I owned my own independent book shop.

The Moors Last Sigh is something I’m looking forward to read. Every time I read Salman Rushdie, it is always during a hectic time at school; it’s a bad idea because his books are these huge, thick monsters and the deadlines always catch up to me and I don’t get to finish them even if I want to. But now I wont have the library’s due dates and my academic deadlines looming over me so I can read Rushdie in peace, finally! (Past failed attempts: The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children).

On another note that is just as important than my book haul, I regret to admit that I had plonked Sontag and Soseki down… I hate myself, but this is how I read, haphazard, full of impulse and pigheadedness. I read Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel in one sitting the other day—something I didn’t plan at all—which frustrated me because I told myself I wasn’t done with my other books. Welp, my reading has never been linear so I don’t understand why I even bothered to follow a reading list strictly when it’s bound to fail. I told myself I wouldn’t read anything else until I’m done with Sontag and Soseki, but my arbitrary reading nature comes out. Of course I am not ruling them out! Sontag’s book is a collection of essays so I can read one anytime, but I cant read all of them in one sitting, and I don’t think I want to. Soseki on the other hand, well I feel bad for not finishing Sanshiro. I don’t hate it at all, it’s just that I need palate cleansers every now and then. He’s not boring, it’s just my reading nature, I guess, to read everything at once, at the same time; the experience is better for me. So that’s a failed attempt at focusing on books linearly sigh sigh. I always complain about the disarray that is my life, but I cannot even sort out my own reading list! Should I even bother or just let nature’s patterns take their course? Sigh sigh

Right now I am also lingering on the first pages of Jung’s Man and His Symbols, but at the same time, I want to focus on Norwegian Wood, The Moor’s Last Sigh and start on a few poems by Heaney. If push comes to shove (gosh, who even stresses about their book list like this?!) I’d probably put Norwegian Wood and Man and His Symbols first, then Heaney’s poems a close second. I think Rushdie can wait for me; he’s always been, and I don’t want to be disrespectful here, but Rushdie can wait a little bit more, I think! We’ll see! I also read over the weekend some short stories by Guy Maupassant and Isaac Asimov, and a book of haikus; this was during the time the power went out due to the relentless rain. It was so hot and I was sticky with sweat so I read in the candlelight, naked. There was nothing else to do. My eyes hurt from the low light, but I didn’t mind because I love Maupassant; his tales of terror fit perfectly in that rainy, candlelit Saturday night! Asimov, well, he’s regarded as one of the best, if not the best scifi writer of all time, but there’s something about him…. I guess it’s my fault. I am always searching for Bradbury’s poetry in scifi and I know people will argue that Ray Bradbury isn’t even science fiction, but well, I also beg to differ! Ray Bradbury can hold his own in scifi! He made everything in the quotidian so sublime! Form and content are both important of course, but personally, I find Asimov lacking in the form department, of course this is my opinion, you can challenge me if you disagree. Maybe because I compare him to Bradbury? Which isn’t fair, but Asimov is just dry week-old bread compared to Bradbury. I just…if Asimov’s scifi then Bradbury’s magic.  but Bradbury wasn’t afraid to be ascientific, if not ascientific. But whatever. It’s what makes you feel in the end anyway, and Bradbury’s made me cry so many times and feel so many heavy things in his shortest of stories, and Asimov, well, I don’t feel anything when I read him. The Last Question was supposedly brilliant, but when I read it, I just didn’t feel anything. Am I not scientific enough? Are my eyes clouded? Am I reading him wrong? Perhaps I need to be more patient with Asimov. I am the same with Kerouac and Murakami. Kerouac, I had to read On the Road TWICE just to appreciate where he was coming from, and now I love Kerouac. So I think I need to be more patient with Asimov and Murakami. Patience, patience, patience.

five

five books i am currently, desperately, painfully, pigheadedly longing to get my hands on!!!

Human Wishes by Robert Hass

The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery

books i’ve read this year

some books (graphic novels included!!!) i’ve read this year, starting January, just to keep myself on track. excluding, of course, the essays and articles i read since i read far too many of those that i cannot keep up with everything. perhaps ill try to make short reviews of these books in the near future!

Books Finished, 2017:

Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen

Gods in Everyman by Jean Bolen

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Bolen

Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott

How to Write Like Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa

Making Waves by Mario Vargas Llosa

Harry Potter books 1-7by JK Rowling (i missed the wizarding world and reread all these obsessively in 1.5 weeks during my April break! crazy!!)

The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon by Pablo Neruda

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

Run With the Hunted by Charles Bukowski

reread The Little Prince by Antoine De St. Exupery

Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Lost Girls by Alan Moore

FAILURE:

I still haven’t read Proust…when I promised his magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, would be my focus this year…

WHAT I’M READING NOW: 

Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki

At the Same Time by Susan Sontag

I’m trying not to read so many books at the same time–no matter how tempting it may be–in fear of overwhelming and distressing myself again lol, so I’m focusing on two books for now. After these two, I plan to start on another Bukowski (still haven’t decided what!), another Alan Moore (thinking of From Hell), and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez! Of course knowing myself, changes in the order are anticipated D: