Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Before I chronicle my adventures in Southeast Asia (I know, it's loooong overdue already), let me first share the joy of acquiring new reads.

I recently got the chance to visit the newly opened branch of Fully Booked at the ground level of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City just to feel the ambience of what seemed from the outside a cozy cafe and bookstore.

It's interiors were well-lit as seen through its clear glass panels, and I thought it could be a
very relaxing experience to have coffee inside. So after a stressful day, on my way home, I decided to drop by the bookstore.

It was probably the first time that I really got to browse every title in the shelves
of a bookstore. I'm a book lover, yes, but I don't have the patience to look at every title and author in front of me while in a bookstore. And that probably explains why I don't get to buy books from stores such as Book Sale because my five-minute attention span would simply not let me dig into the shelves.

But since I wasn't really in a hurry, I decided to take a closer look at what's inside the store. I wasn't really intending to buy anything since I still have a lot of boo
ks in line, but I ended up with two new books: Laura Esquivel's Malinche and Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.

Laura Esquivel would probably be a natural choice since I'm a fan of the magic realism strain.
Take note that magic realism differs from fantasy such that unusual things like flying, magic and exaggerated incidences are treated as real and normal stuff, compared to fantasy pieces where characters are struck with wonder and awe upon seeing or experiencing such things.
I remember reading Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate which eventually became one of my most memorable reads (how can I forget one character who got literally too hot after eating Chicken in Rose Petal Sauce?).
On the other hand, I've always planned on acquiring a Rushdie, especially after I've heard raving reviews of his Satanic Verses. Rushdie's Midnight's Children piqued my curiosity because first, there's no Satanic Verses available at that time. Secondly, it's thick and I thought it would be a challenge for my short attention span. And lastly, it's one of those magic realist stories, where this boy born at midnight suddenly discovers that he's able to communicate with other children born at midnight. Cool, eh?

But my book-shopping spree didn't end there. Still fresh from my Fully Booked splurging, I dropped by the Harrison Plaza branch of National Bookstore by chance which appeared to be on sale. Although it's not the flagship store of the bookstore chain (it's actually one of the shabbiest), the Harrison Plaza branch was reputed to have great selections on bargain as my college professors told me that the store sells hard-to-find classics for only P10 (2001 prices, take note).

So I checked out their books on sale and found one interesting book:
Li Po and Tu Fu. These two Chinese poets were among the pillars of Chinese literature, as far as I can remember from my World Literature. I presented a Li Po poem in college and from what I can remember, this author is fond of using vivid imagery of nature, wine, and stuff (he's a drunkard).

And since the blurb of the book tells of an introduction which leads readers to the historical context where the two authors lived, not to mention pages of artfully rendered Chinese calligraphy, I grabbed the book without opening it (it's still sealed up to now). After all, I got it for only P100! (original price was P405).

But before I open my new acquisitions, I still have to finish Gabriel Garcia Marquez'
One Hundred Years of Solitude. I remember getting this book in February 2003 as my graduation gift to myself. This is currently my third attempt at finishing the book. I remember getting started at it and finishing it in the middle. But this book should be read without stops as much as possible because names of characters are confusing (they're all Jose Arcadios and Aurelianos in the novel), not to mention that the events and instances presented are too incredible that you really have to have a lot of focus on what's happening (the patriarch being tied to a chestnut tree for 50 years, the grand daughter's beauty that literally kills, etc.).

Sounds too cheesy, but reading this book is really one heck of an experience.

And oh, I read the Bible. I recently finished reading the story of Samson (Judges chapter 13). And I'm about to read other stories that I grew up with, just to freshen up my memory. And of course, the Bible is THE Word and it's supposed to be food for the spirit and not simply a collection of literary pieces.