03 May 2009

Manila Times column for 03 May 2009: "Just how many books have you read, so far?"

original post here.

hehe, this post might "hurt" page poseurs out there, but what the hey. yes, they do exist! i based these on real people! of course i won't name names lang, though... inuman tayo, dun ko isisiwalat hahaha! chos.

By Libay Linsangan Cantor

Just how many books have you read, so far?

Since I saw Dia Del Libro’s poster with the tagline “Cuantos libros has leĆ­do?” last month, I couldn’t stop and think about just how many books have I really read, so far, in my life, as this Spanish tagline so asked.

The event, after all—by Instituto Cervantes and supported by the Spain Tourism Board—is a celebration of people’s love for books. Thus, there was a book sale, literary discussions and even a talk from a visiting literary luminary—Argentinean poet Juan Gelman. The book sale part is always a hit ever since the Spanish cultural institute began conducting this Day of Books event. And we Filipinos love sales of all sorts, even when it came to books. I mean, this is the country where the concept of the Book Sale nook thrived, right? So yes, we love bargains, buying books, and collecting books.

OK, how about the reading part? Now that’s another story.

I found it funny once that some people bought books for the sake of owning them. Seriously. One such person I met said she just kept buying because they were on sale, and they were rare/good/popular titles worth having. When I saw her collection, it was indeed impressive, until I discovered that she has never read most of them, because she was too busy with her work to actually read. Yes, I meet really weird people in Metro Manila.

I’ve also met some people who treat books as “proof” of their intellectual capacity. Seriously. It’s like when others discover them owning certain titles, they automatically get credit for being “so well-read” (read: intellectual). Or at least that’s what others assume of them. A friend even discovered that some of these “page poseurs” only went as far as reading the book’s blurbs so that they’ll know the story’s gist, and fake their way into conversations about the whole thing. Talk about literary loopholes. Yes, there are many weird people in Metro Manila.

As for me, there are titles I don’t mind buying in regular bookstores when they first come out. I also like scouring the shelves of bargain bookshops. And yes, I do read these books I buy. Some I read immediately if I am excited about them—like the newest works of my favorite authors. Some I set aside and find a better time to read them—some books/stories call for that. Or maybe I’m just a moody reader. Nonetheless, the books get read, eventually.

As for the number, I find that it’s so hard to quantify. What I remember are good stories, and not all books have them. So maybe I’ll just leave it at that, for now.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay. scribevibe@gmail.com. She is also at libay cantor.multiply.com.

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