Mini Book Rant.

Ask me what it is that I miss most about school and I’ll probably tell you that it’s the library. So, today, I borrowed a friend’s id and borrowed books. Tomorrow, I;m having them photocopied and book-bound. Oops, piracy…’tis a monster really and if you read any of the Russians, you’ll most likely die of guilt! But honestly, I’ve been meaning to ask a serious question: How are we to be a thinking nation if books sold in this country cost an arm and a leg?

Over the past weeks I’ve been frequenting bookstores both old and new. Partly to blame is my sudden hunger for books but mostly, I just want to get out and not sit around too long thinking about all the fun I’m not having. So, to the bookstores I go and sometimes I’m lucky. I find gems that hardly cost anything and it’s without guilt that I arrive home anxious to peel its cover pages. Then, last weekend, I found myself in one of the flashier bookstores that boast mainly of books with pretty covers. I salivate for a moment while looking at beautiful hardcover selections then navigate slowly toward the soft-bounds until finally I find a book I really like, turn it over to see the price–then, it kills me.

Let me illustrate further. For Christmas, my beloved cousins gifted me with a 3oo peso Fully Booked gift certificate. I was elated and anxious to spend it. So, I gathered enough train fare and got to Cubao early enough to start looking. This was around 3 in the afternoon. At 7pm I decided that i was too depressed to go on with this harrowing task of looking. There are hardly any books that cost 300 pesos anymore. Not even the Newbery’s in the YA collection–those precious books I’d grown up with–are sold at a price you can save up for.

Needless to say, I settled for a copy of Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, added 25 pesos and felt so discouraged, I vowed to read the book in December. Hmph! (Honestly, the book itself might be better read then since its a compilation of letters Stargirl writes to Leo over the course of a year. To her everyday feels like an “unhappy anniversary”…ugh. Not now please!)

But on to my point: There’s always a great debate in this country about which language ought to be mastered (English or Tagalog), but let’s face it, our kids aren’t reading to begin with. Schools try their best but like most of you already know, things aren’t what they ought to be and to further augment the discrepancy, you have these ridiculous prices for books!

I also wish we had updated public libraries. I remember a few posts back when Elle told me that she had requested Alain de Botton’s book from their library in Singapore. Imagine my frustration?!

But anyway, all I can do now is rant. Tomorrow, I’ll go scout for the cheapest xeroxing + binding places there are. I think its about time I opened a little library here. I’m a little hesitant to lend books because they mean the world to me but I really wouldn’t mind lending copies. Now, if only the copying cost could be brought down a bit. Hmm…

Went out today to take pictures and visit the Solidaridad bookstore along P. Faura. I can’t wait for Mr. Jose to be back! Wish he would come home already! You should visit his bookstore! He has all the wonderful Filipiniana books and a whole lot of books on different topics. His fiction collection is also drool-worthy. Ahem. Thank goodness I had no money! πŸ™‚

Off to shower then read a bit…will most likely post pictures too. πŸ™‚


15 thoughts on “Mini Book Rant.

  1. If there’s one thing I hate about living in this country, it’s the absence of convenient places to get good literature. Oh, yeah, and the fact that there are no such places, because the Philippines isn’t a reading country–so many people will say that, hey, no! blah blah, BUT IT’S TRUE, dammit. It’s not even a question of whether we read “good” or “bad” literature; we just don’t read enough. And those who read, a minority. Lots of people may obsess about the Twilight series, fine, READ that. But are more people ware of, say, Nolledo? Kerima Polotan? Lakambini Sitoy? The poets–Arkaye Keirulf, Mikael Co, Larry Ypil? Last year, I read about five fiction books by Filipino authors. That’s about it. Not because I don’t like what’s being produced, but because, well, I don’t know. Haha, I’m rambling. And ranting, yes. Some days, I just know in my bones that I live in a cultural armpit. It’s not a lack of art and literature produced, but the complete ignorance of the general population.


    Aherm. About the photocopying, I feel really really really bad about that. I’ve only photocopied three whole books for reading pleasure (never mind school requirements)–and I did it because there weren’t any actual copies still available. Which is so, so, so very sad.

    /end rant

  2. toynbeeconvector says:

    kaya nga!!! Ay naku! And those book covers of classics with the sticker that says, “Bella & what’s-his-name-who-glows’ favorite book” Kakainiiiis! But Twilight aside, I agree. There isn’t a place to buy good books (though you must seriously go to Solidaridad because the collection is crazy!) and everything’s so damned expensive you’d have to sell yourself before you can manage to afford the things you want to read. Shucks.

    But wait, about the xeroxing…what bothers you exactly? The fact that we’re stealing or that it isn’t available anywhere else?

    • I hate that we have to photocopy in the first place–that the books we want aren’t available, and if they are: the expensive books in a third world country with a fifth-world tolerance for art. I hate photocopying because I don’t want to do it, but I still do, because we really have no other choice. I hate piracy, but please, di ba? I save up to buy an 800-peso book, and that hurts my heart–that’s another reason why no one here reads. It’s got the reputation of being a luxury. Augh.

      • toynbeeconvector says:

        And your 800 pesos can take you through pages and pages of good books if you just hang around Booksale more often. But honestly, not all the good titles we want can be found in Booksale. 😦

        Hay. I agree. It’s a luxury item nga! How depressing noh? And the one that really wreaks of irony and gets to me is Nolledo’s case. Imagine a Filipino author who isn’t even made available to his people?! This is why nobody knows who he is or what he’s written.

        But oh well, guilt and anger aside, xerox nalang muna. It’s our only hope. πŸ™‚ btw, which five Filipino books did you read?

  3. I agree with your post! It’s really hard to read when books cost so much, aside from that, I find it sad when people don’t share my love for reading and friends give me incredulous looks when they find me reading for pleasure and not just because it’s required reading.

    I had to photocopy a book on Filipino poetry back when I was in uni because I couldn’t find it in the mainstream bookstores. I feel so happy that living here in SG has really whetted my appetite for a variety of books and that I can recommend a book to the national library. I think it just saved me an arm and a leg last year.

    I’ve been to Mr. Jose’s bookstore at Faura once, and I was a broke uni student then, which was kinda pathetic. And because of this post I have made up my mind to visit it whenever I can come back.

    • toynbeeconvector says:

      Elle! I’ve missed you so! How are you?!

      I know what you mean. People tend to look at us funny when we hold books. But then again, our books hold us back and the world can completely go on without us. I doubt if we’d notice, what with our noses buried deep into our books. πŸ™‚

      Wow! I didn’t think Singapore allowed such piracy. Aren’t you guys stricter in general? But yes, your libraries are a thing to be proud of. Take a picture of it for me? Or borrow many books and read so that we might live vicariously. πŸ™‚

      When you manage to come back, we ought to score bookstores. I promise we’ll do this then have some really good lunch! πŸ™‚ oh, btw, what’s your mailing address? Email it to me please? πŸ™‚

      Yehey for Tumblr! I’ve been following you forever!

      • I photocopied in increments, LOL! I so want to score bookstores with you. If this year would turn out better for me, I’d probably make it home – sounds weird to call Philippines home when I have no home there at all now! πŸ™‚

  4. Last year?
    Soledad’s Sister, by Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr. [Sir Butch!]
    Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog, Edgar Samar [Sir Egay!]
    The Highest Hiding Place: Poems, by L. Lacambra Ypil [Sir Larry!]
    The Long Lost Startle: Poems, by Joel Toledo [Joel!]
    Reconnaissance, by Tara FT Sering.
    Stories, by Kerima Polotan.
    And that PEN Philippines Anthology of Short Fiction.

    Still, that’s sad. I read–rough estimate–200-ish books last year, and I read at least seven books by local authors? BAH.

    • PS — I had to photocopy Nolledo, because no one stocked him except Amazon (and we know how expensive shipping + taxes can get), and Alfred Yuson’s classic The Great Philippine Jungle Energy Cafe, as well as Eric Gamalinda’s Empire of Memory. CRAAAAP. I swear, if I could get my hand on actual copies, I will give the photocopies away (because more people should read those people).

    • toynbeeconvector says:

      Wow! I didn’t even know that Tara Sering had a book! How’d you like it? πŸ™‚ Shucks, that does feel awful doesn’t it? Reading less than 10 books by Filipino authors feels like such a crime. Oh well, there’s always this year.

      I’ve been looking for that book by Yuson and Nolledo but ugh, no one seems to know where to find it. Can I photocopy your xeroxed book?

      Oh, Sasha. This country of ours is going to make us bleed to show our love for it. I really hope the coming elections bring out some hope, though. I’m sure people are as fed up as we are. They probably just need someone to nudge them in the right direction. At least this is what I hope for. πŸ™‚

  5. Ailen says:

    oh man. i was just at powerbooks and national bookstore yesterday inquiring about four titles… they didn’t have any. 😦 they said i could order but then i’d have to pay for shipping, too. eh di mas lalo ko nang hindi nabili.

    oh, nash — this entry made me revisit my goals for 2010! now i’m inspired to finish 15-20 books by pinoy authors. gotta do it.

    i got my copies of ‘energy cafe’ and ’empire of memory’ at the UP bookstore years ago… not sure if they still have these two but i’ll look around and let you know.

    • toynbeeconvector says:

      Oh Ailen! Where’ve you been?! I’ve missed you so! I just saw your new year’s post. I really hope you muster the courage to send that work-in-regress to the Palanca soon. I miss reading your writing! Please update more. πŸ™‚

      you want to read Pinoy books together? I’m so bad at keeping resolutions and I really need someone to read with because i find that not speaking to anyone about things I read makes me feel like the world is such a lonely place. Hay.

      What are the titles you were looking for? Let me know so in case I find them, I can give you a head’s up. National, Powerbooks and Fully Booked aren’t always the best bookstores for our obsessive book lust. πŸ™‚

      Yes please, I’d really appreciate that. If you can’t find it, I’ll probably head off to the UP Press one of these days.

      • Ailen says:

        ugh, been at work, work, and more work 😦 it’s getting in the way of life and reading but i try hard to squeeze a few chapters daily. yes, i will write more! that statement is also written on a post-it on my desk so that i’m reminded daily. since i can’t give up my tv-watching, i’ve decided to write/rewrite a palanca paragraph for each episode i watch. haha, good luck naman. πŸ˜€

        aw, sure! my former boss was a fellow bookeater who exchanged books and DVDs with me — we’d always find time between work to discuss stuff — but since he’s resigned, i haven’t had anyone to read things with. sad 😦 so i say now that i have you, let’s go! πŸ™‚

        i was looking for nolledo’s ‘but for the lovers,’ rushdie’s ‘haroun and the sea of stories,’ yasunari kawabata’s ‘palm-of-the-hand stories,’ and r. scott bakker’s ‘neuropath.’ darn, even in booksale, where i usually get my obscure titles, i can’t score them.

  6. Ailen says:

    also, when we discussed nolledo in class, everybody had no choice but to photocopy my prof’s book. 😦 that was a sad moment for the lit majors.

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