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! 🙂
Off to shower then read a bit…will most likely post pictures too. 🙂