It took me less than a few minutes to list down 10 books that stayed with me but my friends took a long time and most can’t even complete the list. This troubles me a lot as it’s really an indication of how few readers there are in my country.
Indeed, unlike in the US where libraries are a necessary part of the community, in the Philippines, libraries can only be found in university and school campuses. A few private libraries exist but it’s only accessible to those who can afford the membership fee.
Reading novels is becoming a dying art. I can only shake my head as I’ve always thought of books as entertainment, like the web or the TV. The rarity of seeing someone reading in public transportation or public spaces in my country has elevated the hobby into the realm of hipterdom(Shudders!).
I do have to admit that the prevalence of high speed internet, cable TV, and addictive app games did not just affect the people around me and society in general. I, myself, am not immune to the seduction of convenient entertainment. When in the past, I slept and woke up with books strewn around me, I now sleep and wake up with my humming laptop beside me.
I can only be grateful that growing up, we had no cable TV (we only have 1 TV for the whole family), and we didn’t even have telephone lines. I had no choice but to turn to books for my entertainment. In school, we passed around books and share spoilers. A lot of my books got lost because of negligent borrowers who are also book lovers (amnesiac when it comes to books they borrowed).
It’s sad to find that in today’s world, people stare at you when you bring out a novel to read while traveling. It’s like they’ve never seen someone read a book that’s not a textbook(or a bible, or the Twilight series) before. I actually rejoice inside when in rare occasions, I see someone reading in public. It delights me to covertly look at the cover (I’m disappointed if it’s just those trashy Tagalog Romance Novels though).
Well, anyway, back to the list I posted on Facebook last week:
1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – I’ve heaped praises for Mary Shelley’s classic monster before. See the comprehensive blog about it here. As I said, I surprisingly identified with the monster Frankenstein created. Allthese years, I thought I was a Dracula girl but reading the original source and setting aside the green, square-headed idiotic Hollywood monster, I found out I was more of the abandoned monster seeking life’s meaning.
2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – While I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and crushed on Mr. Darcy, I’m really more attracted to the raw, gothic stories of the Brontë sisters.
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – See my blog about Darcy vs Rochester here.
4. Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve – I’ve been a fan of Anita Shreve ever since I read her book, Fortune’s Rocks. But this book just blew my mind. The twist would’ve angered some readers but not me. You just have to read it for yourself. I can’t possibly bear spoiling it for you.
5. Vita Brevis by Jostein Gaarder – While I find the story in Sophie’s World intriguing, honestly, the parts about the history of Philosophy kind of boring. Maybe it’s because I was just 16 when I read that humongous book but I just got through the book to find out about the mystery plot. Vita Brevis is the one book of Gaarder that really intrigued me. It’s like a mockumentary about the life of St. Augustine’s mistress, set in her point of view. If you are a feminist, you will love this book. It’s her answer to his “Confessions.” To this day, I don’t know if what I’ve read was fact or fiction.
6. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – My happy place. I got obsessed early on, before the book became a must have in my country. I remember my classmates laughing while a lugged around the ginormous 4th book. It was my turn to laugh when next year, each of them carried the same big book.
7. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick – I need an actual copy of this. I just read this on an tiny ipod. The stories of the North Korean defectors were just so compelling, I didn’t mind the tiny screen and the teeny-weeny texts.
8. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – I remember exactly when and where I found this book. It was 50 pesos ($1+) on a bin in National Bookstore Monumento (ok maybe not the when). I loved the fictionalized story of Van Meer and his maid. It kind of reminds me of that movie I liked – Mary Reilly.
9. Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch – Most are familiar with the Edith Hamilton book of mythology but this is the one we had. We actually had 2 copies – a brother and a sister apparently each bought one and I ended up with 2 books.
10. Peter Pan by JM Barrie – I read the abridged children’s version when I was a wee lass of I-forgot-it-was-so-long-ago and it became one of my favorite books. I was in my twenties when I read the unabridged version and I found that I still loved the story. I can’t help but wish I was in Neverland. Adulthood is such a pain in the ass.
Care to share what were your 10 books that’ve stayed with you?