Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Tale of Two Piles

You see, I started late. I was not much of a reader till one book changed all that. Said book led me to another, and then that another to another till it's too late. I am hooked and became aware of the gaping horrible void in my life. And I think only through reading the great lore of awesomese can save me from total self-destruction.

Those two piles above show the earnestness of my goal to read 100 books this year. I have yet to get past that number since I discovered my passion for reading only in college.

Like any virgin bloke to reading and with no one to guide me which one is a good read and which is not, I read any books available in a library near me. Or when one good soul told me that I could find cheap books in Booksale shops and when I have enough money to buy them, I would pick ones that have fancy titles and covers in them regardless of who wrote them. More reading made me wised up a bit, and became more informed, biased, and a little intelligent in my taste on books.

That said, here are the books I've read so far since the start of the year. Apparently, I'm much behind schedule but there’s still enough time I think to catch up.

Since January 01, 2010

1. If You Really Want To Hear About It (Edited by Catherine Crawford)
2. Capote: A Biography (Gerald Clarke)
3. The Dark Side of Genius (Donald Spoto)
4. My Lost Mexico (James Michener)
5. V. S. Pritchett: A Working Life (Jeremy Treglown)
6. Siddhartha (Herman Hesse)
7. Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham)
8. A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway)
9. 21 Great Stories (Edited by Abraham H. Laas & Norma L. Tasman)
10. Walden and On Civil Disobedience (Henry David Thoreau)
11. The Greatest Salesman In The World (Og Mandino)
12. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
13. A Century In His Life: Alexander Solzhenitsyn (D. M. Thomas)
14. Waiting For Godot (Samuel Beckett)
15. Where Angels Fear To Thread (E. M. Forster)
16. F’D Companies (Philip J. Kaplan)
17. Catch 22 (Joseph Heller)
18. Welcome to Hard Times (E. L. Doctorow)
19. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King)
20. 99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939 (Anthony Burgess)
21. A Portrait of The Artist as Filipino (Nick Joaquin)
22. Education of a Wandering Man (Louis L’Amour)
23. How The West Was Won (Louis L’Amour)
24. The Ferguson Rifle (Louis L’Amour)
25. Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography (Andrew Turnbull)
26. A Wizard of Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin)
27. Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller)

Second pile comprises of some classics I've missed and contemporary books that I want to read. This is only a short list. I still need to find more books to include in it. If you have some titles in mind, kindly drop me some lines in the comment below.

Thanks guys as always for reading.


  1. You read a lot. Do you reread books? Are there books you like enough to read again and again?

  2. Thanks for commenting. There are 2 books actually in the list that I've already read twice or thrice, and still can't get enough of them. I'm referring to H.D. Thoreau's Walden and Nick Joaquin's A Portrait of The Artist as Filipino. Walden is one of those very rare books that when you read again, it still seems like the first time, you learn new things you haven't notice the first and second reading. That's how great the book is, which I'll probably read again later this year. The other is meant to be read twice: first is to enjoy the story by one of our own, the second time is to relish that enjoyment. The other book that I've read twice is JD Salinger's Catcher In The Rye.

    Thanks again for visiting these parts and leaving a comment. Love to hear from you again.

  3. Thanks. I'm going to check those out. I think I want to read Catcher in the Rye again. Like you, I am also a second-hand bookstore junkie. What is that "one book that changed all that"? I only started listing what I read last year. Most of the time, I find the reread more pleasing than the first read, its a chance to study how the author writes the story.

    I've read On Writing last month, and I have a copy of Tropic of Cancer still unread. If you're thinking of getting anything by King, I find "Misery" an interesting look at a writer's life.

    Here's a quote by Umberto Eco on owning too many books, which you may find interesting (I don't know where exactly it came from, I just copypasta'd it).

    "I have many experiences that are, I think, common to all who possess very many books (I now have around forty thousand volumes, between Milan and my other houses) and to all who consider a library not just a place to keep books one has already read but primarily a deposit for books to be read at some future date, when one feels the need to read them. It often happens that our eyes fall on some book we have not yet read, and we are filled with remorse.

    But then the day eventually comes when, in order to learn something about a certain topic, you decide finally to open one of the many unread books, only to realize that you already know it. What has happened? There is the mystical-biological explanation, whereby with the passing of time, and by dint of moving books, dusting them, then putting them back, by contact with our fingertips the essence of the book has gradually penetrated our mind. There is also the casual but continual scanning explanation: as time goes by, and you take up and then reorder various volumes, it is not the case that the book has never been glanced at; even by merely moving it you glanced at a few pages, one today, another the next month, and so on until you end up by reading most of it, if not in the usual linear way. But the true explanation is that between the moment when the book first came to us and the moment when we opened it, we have read other books in which there was something that was said by that first book, and so, at the end of this long intertextual journey, you realize that even that book you had not read was still part of your mental heritage and perhaps had influenced you profoundly."

  4. jonas,we were classmate before... and i remembered that we read some of the authors our professors in English recommended us to read... and now, you read most of the authors i haven't heard... i could not imagine that you read all of those come? hehehe anyway, i wish i could also finish 20 books this year. and i finished 5 books already... i still have 15 titles to read... i am starting reading Huckleberry Finn...from time to time, i will read some of your blogs... good bless.

  5. @ anonymous 1, wish to know your name:

    Keeping a list of your reading is quite helpful in a lot of ways. I learned that from some great authors who also keep a track of their reading. I'm sure it helps you a lot too.

    That "one book that changed all that" is the "Vicar of Christ" by Walter F. Murphy. Don't be discouraged by the title. It's not really a churchy novel. But it was a lengthy one which took me almost a month to finish. But how I enjoyed it and love the experience! It made me realized that reading isn't really that bad as I once thought. It did me a lot of good, too, to say the least. Maybe, I should write a whole post about it.

    Tropic of Cancer is a crazy good read. Spoiler alert: it is porn. Really it is. But in a profound literary sense, or something that you can read without your stomach getting upset. And Henry Miller is one of the great American scribblers ever. Hope that explains it.

    Stephen King mentioned Misery in his On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Thanks for the tip. Will try to procure a copy of that book.

    Also appreciate the Umberto Eco quote. Love it pretty much.

  6. @ anonymous 2, well, I know you. You are Macky, right? hehe..

    You finally found my blog. A fellow who loves books and reading, too. Like all Mark Twain books and had read his autobiography 7 years ago. Will look forward to visit your blog if you're also into blogging. Great to have you here, Mack. And thanks for leaving a comment.

  7. Hi again. I am anonymous 1, just call me Al. I'm aware of that about Tropic of Cancer. Though, I had the misfortune to read "Gamiani (or Two Nights of Excess)" by Alfred de Musset last year and it left me traumatized for weeks. A short book, but dirty, horrific, and tragic but so well-written (but then who said porn can't have literary value). I'm not so shocked about those anymore. That's what I like about books anyway, they're not rated like movies. I'm going to be 18 next year, not that I'm eagerly anticipating that, nor am I seeking porn in movies or books. And my parents let me read anything I want.

  8. Jonas... happy you have guessed my anonymous comment in your blog... I am not really into blogging... but I am into reading others blogs. and I love really reading your blogs.... Why? Because it inspires me to look for a silent well-lighted corner, just stay seated for many hours and just read a book. I have lesser time to read now because of my teaching job... but, when I read some of your blogs, I come to miss our college years and the way we value reading. but now, I prefer to read a book than gimmicks... so it is a cheaper hobby... haahaha thanks for advertising reading on the Internet... I have changed my lifestyle now.... your reading hobby is contagious.... hope to see you...

  9. Hello again Macky! Thanks for the kind thoughts. Yes, reading and those memories of our good ole college days are my source of happiness/consolations, keeping me on to keep doing good and getting better everyday. So is blogging. Wish to see you blogging, too, and bouncing off ideas with you about reading and other great things you've been doing these days.

    PS: Balt is now into blogging. Also Teng Amaya. Here are the links of their blogs:

    Wish to add yours soon.