The Books I Buy

Be warned: This post is heavy with book title-dropping.

I have a sickness. Whenever I’d pass by any bookstore I almost always need to check out what the new arrivals are or what books are on sale. This year alone I have bought more than 30 books and have only managed to read only 2 or 3.

I don’t really have a particular taste in books. I don’t go to bookstores with a particular title in mind. Well, except for maybe Harry Potter, The Hunger Games trilogy, or the latest John Grisham book. Nothing beats browsing through shelves or scavenging in wooden boxes like they were ukay-ukay and discovering gems buried under piles of books – like The Reader I bought at Booksale for a measly P45 or Stephen King’s The Green Mile at NBS for P100 back in college.

I don’t just grab any book I see on sale and rush to the cashier to pay for it. I don’t look at the synopsis at the back cover of each book either. Usually books get my attention when the title sounds familiar (maybe i had read the title somewhere) or it had won this prize or that prize.

Here is a list of where I get ideas on what books to buy and a few titles that I have in my collection.

1. Recommended by Bloggers. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao from Jessica Zafra. The Book Thief from Duke. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from Gillboard. The Hunger Games from Skron. Ilustrado from Minor Circuit.

2. Broadsheet Book Reviews. Bob Ong’s ABNKKBSNPLAKO from The Philippine Star. Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from The New York Times.

3. Mentioned in Movies. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera from the John Cusack-Kate Beckinsale romantic comedy Serendipity.

4. Magazines. I got addicted to Harry Potter after reading that Steven Spielberg planned to adapt the book into the big screen – envisioning it as an animated film.

5. Recommendations from a Cousin. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Marley and Me. The Lovely Bones. To Kill a Mockingbird. Catcher in the Rye. Ordinary People. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

6. Novels adapted into motion pictures. The English Patient. Possession. The LOTR trilogy. Flags of our Fathers. LA Confidential. Notes on a Scandal. Revolutionary Road. About a Boy.

7. Award Winners. The God of Small Things (Booker Prize, 1997). My Century (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1999). The Known World (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2004).

8. Major US Broadsheet Citations and year-end Top 10 lists. The Piano Tuner (A New York Times Notable Book). The Testing of Luther Albright (A Los Angeles Times Book of the Year). Runaway (A New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year).

9. For sheer popularity. John Irving’s The World According to Garp. Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. Haruki Murikami’s Norwegian Wood.

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20 Responses to The Books I Buy

  1. ahmer says:

    Out na ba ang latest book ni Grisham ?

  2. gillboard says:

    glad to see i contributed something to your book collection. 🙂

  3. WCS Minor Circuit says:

    Glad to see Ilustrado made your list. If I may add some input:

    -Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is good, though his magnum opus is–in my opinion–still 100 Years of Solitude

    -If you haven’t already, you should try reading Jeffrey Eugenides’s novels The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex. Also, he has some pretty interesting short stories on the web (his Wikipedia entry has links to them if you’re interested).

    -David Mitchell is an excellent author, and one of my personal favorites. His novel Cloud Atlas is popular in literary circles, and I recommend that as well his other work. His most recent book, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, was pretty damn good.

    -I could go on forever actually, but I’ll end with saying anything by Carlos Bulosan or Bienvenido Santos is worth a looksie.

    • the scud says:

      I got bored sa first pages ng Ilustrado but it’s growing on me. Nasa kalagitnaan pa ako.

      – I’ve read 100 years of solitude. That book was great. Magic-realism.
      – I’ve read Middlesex and I think I may have a copy of The Virgin Suicides too. I saw the movie though.
      – Wow. You read Filipino authors too? Astig. Ako hindi pa. Bummer.

      • WCS Minor Circuit says:

        I think the problem with Ilustrado, and my only real complaint about it, is that the first chapter or two seem so random that the reader doesn’t know exactly what to think about it. For the majority of the novel I was expecting some ‘Lost’-like convergence at the end, but after finishing it I realized that wasn’t Syjuco’s intention at all. I adjusted my approach the next time I went through the book and I got a lot more out of it then, since I already knew how to “read” it. There are a lot of subtle nuances in the book, and sometimes they can be overshadowed with Syjuco’s wordiness. But for these few flaws the ending definitely is a treat.

        I do read Filipino authors’ books, though they’re not all made equally. I say for every quality, literary Filipino novel there are five others out there that are trying too hard to be the “post-colonial, Filipino condition” manifestos that get so damn tedious. A major problem with authors who have capital “I” Ideas is that they try harder to be–say–Filipino than being just writers who happens to be Filipino. I have this complaint about authors from other countries too (India, almost everything from South America aside from a few amazing authors, and even/especially the States). I find myself most entertained when I’m reading a book about someone living far from where I do, or in a condition I’m not used to, but still finding myself relating to the characters.

        This comment dragged on much longer than I expected.

  4. Skron says:

    Haha. I finally influenced someone into reading what I like to read. Though I wish it was me who had recommended The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

    And if I may suggest and expand that influence. Try other dystopian fiction like 1984, Brave New World or anything by Ayn Rand and Margaret Atwood.

  5. prinsesamusang says:

    i also do not like passing by book stores because then i would not stop myself from going in and the rest is history, haha.

    scud, if you have time, can do the all i want for christmas post already since some have sent in already so we can exchange details na! please? thank you, haha exciting!

  6. ewok1993 says:

    Inggit ako sa iyo. You have time to read. Sana manumbalik (tagalog yan ah!) ang inspiration ko sa reading.

  7. Pingback: Book/reading spree « The WCS Minor Circuit

  8. raft3r says:

    i should read more
    nakakahiya na

  9. Atticus says:

    pareho tayo. pag may sale ng libro, parang tag-gutom. hindi basta book-buying, talagang hoarding. i love your list. i’ve read most of them. ang aking latest hoard ay may 20 yata na books, dagdag pa iyong mga iniuwi ko mula sa book fair.

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