Tuesday, September 20, 2005


My bedside reading pile is starting to grow again, but I can't help it; I'm a compulsive reader (and book buyer). These texts, all new to me, are results of visits to the recent Book Fair, the usual sorties to Powerbooks and Fully Booked, unexpected finds at the Ateneo Press and Anvil offices, a couple of gifts from friends and, in the case of the Hopkinson, a tremendous find by Nikki. Normally, I read one book at a time, but this latest set makes me want to jump around from one text to another.

Infidels : A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam by Andrew Wheatcroft- I cannot put this historical analysis down. Tracing the origins of the struggle between Muslims and Christians from the hazy first encounters to the current state of world affairs, it is an incredible repository of details and insight. The chapter on Spain/Al-Andalus alone is worth the price - and has inspired two new stories (one of which will be a retelling of the "The Tinderbox").

Gothic! : Ten Original Dark Tales edited by Deborah Noyes - I love anthologies, and this collection of stories for young adults boasts an interesting roster of authors (Nix, Gaiman, Kiernan, Maguire).

The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson - My exposure to Hopkinson has been via her short fiction (courtesy of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror) and both Nikki and I are big fans (we'd kill for a copy of Mojo: Conjure Stories). I'm curious to see how she writes a novel, if the quirkiness and texture that is her trademark is also present in long form.

The Mammoth Book of How It Happened : Eyewitness Accounts of Great Historical Moments from 2700 BC to AD 2005 edited by Jon E. Lewis - As reference material as well as for the pure thrill of new knowledge, I know I'll value this book. Various eyewitness accounts of events (both mundane and seminal) provide wonderful details rich for the mining.

Mouse or Rat: Translation As Negotiation by Umberto Eco - A book on translation by one of the finest minds of today makes for fascinating reading. Already, I'm thinking about the problems posed by intersemiotic translation (most recently done by Augie Rivera for one of plays).

Catherine de Medici : Renaissance Queen of France by Leonie Frieda - Yes, by now it should be obvious that I love history. I like it especially when it isn't dry facts but when it is viewed through the contextual lens of a life. In this case, it is 16th century Europe via the life of France's Queen.

Cogito Ergo Sum and other Musings on Science edited by Queenie Lee-Chua - A collection of fiction, journalism, essays and poetry viewing science from different perspectives, this Filipino anthology boasts a great roster of contributors, including Greg Brilliantes, Isagani Cruz, Shiela Coronel, Alberto Florentino, Luis Katigbak, Ma. Elena Paterno-Locsin (my crush!), Angelo Suarez, Eileen Tupaz, Krip Yuson and more.

The City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff Vandermeer - I'm not sure if I listed this one before, but it is my first novel by Vandermeer and it looks fascinating.

Great Philippine Jungle Energy Café by Alfred Yuson - At last, I can begin to make amends to Krip by reading his Palanca Award-winning novel.

Necessary Fictions by Caroline S. Hau
On the Subject of Nation by Caroline S. Hau

A two-book analysis on the relationship between Philippine Literature and nationalist discourse. I need to be better able to articulate my deep discomfort with social realism. Educated reading is the key.

White Elephants by Angelo R. Lacuesta - This is the latest (yet to be released to trade) collection of short fiction by Sarge Lacuesta, a fine writer and an old friend of mine. I'm including one of the pieces original to this collection, "New Wave Days", in my forthcoming Philippine Speculative Fiction antho. He's outstanding.

A set of all 10 new Lola Basyang (Severino Reyes) children's books published by Anvil - I got these for Sage. Anvil released 5 books last year and 5 books this year, and when I envinced interest during my meeting with Karina Bolasco of Anvil, she offered the set at a price I couldn't refuse. Sadly, the writing is uneven (and, in some cases, a direct retelling of Grimm/Andersen fairy tales) but two of them are illustrated by Elbert Or, a fine storyteller in his own right.

Fabulous Creatures And Other Magical Beings by Joel Levy - This irresistible oversize hardbound book is cleverly designed to simulate a collection of articles by the Cryptozoological Society of London. I love fantastic creatures, so this acquistion was a no-brainer.

Along my regular purchases of comics in pamphlet form and collected/trade editions (like the Legion of Superheroes Archives Vol. 9), I'm a happy reader.

I cannot imagine life without books.


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