I recently bumped into an old classmate in one of the first floor corridors of the Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, and we got to talking about what had been keeping us busy. We prattled off a litany of works we had to deal with -- she had her dissertation and all other works and readings connected to it, I had the history of the PNP-Special Action Force
, plus the tail end of my course work for my graduate degree.
"I wish there were two of me," I said.
"I'm thinking three," she said.
Shortly after that, I saw another classmate on the second floor of the same building, and she was busy with her dissertation as well. Everybody I know seems to be so busy writing something that I get the idea I'm not alone when I say that I am behind in my reading list.
But rather than list down the things I was supposed to read but have not read, I'd rather list down what I did read since my last post about reading.
Here are the books I have actually finished
reading since July:Rizal Without The Overcoat
by Ambeth OcampoSubverting The People's Will
by Luis V. Teodoro (Ed.)FVR Through The Years
by Ben CalMore Assassinations And Conspiracies
by Manuel F. MartinezWhere's Mr. Barnes
by Jovenir F. BataicanThe Red Tent
by Anita DiamantElite Forces
by Richard M. BennetCloser Than Brothers
by Alfred McCoyTeasing Secrets From The Dead
by Emily CraigLiving To Tell The Tale
by Gabriel Garcia MarquezChronicles Of A Death Foretold
by Gabriel Garcia MarquezThe Writing Of Fiction
by Edith WhartonThe First Filipino
by Leon Ma. GuerreroDemokrasya At Kudeta (Volume 1)
by Ding L. San JuanThe History of the Siege of Lisbon
by Jose SaramagoMartial Law In The Philippines: My Story
by Aquilino Q. PimentelDays of Disquiet, Nights of Rage
by Jose F. LacabaFaith At War
by Yaroslav TrofimovThe Art Of Fiction
by David LodgeLight On Snow
by Anita ShreveThe Knowing Is In The Writing
by Butch DalisayStones From The River
by Ursula HegiKonstable
by Margarita Cojuangco, et al
And here are the ones in various stages of finishing:A Theory Of The Leisure Class
by Thorstein VeblenHow To Walk In High Heels
by Camilla MortonAguinaldo's Breakfast
by Ambeth OcampoA History of Warfare
by John KeeganA Question Of Heroes
by Nick JoaquinThe Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century
by Isagani Cruz (Ed.)The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards For Literature: Short Story Winners from the 1980sMasters Of The Short Story
by Abrahan H. Lass and Leonard Kriegel (Eds.)Demokrasya At Kudeta (Volume 2)
by Ding L. San JuanCommunism In The Philippines: An Introduction
by Alfredo B. SauloTelling Women's Lives
by Linda Wagner-MartinThe Undercollected Works of J.D. SalingerMuslims In The Philippines
by Cesar Adib MajulMy Love Affair With Jewelry
by Elizabeth Taylor
And then there is the book that I am currently reading, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
by Umberto Eco.
This does not include the books I have temporarily set aside for future reading after reading their Introductions and First Chapters. And I do not even dare list all the ones I really want to read now. I figured I should take care of the backlogs first -- and then the other books I absolutely have to read for work, which I have not even begun reading -- before moving on to the biography of Chekhov, the Nobel Prize lectures, and other wonderful books I have dreamed of reading for a very long time, not to mention the books that are due to arrive any day now from Amazon.com, which includes the complete Proust!
As you might have been able to deduce, my apartment is a mess of books. My bookshelves are teeming with books, there are books stacked horizontally on top of the books lined up vertically, there are books on top of my desk and other tables, books on chairs, books on the floor, books in my closet, books in my drawers, books on the bed, books under the bed, books in the bathroom, books in my car.
Sometimes I wonder whether I really want to be a writer, since most of the time all I ever really want to do is read, read, read, deeply and consciously and with copious notes, as Prof. Gemino Abad believes writers should read. But while I read, I make numerous stops to write my own paragraphs and snippets of phrases and dialogue, that eventually go into the things I write. How much time should a writer devote to reading, when she should be writing instead? How much writing should be done when a writer is required to read as well?
And it does not help at all that this article
says that not only do we not read as we think we ought to, we often don’t read the books that we think we ought to.
And since writers read on a different, supposedly higher, level than most readers, this just ups the ante so much more.
There really should be more than three of me, if only to drown these selves in the ocean of books that I have created in my own little world
and for one lonely me-person to remain in an island in the middle of this ocean and become the writer for the lot.