An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

07 April 2007

I wish there were more of me

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 Ocampo
Subverting The People's Will by Luis V. Teodoro (Ed.)
FVR Through The Years by Ben Cal
More Assassinations And Conspiracies by Manuel F. Martinez
Where's Mr. Barnes by Jovenir F. Bataican
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Elite Forces by Richard M. Bennet
Closer Than Brothers by Alfred McCoy
Teasing Secrets From The Dead by Emily Craig
Living To Tell The Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Chronicles Of A Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Writing Of Fiction by Edith Wharton
The First Filipino by Leon Ma. Guerrero
Demokrasya At Kudeta (Volume 1) by Ding L. San Juan
The History of the Siege of Lisbon by Jose Saramago
Martial Law In The Philippines: My Story by Aquilino Q. Pimentel
Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage by Jose F. Lacaba
Faith At War by Yaroslav Trofimov
The Art Of Fiction by David Lodge
Light On Snow by Anita Shreve
The Knowing Is In The Writing by Butch Dalisay
Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi
Konstable by Margarita Cojuangco, et al

And here are the ones in various stages of finishing:
A Theory Of The Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen
How To Walk In High Heels by Camilla Morton
Aguinaldo's Breakfast by Ambeth Ocampo
A History of Warfare by John Keegan
A Question Of Heroes by Nick Joaquin
The 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 1980s
Masters Of The Short Story by Abrahan H. Lass and Leonard Kriegel (Eds.)
Demokrasya At Kudeta (Volume 2) by Ding L. San Juan
Communism In The Philippines: An Introduction by Alfredo B. Saulo
Telling Women's Lives by Linda Wagner-Martin
The Undercollected Works of J.D. Salinger
Muslims In The Philippines by Cesar Adib Majul
My 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, 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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a fellow philmugger and chanced upon your delightful blog.

It's nice to know that there is someone else out there who shares the same sentiment about book-reading. I too wish there were more of me for the pleasure of reading... :-)

1:00 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Hello, fellow PhilMUGger! Thanks for dropping by, and I'm truly glad to have found a kindred spirit in reading!

There is a thread called "Books and Bookstores" in our beloved forum, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it (if you have not already been there).

Keep visiting! :)

4:16 PM  
Blogger Ree said...

oh that's me! that's me! not reading the books that i think i ought to, i mean. but somehow, at the end of a long, brain-draining day, i find comfort in the pages of the so-called bobo books. and i can read the same ones over and over again. i also have stacks and stacks of books that i've been meaning to read--the ones i think i ought to--the ones that are supposedly epitomes of splendid writing, intellectual discourses, things to stimulate the brain etc etc--and they're gathering dust. then again, most of my books are gathering dust now. the last books i finished are Breastfeeding Naturally, What to Expect When You're Expecting. and now going through What to Expect in the First Year. i think i'm getting information overload. and i'm rambling...

4:10 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Hi, Ree! Don't worry about it right now. When I was eight months pregnant, I did know know how to do anything, I didn't even know how to position myself on beds or in chairs, or how to walk without half-crumbling under the weight, let alone read "intellectually stimulating" discourses. Heh!

After giving birth, all I could do was sleep, because I was so exhausted.

But in time, you'll find time, and yu'll enjoy reading so much more. :) Try reading Latin to your baby, and note down what words he/she smiles at. It's fun!

4:25 PM  
Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Those two Ambeth Ocampo books I read, but found two from your list that I must read:

The 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 1980s

Using your list as a guide for books to read is not a bad idea. Thanks for taking time to make it :)

5:22 PM  
Blogger lefthandedwonder said...

Hi Maryanne fellow philmugger here.

just want to say that this post really spoke to me.

wondering if you really want to be a writer when you feel like all you wanna do is read, read and read. I've been asking myself that same question.

very inspiring.

your blog is really great!

12:09 AM  

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