Dig into Reading this Summer

Because reading is my raison dˆetre (second only is combating plagiarism), I believe I have a moral and intellectual obligation to sway everyone to read novels this summer. It doesn’t matter if Meyer is your cup of tea (or blood) or if you can go as far as Calvino. As long as you read, it is fine with Thursday Next. But since apes are too busy playing online games and publicly displaying perversion in this country where people think Sydney Sheldon is a woman and Harper Lee is a man, I think it is also a part of my duty to recommend good reads for the season. The list can be as long as the previous sentence is but I will try my best to catalog the novels as comprehensively as possible. And yes, I am solemnly aware that each reader is idiosyncratic. What makes a book special to a reader is not the gold stamp that says “Winner of Pulitzer Award” but its significance to our unique human experiences. Believe me, J.D Salinger could not possibly bag the “Nobel Peace Prize” for “The Catcher in the Rye.”

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Because summer is two months long, the first good read would be the series called “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin since the book is extremely thick and Martin does not know how to end a book. The series is composed of 5 books so far (Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows, and Dance with Dragons) with approximately a thousand pages each. I do not know really if saying the number of pages promotes the series but damn it is worth it. I do not know also if I’m being bias because I was a Political Science student but politics in this series is really comprehensive and accurate including the political strategies used. The excitement builds as Martin takes you into the mind of his protagonists since the chapters of the books have different perspectives. But he has a way of cutting short a certain thought that will make you want to read the next chapter of that character. Unluckily he does this to all his characters so that you’ll want to read everybody’s chapter and everybody’s mind. My favorite is Tyrion’s though.

The best way to wrap the premises of the first four books (since I have so far read only them) is by quoting a riddle to this effect,

One day a wealthy man, a priest, and a king decides to kill each other. They each hire an assassin to kill the other two. But all three of them hired the same person. The wealthy man promises gold to this assassin who is caught in catch-22, the priest offers salvation, and the king guarantees power. Whom would the assassin work for and whom would he kill? He has to kill!

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

I have been recommending this book to all the guys who’ve asked me for a good-read as beginning readers. It has made them love books even more. Effective, eh? I am personally not into Coelho though.

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery

This is one of the books that a person must untiringly re-read because the story changes as a reader ages. Also, this is an easy read for beginners and a universal favorite too. So sometimes, you just have to say that you love Exupery’s “The Little Prince” in order to have 500 friend requests. I’m exaggerating of course. We are a dying breed.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is a book about a reader, an author, and the ever-beautiful power of books. I’m recommending this to all the readers with healthy bookworms in their belly but not to new or beginning readers for although the latter may like love the plot, they will not be able to relate to the characters (especially Daniel, Julian, and Fermin) as much as a bibliophile would. I think this is why students are made to read this only during the finals of World Literature classes in DLSU-D. I may be wrong so the effect can be different (like loving books).

After this you could leap into The Angels’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven, which are part of the same chronicle.

The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde

Same conditions of recommendation with The Shadow of the Wind applies because I think only a certified bookworm will be able to pick up Fforde’s humor let alone the plots and citations of the books in the series. But after reading the book, I swear by all the old gods and the new, you will never look at the world the same way again. By the way, this book is about writing, reading, and being human.

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Because a good professor said, we sometimes have to read poorly written books.

Memories of my Melancholic Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This, er- made me, er- believe in love.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

 Extremely moving and incredibly beautiful. This is a favorite. It shows you the value not only of life but also of death and not only of finding the truth but also of searching for it. Many readers closely resemble the main character of this novel to Holden Caulfield but I beg to differ for while Holden tends to separate himself from reality, Oskar works his way with everything real even to the extent of hurting himself. What they are similar at however is their inclination to simplify things although Holden’s is really oversimplification and not mere simplification.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The way Roy has written this masterpiece distresses the mind even when the plot means to dishearten you. Its overflowing eloquence would make you dream even while the whole world is crumbling around you. I think reading Roy is a good way of relaxing your mind whilst puzzling your heart.

 The Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man by Joseph Heller

I think every writer must read this.

 General Recommendation

 If you are one of those friends I know who wants novels about lawyers, crimes, and laws, there’s Grisham and there’s Baldacci. If you want mystery then there is the best-selling author Agatha Christie. If you want uncertainties and a long file of twists then the best man to read is Sheldon. If you want to know my favorite its impossible cause I’m torn between several books. If you want hardcore literature then you can read nietzsche, Dickens, Tolstoy, Orwell, Faulkner, Hardy, and Dostoevsky among others. If you want humor, there’s Groucho Marx, of course, and other curmudgeons. F. Sionil Jose, dubbed as “a writer better that Tolstoy,” would also be a good read. As I’ve said, wherever you find your poison as long as you become a reader. It is a process, really. It is hierarchical too by the way.

Damn! I should be paid by NBS for this blog entry.

Reading a good book this summer is a free vacation. Traveling through books is free although it forfeits the tangibility of things.

Somehow, a fire in my heart feebly flickers in its hope to create more readers in a world where men have morphed into douche bags even when most do not know what a douche is. If the world was god’s SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth), he too would have been impeached by our incredibly unfair congressional representatives as requested by our orally fixated President. Because the world’s assets pale besides its liabilities and the disparity is enormous.

After all the insults that I have mused, what I am just trying to say (even if the length of this entry could pass as a column for “The Philippine Star” but not its content) is… nothing really, except that beyond the massive walls of our mind is a universe almost parallel to ours. In that universe, our aspirations are lived while we are made human, again. Literature does that; it makes us alive again.


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