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On My Bedside Table: The Long-Awaited Edition

I have been failing tremendously on my pseudo-New Year's Resolution to update my blog with more book posts this year. I promised myself that I should be doing more On My Bedside Table posts with the intention that with every update comes a new round of books at least twice a month. Sadly, I haven't had the time nor the money to afford to read new books at that frequency. I'm tired of using acads an excuse to everything, because I'm also partly blaming myself for not committing to reading so much more than I should have, but I also cannot say that it wasn't a major factor in my having to give up reading for pleasure.

But alas, there's no use complaining about that anymore. Now that the sembreak is (almost!) over, I can finally relish once again in the fact that I can resume to reading the books I actually do like. You all know I read several books at the time; I have this habit of reading several chapters from any book I feel like sifting through, then putting it down in exchange for another one when I get bored, only to pick it up again a few days or weeks later. The narratives don't necessarily jumble up in my head thankfully, but the problem with that is now that I finally have the time to continue where I left off, I have so much to begin with! Not that I'm complaining, though. I actually don't mind. At least I have something(s) to get me off of the Internet for a while.

Obviously, I have two sets of bedside table books waiting to be devoured again: one at home, and one at the dorm. Shall we begin?

Books On My Bedside Table: In Katipunan
  • The Art of the Personal Essay edited by Phillip Lopate. I bought this about two years ago way before I had decided that I was to take up creative nonfiction as my chosen genre for my thesis. I had always been most in love with CNF, and perhaps I had an inkling even back then that this was what I truly wanted to do. This anthology was where I got the idea for my thesis, actually, and while it doesn't contain the material I needed, it still gives me a lot of ideas regarding what I want to do. Besides, all the essays in it are such a joy to read, even if I weren't doing CNF, it's still easily one of the best books I ever bought.

  • The Likhaan Anthology of Philippine Literature in English from 1900 to the Present edited by Gemino Abad. This is our "textbook" for my CL151 (Phil. Lit) classJustify Full and though I've perused it long before this semester, I've new-found appreciation for it after thoroughly discussing the texts, especially the poetry. The short stories were all brilliant choices for me, because it had a good mix of different topics written by writers from different generations and class, as were the essays.

  • Ballerina by Edward Stewart. I bought this book for Php50 at Book Sale a few months after seeing Black Swan. It's narrative is somewhat parallel to that: two dancers who eventually become friends, then competitors in the highly cutthroat world of ballet. This kind of brings out my ballerina frustrations because I still recognize a lot of the steps - I stopped ballet when I was in fourth grade, just a year before I went on pointe because our teacher left for Australia, and I had to choose academics over going to a different, farther school. A huge part of me still wishes I never gave up on that.

  • Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. On one lazy Thursday afternoon, I decided to go to National Bookstore Katipunan out of boredom, and came back home with this twenty-peso find. Php20. A classic Fitzgerald novel that I hardly ever see on shelves! I just had to buy it. I've always wanted to see the lifestyles of the rich and famous through Fitzgerald's eyes. (It's far more glamorous than how Gossip Girl presents it to be, I believe) And besides, it's the twenties/thirties era!

  • All The Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen. This author's debut novel is an exploration of the life of three men straight out of college - suddenly away from the comforts of their intellectual pursuits and burdened with the harshness of "the real world." I'm actually only a few chapters away from finishing the book, and I can say that it does indeed give you an accurate, if not startling, picture of reality after you've finally gotten your diploma - suddenly everything changes: your priorities, your love, your ideals. It's pretty scary, yet it's actually exciting too, the way everything converges in the end; not what you expected, but maybe what you needed.

Books On My Bedside Table: In Paranaque
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Yes, I have had this on my list for about six months now. You have to understand that it's an incredibly heavy book with extremely small letters. That being said, however, it is probably one of the first thick, hefty novels that I have never gotten bored of. I rarely count the chapters when I have this in my hands. And quite honestly, I think I have found a new hero in Alexei Karenin. That man is the god of indifference - I bow down, really.

  • The Secret Life of the English Language by Martin H. Manser. This one is not a novel, but a fascinating run through of the evolution of the English language. It touches on its history as well as its interesting oddities, like the origins of expressions/idioms and the lost meaning of some common words we use today. It's a light read, but it's pretty extensive considering the amount of information it has. And if you're geeky enough, these little pieces of trivia could be great conversation starters! "Who would have known that the word "nerd" came from Dr. Seuss?" Of course, that'll be interesting only to girls who find the English language equally attractive.

  • To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. This one, I'm still in the process of finishing for my book report for CL122 (Literary Theory) class due on Monday. It is a short novel, but much of it occurs in just a single day; its form is focused on the stream of consciousness style, and is a subversion on the typical narrative way of driving a story. An exploration of the self, family, time, and life in general, this book is representative of Woolf's attempts at taking part in the Modernist ideology.

  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I've long wanted to pick up something by Zadie Smith and was torn between White Teeth and this one. I ultimately chose this one because it speaks about something I'm more interested in at the moment: the convergence of cultures and principles set in the always intellectually turbulent groves of a university. It's about two families, both of which have their lives deeply entrenched in the academe, and how they deal with their differences as well as surprising similarities. I'm still only one-third through the book but I can already tell it's a great novel.

  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. You could say this is my "love at first sight" novel of the year. It was also my inaugural purchase at the newly opened Fully Booked Katipunan just a few blocks away from my dorm. (Oh, the temptation!) A glimpse of what the novel contains: An English major. Undergraduate thesis. Jane Austen, George Eliot, and other Victorian novelists. Literary criticism. Derrida. A love triangle. Love after graduation. If this novel isn't reflective of where I am right now, I don't know what else is. I immediately went out to buy it the morning after I read about it. I shall make it a priority this sembreak.

My semester officially ends on Monday. Oh, dear books, be patient. My heart is ecstatic - I cannot wait to spend my nights with you again! See you in about forty-eight hours.