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On my bedside table: The Best of 2011 Edition

I will be the first to admit that I have not exactly been reading for enjoyment as much as I would like to (and I have said this numerous times before), with most of my time devoted to writing papers, reviewing for LAE, or just plain bumming around, which has given me a huge backlog in my reading list. There were some books I am still in the middle of, and some books I gave up on as well. But the several books that I did finish in 2011 were probably the most important and thought-provoking that I've come across in the last four years or so. While I busied myself mostly with classics and literary canons both local and foreign, which are all mostly required for school, I did manage to squeeze in more contemporary but equally ground-breaking work from authors that I have only discovered the previous year. Some I've looked for in bookstores for months, others I just got drawn to on the bookshelf; some took a couple of weeks' savings, others just a few pesos cheaper than a bottle of beer, but all of them rewarding in their own ways, satisfying with every line break and character.

I'm glad to say that quite a handful of them left me a bit paralyzed after having read the last page - the kind of impact they had on me felt like a lover saying goodbye, or a close friend moving out of the country. It's always painful having to say goodbye to characters you've spent almost every night with, but like friendships, the beauty is in the reminiscing, and unlike breakups, you can always go back for a second (or a third) helping when you're just feeling lonely and not feel remorseful about it. Also, unlike breakups, you wouldn't mind sharing it to your friends because they were just so, so good.

With that, I'd like to write about some of the books that were most compelling to me in 2011. These are not all of the books I've read in 2011 - just the few that I can say truly changed me on some level, as a writer, as a person, or both. I have to say too that I cannot assure these would be completely unbiased reviews of these books, nor would they be critical in a literary sense, because I'd prefer to share my experience with them on a more personal level.

I shall start tomorrow. I'll do one book at a time, as I feel like they each deserve their own posts. (Also, it wouldn't take too much of my time to write about just one per day.) They will be in no particular order although I think I would like to start with what was the most symbolic and timely of them all - Jeffrey Eugenides' "The Marriage Plot."

Until then.

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