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Book frustrations

Books acquired versus books read - the perennial imbalance.

I never make new year's resolutions, although for some reason I decided on three for 2019 (or at least its first quarter). So far, I've kept my promise on two: jogging twice a week and learning how to drive. Every Monday and Wednesday, I run around a track a few blocks away from my office and sweat off all my frustrations, anger, sadness, and anxiety for an hour or so, while listening to angry metal and punk rock (mixed with a bit of mid-2000s pop, haha). The swelling rush of endorphins afterwards make all the heaving and puffing (and severe cramping - at least for the first few days) so worth it. Meanwhile, on Tuesdays to Thursdays, I bring my aunt's car to work. Driving a stick-shift successfully on EDSA - check! This is a very important achievement, considering that on the day I got my driver's license about a month ago, I accidentally hit a jeepney while moving the same car out of our garage. That's what you call progress. (That's also what you call independence, finally. This, coming from a sheltered, privileged bebegurl.)

The third one though, was about finishing a certain number of books. Every time I think about how "tired" I feel when it comes to reading, a significant part of me grows sadder. I used to devour books in days; ever since law school though, reading has become such a chore. Yes, even books for leisure. Don't get me wrong, the interest is there - I buy books every chance I get, I enjoy leafing through synopses online, I get a kick out of picking books from shelves based on their covers, my mood, their price, whatever silly reason I have just to acquire more stuff to read.

But do I ever get to finish them? No. *insert quiet sobs*

I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day, and she told me I should just Mari Kondo the shit out of most of them. That is, if they no longer ~spark joy~ I should just give them away. Or sell them. Let them find a new home.

That's easier said than done. People probably won't believe me, but I'm actually not very impulsive with my book purchases. I don't buy books on a whim. Despite the numerous book sales I go to and the bookstores I frequent, I still give careful thought to every book I buy, whether for myself or for others. So every time I see a book on my shelf, I know exactly where I bought it and why. I remember that point in my life; I recall vividly why I found my hand reaching for it. Consider it a memento from a particular time in the past. I see a book cover, and it transports me back to a very specific moment. "Ah, Eugenides' The Marriage Plot. Fully Booked Katipunan. 2013. Post-messy breakup and Oblicon midterms." Or "Oooh, No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. I was all sorts of exhausted and tired. The bright yellow cover matched my bright yellow rain boots that day."

Each book contains so many stories for me already; and that's even before I dive into the narrative of the book itself.

It's almost the end of January and I'm nowhere near half of my reading goal for the month. But I look at my bookshelf, and I realize, my friend (and Marie Kondo) might be right. Maybe the better resolution for now - instead of finishing them - is to give some of them away. To come to terms with the fact that some of them will never be read, that some of them will never be appreciated as much as the moment that led me to it. That they can find better joy in someone else's hands.

Maybe I should stop attaching too much sentiment into books. "They're just books," I shall repeat to myself. No one cares about why you got them or how. Maybe this is something I have to learn. Perhaps, until I finally declutter, I will never find the urge to finish all the books I've started. The piles just remind me of unfinished work. Maybe seeing more space will light something up inside me.

Or maybe it'll just make me buy new books. Old habits die hard; old dogs and new tricks; something, something. Let's hope I can KonMari my way out of this. And if not? Well, at least I still have progress in 2/3 of my resolutions. Not bad.