Friday, June 10, 2005

The Armchair Man

After ten months of blogging, I look back and see that the vast majority of my posts are focused on the aspects of writing. I write about writing, yes, which isn't really surprising once one realizes that most people blog about blogging to begin with.

Oddly enough, Marcelle appears to be curious about my reading habits for some reason. I suppose that this does make sense, though -- if there's anything I've noticed about all writers, it's that reading habits tend to be formative for them. One writes because one reads.

That said, I'm actually not much of a reader. I avoid most popular novels, and don't bother reading a lot of others for fear of affecting my repertoire (this is, at the very least, the reason I give myself). Perhaps I'm just lazy, or stingy, or both.

I get the feeling that I'm more of a web-and-magazine person. I can eviscerate a magazine in less than half an hour nowadays, and my Internet reading list is so extensive that sometimes I wonder how I find the time for work. For that matter, I look at art in the same way that I look at collections of prose, and I gravitate to good art about as much as I gravitate to good writing.

That's not to say that I don't read at all, though. I'm just saying that my reading habits may be radically different from the usual writer's.

Total number of books owned:
Too many to count, actually. I was an avid reader of young adult fiction back in high school, although my collective instincts have notably decreased since then; I now only buy books that I think are worth keeping. Counting novels, nonfiction and the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure collection, I'd say that I have somewhere in the area of two hundred or so. Most of them I've read at least twice, and would probably read again if given the time.

The last book I bought:
Alderac Entertainment's Secrets of the Dragon. This is actually a sourcebook for the Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game (L5R RPG), and my purchase is somewhat ironic because although I do like L5R, I don't play tabletop RPGs very often. What's attractive about L5R RPG sourcebooks, however, is that they describe some very interesting settings as opposed to just giving you a bunch of numbers and stats. That's why I buy and read them.

Otherwise, my most recent paperback purchase was Terry Pratchett's Feet of Clay. I'm a huge Terry Pratchett fan, although his books are pretty expensive over here. It's been a while since I bought Feet of Clay, to be honest; I've received a number of books over the past five months as presents in one way or another, and I've been reading those.

That said, there's this nice creative puzzle collection over at Powerbooks that I really want to get my hands on. The problem is that it'll set me back about P800.

The last book I read:
I reread my old books all the time, so I'm going to stretch back a little and guess that the last new book I read was Terry Pratchett's Night Watch. This was a very nice book, in that it deviated from Pratchett's normal satiric style and showed people that he could do a revolutionary drama just as well.

I constantly look up new reading sources over the Internet, however, and that's what keeps me going. My latest fixation there is Scott Kurtz's PVP comic strip, although I'm not reading it in book format.

Five books that mean a lot to me that I really liked:
The Phantom Tollbooth
(Norton Juster) - If I had the power to do so, I'd make sure that every person on earth would read this book. It takes the themes of knowledge and wisdom, and looks at them from a simple, fantastical point of view -- in a story that's simple enough for children to read but mature enough for adults to understand. Plus, readers get to learn what a Dodecahedron looks like, how a single "but" can destroy an entire fortress, and exactly what happens when one eats his own words.
To Kill a Mockingbird
(Harper Lee) - I first met this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel back in freshman year of high school, and a decade has done nothing to diminish the profound respect I have for its story. To Kill a Mockingbird discusses a single principled lawyer's fight against racism in a small Alabama town, only it tells everything from the point of view of that lawyer's young daughter. And as she grows up telling her story, so do we develop our take on the tense situation.
(Terry Pratchett) - I'd be amiss if I left Pratchett out of this list, and Pyramids beat out Moving Pictures and The Thief of Time because it has a more logical storyline. Pratchett gives the theocentric culture of ancient Egypt (mummies and all) his usual humorous spin, and so when the real, serious truth of his story hits you, it leaves your mouth wide open in astonishment. I want to be able to read this entire novel to an audience one day, just to see their reaction.
My Uncle Oswald (Roald Dahl) - Dahl is widely known for his children's stories, so I find it more than a little strange that I have one of his adult books on this list. This, however is about as adult as you can get in a novel: A young college student discovers what is literally the most powerful aphrodisiac in the world (consuming more than the requisite dose might actually kill you with exhaustion!), and hatches an insidious scheme that somehow involves the most famous individuals of the mid-20th century.
Leading with My Chin (Jay Leno) - It's a celebrity autobiography, but it's a celebrity autobiography that gives us a look into the not-so-glamorous side of Hollywood comedy. Leading with My Chin brings us from childhood pranks to failed performances, to weird experiences with celebrity agents, to getting robbed on the way home from work, to a contemporary tenure on The Tonight Show. If it doesn't get you laughing at things, it'll have you reflecting on things; It'll most likely have you doing both.


kat said...

My friends back in college used to pool their money and buy those L5R books you're talking about. They use it for their games, I read it for entertainment.

I first encountered the Phantom Tollbooth when I was about six. Childcraft included exceprts of the book in one of thier encyclopedias, and I enjoyed reading the adventures of Milo (is that right?). It wasn't until I stumbled upon the book at a secondhand shop did I realize it was a "real story."

Have you visited the top floor of the National Bookstore building in Cubao? I saw some Terry Prachett books there, and it cost alot less than it does in regualr bookstores.

Sean said...

The older L5R sourcebooks, incidentally, are hard-to-find now. Your friends have some of the classics, I think.

I got introduced to The Phantom Tollbooth through Childcraft as well, but it took me about four years before I found an actual copy.

I'll see about Cubao, though... :)

Anonymous said...

about your "don't read my chest"...

I have something to add:



he, he...

Anonymous said...

Total number of books owned:
--> Since I became the writer for my school, I got the money to buy books I wanted... I'm still starting with my own collection.

The last book I bought:
--> Veronika decides to Die by Paulo Coelho, but I exchanged it with "Art and Literature by Mao Zedong" owned by a friend.

The last book I read:
--> Harry Potter Book 5, I do read popular novels, but I don't plan to read Of Angels and Demons or Da Vinci Code.

I've heard a lot about Of God of Small Things and How to kill a Mocking Bird, but I never had a chance, time, or money to buy them, yet.

Some of my CS clasmmates find my *hobby* weird, yet my PolSci friends think that I still lacked reading experience. Whatever. :D

eClair said...

I think we talked about this before, right? =) Well, it is really something that is curious because a lot (but definitely not all) of my friends who are into writing also like reading. I think that was one of the questions I asked you one time that we have seen each other in real life.

To: Jeff-Reiji
I have ComSci friends who read a lot ;) You ought to meet them so you won't feel weird about your hobby. Reading is great! Reading is FUN! ^_^ I guess that maybe your friends don't seem to have the time to read. Introduce them to reading. It could be anything: magazines, articles on websites, etc. Once they're hooked themselves they won't find your hoby weird anymore :D
As for your PolSci friends, I guess that they have been exposed to a lot of readings. The people I know in UP who are in PolSci do read a lot of stuff for class and just to satisfy their interests. =)