These two books make me very happy. Food Rules was originally Php895 but I got it for only a hundred pesos. It was the last copy, and was hidden under other books and I whooped out loud when I found it. I’m a huge Maira Kalman fan and this was a pleasant surprise. It pays to rummage and…
This book has been on my wishlist for the longest time, being a huge Danny Gregory fan. Surprise, surprise, a tres generous and kindly fairy godmother sent me a copy yesterday, along with these two other items in my booklust list. Merci beaucoup!
We met when I was very young, coming from a family of book worshippers. We devoted a room in the house of my grandparents in Malabon to books, we pretended it was a library by calling it that—it had a typewriter or two in the corner, a small flower-shaped wooden table for feet support of for doodling, a dusty couch with peeling upholstery for relaxing. It had two windows facing what used to be a lush garden (but is now a brick wall) and the tin roof of the neighbor’s house. There used to be a book stand near the east corner, where an ancient thick encyclopedia was propped, with gold-edged pages. My favorite section in the book was the one about baby names. I’d research the definition of names of the people in school, use the list when I named my doodles.
The shelves had dusty and termite-infested books, encyclopedias, old Fate magazines, very old National Geographics, Jingle magazines, fiction and nonfiction scattered here and there. Reading fodder differed per family member. For my lolo, Kahlil Gibrans and Og Mandinos, involving Faith and Fate, stories recalling life after death. He had this Nihongo manual which he said saved him during the Bataan death march, that and his harmonica-playing skills, which entertained the Japanese soldiers enough for them to spare him (and even sneak some food for him). For my dad, Das Kapital or something similar, manifestos and Umberto Eco mixing with Victor Hugo, MAD magazines and Doonesbury comics and Pugad Baboys and Dave Barrys. He often bought vintage books and foreign language books which he wrapped in clean and empty plastic bags originally containing sugar. For the future, he said, we can sell them to book collectors and they’d sell for a much greater price. (Alas, gone are these books now due to the voracious termites and unforgiving floods). My dad’s brother was a medicine man, so we also had some PIMs there and this Big Book of Pills which fascinated me with the various colors of tablets and capsules. My dad’s sister, also my ninang, was an animator who drew Jem and the Holograms. In that library, she set up a lightbox, and drew with her red and blue pencils. She propped an electric sharpener in the typewriter table and I would watch her as she sharpened her tools. When she wasn’t looking I’d stick my school pencils in there, and sometimes even my crayons (which led to me being found out). She had the most wonderful book and comic collection: Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Sandra Boynton, Harvey comics and Shel Silverstein, with the tiniest of books about limericks and rhymes, illustrated beautifully. I think she is my book soulmate. I realized when we got to talking recently that she loved Real Simple as well and Martha Stewart Living, another favorite. She was the tita who sent me Danny Gregory and Maira Kalman books, and other books about art and creating and living a luscious life.
My mother, on the other hand, was the one who introduced me to LOTR, feminist books (I learned about sex and being queer and contraceptives through her copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves), Vonnegut, Roald Dahl and Alice Walker. Her bookshelves housed Gamalinda, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Gloria Steinem and Anne Tyler together with Ms. Magazines and Mother Jones magazines from Booksale. My very first Judy Blume was her copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. She encouraged my passion for books and reading by constantly buying cheap but beautiful books from Booksale, and through her sticker book rule. She got this sticker book and I’d get one sticker each time I read a story or poem aloud from one of the books that she got me, books with “Books for Asia” at the back. (I fell in love with those books, btw, and I carried this love with me up to my senior year in highschool, where I maxed out several library cards and further developed scolio due to borrowing those books each chance I get.) When I collected several stickers I would be given a new book from Booksale. I became addicted to Booksale (and stickers, maybe) because of this. I remember her buying this book for me for only Php3.00, a book titled “Lizzie Oliver”, which I would love to reread now. My mom also knows my taste, so when I was having my Sweet Valley phase back in highschool she got me several copycat books which further intensified my obsession with young adult books and the desire to have a twin.
Further memories and fleeting thoughts:
A few years ago during Mother’s Day the four of us went to Booksale MOA after lunch. We spent an exorbitant amount of books that we got a discount, but it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
One afternoon, back when I was a kid, my mother wanted us to read that screenplay involving babies in that book, Free To Be A Family. She pretended to be one of the babies and I was the other one.
For my 9th? 10th? birthday I requested for some moolah to spend as I wanted in National. I got myself some Sweet Valley books, some Archie comics and some other YA books. I shared a room with my grandparents, and my lola allowed me to have my very own nook in my tita’s cabinet, the one behind the door. I set up a makeshift bookshelf using two tiers of those plastic green, white and red plastic plate holders from Divisoria and meticulously arranged my books. At that time I was also into Sailor Moon, and got this idea that if I stapled my Sailor Moon playing cards/teks at the edges, I’d be able to make personalized bookmarks per book.
I cut out Jessica Zafra’s articles from Today and collected them in a binder. I still have them.