16 March 2015

Being a good reader and a bad feminist

From my Goodreads' Challenge page. The last five books I've read, to date, 16 Mar 2015.

I powered through a three-book erotic romance series last Saturday. It was the Cityscape series by Jessica Hawkins, which I found by Googling for edgy romance novels (don't ask). But, boy when you ask for edgy, they give you edgy. So I chose this series which seemed the right kind of edgy for me at the time (true love via an extramarital affair; not really an unfamiliar theme in more serious literature).

I liked the series. Sure, there was a lot of back-and-forth from the female lead; an alpha male who is perfect, as they usually are; and loads of sex which was hot but, if translated to reality, would be exhausting. Nevertheless, I got sucked up by it. (NOTE: One does not power through three books in less than 18 hours if you're not sucked up by them.)

I'd like to point out, though, that I feel these covers are a bit misleading. I mean, you'd think that this was BDSM and that there's just too much sex, but honestly, there's only one extended love scene in the first book, and three moderately long scenes in the second book. The third one is another story, so have at it. More to the point, though, the books have more to do with dealing with emotions and repercussions when one falls in love with someone who is not one's husband. I'm not sure how a close-up of a woman gasping communicated that, but given that this series has been compared favorably to Fifty Shades of Grey by its fans (which I take issue with because I could not get past page 4 or 5 of FSOG, but I actually liked this series), I think we can all understand why the covers are designed that way.

But this post isn't really about the Cityscape series. It's actually about what happened when I added all three on Goodreads and noticed, once they were all added, that they were beside Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, which I finished last Thursday. (Ignore Winter People. It's an ok story, but nothing to write home about.)

Depending on your understanding of Bad Feminist, you might think that the erotica books after it are highly appropriate or very ironic. Having read (or heard, because I got the audiobook edition) Bad Feminist, I'd lean towards appropriate, with a bit of qualification.

I never identified with feminism, as my familiarity with that term was the militant kind thrown around by progressive organizations in my university alma mater. I did join a sort-of militant org in my first semester in college, but that was it. I don't even recall talking about feminist issues.

But I believe in women, in the struggles they fight, in their strengths and silent tears. I believe in women who survive, who persevere, despite the favor given to men.

I think Roxane Gay's bad feminist manifesto helped me clarify things and unshackled "feminism" for me, such that I feel I can begin to own it, because there is no other word that will summarize the previous paragraph for me.

Here is where Roxane Gay really made sense to me:
I disavowed feminism because I had no rational understanding of the movement. I was called a feminist, and what I heard was, “You are an angry, sex-hating, man-hating victim lady person.” This caricature is how feminists have been warped by the people who fear feminism most, the same people who have the most to lose when feminism succeeds. Anytime I remember how I once disavowed feminism, I am ashamed of my ignorance. I am ashamed of my fear because mostly the disavowal was grounded in the fear that I would be ostracized, that I would be seen as a troublemaker, that I would never be accepted by the mainstream.
And here:
Maybe I'm a bad feminist, but I am deeply committed to the issues important to the feminist movement. I have strong opinions about misogyny, institutional sexism that consistently places women at a disadvantage, the inequity in pay, the cult of beauty and thinness, the repeated attacks on reproductive freedom, violence against women, and on and on. I am as committed to fighting fiercely for equality as I am committed to disrupting the notion that there is an essential feminism.
And this was where I felt liberated to embrace the term:
I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying — trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself: a woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, sheknows, is terrible for women and who sometimes plays dumb with repairmen because it’s just easier to let them feel macho than it is to stand on the moral high ground.
Which is why I lean towards the appropriateness or, perhaps to use a better word, exemplification of bad feminism in reading the Cityscape series after consuming Bad Feminist.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't choose that series to consciously exercise my newfound status as part of Roxane Gay's tribe. I chose it because, occasionally, I want a break from the literary fiction, nonfiction, and genre fiction that I read a lot of. I want to read books that are shallow, formulaic, and superficially satisfying. I mean, I love a good quinoa salad, but I also love Doritos Smoked Barbecue flavor. Sue me.

And I suppose that's why Gay saying that she is messy and human spoke to me, because yes, I believe in and will speak out about issues surrounding women today, but, dear God, I am not a robot. I subscribe to the stereotype that women eat ice cream when sad or depressed. I gladly recommend it to fellow women.

Neither am I using Gay's manifesto to justify my reading erotic romance or trashy books. I don't think I need to justify reading trashy books, or any book, for that matter. I know my rights as a reader (see Pennac's wonderful Reader's Bill of Rights below, particularly #5.)

Anyway, I would recommend both of them, actually: Gay's Bad Feminist and Hawkins's Cityscape Series (but don't read this if extramarital affairs are a trigger for you). They provide different kinds of enjoyment for a woman.

On another note: I'm 19 books in for the year! Yay! And I'm doing more audiobooks now (thanks to Scribd) because my eyes hurt when I read for extended periods! Not yay.

I hope y'all are having a good reading year so far. If not, see Pennac's Reader's Bill of Rights again, and know that it's all right.

01 February 2015

Meeting a hardcore scifi fan (also known as the Czech ambassador)

The ambassador with some of his Czech scifi books.

On January 23, I trooped to Uno Morato for a meeting with the Czech ambassador to the Philippines, his Excellency Jaroslav Olša, Jr., not to discuss matters of state, but to meet a him as a lover and reader of science fiction, too.

I am hardly what you'd call extremely versed in scifi. My SF&F phase reached its bloom in my late teens, so I am merely a dabbler now. But when Paolo Chikiamco--speculative fiction writer, founder of Studio Salimbal, and friend--invited me, I was not going to say no.

The Czech ambassador, his Excellency Olša, arrived at Uno Morato in a flurry, carrying plastic and paper bags with books. He was exuberant, interested, and interesting. He stumped us by revealing knowledge of Filipino sci-fi authors whom we had not heard of or barely knew. He wrote about Philippine scifi in Locus Magazine. He brought some old Filipino sci-fi books. He brought Czech sci-fi books, some of them extremely lovely.

Two books from one of the early Filipino scifi writers, Jose Ma. Espino. From Ambassador Olša's collection.

The ambassador's Locus article, written in 1995.

The ambassador with Jose Ma. Espino

First edition copy of early Czech scifi book

He gave us photocopied samples of English translations of some of the best Czech scifi novels. He asked us to recommend scifi stories, which he intends to show Czech publishers so they can be translated to Czech and included in one of the Czech anthologies. He told us that in every country he went to, he made an effort to seek out the scifi community to exchange scifi literature with them. He offered to hold a showing of a classic Czech scifi film which was reportedly one of the inspirations of the original Star Trek series.

One of the post-communist Czech scifi books

Currently looking for an English translation of this, too.

A Czech scifi magazine

Obviously, Kyra, editor of Visprint, loved this.

In other words, Ambassador Olša is not only the Czech ambassador; he is a strong ambassador of science fiction, no matter where he is and what he does.

It was lovely listening to him talk, watching him excitedly bring out his books, watching him watch us ooh and ahh over his books, listening to him speak about the development in scifi in his country and about the scifi communities in other countries. It was a lovely night that ended in promises of more interaction between the literary communities of the Philippines and the Czech Republic, and perhaps not just in scifi.

Ambassador Olša's card is all kinds of awesome. The Filipino translation of his title sounds heroic, at the very least.

The ambassador is also apparently a fan of Coke Zero.:)

I recently read this scifi book last month called Among Others, written by Jo Walton, and winner of the 2012 Hugo Award . One of the things that drew me to it was that it purports to be one of the best books to read to get an intro into the best books of scifi. In other words, it talks about a lot of other scifi books. The main character, Mor, LOVES scifi novels. She has read almost everything. Even the ones she deems bad, she always has something very smart to say about them, such as the prose was bad, but it had an amazing structure. She could speak intelligently and honestly of most authors' ouevre, never pretentiously, but as a real reader and fan. I'd say that book averaged about 2-3 mentions of scifi novels per page. I wanted to be like that main character, who had breadth and depth of knowledge on one genre, not because she had to study it and wanted to sound smart, but because she really loved it.

I mention Among Others and its main character, Mor, because as I was listening to Ambassador Olša, I realized he reminded me of Mor. That breadth and depth of knowledge, that love of scifi. Although Mor is a teenage girl versed in Anglo-American scifi, and Ambassador Olša is a middle-aged dignitary with a preference for non-Western scifi, I thought that the same love for the genre was there.

And when you meet someone like that, it will make for a lovely, lovely night.

I hope to meet Ambassador Olša again soon, after I've read a couple of his Czech scifi novel recommendations, and to bask in the glow of a a true book lover.

The group, with Ambassador Olša

26 January 2015

Over six years

Happy 6 years, Coffeespoons! For better or for worse.:)

I missed my 6th blogiversary (yes, that's still a word). Yup, I am a lame blogger, not worthy of the name. Or so I keep saying.

But you know what? Who the hell cares? My heyday of blogging was 2009-2010. I posted often, read and commented on other blogs every day, joined bloggers' events, pushed for some local face-to-face blogger events of our own. The years after that, I've had to deal with realities such as: if you're very, very busy with work, family, and advocacies, then yes, that's going to eat into your blogging time.

So now, when I think I might have more to write about beyond book reviews, I find I'm just a casual blogger. Now, if I write, I write as an exercise. I write because it pleases me and if there is no audience, that is exactly what I had in mind when I started the blog. I'm not going to beat myself up over not having as much free time as I used to back in 2009. But I do admit to a little sadness that I can't write often of stuff that I really care about.

Sometimes, I don't mind the compromise, the changing of oneself to fit one's changing circumstances or one's goals. Other times, I do. Especially when I don't realize that I did compromise.

Case in point: yesterday, a couple of friends told me that they figured I must be really busy with my new job since I hadn't been posting on Facebook as much anymore. Let's forget a bit about all that discussion that social media is a performance and Facebook is just a lot of posturing. I think that's all true.

But Facebook and other social media, to me, is also a way to share your joy of someone or something. A book, a piece of news, knowledge you've picked up and want to tell others about. I like something or am fascinated by it, so I want to tell the world. Or my friends, at least.

The fact that I have't been posting much on Facebook is, yes, a sign that work takes up much of my time. But then again, I've always been busy. The past few years, I've always not had a lot of time. In spite of that, I've often found time to post a thought or question or share a link. If I do not do it as often now, does it mean that I discover or become interested in fewer things?

Well, maybe not that latter bit. I am always interested in many things. But I don't see or read them as much now, and hence, I don't have things to share. I don't get to join the conversations I'm really into because I'm caught up in other conversations that comprise how I make my living. So yes, I find less stuff that interests or stimulates me. I find this situation mildly ironic because I took a new job to help with transformation. I didn't realize it was going to start transforming me in this manner.

So, I will rail against this transformation of mine, because I don't want it. I want to do well at what I do for a living and still keep the tools I have for self-stimulation (yes, it sounds dirty, I know, but try not to take it that way). I will work to keep my joy, even if it kills me.

And maybe when I keep my joy better, I'll remember things like my blogiversary.

Belated happy birthday, dear old blog. It's been six years, and thank you for always being there for me even if I haven't always been there for you.

31 December 2014

Best Reads of 2014

Yesterday, I gave an overview of my reading year in 2014 (with charts!). It was mostly data, so here's the part where I talk about actual books that I loved this year: my yearly ten best reads.

Been doing this since I started the blog in 2009, and if you're interested in finding out what books made it to my list each year, feel free to check out my best reads of the year label.

Anyway, on to my most enjoyable reads of the year. "Enjoyable" is how I qualify my best reads, given that the term "best read" is such a subjective matter and highly susceptible to mental, psychological, and emotional status at the time of reading. So, if the book leaves me with a glow during and after reading, or made me say internally (occasionally externally, too), "Holy shit, this is awesome." then that usually makes it to my best reads list.

And without further ado, in the order in which I read them during the year...

  1. Locke & Key (the entire series) by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez - I found this at a time when I was looking for a really good story I could sink my teeth into. Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez more than delivered. You have kids who lose their father (I swear, this isn't a spoiler) and go home to an old house where they discover magic keys that open different kinds of doors, plus an evil entity who understands the true mystery of the keys. It (the story, I mean) is magic.
  2. Dark Demon Rising by Tunku Halim - I attended the Kuala Lumpur Publishing & Rights Conference in April, and what struck me there is how there are so many wonderful stories and storytellers from other Asian countries that unfortunately don't get to US nor Philippine shores. I also learned that Malaysia has a strong and rich tradition of horror stories based on local myths. So, I sought out a Malaysian horror story in English that I could read. I found Tunku Halim and this book. I don't think this is even Halim's best, based on what websites tell me, but I found it so fascinating. It was well-told, familiar enough to make me comfortable, and unfamiliar enough to draw me in. And scary. Man, it was scary. I loved it. When I finished it, I sort of felt sad, because it did prove that there are wonderful stories out there that I'd love to read, but have to find or wait till they're translated. And that is a bummer.
  3. Tenth of December by George Saunders - I didn't realize that I already owned and read a Saunders (The Very Persistent Gappers of Fripp), so thought that this was my first. But golly, my golly, I felt like I was on tenterhooks while I was reading these short stories. Not that they were edge-of-the-seat exciting, no. The tenterhooks were because I thought they were damned beautiful and well-crafted, and I found that exhilarating. If I still taught English, I would find a way to teach almost all of the stories here. I loved them that much.
  4. The Everything Store by Brad Stone - So, ok, MacKenzie Bezos (Jeff Bezos's wife) panned this book. I don't care. I loved it. And, uh, this is the first time I'll come out and say it, though I think friends suspect: I am a fan of Bezos, made all the more so by this book. Ok, don't get me wrong: Amazon is ruthless and can be a major asshole, and all that lands squarely on Bezos's shoulders. But I admire Jeff Bezos because, let's face it, he's a freaking great strategist. He may be destroying literature and all that (which, for the record, I think is too great an endeavor to impute to one man or one company. Which means I think literature will survive, Bezos or no), but you can't deny what a force he is because he knew what he wanted and employed all his resources and talent to get it.
  5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - I had no expectations coming into this book. Not even sure why I started it, except that it was on sale and I probably read about it somewhere. But it brought me back to all the reasons why I loved long fantasy novels: wonderful characters and dialogue, with some healthy heartbreak thrown in. I haven't gotten to the second nor third books yet (partly because I heard that the fourth book is taking a while in coming), but will definitely revisit the Gentlemen Bastards.
  6. Dwellers by Eliza Victoria - This is a very short novel, but my favorite by Eliza who, full disclosure, is a friend. I also used to publish the ebook versions of her titles under the company I used to work for. But those relationships are neither here nor there. Dwellers is a delicious mystery with fantasy/local myth elements. I loved it both for itself and what it promises, which is writers coming up with more Filipino novels that are a) quality and b) actually read by the public.
  7. Attack on Titan (or Shingeki no Kyojin) by Hajime Isayama (all of it! All of it, I say!) - I went gaga over this one. First, hubby and I watched the anime. From the first episode, I was hooked. By the fifth episode, I was tearing my hair, and then had to put it back on by the 7th episode (if you've seen it or read the manga, you'd understand). I only started reading the books after we finished the first season. And, oh my gosh, the manga is as interesting and exciting (although I am a bit sad that there's no soundtrack that automatically plays with the manga) as the anime. Anyway, Attack on Titan is set in a post-apocalyptic world with mostly mindless titans who consume humans. The rest of humanity survive behind 50m high walls to keep the titans out. That is, until a 60 m., sentient titan appears and kicks the wall open. And then havoc ensues, plus the triggering factor to creating the hero, Eren. Trust me, it's awesome.
  8. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer - This is my first Vandermeer. I am deeply sorry about that, because Annihilation is all kinds of awesome. You're not told much, not even the characters' names. You don't know what exactly is going on, nor what threat the main character is facing, nor what is really up with Area X. But all of this is all right because with a talented writer, you are along for the ride and he can make it worth your while. Besides, all the unanswered questions? It just keeps you reading along because you want them answered. Bear in mind, you might not get the answers in the first book. At least, that's what I'm told.
  9. The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco - I found out about Rin because I was looking for Filipino authors who actually have literary agents which they got not through the usual patronage system that does exist in some local literary circles, but because they worked for it on their own. Rin is one of very few writers who fit this category. Anyway, I got a copy of her book because I invited her to speak during the Filipino ReaderCon. The Girl from the Well is a YA horror novel. If you've seen The Ring, the book's main character will remind you of it. I did some research, however, and it seems that there is a strong tradition of Japanese ghosts, and the story of a girl murdered and thrown into a well is a long-standing Japanese ghost story. So, I read through it and found it truly, truly enjoyable, including the occasional beheading. (My apologies to delicate readers. I do enjoy horror novels, after all.) What I found fascinating is that the story is told from the point of view of the ghost, who spends her ghostly existence avenging other murdered children. If it sounds pretty dark to you, that's because it is. But it is glorious, and I hope more people read it when the paperback comes out in mid-2015.
  10. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay - This book...I can't. I will never have the words to do it justice. Just read it. But you have to be brave, because it is the least we can do for the character and the one who wrote it.

That's it. Would love to hear what you have to say about any of these books, or find out what your best reads are. Thank you for reading, and may we have an awesome reading year in 2015!

30 December 2014

My Year in Reading (with charts!)

I read 88 books this year. That's 38 more than my personal target for Goodreads' 2014 Reading Challenge. I wanted to under-promise so I could over-deliver. Thankfully, I did.

I usually sneak in one more book around Dec. 30 or 31st, but I'm not going for it this year. It's been a year full of pressure, so I'm not inclined to add a contrived pressure on the last day of 2014.

Above is the screencap of all the books I read this year, care of my Goodreads Reading Challenge. A pretty nifty feature, if you ask me, especially for the data conscious types. If you'd like to see what I've read this year, head on over to the page.

Speaking of data-conscious types, I am, just a little bit. When I discovered the Ultimate Reading Spreadsheet, I promptly downloaded it. It was a bit of a chore, though, to type in all the data for every book I read, which leads me to the other nifty thing about Goodreads: you can export all your bookshelf data as a csv file, which you can open in Excel. And once it's in excel, baby, you can play.

So, I used the csv file from Goodreads, which means I had to input data for just a few columns in my Ultimate Reading Spreadsheet. I also took out a column (I didn't track what day I began) and added a column (date first published), and I was good to go.

If I haven't put you to sleep yet by this point with a hinky description of my methodology, well then below, represented in charts and graphs, is me playing with the data I got from the spreadsheet. And essentially, a quantitative analysis of my reading this year.

Last time I did this was in 2009, with two measly graphs. Here, you are forewarned that there are much more than 2. But if you like this kind of thing, enjoy!

Did I read diversely?

I loved it when the #weneeddiversebooks campaign broke out. And although I questioned what it meant for us who live here in Asia, I do not question the essential tenet: that we need to read beyond our comfort zones to widen our perspectives as human beings.

Which begs the question for me, then: was I a diverse reader this year? I didn't put any conscious thought into what I read, so here are my stats:

So, ok. Fifty-fifty split between biologically male and biologically female authors ain't bad.

This is hardly surprising for me that most of the authors I read are American. But what I did find surprising is the percentage...

...which is 63% of all books I read this year. If I include the authors with dual citizenship, it'll go up to 66%. Japanese would be the second, not because I read a lot of Japanese authors, but because I read a lot of manga from one author, Hajime Isayama. Alas, only 5% of my reading comes from authors from my own country. 

What about genres? To be honest, I had trouble with this, because, Jesus, do I really have to classify a book according to one genre? And even if I had multiple columns for all the possible book tags, truth be told, I'm not that big of an Excel wizard that I'd know how to manipulate all that data. So, this is my crude categorization: 

Yep, read a lot of romance/erotica. Because they're damned easy to read and pretty quick to finish. So, when in a slump or in the middle of reading The Luminaries or The Goldfinch, feel free to take a breather with the latest Tessa Bailey. That's what I did.

I clumped some of these categories, though (e.g., all the YAs) into a chart with fewer items:

This is also why I'm not too happy with these two charts: they need a lot of qualification. Yes, 25% of what I read were comics/manga. They were awesome pieces of literature, but I think the number is heavily influenced by how easy it is for me to consume graphic novels or manga. Same goes for YA and romance/erotica. But I'd say I get the most bang for my buck with literary fiction. They're longer and they stay with me longer.

Since Goodreads shows a scatter graph of the date of publication, I thought I'd make one, too. Obviously, I preferred to read books published in the 21st century.

In fact, the graph above shows that majority of what I read was published in 2011 and beyond. I've been trying to clear the books in my wishlist and TBR from 2011, but I've come to accept the fact that my reading will never overtake the continued growth of my wishlist.

So, did I read diversely? My personal take is so-so. I'd love to expand the list of nationalities that I read. I don't know how far I'm willing to commit to that, though, since for the past few years, I've been keeping my selection of books fast and loose, so we'll see.

What were my reading habits?

In answering this question, I'm limited to format of books I read and where I got them. Also how much I read per month. So, here goes...

This might sound strange coming from someone who's into digital publishing, but I'm surprised that a big majority of the books I read this year were ebooks. I don't take count during the year, but I do know that every so often, I hunger for paper. Then again, I took advantage of the fantastic thing that is Scribd opening up their subscription service to the Philippines, so it makes sense.

Also makes sense after seeing that my go-to place for getting my books now is Amazon, specifically the Kindle editions. 28 out of 88 is actually 32%, with the second go-to place--local bookstore chain, Fully Booked--only at 18%.

I also tracked where I get my ebooks and my print books, which are represented in these pie charts:

This is out of 57 ebooks. Almost half of them I got via my Kindle. The "friend" refers to someone who gave me files which, shall we say, were not really obtained legitimately. Yep. I had them, so I read them. The "borrowed" does not refer to Kindle borrows, but to a friend who, for one hour, lent me his iPad so I could read the last volume of Locke & Key, and the two companion issues.:)

As for print books, I got more than half of them at my favorite local bookstore chain (because they have a better selection and store experience than that other bookstore chain).

I also wanted to see what percentage of titles--whether print or e--I get from online stores versus brick and mortar or other sources. Here's the chart:

Yep, folks, I do most of my buying online now. Mainly ebooks, but one of the books I read this year, I ordered from The Book Depository.

Finally, I tracked how much I read per month:

That sudden spike in August is due to the 13 volumes of Attack on Titan (or Shingeki no Kyojin) that I wolfed down. What can I say...I have a tiny crush on Eren, the poor boy.

Over on Facebook, a friend asked where I found the time to read 88 books. I wasn't exaggerating when I said this year was full of pressure for me, so much so that my default mode this year is "stressed," though thankfully not "stressed out." I'm still standing.

But last year was stressful for me, and I learned that because my work requires that I transform myself somewhat and learn new things all the time, I need something constant--something all mine that I had way before I assumed all the new roles and responsibilities and still want to have even after all these new responsibilites have long gone. And that, for me, is reading. So, reading was my way to manage my stress. That is why I sacrificed a few hours of sleep to read, because in reading, I felt like I was still me.

I don't know if that's weird, but that's what it is, and I'm glad for it.

So, if you've stayed with me throughout this admittedly boring-for-everyone-else-but-not-for-me review of my reading year, thank you. You must be one of my kind friends.:)

Tomorrow (or in a few hours), I'll do my darndest to post my 10 best reads for the year. In the meantime, I hope you've had good reads this year, too.

26 October 2014

Filipino Fridays 2014 #2: Have you ever wanted to write a book?

The theme for this year's Filipino ReaderCon is "Readers Turned Writers," so I think it makes sense to ask this question for one of the Filipino Fridays, doesn't it? If you want to join Filipino Fridays, head on over to the Filipino ReaderCon site and take part in the fun.

This week's complete prompt goes...

As a reader, have you ever thought about writing a book? What kind of books/stories do you want to write? Or are you now a published author, and what compelled you to go fulfil this dream? How was your journey from reader to writer? How did you go about getting your book out there?

I believe I'm more of a reader than a writer. When I say that, I mean that I've never had the inclination to write a story. I was never one of those kids who kept a notebook of stories or submitted stuff to the literary section of the school journal. Nope. I liked to read.

So, no. I don't think I'm cut out to become a creative writer, because I've never had the urge to write anything creatively. I'm a massive consumer of fiction and poetry, but I've never had the need to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and come up with fiction or poetry of my own.

When I was young, I used to write in my diary, as I suppose every other grade school or high school girl did. In my 20s, I did have a few things published in a newspaper and magazines. In my 30s, I started this blog. And then, I had an essay included in Motherhood Statements, a compilation of essays about--you guessed it--motherhood.

I do have a few other published books, but those are textbooks or teachers' modules, so I don't really count those. In this country, though, those are the kinds of books that bring you the best kind of royalties.

I have thought about whether I should write a book, specifically a novel. Not because I have an urge, but because it just looks interesting. But I think if I feel this way about it, then, no, I might not ever write that book.

And I don't want to write a book, be it fiction or non-fiction, honestly. It's not my dream to be a published author or to see my name on the cover of a book in a bookstore.

But I do want to be listened to, though not in that way and not through fiction, I think. I have something to say, which I choose to say whether or not someone chooses to publish it. And every so often, I have an urge to write. Mostly personal essays and usually for my own consumption.

I do not want to get my book out there. I want to get my words out there, be it through this blog or my Facebook page or something I said to someone. And then I want them to matter.

That is all.:)

19 October 2014

Filipino Fridays 2014: Surprise, Reader!

Brushing off the cobwebs on my blog to join in the yearly Filipino Friday series of posts, which signal the run-up to the Filipino ReaderCon.

The Filipino ReaderCon will be held on Nov. 14 this year, on a Friday, a departure from our usual Saturday schedule. But, there will be book discussions held on Nov. 15, Saturday, in conjunction with the November Komikon.

The other difference this year is that the ReaderCon will be part of the Philippine International Literary Festival (PILF), organized by the National Book Development Board. The PILF is going to be on Nov. 12-14 at the Bayanihan Center, Mandaluyong, and the ReaderCon is going to be the third day of the LitFest. So, we've become official, baby. Let's see how things turn out this year so that we can find out if we're going to do the same thing next year.

Anyway, back to Filipino Fridays! I'm two days late, as you can see, but one does what one can.:)

The prompt this week is the following:
Surprise, Reader! Hello, it’s the first week of Filipino Fridays 2014! Whether it’s your first time to participate or not, tell us a bit about yourself. More specifically, tell us about your favorite book discoveries for this year. Any author you started reading this year that you can’t get enough of? A book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up liking/loving? Any book series that you just have to get your hands on? Have you discovered anything new from Filipino authors this year?
So, about myself...
  • Actually, stuff about me is boring. I am an erratic book blogger, but a constant reader. And I organize the Filipino ReaderCon every year with volunteers and friends.

Favorite book discoveries of the year & new authors:
  • Comics. Specifically Locke & Key by Joe Hill (which is done), and the Attack on Titan manga (which is not yet done, thank God). Actually, I've read quite a few books by Joe Hill this year. I find he's a more consistent writer than his dad. 
  • Then there's Scott Lynch (I seriously have to go back and read the 2nd book of Gentlemen Bastards); oh, oh! and George Saunders (Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful short stories).
  • And then of course there's Tessa Bailey and her ultra-smexy Line of Duty series. I thank Mina and Chachic for their Twitter conversations about her on which I eavesdropped.

Books that I'd like to get my hands on...
  • The next two books after Annihilation. First time to read Jeff Vandermeer and, wow. 

New things from Filipino authors...
  • As always, I highly recommend Eliza Victoria, because she's smart and prolific and a damn good writer. I read Dwellers, which is my favorite novel of hers to date. 
  • I'm also in the middle of reading two YA novels: Janus Silang at Ang Tiyanak ng Tabon by Egay Samar and Moymoy Lulumboy, Ang Batang Aswang by Segundo Matias and illustrated by Jomike Tejido. Given where I am in both books, I can't say much about the story yet. But I'm excited about the seeming growth of Filipino YA. I can only hope there's more. 
So, that's it. Do join Filipino Fridays, if you haven't yet. Catch you next week!

29 June 2014

At the Tintin Shop Launch

The nice people from Fully Booked invited me to the Tintin Shop Manila launch last June 25. I've been the recipient of many kindesses from Fully Booked, all because I shop at their store a lot, so I figure I should return the kindness by posting the pictures I took during the event.

I am leagues away from being an awesome photographer, both in terms of composition and just actually remembering to take photographs. So, anything here that looks sucky is entirely my fault and should not reflect on the awesomeness of Fully Booked BGC's Tintin section, which, I am told, can more than rival the Tintin Shop in Singapore.

The reception table. Feel free to use the hashtag #tintinshopmnl on Twitter.

27 June 2014

Facebook Convo: #weneeddiversebooks

Below is a Facebook conversation I had with a few friends about the #weneeddiversebooks hashtag last May 2. Yesterday, the topic was brought up again on Twitter with a different set of people. A friend mentioned this conversation, and someone who wasn't in it originally asked what we talked about.

Now since I really hate that discussions like these get buried on Facebook, I'm posting it here so that it's easy for me (or anyone who's interested) to find it. To minimally protect the privacy of the people originally in the discussion, I've only left their initials.


Posted by Honey de Peralta, May 2, 2014

I have what might seem like a really stupid question, seeing as how I've also been promoting the hashtag, but who exactly is the "We" in the "WeNeedDiverseBooks" hashtag?

Because it originated as a reaction to the BookCon all-male, all-white panel for kidlit writers. So I get it why US and Western readers and writers say they need diverse books.

But when we Asians use it, what do we mean? Specifically, when we Filipinos, who are so immersed in Western culture, use it, what exactly do we mean?

03 March 2014

Filipino Reading Habits Survey Results and Limbag Kapihan (Updated: 7 Mar 2014)

So, here's the presentation I showed during my section in National Book Development Board's Limbag Kapihan for writers. In it are the results for the Filipino Reading Habits Survey I conducted last Feb.

One caveat I will emphasize: this is an informal survey, and I am no statistician. I am, however, a very curious individual, and I like facts and statistics. Hence, the survey. The rest of the caveats you'll find in the presentation.

The first few slides are mostly pictures of the different activities Filipino readers are up to, at least those within my zone of awareness. And I think while I was showing these, my main message was: Can we please stop saying that Filipinos aren't readers? Please. Look at the pics. Look at the sites. Look at the stats. I mean, sure, our readership isn't like the readership in other countries, but I would say it's a stretch to say Filipinos don't read or don't read a lot.

Anyway, I'll let the presentation speak for itself. I decided to add survey highlights, conclusions, and recommendations to this post, just to get the message across more clearly. You'll find them below the presentation. 

Those who answered the survey:
  • Obviously people who are online
  • Started from my personal network
  • Total of 408 respondents
  • 65% female
  • A total of 73% from 18-34 age group
  • 48% employed full-time

  • In 2013, Filipino readers read an average of 21.96 books per reader. Of these books, 19.51 of them were for leisure reading. As a comparison, the NBDB 2012 Readership Study shows that the average number of books read in the previous year was only 5.2. If we get the number from only the ABC segment, that would be 8.1. 
  • In 2013, Filipino readers bought an average of 15.7 books. A reader spent an average of P276.23 on each book purchased. 
  • 83% of Filipino readers say they read ebooks.
  • Ebook readers (the 83%) read an average of 11.89 ebooks in 2013, but bought only 4.88 ebooks. 
  • Most popular book genres read by respondents is Literary Fiction, followed closely by Fantasy, Mystery, and Young Adult.
  • 88% of readers read books written by Filipino authors.
  • Readers of Filipino authors read an average of 6.2 books by Filipino authors in 2013.
  • Most popular way to get book recommendations is through 1) bookstore browsing, 2) offline word-of-mouth; and 3) online word-of-mouth

  • If Filipinos who have online access read 19.51 leisure reading books per year and buy 15.7 books per year, then this means that they read a lot. Therefore, if your book isn’t being bought, then it doesn’t mean that there are no Filipino readers; just that they’re not reading or buying you.
  • Understandably, Filipino readers who have access to the internet will read ebooks, and are starting to read quite a number of them. However, most of the ebooks read were not bought.

  1. Find out in what language readers prefer to read.
  2. Find out where they get their books.
  3. Conduct a study on library perceptions.
  4. Conduct a more comprehensive e-reading survey.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here or anywhere you can find me: TwitterFacebook, etc. Thanks, and keep reading!