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

Highlights:
  • 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

Conclusions:
  • 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.

Recommendations:
  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!


25 February 2014

Filipino Reading Habits Survey

Partial result of Question 4
In case you're a Filipino reader in my network and haven't seen this yet, well, here it is:

The Filipino Reading Habits Survey

Here's the introductory spiel of the survey to explain who is doing this and why:

Hello. I'm Honey de Peralta, a former editor, some-time author, full-time publisher, and all-time reader. I'm doing this Reading Habit Survey in preparation for a panel discussion organized by the National Book Development Board - Philippines on March 3. In it, I'll be sharing what I know about the Filipino reading groups but also Filipino readers. 
And so, I'd like your help in representing Filipino readers well. If you could take 5-10 minutes to take this survey, I'd really appreciate it. I'll be closing this survey on Feb. 28 and will be sharing the results with the public (via my blog, http://fantaghiro23.blogspot.com) on the evening of March 3. I'm hoping it'll give us and other members of the book industry a better idea of the Filipino reading public. 
Thank you!

Yep, that's me. And yes, the survey'll close by Feb. 28, 11:59PM PHT. And no, it doesn't actually take 5-10 mins. More like 2-5 mins. I actually have a little over 400 respondents already, but I'm still hoping to get more in the few more days that it's up. 

So do take the survey if you're a Filipino reader from any part of the world. And spread the word. I'm going to post the results on this blog on the evening of March 3, right after that talk I'm supposed to give for the NBDB - Philippines.

Thanks, you guys.

21 January 2014

Five years

Happy Birthday, Coffeespoons. (img src)

It's been five years to the day since I started this blog. Though I've progressively gotten worse at maintaining it (only 10 posts last year!), I'm keeping the blog.


Coffeespoons was born at a time I rediscovered my love for reading. I was starting to become bored with my job, which counterintuitively didn't leave me with a lot of time for reading (I was a high school English teacher), I was taking up my masters in Anglo-Am lit, and I joined online book groups and an online/offline book club. In other words, I filled whatever emptiness there was with books. So it only seemed logical to start a book blog.

There is less emptiness in my life now, mainly because my work never bores me. Exhausts me, yes. Challenges me, leaves me reeling, but at least I'm not bored. Hence, the infrequent posts. 

But through Coffeespoons and the many other things that came before and after it in my reading life and advocacy, I realized that I can handle all the changes happening to me professionally, as long as I keep who I am as a reader. And that includes my book blog. 

So if you're still reading this, reading me, thank you. You're likely one of my handful of book friends.

Just because I haven't been posting much doesn't mean I've stopped talking about books and reading, of course. Instead of these longer blog posts, I think I've opted for the shorter (and more ephemeral) platforms of Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to check me out there. Naturally, though, they're interspersed with more personal stuff. You can also find me on Goodreads, like many good book nerds.

I'd also like to point you to the initiatives I'm proud to have been part of:

The Filipino ReaderCon


Filipino Book Bloggers


These are initiatives that I and many other readers put together because want to do our part in promoting reading in our country. And I don't think I would've been part of any of them had it not been for Coffeespoons.

Will this blog still be around in another five years? Who knows? Maybe I'll finally lay it to rest. Maybe the internet will have imploded by then. Whatever it is, though, I know this blog will be here for as long as it's necessary. To me, most of all. But whoever you are reading this, for however long you've been reading, thanks for coming along for the ride.

I'll see you around. :)

12 January 2014

Interview Responses about the Filipino ReaderCon

Official Poster - 3rd Filipino ReaderCon, created by Trizha Ko (img src)
It's been a little over a month after the 3rd Filipino ReaderCon, and friend and book blogger, Ron Lim, who also happens to write for Manila Bulletin, has just come out with an article entitled "Readers Unite." His intent was to feature the Filipino ReaderCon and the past three years of its existence.

It's a lovely article, and I urge you to check it out. Ron sent me interview questions which I answered in my usual long-winded fashion. Owing to the exigencies of space, word count, and unity, I suppose, everything I said can't be included in the article, so this being my blog, I figured I'd just make the responses public. 

The FilReaderCon is an event that happened because of the desire and work of so many people, so though the germ of the idea started from a few, it never would've happened had not all the writers, book bloggers, and book club members rallied to support it. You can even check out the initial discussions in this 2011 Filipino Friday post

1. What was the motivation behind establishing the Readercon? Was there a specific incident or event that inspired its creation?
In 2010, a friend, Tarie Sabido, and I, were at a LitFest. At that time, I had already been book blogging for over a year, Tarie for much longer. We were also part of the very enthusiastic Filipino Book Bloggers community, and I had been a member of a large online/offline book club called Flips Flipping Pages for over two years. I mention these things to point out that by 2010, we felt that there was a large community of Filipino readers online who talked about books both online and offline. So, when we realized that there wasn't much reader participation in the LitFest, mainly because it was directed towards writers and teachers, over lunch during one of the festival days, we started talking about our "ideal conference." Of course, we meant it for readers. We laid out what we'd like to happen and who we'd like to invite. It was going to be an event that put readers in the center of things, and we would hold it to celebrate existing Filipino readers and announce not just to the book industry (few of whom at that time seemed to know we were there) but to the whole country that there was a big bunch of readers who discuss and promote books, thereby, hopefully, encouraging more readers to come out of the woodwork.
Admittedly, it was very ambitious, but that is still what characterizes the ReaderCon today: the ambition that the nation will not bemoan the lack of readers but recognize that there are a great many Filipino readers, celebrate them, and thus create more readers. We had no initial numbers or studies to back up our belief. We just believed in it enough to try and make it happen.

2. How long did it take you to organize the first Readercon? What were the challenges you encountered?
After Tarie and I had that epiphany during the LitFest, we decided to pitch this idea to a small group of writer and blogger friends [Not in the original interview answers, but these would be Paolo Chikiamco, Carljoe Javier, Charles Tan, Chachic Fernandez, and Kenneth Yu]. And when they got excited, we talked about it some more on our blogs. Book bloggers, of course, responded right away. For a few months, it was shelved, though, because we weren't sure how to raise the money for everything. We weren't a formal organization by any means. Around July of 2011, though, I happened to ask a friend what the going rate was for renting a room at SMX during the Manila International Book Fair for an intended Filipino ReaderCon. This was a well-connected friend, so she went through the trouble of contacting the organizers, explaining why I asked, etc. In the end, Primetrade, the MIBF organizers, wanted to give us a free room. Because, readers. And then we were able to find another sponsor. When we had the venue and the food, we decided, we were ON!
It wasn't difficult at all to get volunteers. Nearly everyone in the book blogging circle I knew wanted to volunteer. Which sort of told us that people were waiting for something like this to happen. We decided not to overextend ourselves by keeping it to one afternoon, with an audience of 70, because that's the maximum that could fit in the room. So, two months from the date that we settled the venue and the first sponsor, we were able to put up the first ReaderCon.

3rd Filipino ReaderCon volunteers

3. Who were the people behind the first Readercon? Have the organizers changed over the years, or is it still the same people? What role did they play during the first Readercon?
Through the years, the organizers have been pretty consistent. I took lead that first year and have been head organizer since. The first year, it was a very informal thing, with bloggers volunteering to do one thing or the other. The second year, we set up a core committee, a structure that we carried over to the third year. Apart from myself as the core committee/program committee head, the only other consistent core committee member has been blogger Tina Matanguihan.

When we started the Filipino Readers' Choice Awards in 2012, we've also kept the organizing committee consistent, with bloggers Blooey Singson, Tarie Sabido, and Tina (again).

4. What were the activities in that first Readercon, and how has it changed over the years?
The first ReaderCon was our coming out party, if you will. We wanted to introduce the online reading community composed of book clubs and book bloggers to the larger Filipino reading community and book industry. We had the theme, "Filipino Readers Make It Social." So, we had a plenary talk from author Carljoe Javier, who talked about the blurring of lines between reader and author, in that you have readers who've entered the conversation about books more actively through blogs and book clubs. Then, we had two panel sessions: one on book clubs, where we invited three large online and offline book clubs to talk about how they started and what they did; another on book bloggers, where we had five bloggers from different reading niches talk about why and how they started their blog.

That first year, the room was packed, and there was a fun vibe as audience members shouted out questions and were eager to share their reading experiences with the panelists. Throughout the next two ReaderCons, we sought to maintain that vibe of eagerness and excitement, which is, I believe, what happens when you get readers in a room together. 
The following year, we used the theme "United We Read" to emphasize that we might read different things or even have different roles in the book community, but we are all basically readers. That year, we kept the panel discussions that touch on different aspects of reading and reading in the Philippines. One of the best panels we introduced that year was called "Authors as Readers." We invited popular authors to talk about their favorite books. Some of them even gave a few books away. That year, we also invited book clubs to host a book discussion, to give non-book club members a taste of what happens in each club's discussions or to allow readers to just geek out about a book with others. Then of course, we held the first Filipino Readers' Choice Awards
In 2013, we kept most of the previous activities, but added a Book Recommendation Fair, where book bloggers and organizations had tables with lists of their book recommendations. It was a fun way to meet book bloggers and to find your next read.

5. Has the number of Readercon attendees increased over the years? When did it have the highest number of attendees?
Yes. Every year we sought to make it bigger, doubling attendees each time. During the first year, we could only fit 70 people, SRO, into the venue. The second year, we targeted and hit 150 people in Filipinas Heritage Library. In 2013, we aimed to have 300 people, which we also hit, in Ateneo De Manila's Rizal Library.

6. What has been the general feedback from people who've attended the Readercons?
Almost all of the feedback for the ReaderCon has been positive and enthusiastic. We wouldn't have continued doing this otherwise. 
The thing about the ReaderCon, which I believe is reflective of its roots, is that we value feedback from people. Most of us, after all, are bloggers, who met each other in social media because of our common love for books and reading. As bloggers, we're used to getting feedback and engaging in conversation. So at the end of each ReaderCon, we tell people about the evaluation form and encourage everyone to fill it up. Or give feedback to any of our social network accounts. The organizers and the attendees enjoy and value the ReaderCon. But the only way we can keep everyone doing so is to keep making it relevant by hearing what people would like to have.


New FRCA logo
7. The Reader's Choice Awards has become a big part of the Readercon. What prompted you guys to start it, and what were the first challenges that you faced? How has it changed over the years?
After the first ReaderCon, a writer friend, Carljoe Javier, and I were hanging out in a milk tea place, discussing how unfortunate it was that local award winners were often unknown to most of the readers in the country. Which brought us to the fact that what readers seemed to like weren't the same books that the judges for these awards liked. And then we got around to dreaming about a readers' award, so that readers also add their voice to the local industry, and give their favorite writers and publishers the recognition they deserve. But then, we both worked for publishers then (he no longer does; I still do), so we discussed the idea with other Filipino book bloggers, and that's how we came up with the organizing committee and that it would be held during the ReaderCon. 
The initial challenge was to come up with the mechanics. We settled on popular voting for the first round, and then coming up with a short list of three (3) after the popular vote, which will then be subjected to judging, care of a panel of readers. So then, we had find judges for each category. Once the short list was settled, the organizing committee also found it a challenge to source the books in time for the judges. And of course, we struggled to make the awards known to more people. 
It's only on its second year, but, as with the main event, the ReaderCon, we plan to keep improving on the mechanics, categories, and marketing. Thankfully, in the first year, there was an amazing response from the writers and publishers of the shortlisted books and winners. That allowed us to grow the number of votes this year to 300% of the first year.

8. How do you want the Readercon to grow in the coming years?
This year, we finally plan to formalize the ReaderCon with its own board members and officers. That way, it'll be much easier for us to organize the main event and possibly other smaller events in and outside Metro Manila. We'd also like to encourage more participation from kids and teenagers because if we're building a nation of readers, they're the most important factor. We're open to working with publishers and authors who want to find a community of readers. And of course, we're going to keep working on growing the Filipino Readers' Choice Awards to the point that most of the people in the country have heard of it and will vote for their favorite books.

My peg has always been international book and reader festivals where it seems the whole city is involved and championing books and reading. The ReaderCon may initiate that or may just form a part of it. In any case, we get what we want: a widespread celebration of the Filipino as a reader.
Art for the 3rd Filipino ReaderCon, created by Trizha Ko

That ends my interview responses.

What's going to happen for the 4th Filipino ReaderCon? Bigger things, we hope. I had a couple of discussions already with our long-time supporter, the National Book Development Board. We're planning to hold it during November, which is Book Development Month. And maybe, just maybe, we can come closer to the peg I mentioned above of a larger and more consolidated book event, of which the ReaderCon is part.

..............

You can also find the Filipino ReaderCon at the following sites:

Official Website: http://filipinoreadercon.wordpress.com/
Facebook: FilReaderCon
Twitter: @PinoyReaderCon
Hashtag: #filreadercon

31 December 2013

Best Reads of 2013

Quantity-wise, 2013 wasn't an awesome reading year for me. Read the least number of books in the five years that I've been counting the books I read per year. It was a measly 34.

Still, at the beginning of the year, I did think of reading less. Or more accurately, not to pressure myself to read a lot for the sake of reading a lot, what with the increasing demands of work and family and, oh, life. And though I did sign up for a challenge at the beginning of the year, somewhere towards the middle, I figured I'd just read what I wanted to read. I think not having a lot of time does that to you.

So though quantity-wise, it wasn't a great year, I'm kind of happy with what I've read this year. Mainly because each minute spent reading was a hard-fought minute. Hard-fought.

I carried books around for days without reading them, on the off-chance that I could get a free and relaxed minute to actually read. I spent more time in our bathroom than I had right to, just so I could steal some time to read. I forewent a few hours of sleep, just to get some reading in.

And if my boss or other co-workers ask me, "You still have time to read?" that's because it's a legitimate question. But my answer's just as legitimate: "I find time." Because in these times of not-having-enough-time, if I didn't fight for my minutes of reading, then I would have lost a big part of what made me who I am. And there is currently enough transitioning in my life right now that I don't want to lose that basic tenet of who I am. I am a reader. I read.

Anyway, enough about my hard-fought minutes for reading (of which, ok, I'm very proud). Here, then, are ten of the books I fought hard to read, which gave me the greatest pleasure doing so, in one way or another: (arranged in the order I finished them)


  1. How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees - Easily one of the funniest books I've read in my life. David Rees has seriously/sarcastically written a book about the lost art of sharpening one's own pencils. And if you wonder how that topic can fill an entire book and be hilarious, then I urge you to try it out.
  2. Wonder by R. J. Palacios - Recommended by an eight-year-old niece, the book deals with an extremely disfigured child and his adjustment to regular school. Made all the more powerful as it's told from different kids' points of view. 
  3. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - Read this on a weekend binge of trying out new adult romance. This one wasn't one of the bestsellers, but it was one of the highest rated. And though the writing might not approach the other books on this list, I still consider it as one of my best reads because it did surprise me by being more put-together, sweet, and painful than the other books I read that weekend.
  4. Empire Falls by Richard Russo - I have a love for good characters who are nonetheless ineffective in life. And for characters grappling with the hand that life has dealt them, even in their small-town politics kind of way. This book has them in abundance. Plus, the ending is a whopper. 
  5. Blizzard of One by Mark Strand - Strand is one of my favorite poets. I read this very short book in the course of a month, one to two poems a day. They were like my prayer. Some I loved, some I only liked. But there was always a line somewhere that made me stop and stare off into the distance. 
  6. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo - Again, one of the books on this list that I don't think has amazing writing, but counts as one of my best reads because it surprised me. I bought it for the ghosts and the fantasy in an Asian setting, and a tenth in, I was ready to write it off as a predictable romance. But it wasn't, and that's the best kind of thing when reading.
  7. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski - I finally read this book this year, and I'm actually loathe to include it in my list because I get this weird feeling that I'm not worthy enough to include it in my Best Reads list. I don't pretend to understand every little reference the book has or every influence it took from, but man, was it a tour-de-force. And you'd think that a book as physically difficult to read as that would be boring, but it isn't. Not by a long shot. 
  8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - I read this in one night. Started around midnight, stayed up until 5am. And though I initially said I liked Eleanor & Park better, in hindsight, I seem to return to Fangirl more. Perhaps because I'm not well-versed in fan fiction, and the book taught me an appreciation for it and its writers. Perhaps because the characters are more wounded. In any case, it was a great read.
  9. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton - I think there's something to be said for spending as long a time as you can with a book because you want to relish it. This was a book I was glad to relish. Lovely character studies, fascinating mystery. And I'm a sucker for a discussion on truth and how we know it, which this book has in abundance.
  10. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed - Another book I relished, simply because I don't think one can read it properly straight through. I used to read 1-3 letters a day, because that was all the beautiful and painful truth from Sugar that I could handle. I'm not a fan of advice columns, but if Strayed were still writing, I'd probably write to her repeatedly until she answers one of my letters.
If you've read any of them, do let me know what you think. As usual, I would love to talk about them with a fellow reader.

And on to another reading year. A Happy 2014 to all of you!

12 October 2013

Filipino Fridays 2013 #1: Hello, Reader!


Filipino Friday is an online meme which started in the Filipino Book Bloggers website, but is now used as an online activity in preparation for the Filipino ReaderCon.

This is the prompt for this week's Filipino Friday:
Hello, Reader! Let’s get to know you, and more importantly, what kind of reader are you? Laura E. Kelly released an infographic about Reader species — under what Domain/Class/Family/Genus/Species do you fall under? Give examples, and feel free to talk about why you belong to that species. Who knows, you may find readers in your own genus. ;)
From Laura E. Kelly

I've never liked being labeled, even though I may be the easiest person to label. I recall seeing this infographic before. I went through it and found too many cross-overs that seem to be addressed by the over-all term "cross bred reader mutt." I frankly think most readers are mutts.

But in the interests of finding something within the species, I'm going to go with the Free Range, "It's Complicated" Reader, which is described below:
You are a combination of many of these things and yet completely different, too. You refuse to be defined or categorized. Beg, borrow, steal, devour. And do it all again.
Having said what I said earlier, I think it's pretty self-explanatory why I chose this. But let me explain further what kind of reader I am.

  • I used to be a Chronological Reader and a Compulsive Book Buyer. No longer. Age may be the culprit. I no longer feel the need to finish a book series if the first book did not impress me. Why waste my time? I also no longer feel the urge to go inside every bookstore I pass, due in large part to ebooks. I'm sorry, but the thrill of the book hunt, a main reason why I used to enter all bookstores in within my immediate vicinity, has waned. The culprit: ebooks. Where is the fun in the hunt when I can just use Google's search bar and in a couple of clicks, I can get the book? 
  • I work in ebooks, and I love the convenience they bring. But frankly, the personal downside is that I'm not as excited about the hunt anymore. Maybe that's why I look for rare or new titles now, because those pose more of a challenge.
  • That said, I am still a Hoarder. My physical book shelf might have decreased, but that's because I hide a lot of my books under my desk. And in several folders in my Kindle.
  • I'm a Book-buster, Underliner & Scribbler, and a Promiscuous Reader. I also have more respect for Book Abusers than Book Cherishers. I love print books, I do. But I internally roll my eyes when I hear or read about someone who says that they prefer their books super neat, unmarked, spine unbroken, and that the death of print books mean the death of civilization, blah, blah. 
  • I am every kind of Situational Reader except Book Swagger and The Audiobook Listener. 
  • I am every kind of Social Reader except the Evangelist. 
  • I'm all kinds of Free Range readers.
  • I used to be some kinds of Prestige readers, but I'd like to think I'm not anymore. Mainly because, though I do have very strong book preferences, I don't care what you're reading as long as you're reading.
  • I am also somewhat of a Conflicted, No-Time-to-Read Reader, though I try really hard to sneak it in somewhere. Mostly in the bathroom or when I wake up at dawn.
And now looking at all these kinds of readers I am, I'm going to question the usefulness of this classification. Like seriously, if you fall within so many of these categories, how useful is the entire infographic? Sure, it's colored and pretty and you recognize yourself in many of them, but classification systems should be helpful in the sense that you can clearly delineate among the categories. If there are too many overlaps, might as well use a tagging system or something, and not a family/genus/species kind of thing.

Did I mention I tend to be overly critical when I read? Not always, but when you get me started...

Anyway, I do hope you join this and the rest of Filipino Friday. Don't worry if your post is late. Mine is. And I hope you also come to the Filipino ReaderCon. It's going to be a blast, as always.:)

Filipino ReaderCon 2013 badge
Come to the Filipino ReaderCon 2013!

15 July 2013

For National Children's Book Day

Books I plan to give away during National Children's Book Day

July 16, apart from being the birthday of two of the loves of my life, is also National Children's Book Day (NCBD) here in the Philippines. The NCBD is an initiative of the Philippine Board of Books for Young People (PBBY - my, this post is turning out to have too many acronyms, isn't it?),  which is headed by fantastic librarian blogger Zarah Gagatiga. Tomorrow's highlight is the awarding of the Salangga Prize for a children's book writer, and the Alcala Prize for an illustrator.

And though the NCBD is just a day, the PBBY has been encouraging people to do something for it since a few weeks ago. They've also been doing capsule interviews of some children's book authors and illustrators, care of blogger Xi Zuq, who's also suggested ways of celebrating NCBD.

I'd like to celebrate the NCBD myself by doing something I've always wanted to do. So, this is what I posted on my Facebook account a couple of days ago:

What I plan to do on National Children's Book Day: 
I'm going to buy 10 children's books, a mix of secondhand and brand new, local and international. Then, I'm going to find random kids who don't seem to have enough to buy books. I'm going to ask the kid whether he/she wants a book, and if the kid says yes, I'm going to give him/her one.  
And then I'm going to make a wish on the Reading Fairy (I don't care if I made her up. I'm sure there must be one somewhere.) that the kid reads the book over ad over again. Or passes it on to other kids. 
Join me?

The other five books I plan to give away. I hope the kids I meet say "Yes."

Invitation still stands, if you're interested. And if you can't make it for the NCBD, don't worry. I'm sure the kids will appreciate it any day they get it. Still, it would be nice to let them know there's a national day for children's books.


14 July 2013

Crashed (Junior Bender #1) by Timothy Hallinan

Why I liked Crashed (Junior Bender #1)...

  • because Nancy Pearl included it among her "under the radar" reads for this summer, and I do like trying books not many people have read. Then again, this isn't really a reason why I liked the book. More like a reason why I'm inclined to like it, so...
  • because the plot's tight and moves along quickly, and the writing's smooth and witty.
  • because of who Junior Bender is--a crook (with a heart of gold, of course) who does detective work for other crooks. And in addition to being a career criminal, he's a career reader. Sold. 

I highlighted a few sections. Read and see if you don't like him, or at least, how he spends is off-work days.

“It’s true. Like it or not, I’m a professional burglar.”
“You mean, like full-time?” She stretched the words out derisively.
“Well, you see, that’s one of the nice things about being a burglar. You only work a couple of times a month.”
“What do you do the rest of the time?”
“Read.”

...my three touchstone books. I had a fine-quality first edition of The Recognitions, complete with dust jacket, autographed by Gaddis himself, that had cost me fifteen hundred and was now worth about $ 10K, and a beautiful 1930 edition of Moby-Dick with illustrations by Rockwell Kent. My copy of The Dream of the Red Chamber was more prosaic, a five-volume set of Penguin Classic paperbacks in the extraordinary translation by David Hawkes, which he titled The Story of the Stone. I didn’t feel starved for human companionship, not when I had the enormous, tumultuous Chinese family in the Stone, especially the pampered and extravagantly romantic boy, Bao-Yu, who was born with a magical piece of jade in his mouth, and the two girls who love him.

“With all due respect to your wonderful degrees,” I said, “a lot of people come out of college too dumb to exhale. I gave myself a better education out of The Recognitions than any college on this coast, including Stanford, could have offered.”

"It’s roughly a thousand pages long, and it’s about everything in the world. But most of all, it’s about forgery and faith, and between those things you can crowd most of life... I got though the first hundred and fifty pages, writing all the time, and then I got every book I could get my hands on about the things Gaddis talks about in those pages.”
She had angled her head slightly to one side by way of demonstrating that I had her ear. “For example.”
“Spanish monasticism. The Gnostics. Authorship of the New Testament. The Flemish masters, especially van der Goes and van Eyck. The music of Pergolesi. Inherent vice— that’s the tendency of certain artistic materials to deteriorate over time, the way most frescoes eventually peel and chip. The Catholic Church’s use of fictitious martyrs to convey the faith. The international trade in art forgery. How to mix seventeenth-century pigments. Greenwich Village society in the early fifties. The spatial organization of triptychs. The symbolism of the elements in a painting of the annunciation— with your last name, that might interest you. And about fifty other things. And I had eight hundred fifty pages to go.”
I drained my wine, reached past her, and poured myself some more. She watched me, her mouth drawn in at the corners and her eyes on my hands.
“And this continued,” she finally said, “for how long?
“About five years..."
See? Makes me think of a career change. Well, not really. Um, maybe just a bit.

(My copy: Kindle edition, personally bought.)