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Monday, October 17, 2011

Reading: Not an Excuse

My former mentor warned me against making reading as an excuse not to have a life: love, sex, and night.

I'm guilty.

I could have easily pursued all three mentioned above had not the other option been too easy and enticing: reading.

Powerbooks is the number one culprit. Where in the world can you buy a Chinua Achebe for P75? Or an Isabel Allende for P150? And thrown in Ben Okri's "The Famished Road" and Vladimir Nobokov's "Lolita" side by side a shelf.

Over the weekend I bought three Chinua Achebe novels, a Milan Kundera, Isabel Allende's 2010 novel "Island Beneath the Sea" (hardbound copy), and Ben Okri's "The Famished Road" all for a little over P1,000. "Lolita" will have to wait.

Reading Isabel Allende, the female Gabriel Garcia Marquez I dare say, I ask myself why can't a contemporary Filipino author soar as high. And easily I have an answer, most Filipino authors write in English. Ironically, the best contemporary works of literature are written by non-native speakers of English who wrote in their own tongue and have/had their works translated in English and other languages: Paulo Coelho, GG Marquez, Jose Saramago, Allende, Nahguib Mahfouz, Boris Pasternak, Dostoyevsky, Thomas Mann, Haruki Murakami, and Yukio Mishima.

But I will leave that thought to the politics of languages and linguistics.

So I'm the reader sans life: love, sex, and night. And it makes it more difficult if you're a reader of these books, and you can't talk about them during dates. So instead you talk about Steve Jobs and his notable quotes in his Stanford speech.

And yes, reading should not be an excuse to have a life outside the pages of a book. Neither should the characters in these works be made the benchmarks of the people we will choose to love.

Reality should be separated from fiction. Writers may be considered as creators, but they are not gods.

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