Short Reads: News Roundup for March 2017

Having come across with interesting content lately, I decided to share some of them in this post. These short reads are anything related to literature, reading, and our love for words. Here’s my first news roundup for the month of March!

Share the Love for Reading

National Bookstore, one of the biggest bookstore chains in the Philippines, is encouraging all book lovers to share the love for reading with the Read Out Loud Challenge. Just post a video in Facebook or Instagram of yourself reading out loud an excerpt of your favorite book, with the hashtag #readoutloudchallenge. Make sure to tag @nbsalert and three friends and set the video to public. For every seven videos, NBS will put up a library for a public school! I haven’t gotten round doing this myself but it looks like fun.

On Being a Filipino Writer

Last week, Kritika Kultura came out with a new issue, and one of the articles got me “triggered,” as they say these days. “The (Mis)Education of the Filipino Writer” by poet Conchitina Cruz talks about how the Siliman Writers’ Workshop came about, and how its focus on formalism may become a hindrance in the institution’s relevance in the literary scene. I thought a lot about the time I got interested in Philippine literature, and how I started writing stories in Filipino. My opinions are long enough for another post, so I won’t elaborate it here just yet. All I have to say is that I do feel vindicated–writers have to do more than just becoming proficient in English.

It’s Time for That Literary Contest

And speaking of writing, it’s that time of the year again. The Carlos Palanca Foundation is now open for submission for this year’s Palanca Awards. For those who aren’t aware, it is a known literary contest in the Philippines that gives both amateur and established writers a chance to become recognized for their works. This year, the Novel/Nobela category is open, so I’m anticipating what new novels will come out next year.

Harry Potter, Keep Taking My Money

So you’d think it’s enough that there are illustrated editions of Harry Potter, of which every copy is costly but totally worth it? Or the covers released for HPSS’s 15th anniversary where the Hogwarts castle appears when you line up all the books? Nope, now for its 20th anniversary, Bloomsbury will release Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone House Editions. Yes, the book will have a special cover that features every house. Goodness I haven’t even bought HPCoS illustrated version yet (the one available here is the Bloomsbury version, for some reason) and now this?! I’m just staring at the photos and I’m drooling.

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A Book Contest and the Books that Mean to Me

I came across a book contest held by an independent bookstore in London with the prize any bibliophile can dream of: a lifetime supply of books! Heywood Hill is celebrating its anniversary and is asking readers from all over the world the one book that meant the most to them. The lucky winner, to be drawn next month, will receive a hardback book every month, FOR LIFE.

I thought this is the best prize ever because there’s nothing like getting something for free and it’s books! However, the question was more difficult than I thought. First it must be a book written or translated in English, so all my favorite Filipino books are out. Second, it must be published the year on or after the bookstore was established (1936). So classics are out (though I haven’t read much of that). Despite these restrictions, it’s still a long list.

Eventually I settled for Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. I have a couple of books kept on my desk, in a category “Books I Will Never Sell and Will Have Difficulty Letting Other People Borrow.” You get the drift. This book is one of them.

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

My copy of Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman (Warner Books, 1993)

I bought this in Avalon.ph. Not a brand new copy, but this edition is rare, as far as I know. Most of the editions I see are in standard paperback size, though with the same cover.

It doesn’t read as a typical novel, but more of a collection of stories presented as the dreams of Einstein before he came up with the theory of relativity. It was very simply written, narrating seemingly everyday occurrences that we take for granted. That’s why reading the book was so memorable for me, because it was a whole experience of re-imagining things.

But that’s just one book. Though these books didn’t make the cut in joining a book contest, listing them down wouldn’t hurt.

The Diary of Anne Frank – my childhood hero. Also the first book I bought with my own money, from my allowance. 😀

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – this is my favorite among his works. I read this at a time when book censorship was rife (at the height of the popularity of Harry Potter), so I was able to relate.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I’ve read this twice and it never fails to amaze me.

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk – I love history novels, and this gave me insight not just on Turkey’s history, but also on Islam and the struggle of influences between the East and the West.

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling – Yes, still a Potterhead through and through, despite the reviews on Cursed Child, among others.

And that’s just the English books! So much good stuff read and to read.

You can join the Heywood Hill contest until October 31. Good luck to us!