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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Review: A Void by Georges Perec

I’m back! After my last post here, I got sick and didn’t get around blogging every weekend like I used to. I also missed our weekly blog challenge (;_;). I decided to post a book review this time, since I haven’t posted any for a while.

A Void by Georges Perec was a novel originally written in French. Perec was a linguist who had a knack of experimenting different ways in writing language. For this novel, he wrote it without using a single word with the letter ‘e.’ That alone is mind-blogging, but when it was translated to English, it was a feat! Yes, the translator, Gilbert Adair, didn’t use the letter ‘e’ for translating this novel to English.

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A Void by Georges Perec, Vintage Classics edition, 2008

I actually bought my copy three years ago. I was in Singapore for work, and of course we did a little sightseeing. One of the places we went to was Kinokuniya, which is now one of my favorite bookstores. It was where I found this copy (and two more books ^_^).

First off, reading this book was very difficult. It had a strange tone–formal and quite wordy at times. This is likely because of its nature. English has a lot of words with ‘e’ in them, so to create a whole novel without it, you’d have to replace words that are more commonly used and easier to the reader. I found myself doing a translation while reading it, replacing a word with one that has the forbidden letter. Despite this, I eventually got a hang of it and its story.

A Void is about the sudden disappearance of Anton Vowl. Before he vanished, he had sent postcards to his friends with cryptic messages. His friends, some of whom weren’t even acquainted to each other, came together to solve the mystery–both of his disappearance and the queer messages they received. But as they delved deeper into it, they soon discovered Anton’s secrets and how it related to their own past.

The novel starts out slowly, taking its time to build everything in the beginning. Because it had several subplots, it tends to veer away from the main plot at times. But of course, all the loose strings came together at the end.

One of its main themes is fatalism, which I’m not a fan of. It just frustrates me whenever characters are put in a situation wherein they have ‘no control’ because of a curse or ill fate. It was unfortunate that the story had focused on this.

Other than that, the novel is still impressive given the challenge that was imposed by its author. It also feels fulfilling after finishing such a difficult read. I almost gave up on it a couple times, to be honest. It’s pretty amazing how writers come up with unique ways in telling a story, and it just shows how much we can do with literature.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify

Transmogrify: to change or alter greatly

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My copy of The Diary of a Young Girl, the first book I bought with my own money (from my saved allowance)

I was 11, and I had borrowed a copy of this book in the library. At the time, I kept a diary and would write on it daily. I was intrigued at what this diary was all about, and why it was now a book. Anne Frank was about the same age as I was when she wrote entries on her diary. I couldn’t help but compare her experience to mine. It was very far from my everyday chronicles of homework, petty fights with my sister, and the like. I marveled at her courage, despite her fear. Many years have passed, but I always go back to that time when I discovered how one’s outlook in life can be transformed by a single book.

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Probably one of the first history books that I owned and read that was not required reading.

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Anne Frank House museum guide and stamps – my sister’s pasalubong for me when she visited the museum in Amsterdam.