Friday, July 12, 2024

Best books list

The New York Times is releasing its list of The 100 Best Books of the 21st Century on installment. I don't take any list seriously—unless we're talking of board exam passers or, my goodness, the yearly PGH Sunog List. The Times list is a consensus, a set of collected opinions, affected by feelings and some level of objectivity. 

Still . . . I am hooked. Enumerations like these are fascinating to read. I discover writers I hadn't heard of before, such as Lucia Berlin, whose short story collection, "A Manual for Cleaning Women," I'd just downloaded in Kindle. The writer Lydia Davis, whom I adore, heaps praises about Berlin's work. I figured there must be something in Berlin's books.

I'm still waiting for names like Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy, Salman Rushdie, and so much more, to show up. What about Lorrie Moore, Joan Didion, Jonathan Safran Foer, JK Rowling, David Sedaris, Miranda July, John Updike?

But I love the list because they show photos of book covers, crumpled on the edges, the way we know that a book has been read and, perhaps, loved. For instance, you can also view what books Stephen King chose, and proceed from there. The list offers a better alternative to internet algorithms. 

There are, of course, books that I would include, if I'd been asked. But I am not a "literary luminary." The list misses out on a lot of theological and religious books, and books in English written by authors who live elsewhere—but the list makers and you, the reader, already know that. 

The greatest value of such lists is the opportunity to discover writers and works, and to read others write about the books they love, which is part of the fun. Reading is a solitary exercise, but the enjoyment is amplified when other people, especially your friends and people you admire, talk about the books that have changed, entertained, and moved them and you, quietly and curiously, ask them, "Tuod ka? Nami na?"

***

It's Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend that gets the number one spot. I love Elena Ferrante! I remember the time when, tired from walking around Milan, I entered a dark café to rest my legs and read a few chapters from the book. The chapter was, incidentally, based in Milan! My actual experience of the city enriched my reading of the book.

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Inside a French restaurant in Cebu

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"Shy ako."

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024

T'nalak Fest preparations are underway

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Thursday, July 4, 2024

Typecast 13: Senses

Typecast 13: Senses

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My favorite line in chapter 1: "... dressed with that particular kind of shabbiness which marks the member of the intelligentsia on a holiday." 

That's my fashion-style—shabbiness—but not of the academic kind. Just plain old iron-deficiency. Why iron clothes when they'll be lukot when you put seatbelts on? My family disagrees.

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Hotcake

At the College of Medicine, Dr. Jun Yabon treated us to hotcakes, fresh and hot, which reminded me of childhood. Returning from palengke, Tatay brought back this dessert—hot, soft, fluffy, lathered with margarine and a sprinkling of sugar—the stuff that leads to a happy kind of hyperglycemia.


Hotcake

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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Typecast 12: I hate to waste paper

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(Click the image to enlarge.)

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