Saturday, July 23, 2005

Gems from book sales; it's all I can afford :-(

I was meaning to ask MLQ3 about what books he have read which would at least make me understand why he could write such penetrating articles in the Inquirer, that Arab paper, and of course his blog.

I never got to it because the next time I read his blog he was writing about books he owned, read or has been reading. Six hundred books or so on his present bookshelf. I ate my heart out!

I immediately counted mine: only about 100 consisting mainly of books bought from book sales. A dozen were acquired from the many visits of Dolous and Logos (those ships by a religious group that dock in the city about every couple of years). The few that I acquired first hand are trade books - mostly computers which even then are Philippine reprints and are therefore almost obsolete when they are on sale. The up-to-date ones from abroad cost twice as much.

There are National branches and one Goodwill in Cebu City. But except for school textbooks for my children, I rarely do my buying there except when they have sales of old titles. That's how I got hold of Paul Krugman's The Great Unraveling. There is, however, a good outlet for low-priced but not necessarily cheap books. It is called the Cagnaan Bookstore. But mostly their titles are British publication or edition. That's where I got Richard Dawkins' River Out of Eden and Steven Pinker's Words and Rules for less than 400 pesos each. But I am talking here about book sales so I think I am digressing.

The few priceless gems I got from RSO and Booksale (two second-hand or old titles dealers) are the Ascent of Man by J. Bronowski, two titles by Carl Sagan, two volumes of Will Durant's History (I am still tracking the rest); Ayn Rand, Asimov, Galbraith, Friedman, etc. The Old San Francisco Bookstore, another favorite, has moved to Dumaguete City.

I love reading. I was reading even before I was in grade one because my mother was a grade 1 teacher in a small community in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur. I cut my teeth on Bisaya, a Binisaya magazine that is popular in the Visayas and Mindanao.

(Binisaya is most often referred to as the Cebuano language. But that is not accurate. Cebuano is a dialect of Binisaya. Binisaya is the common tongue of the Sugboanons (Cebuanos), Bol-anons, Siquihodnons, West Negrenses, Southern Leyte├▒os, and much of Mindanao. I'll take this up in greater detail in another blog.)

Our family did not have money for books. It was not a priority. I could not remember if we had any book although I found out later that my father was a well read. In my grade 2 I was sent to live with my maternal grandparents in Cebu. Grandma was a teacher too. She had this small glass aparador which served as a bookshelf. Among her small collection was the Osias reader, Hiawatha, Evangeline, and Sohrab & Rustom which I finished off in my elementary days. After that, there was no more books until several years later when I discovered the USIS library. My high school (a fishery school) did not have a library. The Reader's Digest and the Free Press were my main reading fare.

In college, which I first did in Zamboanga City, our school had a library but the titles were mostly common textbooks. There was a city library but I went there mostly for the magazine. When I came back to Cebu a few years after that's when I discovered the USIS library. It was my main haunt on Saturdays until it was closed down during the fiscal crisis of the US.

I forgot to say that in my primary days, whenever Lolo brought me to Cebu city (we lived some 40 kms to the north) I would always ask him to buy the newest issue of Batman or Superman. Now, now, if there is something tender I could remember about Lolo (he was a very strict disciplinarian) is that he allowed my fondness for comics. Perhaps because all my comics were the English variety. I never bought Tagalog comics which perhaps explains why in college I usually write out first in English any assignments in my Filipino classes before rewriting them in Tagalog after a tedious word-for-word bouts with the English-Tagalog dictionary.

My latest acquisition from a book sale is William Safire's Take My Word for It.