Letter-Digesting

This post is long overdue!

I love reading! I have loved it ever since. I remember in my grade school years, I pretty much read the entire library… hahaha! I was always at the library every break, every recess, and most especially every lunch time. The library was my favorite place in school, even in my high school years as well. I remember, my mom told me one time, when she saw me carrying another book home — I was fond of borrowing books and reading at home — how she never really got into reading as a hobby. (In my family, now that I think about it, I’m the only bookworm.) I don’t know what really got me into reading, what made me love it, whatever the cause is, where it all began. If I could trace its roots, I would love to know. It would be an interesting study for sure.

Like any other child, I started with children’s books. I remember my parents bought me a lot of them, and I used to get them a lot as gifts, too. These were my favorite things to read over and over again, and since they had illustrations, they also inspired me to draw! (Drawing being another one of my most beloved hobbies in my childhood years.) When I got into grade school, I read all the children’s books there, of course, as a child that would be my inclination, and then after exhausting all of them (now, thinking back, I’m pretty sure if I’ve read them all in that library), I made my transition to the other books. I remember reading abridged classics and full-length novels. I remember reading all of Shakespeare’s abridged plays there in short story form, all of the Nancy Drew books available in that library, and I distinctly remember the abridged classics: they were small booklets with orange spines. I think the first book I read of that batch, which I remember because it really sparked an interest in me: Meet Me in Istanbul. Some of the other titles I remember, The Mill on the Floss, Bleak House, Little Women, Of Mice and Men, and the book that is really significant not only to me as a reader but also to me as a person, my favorite novel, Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Maybe Rebecca was actually the first abridged classic I’ve read of that batch, I’m not so sure now. If there was one book that would encapsulate all my “interests,” it would be this masterpiece.

I don’t remember what my first novel was, but I remember reading Looking for Hamlet and loving it. I remember how much I loved how it incorporated some elements of Shakespeare’s play into the mystery of the story. I also remember reading this book (I forgot the title) about a girl who was obsessed with possums; she found a dying one on the street and took it in, meanwhile, her father was dying, and I think there was some love story in it as well. I remember not finishing this other book which had some magical elements in it; it was set in Perth, I remember that detail clearly, but not the title. I do remember that it was a blue hardcover book. Funny, I also remember this book which shocked me: it was about this young woman in Victorian times who worked for a painter whom she inadvertently got romantically involved with. It was an erotica novel; there was a lot of sex scenes in it, and now, you can imagine how it affected me back then. I remember thinking, “If people loved sex so much, if it was that good, then why don’t they do it all the time? Instead of doing other things, such as work, etc.” I don’t remember finishing the novel, but I do remember rereading some of the sex scenes over and over. Hahaha!

This hobby persisted until my high school years. The library, despite being in a different location then, remained to be my favorite place. I was a consistent borrower just like in my grade school years. Until today, now that I’m in university, reading for fun has never stopped for me!

What is so fun about reading? Honestly, if I were to answer that question point blank, I don’t know, either! Make no mistake, I do love reading. I mean, I wouldn’t read this much if I didn’t like it enough. But I think there are way too many things about reading that makes it “fun” and “beneficial” that it’s impossible for me to just say it straight, as one thing, as a final statement.

I would rather leave something up in the air, if it meant preserving its state of being abstract and its “true” meaning, instead of forcing it into concrete words that are too weak to accurately capture it.

Yes, I am one of those people.

But I’ll try to list some of them down, now that I have that disclaimer out of the way. The obvious one: reading is like a free ticket or a magic carpet to different worlds and universes. Reading makes you learn (duh), and I love learning new things! Reading gives you experience you wouldn’t otherwise have. Reading is like peeking into someone else’s mind. Reading is like a conversation between you, the reader, and the author, even if you two have never and will never meet in your life on this earth. Reading is like watching a movie, but better. Reading is a good way to pass the time. Reading is good for the brain.

And blah, blah, blah! You know all these already.

Preferences

Like with everything else, I’m very picky about the novels I read. I normally read things I know I will like, like any sensible person. So far, my go-tos are classics, novels that have stood the test of time and are loved by many for reasons; novels of the mystery genre, crime, and thrillers; sci-fi and magic realism; I also especially love books heavy on the philosophical and psychological aspects.

I’m not big on the young adult genre. Everyone seemed to be into it in high school, and I tried to get into it, but it just isn’t for me. I used to read a lot of romance novels back in my early high school years, but after that, I don’t think I have ever picked another romantic novel in my life. All the sap I need these days, I get from my favorite fan fiction. I am not particularly into high fantasy as well. For some reason, it’s hard for me to get into it. I can’t sustain my attention, and even the act of beginning is a high jump for me to make. I’m also not into the supernatural genre (vampires, werewolves, etc.). I’m also not into series; it’s the same with high fantasy, I just can’t make the commitment.

What I like about my books: I love books that make me think. I love thought-provoking, maybe controversial books. I love — and this applies to film as well — books that force me to think about and reflect on it hours and hours after I’ve read it. This might be why I love books about philosophy, psychology, and even mystery so much.

I also love beautiful narration. One of the most common complaints I read from readers are about how unnecessarily long and detailed some authors can be with their narrations and descriptions, but I love them. I love gorgeous writing, period, and a lot of that beautiful writing is usually found in narration. I’m also particular about this even in fan fiction.

I love rich characters. Characters are my favorite about everything in life, really. (I love studying, thinking about, and judging people.) I’m going to make a harsh generalization here, but the poorly written characters are what makes me stray from the young adult genre. Most of the characters tend to be teenagers, and for some reason, a lot of writers write them to be annoying. In my small experience, it’s been this way. Even in film and television, it’s very difficult for me to stand characters like these. Not every teenager has to be angsty or an unhealthy Enneagram 4, you know? I know not the whole young adult genre is this way, but it is rife with these types of characters.

I used to buy a lot of books back then, most of my sources were book sales. I never really bought from the more updated bookstores, mainly because I find the books to be a little too expensive for my wallet. Since the books I bought were based on if I could afford them or not, my reading list back then was quite random and all over the place. Still, I thought it was a good experience, because I was able to expand my reading horizons; I just didn’t stick to well-known books, but also had the chance to be exposed to the lesser known books, which a lot of books in book sales tend to be. Recently, however, I have stopped “collecting” or buying physical books, mainly because I don’t really have a space for them, and I have been trying to be minimalist about my living conditions and lifestyle in general, since now I move a lot and don’t really have unlimited space for my things when I do stay in one place. I still have no idea what to do with the books I own back at home, which are most likely now collecting dust. I made a promise to myself that one day I’m going to “get rid” of them (in a good way), and only keep the books and get physical copies of books that I actually really love. Anything else, I can simply borrow or read as an ebook. So if I were to pick between a library and bookstore, I would pick the library.

Cue the Q & A

Here are some selected questions I stole from some Tumblr book tags. My answers might change over time, so keep in mind that my answers are applicable only upon the date this post was published.

What is your favourite book and/or book series of all time?

My favorite book, as I have mentioned above already, is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It’s the first novel I truly fell in love with, and it rekindled (or kindled) my love for a certain trope.

What is the longest book you have ever read? How many pages?

For this year in particular, it would be The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (796 pages). It’s a massive novel, but it’s really good! It actually surprisingly kept my attention all throughout, unlike one other lengthy novel I also read I think last December, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (771 pages), where it felt like it dragged on and on for me. I would definitely read the book again (TBK) some other time.

What is the oldest book you have ever read? (Based on its written date)

Probably Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching? Or Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, whichever came first.

What is a book that you feel glad for not reading?

I’m quite happy to say that nothing stands out enough for me to be able to answer this. Even if there have been books that I finished that I didn’t even end up liking, I thought that in the end, it turned out to be a useful experience: it made me discover what I like and what I don’t.

What is a book that you feel guilty for not not reading?

For not finishing: all the books I dropped. I’m so sorry. I used to finish books even though I didn’t really like them, because there’s always that hope of redemption — you never know — but sometimes I just can’t take it anymore.

What book made you cry?

I remember I cried when I read Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult. I think I also cried while reading The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks. This year, Blindness by José Saramago. I’m pretty sure I also cried a lot in others, I just don’t remember.

What book made you laugh?

In recent memory, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I had a lot of laughs reading this book.

What famous author have you not read any books by?

J.K. Rowling. J.R.R. Tolkien — although this one I plan to remedy, but like I said the jump to high fantasy is hard for me, but we’ll see.

Who is your favourite author of all time?

I can’t really say that I have an all-time favorite author right now, but the closest to that might be Agatha Christie.

What is your favourite non-fiction book?

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle really impacted me so much when I first read it in high school. I also felt that I shared a lot of the author’s beliefs. I need to give it another read and see if anything has changed.

What is a book you read after seeing the movie/ TV series?

Interestingly, none!

What book has inspired you?

The Zahir and Like the Flowing River by Paulo Coelho. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

What book got you into reading?

I have no idea! But I do know which book got me into sci-fi: Sphere by Michael Crichton.

Bookstores or libraries?

Libraries.

Do you read before bed?

All the time!

What is your most comfortable reading position?

Sitting down.

What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?

“Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” It’s the first line of my favorite novel. “So long, and thanks for all the fish,” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; it’s iconic.

Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Sci-fi!

What books do you regret reading?

I don’t think I have any.

On average, how many books do you read per year?

I don’t know. I never really started tracking until this year, actually! So far, I have read 35 books. Now that I surpassed my reading challenge of 30, I plan to read up to 50 books this year if I can.

What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?

My favorite books and Agatha Christie mysteries.

Do you like to read outside?

I can read anywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?

From all the books I have read, overall: Everything is bound by human logic. Logic is the human’s ultimate limitation. There is no point to life, to anything (but that’s okay). Also, the multiverse is real.

Of the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?

It would definitely be The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

E-books or physical books?

E-books, because I can pick the font that I want to read the book in. I’m very picky when it comes to fonts. If the book has a font I don’t find particularly pleasing, it’s going to be hard for me to consider reading it.

Character or plot?

Character.

Long or short books?

If I’m interested enough, I’ll read anything. Of course, I have to be really interested to invest time in a 1,000+-page book.

Audiobooks: yes or no?

I haven’t tried it. I’ll try one soon, and see if it’s for me!

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Back when I read more physical books, for sure! However, it’s the blurbs that really matter. But now that I’m more into digital books, the covers don’t really matter anymore. A lot of my digital books don’t even have covers.

Your opinion on rereading books.

I reread my favorites! I see nothing wrong or controversial about it. I actually never imagined that I would like reading a whole novel from the beginning all over again, but I have done it with novels I really loved, and I would do it many times over!

How long does it take you to read one book on average?

A book that has 300-some pages I can read in 1-3 days depending on how much free time I have.

How often do you typically read?

When I’m in the mood to read, I read. If I feel like looking at letters, I do it.

What is a popular book or series that you don’t like?

Looking for Alaska by John Green. It was really popular, and everyone was talking about John Green’s books in my high school days, and I tried some of them, actually two, but ended up not liking either. The other book was An Abundance of Katherines. His characters just aren’t for me.

Who is a popular author that you can’t seem to get into?

John Green.

What is a popular book or series that you have no interest in reading?

I’m not closing any doors. I like to think that I’m open to anything, even though the truth might be I’m really picky.

Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Ooooh, yes! I have had quite my share of attempts, and a lot of them were from my grade school to early high school years. My most favorite part was and still is crafting the characters, and I usually just got stuck in a loop there. I mentioned above that drawing used to be a very dear hobby of mine, and I had my fair share of drawing comics, which meant world-building as well. An interesting thing about it: my “world” was completely from scratch — a.k.a. of the high fantasy kind, which is funny, as you already know, since, like I said, it’s hard for me to get into high fantasy books! And even though I temporarily stopped from writing (“attempting to write” more accurately) novels, I never stopped writing — mainly through fan fiction! It’s definitely easier, since the world is already built for you. The only challenging part is sticking to that world, making sure you are consistent with it. Over time, I have discovered what my strengths and weaknesses are, what my comfort zone is in writing. Anyway, maybe I should go back to it again; maybe not drawing comics, but definitely writing. It’s definitely going to happen, though. One day, I’m going to publish a book!

Who are your favorite fictional characters?

Interestingly, now that I think about it, I don’t really pick a lot of favorite characters from the books I read for some reason. I didn’t like Rebecca as a character, but I so loved her whole “concept.” Elizabeth from If You Could See Me Now. Another Elizabeth, Beth Halpern from Sphere. Vera Claythorne from And Then There Were None. All badass women.

Do you listen to music while you read?

I can’t. I listen to white noise to help me focus when there is too much other noise around me, but other than that, I need complete (or semi) silence.

A recommendation:

I highly recommend In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality by Josh Gribbin. It blew my mind. It was my first “formal” introduction to quantum physics. It doesn’t require you to have any high science background apart from the fundamentals of physics and a little bit of quantum chemistry. Can you believe that I actually read it outside school and purely for my own curiosity — and actually enjoyed it? I’m sure others would as well!

You can also steal the questions from this post and answer them on your own blog if you want. 😽

At the end of the year, I will write a post about the books I read this year: which books I loved, and which books I didn’t. I’m looking forward to writing it!

That’s all! I’ve been very self-indulgent with this post. Hehehe. Happy reading, everyone!

2 Replies to “Letter-Digesting”

  1. Again, I feel a connection to you about what you’re writing because I am like you in many ways than you realize, and that’s maybe why we get along so well? Anyways, I read part of this the other night, but I finished it tonight when I got caught up with my homework. Sorry it took me so long to finish this post.

    Anyways, when I was a child, I was actually deemed as a late reader. Why? I had a hearing problem, which was basically hard build up wax on my ear drums that was preventing me from hearing properly, which basically prevented me from reading anything until the ear specialists surgically removed the build up wax, tested me to see if anything has been fixed, and it did because I was able to hear sound frequencies we’re not supposed to hear, so I was tested at least five different times because they thought I was bullshitting them when I raised my hand upon hearing the sound. Anyways, because of that reason alone and plus needing glasses, I had trouble in school as well. I was never held back a grade, but I did need glasses, and I did need help with reading. How did I get by when I was called upon to read? If there were any illustrations in the books, I would read what was taking place in that particular picture or pictures. Because of having to have done that, I still have that vivid imagination to this day, and that’s why I like to write short stories, fiction, and poetry. It wasn’t until 1991 when I started to actually read fully. Some say, it was due to the fact that my stepmother was expecting a baby at the time, but it was mostly because I didn’t want to be lazy or known as that person who couldn’t read, and also because my hearing had been fixed properly. Of course, I still needed the glasses because I couldn’t see far away, but my dad didn’t have the money for them as they were more expensive than a brand new book, which I would often get every time we would go to bookstores (my dad and me). My go to books back then after my friends learned that I could read were author R.L.Stine’s “Goosebumps” series (until they started making movies out of them), but my all time favorite was his “Fear Street” series. Of course, I from time to time think I’d like to read one of those books, as I have before as an adult. I even tried reading his adult version of “Fear Street,”I actually put that away because I didn’t like the tone of it, plus he cursed in it, which he never did in his teenager books.

    Anyways, that was a mouthful, and now for more! I stole this question from your Q + A section, as it caught my attention.

    What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?
    I believe that the biggest lesson I have learned from books and also their movie counter parts is to never trust a stranger that gives you the right directions and then says “Oh hey, I have a short-cut,” which will eventually lead you to your death. I keep seeing this a LOT in film and in books, and I am finding this to be so true! You can never really and fully trust those to give you directions like that and then actually take the freaking short cut just to save on time. I’d rather kill the time away by taking the regular directions, which will mean I will survive longer than taking a short cut. Short cuts are good sometimes, but not in horror books and their movie counter parts.

    1. Hahaha! You wander a lot when writing comments. I think it’s very interesting! 😆 I think there’s always something in common between people; some have more in common than others, some close to nothing buuut there’s something there even just a little bit.

      … I still needed the glasses because I couldn’t see far away, but my dad didn’t have the money for them as they were more expensive than a brand new book,

      You’re so right! I myself need glasses, too. As a kid, I’ve always wanted to wear eyeglasses, but now that I actually do wear them, I want my normal eyesight back!

      I believe that the biggest lesson I have learned from books and also their movie counter parts is to never trust a stranger that gives you the right directions and then says “Oh hey, I have a short-cut,” which will eventually lead you to your death.

      Hahaha! ??? Thankfully, I’ve never gotten into that situation. I hate asking for directions; I don’t trust strangers, even more so now that I transferred to the big city, I just find anyone who approaches me suspicious. I’d rather look up the map of the place if I can. If I don’t have that option, I have to go to someone I can maybe trust, like a policeman or a security guard. I don’t want to die or get in any kind of trouble. ?

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