Monday, December 22, 2014

read when you can

Just a few days ago, a terrible realization dawned on me while rearranging my bookshelf: Most people, if not all, will never know the likes of Carver, Marquez, Rushdie or Munro. What they only constitute as reading is giggling to cheap thrills of Wattpad. Or worse, the cocktail menu of a bar near you. Wattpad though is a trend, a mobile app wherein one can create stories and share them within a community. If only notable and esteemed writers from across and beyond the nation could contribute works of substance to this app, then we can really safely say that technology has never been a bane but a boon when it comes to reading.

What also pains me to hear from many these days are these common arguments: 1) books are boring, 2) there is no time to read, and 3) there is nothing interesting to read.

The first argument is the most common, and it usually comes from those who refuse to learn despite the awareness of the benefit. We can always tell them to read, yes, but if push comes to shove, we might just have to accept their reality and heed J.K. Rowling’s words, author of the Harry Potter series: “Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out.” Harsh, yes, but it speaks volumes of truth.

 The second argument, on the other hand, only emphasizes the elephant in the room that we all have the luxury of time in the world. What we just usually claim to have are excuses. This is where the problem lies. If only we could just take a fraction of our lives to read a newspaper, magazine, or a book of fiction or poetry, in the same manner we ogle at boxers, beauty pageants, fashion shows, and hours of DOTA, I have a feeling our nation would be a much better place to live in.

Lastly, the third argument is empty and lazy, almost like a cousin of the first. The Philippines has a wealth of written works, especially literature. As an archipelagic country, this wealth presents a diversity only a few can boast of. One can easily say ours is an embarrassment of riches.

There is more to Philippine literature than our folktales, Noli Me Tangere, Precious Hearts Romance, and Mabuti Pa Ang Roma May Bagong Papa. We have tales of familiar realities by Alfred Yuson and Jose Dalisay, domestic heartbreak by Ian Rosales Casocot, contemporary fantasy and the otherworldly by Dean Alfar and Eliza Victoria, exquisite verses by Eric Gamalinda, Joel Toledo, and Marjorie Evasco, an acclaimed Boholana critic and poet. On the graphic literature side, there is the piercing wit and humor by Manix Abrera, the inventiveness of Budjete Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, and the timeless satires of Gerry Alanguilan.

Truly there is so much more the Filipinos can offer. There is always something for someone, no matter the genre.

I think many people avoid the library because of solitude. To be alone with only a book as a companion, to be left out by peers and distractions. As if missing the next music playing in the dance floor or an update from an erratic Facebook newsfeed would kill us. But solitude is no disadvantage. Rather it allows us to look deeper into ourselves, away from the unnecessary we usually deem as necessary.

This brings me to one major selling point of a library and the books it houses. What we get from reading is not only erudition and sophistication but also the nuances of the human condition: an understanding of honesty, respect, sacrifice, trust, empathy, and above many other things, love. Love for each other, love for one’s country, or a love for books.

I will end this here, else I would digress further into the stars. There is nothing more to say but this: Take time to visit a library. Give yourself the gift of (re)discovery, a chance to get lost in a maze of books, to be a child once again and give in to the delights of curiosity. As proven since time immemorial, it is through wonderment that we know the possibilities of a future.

[ 2nd of 2 parts ]

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