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Bookstore Etiquette

August 10, 2011

The Bookstore:
Definition: A shop where books are sold.
Meaning: A public domain where bookshelves logically take space and where the gaps are left to be filled by readers and customers.
What it is not: An extension of your coffee table or living room.

Some reminders from a concerned reader (who will be vigilant to bother those found guilty of the following:)

1. Shelves are not for elbows.

The culprit: Readers who cannot seemingly bear the weight of a mass paperback and need to lean it against the other books and rest their elbows on the shelf itself. Worse, if the book being read is not from the shelf’s section and later left behind on said shelf. (I will not name genres, I will not name genres *chants*)

Solution: Kindly step away from the shelf and hold the book yourself. Realize that some customers want to browse books blocked by your T-shaped form.

2. Reading a magazine? Do not spread it open on a table shelf.

…AND on top of books. Especially for bargain bins where books are usually not arranged in any order and hunters are eager to see everything that’s there.

Same as peeve 1, step away, hold the book and maybe, retreat to the magazine section.

3. Sitting on the floor.

If you are an adult browsing a non-children section and you have perfectly good working legs, please find a chair, stand up or if you really must, sit in a cross-legged position and be prepared to move aside to let others pass or let readers browse the books that you could be blocking by your formidable backs. (And don’t be an 8 year old and scowl upon doing so.)

4. The aisle…

a) Is not where you phone a friend or congregate in 4’s and 5’s unless your placement is entirely relevant (meaning you’re browsing or discussing a book)
b) Is not where you let the kids play tag and hide and seek. It’s very tempting to engage in those games, given the maze-like setting, but alas, not the proper one. If it’s not the sharp corners or the slippery floors that would get your child, it’s the ire of disrupted readers that would.

5. Quoting from MaryB

If you must walk between a patron and a shelf she/he is browsing, say “Excuse me.”

Because we are reading titles from book spines and covers and not just standing in front of the shelf for fun.

Harry Potter and the Reluctant Fan

August 3, 2011

NOTE: SPOILERS AHOY!

When the first book came out, I was in high school and didn’t see all the fuss of what was to be a mammoth book and film franchise. I didn’t like boy protagonists much and the story seems to be the stuff of kids with all the wand-waving and broomsticks.

(Even now I still find myself scratching my head and going “Couldn’t they have done a better sounding killing spell than the one that sounds like Abracadabra? Or a villain like ‘Voldemort?’ Because that sounds like the thug from Home Alone…”)

In college, the books were getting bigger. My friends and even my non-reading cousins all got copies. It was inevitable that I’d just find one lying in one side, and I thought I might as well try it. I couldn’t get pass Chapter 2 of Book 1. Later on, I stopped judging it and just submitted that I’m not in the books’ intended audience.

Still, people kept talking about it. I’d eventually get wind of the story even if I’m not reading the series. I know the 4 houses, I know Snape’s a bad person, I know Dumbledore’s gay, I know the trio’s names, I know Sirius Black died. Even if you’re outside of the fandom, you can’t help but know these people and references. Especially if you’re always in the Internet, like me.

I did envy the fraternity people shared because of Harry Potter. I think by this time, only me and my sister weren’t in it. In a way, it fueled my stubbornness. It became a statement to be that chick who doesn’t and will never read Harry Potter (unless someone gives it to me for free). I’ve sworn to be the last one to read it, in an anti-populist hipster stance.

I encountered Harry Potter again at the preschool I’ve worked in 2008. We were having bookfairs sponsored by Scholastic and with book 7 already out, everyone is selling these big compendiums of 7 books. Best of all, Scholastic was giving these books away to anyone who buys big from the fair. One of the program coordinators ended up having like 5 sets of Harry Potter books and started selling them (I was ridiculous enough to offer to buy one set for 800 pesos and was properly scowled at).

Then, it’s 2010. Deathly Hallows 1 and 2 were coming out. Our friends were shaking and crying at the trailers and at us because ‘why haven’t we read these yet and we should before the movies end!’. As it happens, the same program coordinator re-announces the selling of the books (after forgetting about them) and she gave me a special price (it was not 800 pesos). I thought, what the hell.

Early 2011, I started reading Harry Potter. There was no turning back. I can’t just stop reading the books I bought with a hefty sum. So I passed through Chapter 2 of Book 1 and … I ended up staying up late, even after a party, just to finish the book. I was starting to get hooked. Yes, I was aware and I was nitpicky on how predictable the story was and how the pacing seems inconsistent but I do want to know what happens in Book 2 (even if it would be the worst of the lot for me).

The reading continued on to 3 (the best written!), 4 (ho-hum, if not for Snape) and 5 (simply excessive) and finally 6 and 7. I was reading these books in the car, at night, in the hospital while watching over my grandma (my grandma would later summarize my watch as: “She would read, then get something to eat, then read again”), until it did end.

I can’t help but always point out the flaws in the writing. The frequent use of deus ex machina (Invisibility cloak/Time turner), the lack of solidity and cohesiveness. The books reads messily and unnecessarily several times. Significant details come out of nowhere. The ideas are there. If Rowling was only able to arrange them and present them in a less excessive way, I feel the story flow could have been much more resounding and more effective. Generally, I feel the series could really be more effective, if the timing and execution were improved. In the end, I thought the series was still a three out of five stars and couldn’t understand the ferocity of its fandom.

(But I couldn’t get over the fact that Snape dies for a time. Bad enough, I was spoiled. He is my favorite character, obviously.)

I finished around February and was set to watch all 7 movies before Deathly Hallows part 2. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were so adorable in their littleness and awkwardness. Alan Rickman was immediately, the person I’d look forward to in watching the rest of the Harry Potter movies along with the best thespians of the British film industry. Never mind that the films were not perfect, if just for glimpses of Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and more of “Hey! Isn’t that–” British personalities whose cameos made the movies all worth it. And since the trio have the most of the screen time, it’s affecting to watch them start growing tall, improve and take on more mature themes.

Sometimes the films were even better than the books in terms of story execution. It was like writing a short story, you can only reveal so much in that length, so a lot of improvisations and cutting were used and a lot of them really worked, whereas the novels would dawdle and introduce a lot of new things that didn’t feel important for the story to be told effectively.

Still, the films were so-so to me for the most parts. Even Half Blood Prince, Even Deathly Hallows 1. Though there were moments. This all changed in Deathly Hallows part 2, which I think is the best film in the franchise, and one of my favorites now. Deathly Hallows part 2 gave it it’s all. The Hogwarts battle scene, very briefly described in the novel (just like a game of Quidditch) is splayed out for an hour of shiver me timbers goodness. McGonagall arming the school is the first time I’ve started tearing up in the movie.

In the book, the Prince’s Tale was written very deliberately. There didn’t seem to be any spark and any need for Snape and Lily. It kind of read like a fan-fic of another universe. The dialogue between Dumbledore and Snape was so clumsy. I expected so much of Snape’s big reveal. I waited for something that would click and make sense. Nothing did. It was like introducing the giant Grawp, the Lily storyline came out of nowhere.

Imagine my surprise at the movie, when they’ve decided to include a scene of an adult Snape entering the Potters’ Godric home and with that amazing stroke, everything worked. I couldn’t reconcile young or teenage Snape with Snape Snape. I’ve always seen them as two entities. But when Alan Rickman scooped the body of Geraldine Somerville, in a scene replayed several times from the previous movies, everything came to place. The films decided to use elements that were already familiar to the audience (the setting and the actors), and reworked it. Thus: Snape and Lily.

Which wouldn’t have worked if they let some young actors we could care less about do the deed. Basically, they stuck to what they have.

And so, the Dumdledore and Snape scene with the ‘Always’ dialogue that ticked me off in the book for its sappiness, was the cherry in the icing in the movie.

That movie won all the awards for me, and before I knew it, I’m starting to stalk tumblrs for Harry Potter gifs, watch Potter Puppet Pals, wanting my own Harry Potter wand, following Alan Rickman, and investing time in finding the Magical Quill. I guess I’ve now belatedly joined the Potterhead camp.

The Harry Potter books and films just resonated with each other so well and became a very involving experience. Their timing was brilliant: Start publishing some books, get the readers’ attention, start turning them into movies with a big budget and the best cast at almost the same time, so there’s always one in each year of both, until the very end. They bewitched literally a whole generation for ten years and more with this formula. In this way, the films didn’t seem to be a separate adaptation but a compliment. The films guided the books as much as the books guided the films. It makes sense to say, I’ve read the books to watch the movie, and will read the books again having appreciated the movies. This is why Pottermore will be the next big thing.

30th Manila International Book Fair

September 22, 2009

Acquisitions!

  • “A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin
    Original Price: 385ish pesos Bought at: 85 pesos
  • “Gourmet Rhapsody” by Muriel Barbery
    Original Price: 630 pesos Bought at: 504 pesos
  • “2666” by Roberto Bolaño
    Original Price: 555 pesos Bought at: 444 pesos

There were fewer booths, smaller stores, not very spectacular selections and deals. For a 30th it’s a bit lame and easily overshadowed by the previous years (the 28th and 29th come to mind) but the fact that we still have something like this in the most trying of times and that there is definitely a market crowding the venue makes it all seem not too shabby.

I was there for two days, Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday visit was a let down because the shelves were getting wiped out and people informed me there won’t be restocking anymore. Cue in panic. I had been so sure that no one would be into the books I liked. Of course I was to be proven very very wrong. I speak of 2666 in particular. I kept my eyes peeled for this book ever since it started making raves last year. Then I saw the book last Sunday at Robinson’s Galleria Bestsellers but didn’t have enough to buy it (only because I finally bought new clothes, something that has been postponed for ages, in favor of books no less). It did scare me that it was the only one left so I was crossing my fingers. Fully Booked only had the Spanish version in stock. Then come Saturday, I didn’t see this in the NBS Booths although Bolaño’s “Savage Detectives” was on stock. I asked if there was a stock left (yes there was one but it was sold) and if there ever will be a restock (nope, there won’t be). Cue in despair. My Japanese Lit enthusiast sister was mortified to find out that the Murakamis were down to “Kafka on the Shore”.

Well, it was there the next day 😀 Waiting for me, obviously.

That is actually my only bookfair purchase (plus three Crystal black ballpens that I don’t need). The other two books were purchased in the Fully Booked and NBS branches, both in MOA. I’m particularly pleased with “A Game of Thrones” because I only got it for 85 bucks. I saw a brand new copy months back but I was very hesitant to buy it. I wasn’t sure I’d like it. But now HBO’s making a new mini-series and many people are talking about it, so I decided to see what the fuss is all about except I’ve never seen Book 1 again. Imagine my delight when I saw this in the bargain shelf in NBS. Yes, its pages started to yellow and you can see some tears on the cover, but at least it’s not like a high school chick wrote all over it (I’m looking at you, “Princess Bride” copy) so it really works for me.

I bought “Gourmet Rhapsody” from Fully Booked because of “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” (written by the same author), which I haven’t read yet btw (yes, this happens a lot. I already got screwed once or twice. But does it stop me? No.) but I have a good feeling I’d enjoy it. Fingers crossed.

Besides browsing through a conglomeration of books and items I don’t ordinarily see, I love going to the fair because of the friends I meet and the unexpected people I come across. Dad was sitting with National Artist Rio Alma in the food area and he obviously had no clue. I’m satisfied with my (humble) loot and hope it would be better next year.

Book Sale Shoppesville Branch

May 22, 2009

I’ve been baaad in updating this blog, although that could be because I don’t have a lot of fresh acquisitions this late (and we can blame work here too :D). The bookstores have a drought of new titles and I only realized lately why that could be the case.

(It really felt weird going home from a Fully Booked 20% off sale empty-handed)

So this recent, I’ve been finding comfort through Book Sale, good ‘ol Book Sale, where it isn’t a guilt to splurge for (a lot of) experimental titles. A few weeks ago, I managed to find a Jeffrey Ford book in Book Sale North Edsa, “The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque”. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the author so it was quite an awesome find (as he’s not available in mainstream stores….yet!) It’s quite reminiscent of buying “Good Omens” and “Stardust” when Neil Gaiman was just emerging in the market through his Sandman novels. Last Sunday, I visited the Shoppesville branch (in Greenhills Shopping Center). It actually ranks among the least favorite branches to me (to be followed by Megamall branch) but boy did I just take that back. I happened to visit because my mom and my sister were shopping for pambahay clothes and I’m easily bored and impatient like that. I ended up collecting like a stack of books up to my chin that a personnel approached me (and was a little confused how to help me. I can’t blame him, there are no reading nooks in Book Sales so I have to make do with the Children section while no one was around it). I settled with four books:

  • The City of Fallen Angels by John Berendt – a non-fiction book about Venice. I’m not too fond of non-fiction books but…Venice! Pretty cover! I might learn some things new!
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman – which I was telling myself NOT to buy in National Book Store because I know it’s gonna be out in Book Sale. I also have the movie ready!
  • An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I remember loving “A Wrinkle in Time” as a child but I’ve forgotten why. So I’m completing the series before re-reading.
  • The Last Empress by Anchee Min – Women, China, and Power! And pretty cover. That always helps.

There are also LOADS of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in that branch (same with the North Edsa branch) in good condition. People should really take the chance to go out and get them (I’ve been loud and obnoxious and was going, “GOSH I REALLY WANT TO BUY MORE OF THESE” so maybe others can take a hint and try *eyeshift*). I wish I could buy them all so I could give them as gifts.

Speaking of Jonathan Strange, I’ve been reading another gigantic book. I’m finally halfway after…well, a month. It’s Gordon Dahlquist’s The Glass Book and the Dream Eaters and it’s made of pure Victorian Adventure awesome. I still wish I bought the paperback edition instead, even if it’s not on sale. The hardbound edition is bigger than me.

The Great Book Blockade 2009

May 20, 2009

I came across the story of The Great Book Blockade 2009 in passing and didn’t read it then because it was…TMI (busygirlyouknow). So it was only when it was featured in the Yahoo! news page in a short and succinct article when I found out what it actually was. And safe to say I was dumbstruck and appalled that it’s been happening right under my nose for a while.

The whole point is that all new books coming into the Philippines are being taxed right now, where they should not be due to what is called a Florence Treaty which the Philippines signed in the 1950s. From what I gather, it basically certifies that the Philippines is committed to tax-less books but this is no longer the case today as the Bureau of Customs are stressing that ONLY books that are educational, scientific and cultural related are tax-free. So what does this not allegedly exclude? Oh, just, you know, novels.

I…have no words.

And if there are, they were enough said by angry readers, bloggers, legislators among other personalities who are advocates of reading, education and literacy, all of them against this blatant suppression of book acquisition, and breaking international law.

AND know for sure that novels are actually educational, scientific, and cultural materials, tyvm.

The whole story is all documented here, and it is quite personal to me as a reader and a lover of books in the Philippines. So here I am, going all protest and self-righteous mode, WHICH of course is kind of sad too because I really don’t bother much in any other aspects of government fail. BUT I SWEAR THEY TOUCH MAH BOOKS I PROMISE THIS WILL REALLY MEAN WAR. X(

Resolutions and Acquisitions

February 12, 2009
tags:

This year I am resolving to launch this thing properly, and that means posting regularly. I will work on that. Joining Fully Booked’s Blogging Club should motivate me greatly.

I had a gazillion of new purchases that I was not able to report. I think what I’ll do is pull out a book randomly and talk about it when I’ve got nothing new to write about. Weeks do sometimes pass without a new book in hand! I can live without one, but I’ll just be sad at one corner.

Last Sunday, I got two new books from Booksale (SM North Edsa): “An Equal Music” by Vikram Seth and “Ghostwritten” by David Mitchell. I have a ranking of Booksale stores somewhere. Of all the Booksales I’ve been in, I consider the Waltermart E.Rodriguez branch, the SM Baguio branch and certainly the SM North Edsa branch as my favorites. They have done well to produce a rare work or two or three. More on that in another entry.

“Ghostwritten” is my third David Mitchell book. I discovered Mitchell through “Number 9 Dream” in a National Bookstore branch. I was obsessed of Japan then so when I saw it I thought it was cool but I (fresh from Orientalism studies) got bothered that it was a Westerner who wrote it. So I forgot about it eventually. Then time passed and I did some ‘window shopping’ in Amazon. I came across “Cloud Atlas” which they said was very interesting. I got interested with the premise myself and was able to get a copy (the only one!) in Fully Booked SM North Edsa. That’s how I started thinking about “Number 9 Dream” again. Much to my luck it was put on sale during the Bookfair last September. I saw no reason not to get it anymore. Now I should start reading them.

I’ve been seeing “An Equal Music” very often but I just ignore it most of the time. That is until I got fascinated by Vikram Seth (and any Indian author really) last Christmas when I was looking for a gift for one of my bosses in school (her husband is Indian. I eventually got her “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy which she liked). I read that Seth was particularly good in “A Suitable Boy” (which I happily found on sale in Fully Booked Rockwell…despite some problems with the cashier. That’s another story to be told.) So when I saw this book on sale for just a hundred bucks, I saw no reason why not to get it.

The total amount is just less than three hundred bucks.

Closing Day is Sales Off Da Roof Day

December 13, 2008

77900.50 / 50000 words. 156% ovah za roofz!

The sales rocketed this day! Over 25T earned! If we count all the sales we contributed to other branches, I’m pretty sure we’ll earn way over 80-85T.

But it’s good that it ended, for we have no more money! (I ended up not getting Harriet too, which is best.)