The Reading Spree

Flipping pages and finding common denominators

Tag: bookstore

Bookworming In Manila: Solidaridad Book Shop

For those who don’t live in the Philippines, and/or aren’t familiar with its cities and regions: when Filipinos say “Manila”, oftentimes we refer to Metro Manila — composed of several cities plus one municipality known mainly for balut. It (Metro Manila) has also been called the Gates of Hell by Dan Brown. Sometimes I agree with that label, sometimes I don’t.

As for the actual city of Manila, I’ve been to different places within its borders for the past few months, for work and in my personal time. I was a regular many years ago due to work (a former client’s office is in the Ermita area), and it’s fun for me to rediscover “secret” shortcuts and see new things in a very old city.

Sunset along Roxas Boulevard, facing Manila Bay. I’ll never get tired of this view. I took this photo in front of Diamond Hotel.

The latest Manila adventure brought me and a friend to a small, almost-50-year-old bookstore along Padre Faura, within walking distance of Robinson’s Place Manila (because “malling”, ‘yo).

The little store with shelves of literary trasures: Solidaridad Book Shop.

The little store on the right: Solidaridad Book Shop.

We were in the area anyway, and we’ve always said we wanted to check it out. So off we went on a sweltering Saturday afternoon, because bookstore visits are always fun for us. 😛

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Bookworming In Baguio!

I haven’t done a Bookworming In… blog entry since last year, after a three-week backpacking trip to three Asian countries. Didn’t realize it has been that long! Time to break that lengthy spell.

I just came home from a five-day holiday in the City of Pines, two of which were mostly spent on the road. Needed a quick, within-the-budget getaway, and I really missed Baguio’s cold weather. I also wanted to return to a place I’ve been to many times, and not spend so much time adjusting and devoting valuable hours to the usual tourist traps. Another factor: I wanted to go somewhere that’s far enough from everything and everyone, but near enough so I can easily get home in case of emergencies.

The Baguio I knew back then is so much different from the one that exists today. It now has more people, more traffic, and definitely more pollution (and less pine tress and much less of that wonderful pine smell), to name a few basic differences. But there are still plenty of awesome, not-so-touristy places to check out.

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What If…?

It’s a scorching Sunday afternoon in Manila, with the temperature predicted to hit 35°C. Best to stay indoors until at least 5PM, folks!

I suggest watching this short film by The Bakery while waiting for things to cool down a bit. The Last Bookshop shows us a scenario that (sadly) has a good chance of happening in the future: a complete dependence on technology, which can lead to the “novelty” of printed books for the younger generation.

The short film also had an impact on me for the following reasons:

  1. That bookstore is gorgeous. Need I say more?
  2. Kids bonding with adults over a shared interest, and learning from them − this always gets me.
  3. “If I were to die, what happens to my books?” Right now, I don’t have much to give to the younger members of my family. My meager book collection can be handed down to them when I leave, and I think that out of everything I own, my books have the most value. They would give my nieces and nephews a good idea of who I am, what I like, what my interests are, and which worlds I love to get lost in. I can’t do this with e-books, seeing as I don’t really “own” what I’ve bought.
  4. The Harry Potter reference. And “Gamazon”. Nice touch.
  5. That ending. Heartbreaking, man.

Enough talk. Watch The Last Bookshop, then head to the nearest book store and take a whole trove of printed material home with you. Then read. As much as you can. Then read some more.

(H/T: Jen Non; article on The Huffington Post – Books. BTW, it’s “principal” villain, not “principle”. :P)

And… as always, this isn’t a sponsored post.

Snippets #8.

A month after my last link list, Snippets is (finally) back!

Yeah. It’s a long list. Had to dig deep into my RSS feed, social media feeds and Pocket list to find the ones I found interesting and share-worthy. Then I had to review everything and trim the list down, which called for a few more hours of work. 😛 The links included here kept me reading, writing, WANTing, organizing, and planning during the holidays and in recent weeks; hope they do the same for you. Enjoy!

Oldies but goodies

December 2012

Bookworming In Thailand, Myanmar And Vietnam!

I said in my previous blog entry that I was on holiday for three weeks. I spent the second week of October up to the first few days of November backpacking through Bangkok, Thailand; Yangon, Ngapali Beach, and Mandalay, Myanmar; and Saigon, Vietnam. I’ve been planning this trip since 2009 (after I returned from my first solo trip through Hong Kong, Siem Reap and Kuala Lumpur), and there were a lot of changes in plans, budgets and itineraries for the next three years − and even until a few hours before my departure!

Some things haven’t changed, though. As with every trip (like this one), I just had to hit up a few bookstores during my 21-day journey. A few places in my itinerary are also related to books, literature and history; and one of the places I stayed in had a lot of reading material available for its guests.

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Missed Opportunity.

I’ve already written about VVG Something (including why we went there, how we got there and what we saw), so I won’t rehash all of that here. And nearly a month after I wrote that blog entry, I finally got to do some research on the titles we saw that day.

We found this group of books near the door, and some of these books’ titles really got our attention. However, there were so many things to see, touch, ogle and purchase at VVG Something that I eventually failed to go back to these books and pore over them. And now I really regret not doing that; turns out these books were written by first-time authors who go to Babette’s Feast, described and promoted by independent Singapore bookstore Books Actually as:

…a fortnightly gathering of writers: writers of singular words, writers of sentences, writers of letters, writers of lyrics, writers of stories, writers of fact, writers of the ephemeral. Come over for a casual dinner consisting of a humble feast (potlucking is encouraged), warm company, sharing and critique of your written works. Open to the public.

Books Actually is the host and organizer of these fortnight gatherings; its publishing brand (Math Paper Press) has enlisted several writers who participate in Babette’s Feast, and support them by printing “chapbooks” of their work and selling them. Looking at Books Actually’s online listing, two titles are missing from this collection (My Suit by Jason Wee, and You Cannot Count Smoke by Cyril Wong), and there are some duplicates (Careless by Jacqueline Ong, Bare by Terry Lee, The Law of Second Marriages by Christine Chia, Victimology by Verena Tay, and The World Must Weigh The Same by Carol Chan). I really wish I bought these titles − or maybe I can buy them online (in bulk), and have them shipped here to Manila.

Which makes me think… are there any Philippine bookstores, book clubs, or writing workshops that publish (or help publish) the work of promising writers?

“Burn, Baby! Burn! The Great Bookay Ukay Sale of the Century 2.0”

[There’s a part of me that doesn’t really want to hit the “Publish” button for this blog entry, and for one very selfish reason: if I write about it, then more people will come and I’ll have less books to choose from. 😉 Then again, people deserve to know about awesome (secondhand) book sales like this one.]

I love buying books online, especially hard-to-find titles and secondhand gems. I don’t fuss about the physical condition of the books being sold; as long as I can still read the pages, I’m all good. Over the years, I’ve formed a short list of reliable online sellers that give me good prices and are very easy to deal with. I haven’t made any online purchases this year, but when that time comes, I know exactly where to go.

One of the first online bookstores I patronized is Bookay Ukay. The folks behind the popular Quezon City bookstore would post individual photos of their stuff on Multiply; and customers would fill out an order form, leave comments or send private messages through the Multiply system for book reservations. Once payment has been made through G-Cash or bank deposit (Metrobank), they will send over your books via 2GO. Quick and easy!

They’ve since moved to Facebook (here and here), and the store’s growing popularity has generated a lot of print and online coverage. For those who want to do “old-school” book browsing, you can go to 55 Maginhawa St., UP Village, Diliman, Quezon City.

If you have any free time from July 6-8, you should head over to Maginhawa: Bookay Ukay will have what its owners call “Burn Baby! Burn! The great Bookay Ukay Sale of the Century 2.0“! That means huge discounts on everything the store has on hand. If you already have plans for next weekend, well… f*ck that. Fix your schedule and go to Bookay Ukay anyway. (Hope to) See you there, and happy book hoarding! 😉

Bookworming In Taipei!

Most people form certain traditions through the years, especially when they travel. For me, it’s bookworming while traveling! Since 2009, I’ve made it a point to visit bookstores, drool all over the merchandise (not literally, of course), and purchase a couple of titles. I remember hoarding paperbacks in Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur and worrying if the new books will fit in my small wheeled luggage, or meet the check-in quota. Sadly, some of them remain untouched on my shelf, but that’ll change eventually − of course, these titles will make an appearance here on The Reading Spree.

I arrived in Manila early yesterday morning from a three-day holiday in Taipei, Taiwan, with two longtime friends. On our last day in the city (Monday), and in keeping with my short list of “non-negotiables”, Tintin and I visited two beautiful bookstores that have been featured in print and online magazines, and are well-known among Taiwanese bibliophiles and in-the-know travelers: the quirky and unique VVG Something, and the behemoth known as Eslite. Tradition sustained; books bought; wallet drained. 😉

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