I mentioned in a latter post about how I let go of a lovely pair of skinny jeans that retails for EUR19 at H&M because its more than I can afford. Well I am like that with clothes. Call me a cheapskate but as long as I can find something cheaper, I will drop the more expensive item and settle for the more affordable. I think I also mentioned that in an earlier post, I dont find investing in expensive clothes such a laudable idea.
On the contrary I am not like that with books. Since my struggling years in college, part of my measly allowance goes to books. I often find good, cheap second hand titles in a shop called Booksale and other little bookshops in the Philippines, most of them aging and fragile in appearance. I love the feel and smell of old, second hand books with their oftentimes torn pages, small notes written by previous owners, and the dusty and moldy smell emanating from them.
Ive found great titles in these stores, including the Republic by Plato which I bought for only Php50 (EUR.90), Arabian Nights (I dont recall the price), The Complete Greek Mythology, Dante Alegheire's Divine Comedy,a book on Hinduism and magic, a first print version of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Little Prince by Antoine Saint de Exupery, Les Miserable and other great titles that's quite hard to look in regular bookstores. I finished reading One Hundred Years of Solitude in two days, Les Miserables in three but until now Ive yet to cross over to the 12th chapter of The Republic (which unfortunately left at home) while Arabian Nights never saw its way back to my bookshelf when a college friend borrowed it.
Nonetheless, these books are possessions I hold dearest to my heart which can never be measured by any tag price of clothes, shoes or bags no matter how high which I will have in the future. They are treasures that I will always brag about till the rest of my life.
Ive influenced MK with Gabriel Garcia Marquez' works so we also bought Memories of My Melancholy Whores, a reprint of the Hundred Years, The General in His Labyrinth, Love in the Time of Cholera, and No One Writes to the Colonel in Spanish (still unread as I am struggling with my Spanish). Since my first purchase of books 6 years ago, Ive discovered other great authors like French writer Michel Houellebecq (Atomised, The Possibility of an Island), Chuck Palaihnuk (Rant, Choke, Fight Club), author Kurt Vonnegut Slaughter Five, Armageddon in Retrospect), Luis de Bernieres (The Partisan's Daughter) and Haruku Murukami (after Dark and my current read and his bestseller Kafka on the Shore). Ive also tried my eyes on Italian author Umberto Eco (How to Travel with a Salmon and other Essays and the ever difficult read on Literature).
These favourites doesnt includes works of fiction writers I became fond of in high school like Sidney Shieldon, John Grisham, recently Paulo Coelho (who I think is a cheap rip off of Garcia's style), Danielle Steel and so on.
I'm also fond of classic books like that of Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and the like who were introduced to me early in life, elementary years to be exact. Ive burned hours and hours in the library, in my own room, at the back of classrooms, even in the branch of a tree, and on our roof reading the works of this authors. In college, Ive concentrated on books like The Prince by Nicollo Machiavelli, The Art of War by Lao Tsu, 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction by Robert Green, works of Mao Tse Tong, Lenin and Friedrich Nietzsche. Until now, I have their books stashed in a big closest in the living room of my apartment at home.
But my greatest literary influence and favourite author is the drunkard Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe. In 4ht grade, I first encountered his short story The Cask of Amontillado and since then, I always crave for a Poe's dark short stories.
Last Thursday, while killing time before catching the train bound to Den Haag to join MK in his house hunting, I went to a famous Dutch bookstore called Selexyz Donner in Lijnbaan Rotterdam. It was not a coincidence because the day before, I actually searched for bookstores here in the Netherlands and Selexyz is said to be the biggest.
I wasn't disappointed with the size of the bookstore, it was all nine floors of books in every genre (well some floors are for audio) but it doesnt carry so many English titles (which is understandable because their target is the Dutch market). I was actually looking for The UnDutchables recommend by fellow blogger A Touch of Dutch but I was too afraid that my limited Dutch would point me to the right shelf if I asked information. So I just browsed in their rather good collection of English titles.
I was surpirsed to find at least two long shelves dedicated to Crime and Romance and just on shelf to General Fiction. Though I did find good titles. When my eyes caught Kafka on the Shore retailing for EUR8.95 I immediately grab it without seconds thoughts. Then I proceeded to look for more books. Anyway Ive saved up almost EUR20 for letting that pants go.
I was already solved to cart away a title called A Train to Lisbon when a gem caught my eye, there on a book stand gleaming in the light of flourescent was the Complete Illustrated Works of Edgar Allan Poe. I saw this one in the shelf of MK's college friend and boy was I so envious, salivating to have a copy of my own. He said he purchased it for about US$10 and about the same price, the book cost EUR8.95. This book contains all the short stories, some non-fiction and all the poems of my favourite literary figure. I am helpless at all cost, my heart just melts away at the sight of the book alone. So I carefully put the other book back to its place and head to the kassa.
I was one happy girl when I left the bookstore. There was no hesitation, no second thoughts when I went to the cashier and realized that I was spending almost the same amount that I saved up from that cute pair of jeans. Books are one of the things that truly gives me happiness. The feel of its covers, the smell of a new book, the blank spaces where I can write my name, address and telephone number in case it got lost, my ugly handwriting on its pages which sealed my ownership of it forever are just one of the greatest feeling I would want to experience over and over again.
Im already halfway through Kafka on the Shore and finished two other short novels from Edgar Allan Poe's. Sadly though, I dont have that much time anymore as I used to when I was in elementary or high school. I couldnt spend the whole weekend (day and night) reading my books or sneak to the cr during classes so I can go back to my reading. There are responsibilities that must come in between reading (or is it the other way around). I am quite heart broken with that but still I am very much thankful to have enough time to go back to my second love, reading.
Now since Kafka on the Shore introduced me to another author, Franz Kafka, I already have a new book in mind on my next trip to Selexyz Donner. Reviews coming up.