I’m a shallow lover…

…of books, that is.

I envy those of you who have read every single book that lines your bookshelves; those who are devoted monolegists ( a word I made up of mono+ lego, the latin word for read) and give each book their undivided attention. But not me.

Oh, how I am ashamed of this! I’m a biblio-player! I do judge a book by its cover; if it’s eye-catching with bright colours and cool pictures, I’d give it a chance by reading the blurb and thumb through the pages to get an overall impression. I book-read. No, not read books. I book-read; I analyse the book, the title, the spacing of passages ( curse the book that has passages huddled together in one big monolithic passage) and even the author. I look out for superfluity,redundancy and flowery language. Does the author substantiate claims with evidence or anecdotes? I skim-read to see if the eye-catching title is a bluff where you find only a 1/3 of the book somewhat intriguing and rest being, in essence, long-winded prologues and epilogues.

I’ll give a book a chance if the lack of a nice cover is compensated by its substance; the fonts,the qualifications of the author and how soon the subject-matter is introduced in the book and dealt with.

From experience, I’ve found that the more elaborate and fancy a book cover ( and the ubiquitous accolades and reviews) is, the more I’m inclined to suspect that it’s overcompensating for lack of substance. The best books I’ve read had the simplest of covers, and by the same token the most disappointing books have been those who trumped-up my hopes with fancy covers and no substance. Those are what I call Blonde-books ( like blonde-jokes, only epitomized in book format.)

And you know how people have actually read their favourite books? Well, not me. Some I love based on first impression and I mark them for a future reading, kinda like an acquaintance you take a liking to, yet don’t feel the urgency to bond with them right now. So you save their number and the two of you occasionally text and suggest to ‘totally meet up someday’ but you don’t because it’s low priority. Until you get bored or something drastic happens and you need to talk to someone, cue the bonding session. Those are my friendly books .Others have me by the title alone! Oh yes, when I find those kind of books, I lose my marbles and cause a ruckus. Time stands still, my heart beats so hard I can’t hear anything but its frantic pounding in my ears and I start cold sweating.That’s how elated I get . Those are my soul books. I would not rest until I get my hands on said book, even if I have to go the dark alleys of torrent sites!

Then there are my nemesis books which are books so shallow and pretentious it makes my blood boil! These are the kinds of books that makes me lose trust in books and not know if a good book is actually good.

Lastly in my long line of booksters ( yet another word I made up. If Shakespeare can do it, so can I…right? o_O ) are the Mentors. These are books that I hold in high regard, yet I haven’t found it in me to settle down with any one of these just yet.I can’t muster the level of commitment required with these books require and deserve.I imagine sitting down with Joyce’s Ulysses or Homer’s The Odyssey– or any Hemingway’s,Dostoyevsky’s or even dear Alan Watts’ with a seriousness bordering on austerity and unwavering devotion of attention. I can’t! Not while I’m book-hoopin’, title-judgin’,skim-readin’ and name-callin’…

No, I’ll have to get over my commitment-phobia and marry the fine art of reading books.



You should date a girl who reads.

You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.
Rosemarie Urquico

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