A to Z Book Survey

Marx Lounge

A good place to lounge on December 26 Christmas Day.

I got this book survey from the The Book Hooligan:

Author you’ve read the most books from

I’m still debating with myself whether it’s Karl Marx or V.I. Lenin.

Currently reading

I am presently reading The Task of Cultural Critique by Teresa Ebert, Jangalnama: Travels in a Maoist Guerrilla Zone by Satnam, Etsa-Puwera by Jun Cruz Reyes, Aesthetics and Politics by Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Lukacs, et al, Mga Binalaybay sang Lupa by Mayamor, The Birthday of the World and Other Stories by Ursula Le Guin, Pook at Panindigan: Kritika ng Pantayong Pananaw by Ramon Guillermo, The German Ideology by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution by Mary Gabriel.

Best sequel ever

Jose Saramago’s Seeing where a people who were blinded in the first book finally see through the pretenses of capitalist democracy and boycotts elections. While Blindness is a bleak allegory on the sickening blindness that the dominant social order imposes upon the people, Seeing presents Saramago’s vision of how the people can act collectively to overthrow this rotten system.

Drink of choice while reading

Red wine.

E-reader or physical book

I prefer reading the physical book because I can carry them anywhere without any regard for access to electricity or the battery life of the E-reader. It is also easier to make marks and comments, creases and folds on the physical book. It has the added advantage of texture and the smell of ink and paper.

Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school

Maybe I want to ride a witch’s broomstick with Margarita on the way to Satan’s Ball in Bulgakov’s now famous “Stalinist” fantasy.

Glad you gave this book a chance

Lualhati Bautista’s Desaparecidos because I thought it would just be saying what was already said in Dekada 70. It didn’t. While the latter records the disruptions caused by the Marcos dictatorship on a typical middle class family and the political awakening this confrontation generates, the former takes us deep into the lives of the revolutionaries who sacrificed the most in the fight for freedom in the dark Martial Law years, the nuances and complexity of the struggle they led, and its continuing relevance up to the present.

Hidden gem book

Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros by Rosario Cruz-Lucero, which according to Resil Mojares is one of the few works of Filipino fiction in English that has overcome the enchantment of “Western modes of visioning reality” and the restrictions of the Philippine social formation by speaking “from a rich, manifold location constituted by facts of biography, gender, history, and culture.” It is exemplary by combining “considerable narrative gifts, command of language, a sensuous and comic wit” and a rootedness in Philippine socio-cultural realities.

Important moment in your reading life

Benjamin Pimentel’s Edjop, Lenin’s State and Revolution, Renato Constantino’s A Past Revisited, Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada 70, and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which I all first read in my last two years of high school helped impressed on me the need to study the real conditions of society, to go the oppressed masses to gain a real understanding of these realities, and to fight side by side with them for real social transformation. Though I did not fully comprehend these books when I first read them, I would be rereading these books again and again in the years to come.

Just finished

Axel Pinpin’s Tugmaang Matatabil: Mga Akdang Isinulat sa Libingan ng mga Buhay. Here are some reasons why everyone should read this book:

Habang sa katunayan ay nanatili siya sa piitan, nakaigpaw siya mula rito sa pamamagitan ng mga pakpak ng panulaan. Ginamit niya ang selda na lunsaran upang sariwain ang kasaysayan ng rebolusyong Pilipino… at sa paghahayag ng mga kasalukuyang problema at kahilingan ng masang anakpawis ng Pilipinas, kabilang ang mga isyu ng pagsasamantala sa lupa at sa mga pabrika, mga garapal na paglabag sa mga karapatang tao at ang pagsira sa kalikasan. Malaman, madamdamin at lirikal ang mga tula. — Jose Ma. Sison.

Kinds of books you won’t read

To answer this question, the following lines of dialogue from an infamous film are instructive:

“Should books be burned?”

“No, they shouldn’t.”

“We couldn’t criticize them then.”

Longest book you’ve read

I can’t recall if it’s Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Aleksandr Solzhinetsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, or Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov.

Major book hangover because of

Muog: Ang Naratibo Ng Kanayunan Sa Matagalang Digmang Bayan Sa Pilipinas and its novel excerpts (Hulagpos by Mano de Verdades Posadas, Gera by Ruth Firmeza, and Sebyo by Carlos Humberto) which I have no copies of and no way to read.

Number of bookcases I own

None.

One book read multiple times

Mao Zedong’s Selected Writings, Volume I.

Preferred place to read

Anywhere while waiting for someone who is probably late for an appointment.

Quote that inspires you or give you all the feels from the book you read

From a poem by Roque Dalton:

I believe the world is beautiful and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone. And that my veins don’t end in me but in the unanimous blood of those who struggle for life, love, little things, landscape and bread, the poetry of everyone.

Reading regret

Pointlessly reading too many books by Slavoj Žižek when two or three would have been enough.

Series you started and need to finish

Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.

Three of your all-time favorite books

I have a few other all-time favorite books (like The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels), but the following three should be representative of the rest: The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World by Eduardo Galeano, and Mga Tula by Gelacio Guillermo.

Unapologetic fanboy for

Amado Guerrero (who wrote Philippine Society and Revolution, Specific Characteristics of Our People’s War, and Our Urgent Tasks).

Very excited about this release more than all others

Ramon Guillermo’s translation of Walter Benjamin’s Hinggil sa Konsepto ng KasaysayanBarikada by Edberto Villegas, and Isabelo’s Archives by Resil Mojares.

Worst bookish habit

The act of reading anything I pick up and pursuing a book just because I started it even if it’s no good.

Your latest book purchase

Do downloads or photocopies count? If yes, its Aesthetics and Politics by Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, György Lukács, et al.

The Military Art of People’s War, Nguyen Vo Giap’s breathtaking account of how the Vietnamese people defeated both French and US imperialism in decades-long warfare. This kept me awake (in between my medicine-induced sleep) while in the hospital bed last July of this year.

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