The year 2014 was particularly productive in terms of reading, my new disposition being more conducive to reading more books than I usually do. I did read more books than the past years in terms of quantity. I also covered new areas that I’ve barely explored before.
1. One of the significant areas that improved considerably is poetry. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that I read more verses this year than all of my past twenty six years combined.Some of my favorites are:
- Poems: 1913-1956 by Brecht,
- several collections by Mayamor,
- Zero Hour & Other Documentary Poems by Ernesto Cardenal (courtesy of William Small),
- Otto Rene Castillo: Tomorrow Triumphant and Let’s Go Country,
- Bayan Ko: Mga Tula ng Pulitika at Pakikisangkot by Jose Corazon de Jesus (UP Visayas Library),
- several collections by E. San Juan, Jr.,
- The Farrar Strauss Giraux Anthology of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry,
- Brazilian Poetry (1950-1980),
- Anti-Paradise by Zurita,
- Doktrinang Anakpawis and (A)lamat at (H)istorya by Almario,
- Howl and Other Poems by Ginsberg, and
- Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty by Tony Hoagland.
2. Plays are another breakthrough area. I also sought to catch up on plays last year and in the process got to know Brecht in more detail than before: not only reading plays that have become my favorites such as The Mother, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Good Woman Setzuan, The Visions of Simone Machard, I also pored through Brecht’s essays on theatre and a study by Fredric Jameson: Brecht and Method.
I acquainted myself with Genet: The Maids, The Balcony, The Blacks. I finally read what is probably Peter Weiss’ most popular work in the Western World, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade or simply Marat/Sade. I also read the dramatic works of Sartre (No Exit and Three Other Plays), who I previously only knew through his fiction and aesthetic and political essays, for the first time.
- Weiss‘ The Aesthetics of Resistance,
- Ursula Le Guin’s The Birthday of the World and Other Stories,
- Antonio Lobo Antunes’ The Splendor of Portugal,
- Lualhati Bautista’s Gapo,
- James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late,
- The Complete Stories of Lu Xun,
- Carlos Fuentes’ The Orange Tree,
- Saramago’s The Lives of Things,
- Bolaño’s Amulet, and
- Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo.
4. Finally, my favorite works of history, politics, aesthetics and social theory from last year:
- Ramon Guillermo’s Pook at Paninindigan: Kritika ng Pantayong Pananaw,
- William Hinton’s Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village (UP Visayas Library),
- Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (UP Visayas Library),
- Teresa Ebert’s The Task of Cultural Critique,
- Mike Davis’ City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (courtesy of James Leocadio),
- Baran’s The Political Economy of Growth,
- Badiou’s Ethics and The Century,
- Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,
- Althusser’s On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (courtesy of Earl Lagunsad),
- Resil Mojares’ The War Against the Americans, and
- Mas’ud Zavarzadeh’s Theory as Resistance: Politics and Culture after (Post)structuralism.
For 2015, my reading program would revolve around Marx’s Capital and related materials. I’d also like to read more books on Philippine society, history, and literature. That’s all for now.