Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On My Nightstand

For some reason, I felt like I needed to brush up on my philosophy, so for the past few weeks, I've been reading Sophie's World.

I wanted to refresh my knowledge of everyone from the Greek philosophers to Kierkegaard (and beyond), but I didn't want to have to pick up my old text books. (Flashback: sleepless nights slaving away over papers about The Republic. Shudder.) I figured this book, written by a philosophy teacher who wanted to make philo more fun for high school students, would be an easy-peasy way to refresh my memory.

It's about a 14-year-old girl who suddenly finds herself communicating with a mysterious philosopher. I have problems with this concept because, seriously, if that were my daughter, I would be freaked out by the idea of her secretly taking philosophy lessons from some strange man. And, well, the backdrop story doesn't engage me enough to make the the philo lessons interesting. So yeah, the "past few weeks" bit in the opening sentence is telling. Bit of a struggle.

I was feeling like I was in a reading rut, but didn't quite know what book to buy or borrow. I'm not into chick lit (unless Jane Austen counts), I am the farthest thing from a Coelho fan (sorry, no offense to Coelho readers out there), and I'm not into pa-deep novels (I found Unbearable Lightness of Being rather...unbearable. Or maybe I'm just simple-minded that way). I like magical realism--GGM's One Hundred Years of Solitude is a favorite--and I like novels set in the past. I used to rely on photographer-friend M's recommendations. That is, until he turned all guy on me and started devouring non-fiction books--more my husband's territory.

Voracious doesn't begin to describe what kind of reader M is. Just a few days ago, he remarked, "I got sad when I realized that life isn't long enough for me to read all the books I want to read." Wow. Anyhoo, M and I are in agreement that we don't like highly complex novels--we kind of like easy reads that are well-written. Simple as that. (We are also in agreement about Coelho, but I won't pick on the guy anymore...) He had been recommending Chabon for a few years, but every time he would mention Nazis, I would kind of tune out. He finally sold me on one of his top two books as I was going over his bookshelf recently. I do trust the man's taste. He is, after all, the dude who introduced me to James Clavell (Tai-Pan) and Puzo (The Sicilian, featuring my literary crush, Turi Guiliano).

And it's a Pulitzer Prize winner, so it can't be that bad, right?

It's about a guy named Josef who escapes to New York from Prague after the Nazis start putting heat on the Jews. He and his cousin create The Escapist, a comic book with a "Nazi-busting hero who liberates the oppressed around the world." They become successful, but all the while Josef's thinking about his family back in Prague. I'm speeding through it, at least as much as my packed sched and intense desire to sleep allow. It's partly because it is rather engaging, and also partly because I want to know why M loves it so much. I'm hoping it'll see me through this reading dry spell and get me back on track to fulfilling my reading quota.


  1. Gandang book yung Sophie's World. Pero shempre di ko natapos kasi tinamad na ako in the middle of the book and nangopya na ako kay Cheng during the middle of the term. :D

    May sense ba yung comment ko? :D

  2. Hi Ms. Tish!

    You might want to try reading Isabel Allende's novels, too. The ones I've read are The House of the Spirits (magical realism yey! Or have you read this na?) and Of Love and Shadows (set during a dictatorship in Chile). Brilliant story-telling and the novels aren't dragging :)


  3. Hey Mikey! Hahaha. So you had to read this in college? I had to read the actual works of the Greek philosophers. Hassle. Our joke was our Philo teacher kept giving us expansion sets for our readings. (As if binasa ko naman lahat. Haha)

    Littlepieces, thanks for the suggestions. I've actually read Eva Luna, also by Allende, but can barely remember it. I've also read Laura Esquivel...if you notice, I have a thing for Latin American authors. Guess they're pretty big on the magical realism. My dream is to be one day fluent in Spanish and be able to read to all GGM's works in their original form!

  4. I read Sophie's World when I was in London, but I never got to finish it, unfortunately. I should re-read it, because I can't even remember where I got to...

    I just finished reading: "Never Let Me Go".

    p.s. Do you remember when we used to write each other when I was in London? It all started when I sent you a birthday card! hehehe!

  5. Sophie's World was a required reading I think in my high school but I really don't remember much about it except that the character's name is Sophie and that the book is reportedly 'deep' :) No judgments though because I may not have really read it then so I'm in no position to judge.

    Like you, I've been on a reading-quota mode. :) though right now, my reading list is made up of mostly biographies and autobiographies of people who made it! :) I love being inspired!


Oh, so sweet of you to drop a line!:)