Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chilling at the bookstore

Whenever I am at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and I had the time, I try to pass by the Fully Booked branch there. I like browsing their shelves for books, comics or CDs. I think I usually picked up a book, magazine or comic book almost everytime I'm there despite doing my best not to be tempted considering the escalating prices these days. Books are not cheap in the Philippines and I think this is partly to blame for our being generally immature for our tastes in literature. I mean, honestly, how many people really do read Murakami, Rushdie or Garcia-Marquez who recently passed away? I'm all for the electronic stuff as an aid for developing reading comprehension but there's nothing like a good book or magazine to enrich the mind. 

Recently, I had been at the bookstore again months after the last time I was at the Bonifacio High Street. This time I had some time for myself as I waited for the wife to arrive from their out-of-town workshop. I was surprised to find second hand CDs at the music section and found that most if not all came from Japan. I was certain with this as I saw the CD labels and ended up browsing the CDs as I did whenever I was in one of my favorite used CD shops in Tokyo and Yokohama (e.g., Yamagiwa and Recofan). I got most of my CD collection from those shops and most of these were high quality CDs that were made in Japan or Europe including my collection of classical music CDs. I ended up purchasing a couple of CDs - one classical and another jazz to add to my collection. I was a bit disappointed though that the used CDs were not as inexpensive as I had expected them to be. I recall that good quality used CDs in Japan usually cost me 1200 JPY or the equivalent of about 300 to 400 PHP at the time I was there. So I had to make sure I really liked the CDs I picked up before finally making the purchase. 

I celebrated my purchases by getting some frozen yoghurt at the White Hat branch in the same building. The froyo and lemonade were refreshing treats before I walked back to the parking lot to wait for the wife.

Frozen yogurt and lemonade while reviewing my CD purchases.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Of Kingdoms and Thrones

I have never been so interested in a series since The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sure there was Harry Potter but despite the great reviews and the movies, I just couldn't will myself enough to purchase one of the books and was contented with waiting for the next movie and reading about the reviews. The reviews gave me an idea of how faithful the movies were with the books and I was convinced the movies were enough for me. It was quite different with the LOTR where I had read the books and other works of Tolkien prior to the production of the films. I even wondered when they were going to do a film version of The Hobbit (its now being produced) and imagined how The Silmarillion could be adapted into a film. The latter is an epic that would require, I think, a series considering the wealth of stories that can be derived from the book. In fact, some publishers have come up with what I thought was a conscious attempt to break up The Silmarillion into a few books and make it look as if they were independent of the original work.

The first time I learned about A Song of Ice and Fire was through friends who posted about their excitement about the first book, A Game of Thrones, being adapted for a series with HBO. The result, as they say, is history and I got my first glimpse of the series with the Clairvoyant one late night in our Singapore home as we did our scan of cable channels while lounging in our living room. We were both impressed at the production and excited and anticipated for the next episodes of the series. When the series ended, we both exclaimed "bitin!" And rightfully so considering it has captured our imagination especially after the dragons hatched in the season finale. 

A Song of Ice and Fire is actually a series of novels that includes the following, so far:

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
The Winds of Winter
A Dream of Spring

The last two books are still to be released but are highly anticipated considering the sudden popularity of the books and the boost created further by the HBO series. My only regret is how I only came to know about the books when the first one was published back in 1996! Nevertheless, it is never too late to try to catch up on my reading considering I would really prefer indulging myself with such literature to balance my constant diet of material pertaining to my chosen profession. I think the Clairvoyant would agree with me that we need to get copies of the novels so we can feast our minds on the certain pleasure of digesting these books.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Used books and CDs

My brother gifted me with a copy of "The Dilbert Future" last Christmas. I was quite elated and again surprised that he got the copy from a used book shop. It was only last October that he got a hard-bound copy of "The Dilbert Principle" from the same book shop. It seems to me that he got some ability in finding such items like these books in a used book shop where it can be quite a challenge to scan many if not most of the books to find those of interest and worth buying. I must say that I also have this knack for scanning, searching and finding items and I have been able to hone the "skill" while I was studying in Japan.

The first time I tried and discovered this "talent" was during my first trip to Japan back in February 1996. I remember staying at the International House of Tokyo Tech and there was this small used books and CD shop near the university. A friend and I passed by this shop and he mentioned to me that it was in similar shops that he acquired music CDs. In fact, all of his CDs at the time were second-hand and were acquired cheap from such shops. But cheap doesn't mean poor condition for I learned that many of the Japanese who bought CDs usually sold the same to used CD shops to recover money (to purchase newer CDs) and to de-clutter their homes. In several chains, they even have a rating system for used CDs where "A" usually referred to a CD in almost mint condition and "C" may mean that the lyrics insert is no longer included in the package. One may also examine the disk to see whether there are scratches or other damages to the case. Anyhow, as my friend labored in scanning the shelves for CDs of is interest, I managed to spot 2 or 3 CDs including a Duran Duran album. These became my first CDs and I bought them despite not owning a CD player. So, they ended up being loaned to my friend at the time.

Through 3 years and the establishment of several haunts for used CDs, I was able to collect CDs on various genres including classical music, new wave and pop. Among my favorite shops were the Yamagiwa store in the Kannai district of Yokohama, the same store in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, and the Recofan stores near Yokohama Station and in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Of course, I did purchase new CDs but I was always selective of these purchases considering the wealth of used CDs in the shops at the time.

Recently, I have renewed my interest in used items but this was and will be limited to books. Several used book shops have sprouted in Metro Manila and so far, my luck has brought me a hard-bound first edition of The Silmarillion, several classics, a hard-bound edition of a civil engineering textbook , and hard to find chess books including one by the old master Reuben Fine. I look forward to more browsing as these used book shops bring in a treasure trove of books though I am also wary of some of these books bearing some damage or writing/scribbles from its previous owner(s). Perhaps I should focus on hunting for books on chess? I did lose a lot of my chess books in the past 15 years to bookworms and floods. It would be nice to reacquire some if not all of them. In fact, some of the old chess books happened to be given to me by a cousin who has already passed away. He will most certainly be the subject of a future posting.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dilbert Principle and other "old" books

My brother gifted me with a hard-bound copy of The Dilbert Principle today. He found the copy at a used-book shop last week and promptly bought the copy. It was almost mint condition and I was surprised that a good copy was available from a used-book shop. Many books I've found there often have torn pages or many with scribbles. Some even have coffee stains. The soft-bound copies usually have worn covers and it is not uncommon to find spines that indicated the book has seen better days. The hard-bound copy will join my flood-damaged soft-bound copy of the same book that I bought when I was still in Japan.

I also like to browse merchandise at used-book shops. Mostly I try to find early editions of books I already have. So far, I've had some success because I've managed to get a First Edition copy of the Silmarillion, and a few chess books that I knew were quite expensive if bought brand new. One time, I bought a hard-bound copy of our preferred reference in our Structural Engineering classes back in the day when I was a senior at university. On a trip in the US, I grabbed a copy of a Gary Larson compilation. And in a small shop near our village, I was able to get a Vietnam War era Doonesbury comic book. While some maybe quick to dismiss this as just another comic book, it should be clarified here that Doonesbury is a terrific political strip that has taken up a lot of issues (politics usually among them) reflecting prevailing perceptions in the US.

Meanwhile, back to the Dilbert book. I collected the Dilbert books from when I was still a student in Japan. I became curious about Dilbert from the comic strips of the Saturday and Sunday editions of the Daily Yomiuri that I preferred over other broadsheets in Japan. Then there was a reference to Dilbert made by my high school buddy John, who was working in the US and probably had first-hand experiences of what Scott Adams wrote and illustrated about in his books.

I must admit that a lot of the material were creative hits on what seemed to me was a lack of common sense at office environments. What attracted me to the comic strip was that Dilbert and his colleagues who featured in most of the situations were engineers. So it appeared to me also that the comic strip was a tribute of sorts to engineers, who were also subject to the (humorous) incompetence of those around them. The only problem was that the engineers were not the decision-makers - the managers and the execs especially one "pointy-haired" boss frequently torment our gang of engineers with the seemingly endless moronic actions. Sounds familiar? Well, I won't go into the details and will leave the reader to be curious enough to maybe Google about Dilbert, and study and enjoy at the same time what Scott Adams has to say and advise us about the workplace. Incidentally, Dilbert books are classified under business books in Japanese book stores, particularly Tower Books and Yurindo, also frequent haunts of mine in the late 90's. But that's another story for another post.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Books and Taxes

I love to read. Whether its books (both tech and non-tech) or magazines, hard or soft copy, old or new, I would always find something to catch my interest.

Recently, I bought 2 compilations of a variant of the X-Men comics. The Clairvoyant suspected I was again renewing interest in collecting such, especially after watching the Wolverine movie over the weekend. She, however, did not expect I'd actually purchase a few copies this week.

Another interest, or hobby if I may, is history. I loved Ambeth Ocampo's writing of popular history and his style, I believe should be adopted in our schools for our youth to have a understanding of Philippine history without the fear of having to memorize dates and becoming bored with "formal" retelling of history. I do have all his compilations and often re-read these, if only to relax and clear my mind of the complexities that are identified with my chosen profession - engineering.

This brings me to the hot topic these days. Books and taxes. I have been a victim of our stupid (yes, I think that's an appropriate yet kind word to use) imposition of taxes on books, regardless of their use. I remembering ordering textbooks and manuals via Amazon and ending up with taxes almost as much as the amount I paid for the books.

These are books and manuals, mind you, that are far superior to what we have here. One book, on Engineering Statistics, was even written by a Filipino who has resided in the US since the 1960s, and has been the preferred textbook by many excellent universities. Meanwhile, similar material here that claim to be books are actually review materials for various licensure examinations. Using these books encourage memorization of formulas and a culture of problem solving that emphasizes the memorization of solutions without understanding the concepts that would actually develop analytical skills in students.

It seems to me that our government, in its reckless drive to collect revenues, is actually getting such from the wrong sources. Books are a form of investment. Their consumption would ultimately lead to economic development and perhaps, liberation from the thinking that we as a nation cannot go beyond what we have achieved (meron ba?) given the system that we have now. The current interpretation by our Bureau of Customs, and consequently our Department of Finance, that all books should be taxed, and the silence by our DepEd, CHED and other institutions that claim to be for education, only promotes backwardness and a future that will not get us anywhere except mediocrity.

Interesting read:
http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20090504-202929/The-great-book-blockade-of-2009