Letting Go

I used to be a book hoarder. Well, I still am, but a significant change is that as I am collecting, I am letting go of books as well. I started it last summer when my niece expressed interest in some of my YA books.

Some of my greatest treasures that I’m willing to let go, little by little.

A brief history of my book addiction: books were not generously available to me growing up. I always borrowed, had to wait until the end of a grading period to buy one as a reward, or had to wait for my dad’s and sister’s balikbayan boxes to arrive with books alongside cereals, toiletries, and shoes. When I started earning my own money, I started buying. A book or two every payday, if I was in the mood. Until it got out of hand. I got to a point where I buy books because I can. I always pass by a mall with a National Bookstore, a BookSale and a Powerbooks (then), so there’s no excuse not to buy one. Or two. Or three. Or more if they are on sale. It was (and probably will always be) my personal version of crack.

I have approximately 1,400 books stored inside our apartment (how they fit inside, I will never figure out) and have read probably only around 400 or so.  This year it dawned on me that I will need to let go of some of them. The ones I have already read can go. Not all, of course. But it feels good to hand many of them over to someone who likes reading, too.

I have a rule with my wardrobe that anything I have not worn in one year, I don’t need. So off they go. In a way, it could apply to books, too. Not just to those I have read, but to those comfortably sitting in my shelves, which are there because of the hope that I will read them in time. It’s a futile motivation anyway so might as well let them be enjoyed now by others who, like I was before, could not afford to buy books as regularly as I do now.

One glaring life lesson smack dab in the middle of this biblio-love is this: as someone who has a keen nose and eye for great yet cheap buys in second-hand bookshops, I am able to do it because people let go of what they once owned. More importantly, I have friends and colleagues who see me as a walking repository of books so they literally dump them in my workstation whenever they are done with their book pile. So in turn, I also have to let go many of my own so they can be enjoyed by others. It is simply a cycle of generosity and spreading the love for the printed word. 🙂

Better Late Than Never Book Loot Report!

Wow, it’s less than three months until 2013 ends. Last week I kind of admitted that this is not my reading year considering the number of books I must have read by now but has not just as we are ushering to the last quarter of the year. I’m just thinking that five years ago, reading 25-30 books a year was normal, so it’s not as if this is a huge letdown. Maybe I really became busy with many things.

However, my book-buying is still like before. As of my last count, I bought 92 books already. My OC side wants to make it a clean 100. I have 77 days to go so I think that’s doable. Hahaha.

September was such a book-buying period what with the insane cut-price sale of National Bookstore, Bestsellers, and Powerbooks. There was also Aklatan, the first All-Filipino Book Fair, and the Manila International Book Fair. I saved money weeks before September but as usual, the money I had on hand was not sufficient. Dip into my savings! I have to prioritize my happiness, people!

My National loot was repressed and conservative because I didn’t want to run out of money for the next book fairs. I still managed to snag quite a lot because I decided to continue completing my Anita Blake series.

NBS Sep 2013
A part of my NBS/Powerbooks sale stash: A comic book adapted from Clive Barker’s Tapping the Vein, Jessica Hagedorn’s Toxicolgy, Jonathan Franzen’s The Twenty-Seventh City, Android Karenina, and a YA fantasy book, Dark Reflections.
Anita Blakes
Here are more Anita Blake books to add to my collection. After the sale, I chanced on another hardback from Booksale. I am that kind of person who carries an Anita Blake list in my purse and I highlight the titles I already bought. Completist itch for the win!

Aklatan was a fun event even if I was nursing a terrible flu the entire day. I was the lady wearing a green top sneezing like a troll inside the venue. It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t have the courage to go around and have my books signed, meet people, and talk to exhibitors. But since I was already there, I mustered sufficient courage to go up and talk to a few of my favorite authors I saw at the fair, germs and viruses notwithstanding. At the end of the day I had Project 17 and A Bottle of Storm Clouds signed by Eliza Victoria and the latest Trese installment, Stories from the Diabolical, signed by Budjette Tan. I had a considerable number of books bought. So proud of Pinoy literature!

Some of my Aklatan loot. I am in awe of these books. I once posted that with a culture as rich as ours, we would never run out of stories to tell. Fantasy and folklore, we’re rockin’ it.

Less than a week after Aklatan came the MIBF. I filed for annual leave weeks ago just to go to on opening day. Taas kamay ng excited!  I was still under the weather that day but it didn’t stop me. Now, I really say that going to MIBF before the weekend is less stressful, especially if you are not into maddening crowds. I stayed away from FullyBooked and National Bookstore on purpose. Anvil was the biggest hit for me! Aside from books, I also got to buy activity books as Christmas gifts for nieces, nephews, and godchildren. I also enjoyed my stay in New Day Publishers. One vivid takeaway I had from Aklatan was the multiple mentions of Edith Tiempo in the women writer’s panel. I chanced on Edith Tiempo books in New Day for less than 50 a pop! Then a very smart and accommodating lady who, I learned later, was New Day’s head financial officer, also recommended the books of Edilberto K. Tiempo, Edith’s husband. It was a very smart buy especially now that I’m into knowing more about decades-early Philippine literature. My mom and I also decided to buy a Filipino-translated version Daughter of Smoke and Bone and one by Danielle Steel whose title escapes me now. There were more titles available and someday soon I may give them a try. I started Daughter… a few weeks ago and found it compelling but not as easy as I thought it would be.

MIBF loot
My MIBF 2013 stash: on the left are my Tiempo books and you will also see two non-fiction titles. I kind of miss graduate school so I got both Bello’s and David’s.

I went back to MIBF on Saturday, aka the fun Divisoria-in-December version of the book fair. It was also for the book session/book-“gloating”  of my book club, alright? J Aside from a picture with a mascot and buying Christmas gifts for friends in the office (I bought gifts for 32 people this early! Yay to me), I only went back to Anvil for more books.

I only had about two weeks of I’m-gonna-forget-about-buying when I slipped because of a visit to Booksale MOA (which was only a week ago, haha). From then until today, that’s ten books easily grabbed from the shelves.

Thanks, Booksale: Another Anita Blake hardback, Straub's The Throat, and a classic Clancy which I bought the day he died.
Thanks, Booksale: Another Anita Blake hardback, Straub’s The Throat, and a classic Clancy which I bought the day he died.
For 200 pesos ($4.5), look! Booksale Pedro Gil is small but definitely worth the trip.

Since our humble apartment is literally running out of space, I resorted to plastic container boxes. I bought four last night and they will be filled up soon enough.

That’s about it. Oh, the fun of it all!


Over a month ago, I learned the Japanese term “tsundoku“, an informal word meaning buying books and not reading them, letting them pile up unread on shelves, floors, or nightstands.  Well, I’ve been ‘tsundoku-ing’ so bad this year, which isn’t really new, if not for my pledge in January that I will only buy 12 books this year.  Who actually believed I could live up to it?  I think no one did.

I was doing well until one sunny Sunday in February when I bought three books from Booksale.  I termed my slow spiraling out of control as “It went downhill from BROOKLYN” as one of the books I bought that day was Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn.  It was the 7th book I bought but I surrendered the pledge that day.  Four months after, here I am, with a total of 38 books to add to my skyhigh book dump.  It didn’t help that my mother regained her contemporary romance reading bug, and indulged me each time I wanted to go to a bookstore.  She also went back to treating me to a book or two whenever I was recovering from being ill (let’s say I’m manipulating this practice to my bookish advantage).

Book Dump Jan-AprIt’s not that I threw money away because most of my purchases are from Booksale (the Robinsons Ermita branch may consider giving me an award, really) — and well, money spent on books and food will never count as wasted EVER in my book.  Of this year’s buys, I consider the books I bought in Hongkong as my most expensive splurges.  But hey, no regrets.

On the left is a gratuitous shot of my pile from January to April, pre-pox.  When I recovered, that’s when I “rewarded” myself with regular trips to bookshops again.  I am proud to say I bought plenty of Philippine-published works this year, in preparation for my Filipino reading month in August. I still bought books by authors whose standalone books I read before (or haven’t read, I just tsundoku’d, so ugh completist tendency) — for example: Marilynne Robinson, Tom Wolfe, Dean Koontz.  For the second time since I started buying books on my own, I bought a duplicate copy of a book.  It’s fine, for they are not identical.  I may even start collecting different covers of books I love, although as of now, only one book comes to mind: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.  So if you are thinking what to give me, there’s a giveaway hint right there. HAH. 🙂

I know I will not stop amassing books this year because the regular discount season of local bookstores (August to October), the Manila International Book Fair in September, and the 3rd Filipino Reader Conference in November are looming ahead.  Anyway, as my constant desire since I had this crazy beautiful affliction, I hope to read more books than usual, even though it will never balance out the books I rake in.  I know I have written practically this same post many times in previous years, but I don’t know, I just cannot get over how amazing this experience is.

Loot Report – 33rd MIBF

I paid homage to the 33rd Manila International Bookfair today.  For three solid hours, I went around the SMX Convention Center visiting booths.  This year’s visit felt a little tight, really.  I skipped what could have been great buys because my buying power is a little weak this year, our apartment is literally losing space for books [unless I leave them lying around which I don’t ever do], and my unread books are embarrassingly high [not that the last two reasons have stopped me before!].

Anyway, I still did not allow myself to come out of the centre empty-handed — after all, I was holding out, not killing myself. 🙂  I bought 7 books, and 4 of them are from local authors, so it makes me prouder.

Gratuitous shot of my modest loot from this year’s international book fair

1. Clash of the Demons by Joseph Delaney (P99, NBS bargain bin) – The sixth book in The Last Apprentice series.  I have books 1 through 4, so I’m missing books five and seven to ten to complete the series.  Note that I have read only the first book.  You think completing the books would entice me to finish the series? 😉

2. Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen (P99, NBS bargain bin) – I have an e-book version of this and it got me interested after one chapter so I decided to look for it.  Glad I found it and for 99 pesos, no less.

3. The White King by Gyorgy Dragonian (P99, NBS bargain bin) – The story sounds interesting.

4. Rizal: Without the Overcoat by Ambeth R. Ocampo (P236, Anvil) – I long wanted to buy anything from Mr. Ocampo, one of the prominent historians of the country.  Picked this one among all of his Rizal books.  He was signing books when I was at the Anvil booth but the line was too long, I decided to skip it so it would not cut through my short book fair time.  Some other time in some other event, sir.

5. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata by Ricky Lee (P240, Anvil) – I wanted to have this since it came out.  Coming from a critically-acclaimed screenwriter, I’m sure I will like this as much as Para Kay B.

6. That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra (P175, Summit) – After My Imaginary Ex, I am looking forward to reading Mina’s other books.  This is the only one of hers left in the Summit Media booth when I came so I grabbed a copy.

7. Fan Girl by Marla Miniano (P78, Summit) – Another Summit publication which I wanted to try.  This one and #6 were the only titles available, sayang nga, for I also wanted to try her Table for Two.  Some other time!  I actually finished this one already because I read it while having dinner and when I fell in line for a long time for some J.Co donut fix.  I really liked it.  The book.  And the donuts, too.

I am also happy with three non-book purchases I made today:  a pencil set of five and a metal pencil/pen case featuring artist Damian Domingo’s painting Una Mestiza de Manila Vestida de Gala.  They’re so beautiful!  For 80 pesos for both, it’s a steal.  I also bought a set of Filipiniana notecards for P50.  Awesome finds.

So there, my book fair finds.  It’s a far cry from last year [and I considered that one very subdued], and even farther beneath three years ago.  See, I have changed. 😉  There are TONS of books I wanted to buy but didn’t, and more booths I wanted to visit and buy books from but I ran out of time and sadly, patience.  In a way, it makes me genuinely happy that people still flock to bookfairs and buy books.  My age is getting to me because I could hardly take maddening crowds anymore.  I get dizzy and disoriented easily.  At any rate, on top of my head, the booths of Goodwill, PsiCom, OMF Lit, UP Press, and Lampara were the ones I regret missing.  I’m sure there’s more.  Anyway, there’s still the next book fair!  Until then!

Loot Report = 32nd MIBF

The 32nd Manila International Book Fair is over!  I’m happy to have hauled interesting items from the 5-day event.  I was there on opening day after the 1st Filipino Reader Conference but I was tired and battling a headache after a long day so I didn’t move around much, but I did see great books for low prices.  When I trooped to SMX on Sunday afternoon, there were still a lot of great finds but I felt most of the good stuff were gone. 😦  Oh well, I just thought of it as a way of saving money.  I knew that I’d have to spend for this and with what happened, I didn’t really shell out much.

So, what are the additions to my overflowing piles of books?

These two atlases were from the A-Z Direct Marketing booth, or more popularly known as the subscription office of Reader’s Digest and Newsweek. I initially planned to give them to my younger relatives this Christmas but after browsing them, I decided I will keep them for myself! 🙂

Still from the A-Z Direct Marketing booth. Note that each book is packed in its own separate box. My favorite of them is the middle one, Almanac of the Uncanny. I want to finish this one in time for our October book club session. The best part here? I got all five of them for only P1,000!

I tried to stay away from National Bookstore yet I couldn’t resist their bargain bins. Except for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse which I got for 20% off the cover price, I got Manhood for Amateurs and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for 99 pesos, and the rest for 30 pesos each.  Yes, 30 pesos as well for Blood Red Road, a relatively new release (just last July!); it’s a real steal.

I pledged to read more works of Filipino writers so I started with short ones mostly from the PsiCom Publishing booth.  These books are dirt cheap for 50 bucks a pop.  I really wish I could have bought more titles.  I bought three only because its the first booth I visited and I had limited budget with me, so I told myself I’ll just come back after I toured the entire fair.  Sadly, I forgot to come back to their booth na.  Anyway, I can buy their publications whenever I like it, they’re not expensive.  So, I got Suplado Tips by stand up comic Stanley Chi, Mga Kuwentong Parlor ni Wanda Ilusyunada by the hilarious blogger Wanda, and Kuwentong Bigote  by Alex dela Cruz.  I am also proud of Trese: Murder on Balete Drive.  it’s the first volume in a local comic book series, borne out of the collaboration of Budjette Tan and  Kajo Baldisimo.  Will definitely buy Trese 2: Unreported Murders and Trese 3: Mass Murders.  Hooray for Pinoy graphic artists!

As always my question after laboriously hoarding books, when will I read them?  Your guess is as good as mine.  For now, I’m happy with my buys.  The number of books I bought this year is nearing a hundred and I have read around 40 books, many of which are not from my 2011 purchases.  It’s a bit complicated, I’ll just make a separate entry about it.  Or maybe not, maybe I should just read.

Anyway, what about you, what books did you buy recently?

Quot libros!

Living up to this blog’s norm of sporadic updates, I would like to share today my latest books purchased from the succession of bookshop sales.

I noticed that I am not a hardcore book hoarder anymore.  Two years ago, beginning in July, I was already on a roll.  It extended until September, the Manila International Book Fair month.

Last year, my book sale list was still full but considerably lower in number than the previous year.  It didn’t mean I bought less that entire year for it’s the time I learned about Bookcity.  From January 2009 until the 3rd quarter, I had a total of 3 boxes of books shipped to me from abroad.

Anyway, this year, I am still buying whenever I can – even when I don’t need to – but it’s either I seem to have most books in book shops or I am finally learning how to scrimp.  Why did I say so? Because it’s already August and my number of books purchased is only a modest 60.  Whichever it is, I am keeping it at bay.  My main concern is finding time to read my books.  It’s been a constant wish!

Here are the books I bought since the season of marked down book sale began:

Powerbooks Sale

  1. The Last Apprentice 1: Revenge of the Witch – Joseph Delaney
  2. Genius Squad – Catherine Jinks
  3. Continental Drift – Russell Banks
  4. The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein – Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
  5. The Custom of the Country – Edith Wharton
  6. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
  7. Hannibal – Thomas Harris
  8. Kockroach – Tyler Knox

Fully Booked Anniversary Sale

  1. Self’s Deception – Bernard Schlink
  2. The Camel Bookmobile – Masha Hamilton
  3. The Last Apprentice 2: Curse of the Bane – Joseph Delaney
  4. The Last Apprentice 3: Attack of the Fiend – Joseph Delaney
  5. The Last Apprentice 4: Night of the Soul Stealer – Joseph Delaney
  6. Level 26 – Anthony E. Zuiker
  7. Incendiary – Chris Cleave
  8. Headcrusher – Alexander Garros and Alexei Evdokimov

National Bookstore Price-Cut Sale

  1. The Quiet Girl – Peter Hoeg
  2. Demonata Book Three: Slawter – Darren Shan
  3. The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore – Joan Lowery Nixon
  4. The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet – Colleen McCullough

Chapters and Pages and Booksale(since July 2010)

  1. The Plague – Albert Camus
  2. The Witches of Eastwick – John Updike
  3. The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler
  4. Swimming – Nicola Keegan
  5. Big Stone Gap – Adriana Trigiani
  6. Drowning in Gruel – George Singleton
  7. Strong Motion – Jonathan Franzen

There.  I will update this post when the international book fair kicks off in September.  I don’t have a lot in my wish list.  I plan to look for Spanish workbooks and reference guides because I’m currently taking level 1 Spanish in Instituto Cervantes.  Then again, you’ll never know! My love affair with books is for life and I will find reasons to pick one, two, or ten when they’re in front of me. ☺

What about you, what books did you buy recently?

A Reminder From Tigger

tigger blog break

Seriously, more than a hundred books bought in the last 9 months alone, add to my already huge piles of TBR? I have to do this. This is an investment where I enjoyed raking in the supplies but haven’t gotten serious in managing them. So, see you later, my loves. Don’t wake me up, I’m not sleeping. I can still see you. 😉

Edit 2: I am active on Twitter in case you’re interested to know what current mess I’m embroiling myself in. Hahaha!

Edit 1: Before we temporarily part, let me share the latest books I acquired:

Manila International Book Fair 2009

  1. The Forsyte Saga – John Galsworthy
  2. Jude The Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  3. Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
  4. The Crimes of Love – Marquis de Sade
  5. The Misfortunes of Virtue – Marquis de Sade
  6. Eugene Onegin – Alexander Pushkin
  7. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
  8. Killing Time in a Warm Place – Jose Y. Dalisay
  9. Soledad’s Sister – Jose Y. Dalisay
  10. Cubao Midnight Express: Mga Pusong Nadiskaril Sa Mahabang Riles ng Pag-Ibig – Tony Perez

Powerbooks Power Sale 2009

  1. The Discomfort Zone – Jonathan Franzen
  2. The Insatiable Spiderman – Pedro Juan Gutierrez
  3. Kiss My Book – Jamie Michaels
  4. Literary Russia: A Guide – Rosamund Bartlett and Anna Benn
  5. The Good Wife – Stewart O’Nan
  6. The Fratricides – Nikos Kazantzakis
  7. Fatal Eggs – Mikhail Bulgakov
  8. Valparaiso – Don DeLillo

Fully Booked Anniversary Sale 2009

  1. Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
  2. Night – Elie Wiesel

All of these books were bought between August 7 and September 19, 2009.

If you have your own TBR pile, I hope you find the inspiration to finish them off. Goodluck!

orgasmic buys (this is wholesome, mom)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz) – I have been curious since I read a few pages from its hardback copy at Fully Booked in Rockwell a few months ago. I bought a paperback copy.

Endymion Spring (Matthew Skelton) – I have been eyeing this since last year but it’s always been in hardback. Now trade copies have surfaced so I grabbed one.

Grotesque (Natsuo Kirino) – I saw it for the first time last Friday. Japanese. Prostitute. Incest. Paperback. They’re enough to make me put it in my basket.

A Man Without A Country (Kurt Vonnegut) – Musings of Kurt about the plots and characters in his earlier works. I am not sure if this is his last book before he died. Nice find for 99 pesos!

The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) – I blogged about my difficulty finding it, eh? Found paperback copies at the National stall so I got one before they run out again.

Sacred Games (Vikram Chandra)  – Hardback and deckle-paged, I got it anyway because Chandra’s books are almost elusive here and it’s only 99 pesos!

The Secret of the Old Clock (Carolyn Keene) – I grabbed this because I was 2 pesos short of getting a free RED bag from National. This is the cheapest book within my reach and I did’t regret it. I read it when I was in sixth grade, borrowed it from the school library. It’s the first book in the Nancy Drew series, by the way. I finished it in an hour and a half.

The Somnambulist (Jonathan Barnes) – The cover’s nice (Brokeback Mountain-ish but the plot’s totally different!).

Work Hard, Study and Keep Out of Politics (James Baker III) – This is a memoir of a former US Secretary of State. I like buying non-fics of American political figures especially now that I am checking out how opinions are played out. I noticed though that I mostly have Republican pieces – Peggy Noonan’s, Ann Coulter’s, then this one. Oh well.

I also got an Arthur Conan Doyle omnibus (The Adventures, Memoirs and Return of Sherlock Holmes). I finally took a bite because it’s the inspiration in the creation of the character of Gregory House (Holmes – House, gets?) and his bestfriend/sidekick (Dr. Watson – Dr. Wilson, see?).

I still haven’t bought everything I want. They’re always going to be there anyway. I resisted buying the other Sandman installments when I came back this afternoon. ECG can take care of it. Besides, I did not buy the illustrated Discworld books so it showed I can easily resist Sandman more. All in all, I spent around 1,500 pesos (about $34). Not bad for 10 great books!

I’m set until January. No more books, unless they’re given as gifts (hint hint). Indeed, just looking at them is too orgasmic already.

let’s talk about my other (and truer) love

I bought five books before going home. I’m unstoppable. I’m an addict.

With the return of 99-peso hardbacks from US libraries, I snagged good finds from National.  You know that I hardly prefer hardbacks but price and book’s condition considered, I could still be flexible. I like browsing through them because I could try authors who have piqued my curiosity by their numerous mass market bestsellers (they’re my literary guilty pleasure, should you be interested to know) by only shelling out 99 pesos; Booksale can also satisfy that with 95 or 80 pesos but many of them are creased at the spines already and I so do not like that.

Speaking of book peeves, I also had to say no to hardbacks with deckle edges.  I just cannot take that.  I’ve passed on too many good books that were on sale just because they have uneven, ragged edges. I don’t like it at all.

So what books were added to my growing number of fire hazards (God forbid)?What do I plan to buy in the upcoming book fair?

new babies

I am not in the mood to blog about the events of my wonderful week, which means Charlotte, my journal, got lucky again because she got to house all of them. Instead, let me share the latest books I bought. I wish to have more island vacations like what I recently had in Palawan so I would have a really decent reading time.

Here are the additions to my brood:

Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes by Mark J. Penn. In 1982, readers discovered Megatrends. In 2000, The Tipping Point entered the lexicon. Now, in Microtrends, one of the most respected and sought-after analysts in the world articulates a new way of understanding how we live. Mark Penn, the man who identified “Soccer Moms” as a crucial constituency in President Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign, is known for his ability to detect relatively small patterns of behavior in our culture-microtrends that are wielding great influence on business, politics, and our personal lives. Only one percent of the public, or three million people, is enough to launch a business or social movement. Relying on some of the best data available, Penn identifies more than 70 microtrends in religion, leisure, politics, and family life that are changing the way we live. Among them:

  • People are retiring but continuing to work.
  • Teens are turning to knitting.
  • Geeks are becoming the most sociable people around.
  • Women are driving technology.
  • Dads are older than ever and spending more time with their kids than in the past.

You have to look at and interpret data to know what’s going on, and that conventional wisdom is almost always wrong and outdated. The nation is no longer a melting pot. We are a collection of communities with many individual tastes and lifestyles. Those who recognize these emerging groups will prosper. Penn shows readers how to identify the microtrends that can transform a business enterprise, tip an election, spark a movement, or change your life. In today’s world, small groups can have the biggest impact.

The Religion by Tim Willocks. May 1565. Suleiman the Magnificent, emperor of the Ottomans, has declared a jihad against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist. The largest armada of all time approaches the knights’ Christian stronghold on the island of Malta. The Turks know the knights as the “Hounds of Hell.” The knights call themselves “The Religion. In Messina, Sicily, a French countess, Carla La Penautier, seeks passage to Malta in a quest to find the son taken from her at his birth twelve years ago. The only man with the expertise and daring to help her is a Rabelaisian soldier of fortune, arms dealer, former janissary, and strapping Saxon adventurer by the name of Mattias Tannhauser. He agrees to accompany the lady to Malta, where, amid the most spectacular siege in military history, they must try to find the boy—whose name they do not know and whose face they have never seen—and pluck him from the jaws of Holy War.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill.   Jude Coyne, an aging rock star, buys himself a dead man’s suit. He acquires it online, lured by the promise that the dead man’s ghost will be included in his purchase. Jude thinks this is a joke, of course. He also assumes the seller is a stranger. We soon discover that he’s wrong on both counts, however, and from this point on the story moves with an exhilarating urgency. Jude wants the ghost gone; the ghost wants Jude dead.

This was an impulse buy. Growing up reading Stephen King, nothing could probably encourage me to buy a brand-new horror-mystery novel since I can always get it in Booksale; well, except this one. It’s only 299 so I gave it a try.

Politics: Observations and Arguments by Hendrik Hertzberg.   Hertzberg collects 121 of his published essays on the American political scene, nearly half drawn from his “Comment” pieces for the New Yorker. Styling himself a social democrat of the European variety, as well as a liberal Democrat of the American breed, he comments on a broad range of political events, figures, and processes, including the “Child Monarch” (Ronald Reagan), the controversy over the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, presidential elections and campaigns, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the bigotry at Bob Jones University, the Senate Watergate hearings, capital punishment, and the “War on Drugs.”

I can finally delete this in my Amazon Wishlist. I’ve long wanted it but for some reason I did not find it worthy of my 795 since the issues, even if his were op-ed pieces, can easily be Google’d or Wiki’d. I got lucky one night in Midtown when I saw it for 299, buried under tattered hardcovers in Powerbooks.

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.    Set in modern day Moscow, Night Watch is a world as elaborate and imaginative as Tolkien or the best Asimov. Living among us are the “Others,” an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. But an ancient prophecy decrees that one supreme “Other” will rise up and tip the balance, plunging the world into a catastrophic war between the Dark and the Light. When a young boy with extraordinary powers emerges, fulfilling the first half of the prophecy, will the forces of the Light be able to keep the Dark from corrupting the boy and destroying the world?

Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.    The second book in the internationally bestselling fantasy series, Day Watch begins where Night Watch left off, set in a modern-day Moscow where the 1,000-year-old treaty between Light and Dark maintains its uneasy balance through careful vigilance from the Others. The forces of darkness keep an eye during the day, the Day Watch, while the agents of Light monitor the nighttime. Very senior Others called the Inquisitors are the impartial judges insisting on the essential compact. When a very potent artifact is stolen from them, the consequences are dire and drastic for all sides. Day Watch introduces the perspective of the Dark Ones, as it is told in part by a young witch who bolsters her evil power by leeching fear from children’s nightmares as a counselor at a girls’ summer camp. When she falls in love with a handsome young Light One, the balance is threatened and a death must be avenged.

Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.    Living among us are the “Others,” an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. In Dusk Watch, the Others face their greatest threat yet. A renegade Other, his identity as yet unknown, has absconded with a fabled spell-book of untold power and appears bent on attacking the entire earth. Now forces of the Light and the Dark — the Night Watch and the Day Watch — must cooperate to stop him. Anton, the hero from Night Watch, is back, but when the culprit turns out to be none other than his partner, the race against time becomes more urgent than ever. In a world where reality and magic commingle, and where different degrees of existence are layered one atop the other, nothing is ever quite what it seems.

The previous three are all on loan to Erwin. He said that Day Watch totally paled in comparison to Night Watch. I told him most second installments are disappointments but we have no choice but to get through them in order to jump to the third. Just take New Moon, for example.

The Ministry Of Special Cases by Nathan Englander.    From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina’s Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won’t accept him; strives for a wife who forever saves him; and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence–and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear. When the nightmare of the disappeared children brings the Poznan family to its knees, they are thrust into the unyielding corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases, the refuge of last resort.

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray.    Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain. The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother’s greatest friend, now Gemma’s foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

Finally, I found a trade copy after three years! I’ve always seen it on hardcover and since it’s first, A Great And Terrible Beauty, is a trade copy, I didn’t buy it. Now I can read it, and wait for a trade print of its third installment, A Sweet Far Thing. YA books are great in-between reads!

Ah, I hope I get to read them in the next months. Hundreds are waiting on queue though, no kidding. I wish the next president would declare an official reading month, where people would only do nothing but eat, sleep and read. It may be death for most but it will be utter heaven for many of us.

Images from Barnes & Noble. Synopses from Zoomii.