Confessions of a Voracious Reader

My commitment to read more books started when I saw his reading goal of 200 books a year and learning that he has read 75 more and with 3 days to spare before the year ended. 275 books in 360 days!

I was impressed. I was envious. I was tempted to do the same.

I always believe that people who read more books are great carriers of knowledge and keepers of secrets. And to know someone who has not only made it possible, but has come out of the experience like a shining ball of light and thunder  is very rare indeed, at least in my reading life.

Meaning: I was a little intimidated.

But K.D., as he is known in our book club, is very friendly. He is a consummate sharer too and here, he allows me to post his great reading experience.

On the rewards of reading more books: Reading brought me to a lot of unfamiliar places, time, and situations. It is very enriching (at least for the mind, not yet in terms of financial rewards). I no longer worry about so many menial and mundane things that I used to worry about. I only have to think of the books about the holocaust or 9/11, (since I read a lot of books about these two), and realize that my worries (of something that did not actually happen) are nothing compared to what Elie Wiesel or Victor Frankl experienced in the concentration camps. Also, when presented with a difficult situation in the office or at home, I now have a bigger perspective and am no longer focused on my personal biases and prejudices. I used to have a lot of those before I became a voracious reader.

On techniques in speed reading: (1) I read at every opportunity. I bring at least two books everywhere I go. I read before going to sleep. I read before getting out of bed. I read almost the whole of Saturdays and Sundays. I read while waiting for the car ban (we call this color coding) at the gym. I read while on queue at the ATM. I read the bible or any related religious book while waiting for the priest to show up during the Holy Mass; and (2) I read 5-12 books simultaneously. The idea is that if the book becomes boring or the story becomes dragging, I switch to an enjoyable one. Normally, the start of the book is very engaging and the end is very interesting but the middle could be a bore. If this happens, I start a new one. If it is good, then I’ll be able to finish it in a few days and then I go back to the previous book. Because my energy is high, the boring part will be manageable (meaning: forgivable or unnoticeable) and I’ll be able to continue.

On whether he cheated or skipped a few pages: No and yes. I think I did not understand everything but I tried reading each and every word in all of the 275 books. They say that there are indeed books that are intended to be taken as a puzzle. Think of Ulysses by James Joyce. He put so many puzzles or riddles in the story that it is expected to be interpreted in many different ways by generations to come. I think this is the beauty of reading. And one reason why I enjoy works of great literary masters: their works can be interpreted in many ways and each of their works give different meanings to me every time I read them. 

His Top 10 Favorite Reads in 2011: 

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac
  3. Embers by Sandor Marai
  4. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
  5. Wuthering Heights by Emilie Bronte
  6. Dusk by F. Sionil Jose
  7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  8. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien
  9. The Wars by Timothy Findley
  10. Ang Sandali ng Mga Mata by Alvin B. Yapan

His Reading Goals for 2012: I will read more classics. I have to finish Sir Conan Doyle’s canon. To finally finish and try to get the gist of the whole of Ulysses, my “waterloo” book. I am still to read Mark Twain. My long delayed appreciation of Henry James’ works. I have to re-discover Charles Dickens. I will read another Virginia Woolf. Another Jane Austen. Another Salman Rushdie. I need to complete the works of Haruki Murakami since I have the copies already. I will also need to increase my quota for Filipino works particularly novels written in Tagalog. I should be able to support Filipino authors by buying and reading their works.

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