Saturday, February 24, 2007

Read Me

Several years back, the shocking Malaysian statistic placed the average reading habit at around 2 books per year ( excluding textbooks and work-related material natch ). At that time, there was the usual hue and cry with ambitious politicians leaping up on their soapbox to decry the statement along with thousands of beautifully orchestrated plans guaranteed to turn the nation of seemingly illiterate couch potatoes into dedicated bookworms haunting the libraries of the nation.

Doubt that figure has actually changed much despite all the reading campaigns carried out sporadically. Sure, we do have a small clique of obsessive bibliophiles who devour the written material on a daily basis - probably the same folk crowding the giant bookstores in the weekends - but those are the same people tipping the scales on the far end. Almost embarassingly, I admit I swallow one book per day ( barring the occasional supremely dull novel where I have to plod on for two days at least ) which leaves me with very little else to read sometimes - practically have to select books randomly to find a new author to obsess over.

Sounds unbelievable but it's true. I read like a haunted victim of torture consumed by an unnatural obsession, forgoing food and water while I desperately scan through the written pages to reach the final shocking twist in the end. Doesn't have to be serious high-brow literature all the time - though I dabble in it occasionally - since even frothy, bubbly chick-lit can be endlessly entertaining. Seriously, it would nothing short of a devastating natural disaster to tear me away from an engrossing read.

Ooh. Good read...

And here I have friends who actually are part of the national statistic, reading only two books in a year - if not less. Ever the stubborn creature, Charming Calvin tries to read every once in a while ( after being prodded endlessly by yours truly ) but falls prey easily to his vaunted namesake, the Lord of Perpetual Yawn.

Calvin : I must read! I am reading.. *yawn* reading... *yawn* reaaaaading.... *snooze*

And then there's the bright-eyed broadcasting boy.

Paul : You should try this. It's a really good read.
Shane : Has it been released as a movie yet?
Paul : Yeah, but the book's better.
Shane : Bleh. Will catch the movie.

Typical :) Like I've said before, name me a movie that actually surpasses the written word. Not many but a small handful only I'm sure. How can any vaunted SFX possibly compare to the countless breadth of a man's imagination?

Unless the man be oddly unimaginative. And I have met a sad few.

But I digress. The first memory I have is not of a mother's smile but of her reading to me. In my mind's eye even now I can easily see Gorgons and Medusas raging as they are chased away by bronzed Greek heroes of myth. Hmm... Greek heroes. I can see how the germ of homosexuality took root here.

But again I digress. It's certainly a gift beyond compare so to repay that, I bought her a book today :) Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Unbearably mushy but then, she likes mushy. After searching for hours, couldn't find a book for myself though so some good suggestions would be welcome.


jase said...

awwww.. how nice! You bought your mum a book! If I bought my mum a book she'd read the first 10 pages, chuck it aside for 10 years and say to me after that "who's book is that!? Put here collecting dust! Haiyor! Dirty my house only!" ... sigh ... :p

Stephen said...

You might be on to something with your Greek myths turn you gay theory - one of my earliest reads was "Tales of the Greek Heroes" by Roger Lancelyn Green :)

Oh and perhaps if your Government wants Malaysians to read more, then it should stop banning so many books?

strapping.shane said...

Someone should make the Shopaholic series a movie. Those are the only books I ever enjoyed every minute of.

Becky Bloomwood rocks. =P

vince said...

I have a confessions to make, I do reads but not really that frequent.. but for sure more than 3 a year!!! but if u add in all the cook book than I am sure I read more than 20 a year!!! :)

Sue said...

I am sure you have read them, but how about the His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullam, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass? The Golden Compass is being made into a movie with Daniel Craig to be released in the US this December.

envy said...

I'm in drunk..just came from a night pic doc! i need a romantic guy to hug me cos im really vulnerable ...goodnight! sorry didnt read anything u wrote yet!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you are still a member of our Yahoo reading group, because we still recommend books all the time. Also, I don't know what the market is like where you are in terms of access and prices and censorship, but I know that some of our friends from OZ have joined together and exchange books with each other. Let me know if you are interested in getting in touch with them, at least they are in the same hemisphere. We also have members from Malaysia and they may be able to recommend local authors.

I am reading now When the Stars Come Out by Rob Byrnes and so far it seems a sweet gay flick. I loved Alternatives to Sex by Stephen McCauley which is middle brow, and did not like The Memory Keeper's Daughter which aspires to literacy but could not engage me emotionally. Never Let Me Go still gives disturbs me and in a good thought provoking way.


Dave said...

This are the titles where movies are better than books:

Schindler's List
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Where the Truth Lies

These are the titles where books are better than movies:

Ask the Dust
Little Children

These are the titles where books and movies are equally good:

Brokeback Mountain
The Shipping News
Hannibal Lecter Trilogy (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Don't ask me Hannibal Rising 1st.)

And at the gents behind Books Kinokuniya Orchard, it is a haven for gay guys seeking sex. Seems that the last 2 cubical are always locked.

strapping.shane said...

Oooh... Little Children! I saw the book but was too lazy to read it. Probably might catch the movie. =P

Anonymous said...

Love the way you write. SO maybe when you run out of books to write, you could do that?

I hate (ok, I envy) people that can read so fast. I manage 3 days a book if I don't do anything else. My mind conjures pictures that go with the words on the page and guess mine works slower than others...

ShaZaReenE said...

aside from journal papers and textbooks, i fall into the statistics... after staring at text the whole day, i can't bare to read anymore... altho' i think blogs should count too :)
ur's is a nice read btw....

William said...

Put the book into a double-boiler. 6 bowls of water boil until 2 bowls of water. Drink when hot.