Voracious reading blues - SunStar

Voracious reading blues

By Kevin Lagunda


THIS is how mother describes herself: a voracious reader.

She discovered my name as a side effect of her addiction to the Reader’s Digest.

Illustration by Geraldine Sypiecco
Illustration by Geraldine Sypiecco

To my disbelief, of all the names she encountered during her readings, she named me Kevin. Why not Lennon? Or Dylan? Or Hendrix? Or Pink Floyd?

My mother, unlike my father, is not a big rock and roll fan.

However, I know my mother has great wisdom and there is a reason why she sticks with Kevin.

I asked her once about my name. Is it from a name almanac? Is it inspired by an actor?

“I just like the name,” she told me, without expounding on her answer.

Afterwards, I felt that mother was a philosopher with her nonchalant response; I won’t elaborate on my claim because some philosophers do not stretch their ideas and baffle their readers.

Despite hating my name, I love the fact of my life that I have the genes of my reading mother.

But I cannot place my self among the “voracious” populace of readers.

The word voracious sounds fiendish to my ears and it conjures this kind of image in my mind: After reading Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” in one sitting, the reader grows fangs and eats its pages after becoming obsessed with the literary classic.

I am a lazy reader. I read slow and digest texts at a turtle’s pace.

Last year, I only finished one novel: Charles Bukowski’s “Post Office.” I consumed the book in a week.

During my college life, I finished reading John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” in just two hours. That was a record of my reading life.

I cannot replicate such feat of my younger self because I am busy these days with finding my true love, the true light of my life.

My lazy attitude toward reading is the negative aspect of my personality. But I do still love reading and it leads me to buy books.

Modesty aside, I have a good pile of books.

I am still uncertain if I can devour all my collection of literary pieces during my lifetime. Hopefully, when I’m already dead, my soul can revisit my books and read them, voraciously this time.

The oldest book I own is Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow,” which I bought in 2006. I have yet to finish it.

Right now, though, I am not worrying too much about Pynchon.

The book that sits on top of my priority list is the Bible, the manual for my life.

I should read the bible because I need guidance because I have problems with my mind and soul: I feel the freaking rush to establish the biggest library in the world and I think buying books on impulse is the most perverted kind of gluttony.

Aside from my mind-and-soul troubles and the dilemma of finding true love, the other problem that is bugging me is this: my voracious reader mother told me that I should stop buying books because my clothes look old.

Worse, my mother dear also reminded me that my undies should be converted to rags, so she can have something to wipe on her pet dog’s piss and feces.
She confronted me one day.

She ordered me not to buy a book or magazine in my next payday.

“You should purchase a new underwear and shirt,” she barked.

I nodded like an obedient soldier.

After I withdrew cash from an automatic teller machine inside a mall in downtown Cebu City, I conditioned my mind not to visit a bookstore.

I chanted in silence: “Don’t go to the bookstore! Don’t go to the bookstore! Don’t go to the bookstore!”

While walking toward a clothing store, I passed by my favorite bookstore’s standee with a printed message that said, “50% discount on selected books and other items.”

I forgot to chant in an instant and I headed straight to the bookstore.

Keith Richard’s “Life,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “No One Writes to the Colonel,” and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” were the novels I bought.

The change was just enough for my fare.

While sitting inside the jeepney, I thought that marketing officers of bookstores should think of ways of attracting people to buy books.

They should stop selling books at discounted prices.

If I am a bookstore owner, I would tell my sales team to offer my patrons free items that may help ease their troubled life.

(Example: A cookbook comes with a free frying pan or vegetable oil or a slice of a roasted pig.)

After I disembarked from the vehicle, I think of this nice scenario: I walk inside my favorite bookstore.

I check the titles displayed on the shelves. After an hour or so, I pick a copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

The pretty cashier then gives me a pack containing three pairs of undies.

She winks at me.

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