Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On Books and Authors

Hit rewind please.

There was a time in my life when I was addicted to romance novels. I devoured them like a lioness in the field with a smorgasbord of prey animals. My hunger was uncontrollable I would skip meals just so I could buy a novel. This crazy phase transpired during college and post-grad. Yes, I cheated out of those thick heavy books. Somewhere between sleepless nights and nerdy essays was my addiction to romance novels. Bookstore is a happy place for me, a horizon where I could care less about details and facts.
After getting out of post-grad, I went back to that horizon. I had the money to buy the books that I want. I had the time to browse National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fully Booked for top picks and Booksale for bargains. I had, of course, the eagerness to scan every nook and cranny of that portion in a bookstore devoted to fiction. I enjoyed this simple luxury since I was then a bratty boarder at my parents' house.
I may be living in the real world then but my mind was still trapped in a fictitious place. For me, fiction can be translated to reality – using most likely the same formula with how we treat our dreams. Dreams of a bookworm can be as trivial as finding an ancient bestseller amongst the piles and piles of bargain paperbacks. Or finding a bestseller which carries the same price as your favorite hot fudge sundae. Or meeting your favorite author and get him or her to sign your copy or shirt or even your underwear (wild imagination, sorry).
Meet Author # 1.

September 18, 2012 
32nd Manila International Book Fair
SMX Convention Center
Mall of Asia
I was in Cebu City when I first came across with the name Samanta Sotto. My husband attended a seminar at the Waterfront Hotel, thus he brought me along with him. I was  unnecessary in his purpose of travel, but I must be a wonderful wife (thank God for spices and seasonings in the cupboard) that he bribed me with shopping money in Cebu. Fully aware of our third world economy, he alloted a specific amount for me through the plastic card. Who am I to say no? I practically roamed around Ayala Center Cebu to kill time. Oh, impulsive shopping is a no-no to cheapskates like yours truly.
Obviously my first stop is the bookstore, my proverbial happy place. I was meticulously scanning the bestseller section, mostly filled with foreign authors. Then one hardbound carries the name which struck me as almost Filipino or Hispanic. The name is Samantha Sotto. I did not look for any "stray" copy which would allow me to take a sneak peek. Every potential buyer-slash-bookworm loves a copy uncovered in plastic so he could catch spoilers without the prying eyes of a saleslady. Blindly trusting my instincts, I picked it up and went directly to the cashier. For one nano-second, I felt guilty swiping my plastic card. For my husband and I, shopping money is meant to buy basic essentials. Basic is the word. Unfortunately, books don’t fall under that category these days. But husband knows I have rebellious genes.
I immediately positioned myself in the nearby coffee shop. Was it Starbucks? I hardly remember. What stuck to my mind though was how fascinated I am with the first few chapters. I was giddily happy. Not just because I have a new book but the fact that the author is a traveler herself. The book is like a living testament of her European travels and her fascination with baked eggs. But what struck me the most is her creativity to inject some historical stuff into a love story. It’s not a lovely love story (if you know what I mean); it’s rather tragic. Oh yes, it reminds me of The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
All throughout the book I was transfixed with the interesting historical details and whatnots. I was fascinated with the places, the transformation of characters and the various dishes. I am always hungry for words and food, and Samantha Sotto’s novel surprisingly cured me from hunger. Yes, both for words and food. If an author does that to me, then I’d be singing praises for her till kingdom come.

Meet the woman who taught me to appreciate backpacking and baked eggs.
Fast forward to the 32nd Manila International Book Fair at SMX Convention Center. I took the chance to meet the author herself. I braved the epic EDSA traffic and the long line which was carefully guarded by event marshalls. My goal is pretty straightforward: to get Samantha Sotto sign my own copy. Anyway, I did manage to squeeze in my butt into the long line, never mind if my book carries Fully Booked price tag. (Note: The book-signing event was organized by National Book Store, so yes, you have to show proof that you bought the book from them. Whatevs.) Playing deaf and dumb to the event marshalls, I took my cue and smiled widely at the author. She was very friendly, toothy smile and all. I remembered asking her if a sequel is forthcoming. My inner bookworm goddess did a somersault on a trampoline! It's strange though that I don't remember her answer to my question. Hmmm.
Meet Author # 2.
October 28, 2011
Nicholas Sparks: Live in Manila
The Podium Mall
Looking back, I was thrilled to death when rumor has it that Nicholas Sparks is coming to Manila.
My excitement over his arrival went from skyrocket high to rock bottom. Podium Mall is so small to be filled with screaming fans. And I entertained images of stampede or my book getting dog-eared if I'm accidentally (or worse, purposely) shoved by a fan.
You know when they say don’t expect too much? It is so true. I did not expect at all. I was even passive when first asked if I am willing to line up to get that precious signature. 

The day has arrived. It’s the day that Nicholas Sparks will be signing hundreds of books. Clutching the newest novel The Best of Me, I went to Podium hesitantly.
Thank heavens, fellow bookworms are not as rowdy as I imagined. Reading surely make people inclined to peace and order. Who would want to put his or her precious book getting shabby at the book-signing event? No one, trust me. I held The Best of Me like it's a newborn.

Starstrucked is an understatement. I could not believe that I was finally face to face with the author! Lots of hospitable acts flashed through my mind. In no particular order, they are: Can I offer him a glass of halo-halo? Has he toured Intramuros already? Would he like to ride a jeepney? Would he even bother to taste our national dish – adobo? Kill me and my silly thoughts! If only, if only, if only. I could go on and on with my Filipino hospitality, but I totally forgot that he’s a Southerner. Of course, hospitality is stamped on his DNA! Predictably, the National Book Store team pampered him with our own brand of hospitality. And I wonder if Nicholas Sparks scribbled notes just to learn some Filipino lines. C'mon, magandang araw/gabi is very Araneta Coliseum concert. The guy can do better than that.

Meet the man who made me cry and fall in love with the true meaning of love.
I still remember the first time I picked A Walk to Remember among the bestsellers. Skeptic as I am, I never developed any fondness over plots with loved ones dying at the end. My principle is clear. If I am going to devote hours in reading, then I might as well read books which will make me feel good at the end. It's almost judicial notice that Nicholas Sparks' books are tear-jerkers. I have to thank Shane West for making me an enthusiastic convert. I watched the movie mainly because I love Shane West's broodin' and smokin' hot persona. To put it simply, he was my flavor of the year that year. Oh gee, I forgot the year!

Since I was secretly enamored with Shane West (Hollywood's too far, you know! And he looks like my crush then, but I got cured of my temporary farsightedness. Thank you. ), I felt obliged to read the book after watching the movie. Lo and behold, I found myself crying. It was a good cry. In fact, crying never felt that good. Sparks must be good, I thought, because he made me cry. So I picked up another Sparks. And it made me cry again. I bought another Sparks and tears streamed down my face again. So, the rest is history. One's tear glands can be seriously activated while reading Sparks. I became addicted to good crying moments. Crying suddenly became therapeutic. Crying became normal while reading Sparks. I never cried over stories that I've read until I picked up a Sparks book. So, thank you, Shane West!

To borrow that cheesy placard at the book signing, life without Sparks is no life at all. See? Cry if you must! A good kind of cry, that is. 

Update (as of 25 May 2012):

I tagged the author Samantha Sotto in my tweet, and much to my amusement, she replied in a jiffy. Certainly, one of Twitter's sweet rewards!

1 comment:

  1. Whoa!! I know that you write, but I didnt know that you can write this good! Wow!! You write from the heart. There's this connection! You just wrote exactly the bookworm's feeling with a new book, smelling that fresh pages and just can't wait to curl up in bed with that good find in hand. And I am green with envy when you met Nicholas Sparks! Wow! Keep on writing!! Cheers!!