MANILA, Philippines – Apart from turning off the electric fan at night and wearing those rarely used sweaters, nothing beats the warmth of a good book on a cool night.
Whether or not there is someone to keep you company this Valentine’s season, here are some books, dissecting love and its different forms, that we recommend you flip through during the month of love.
1. A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
Barthes explores love and the language used by those who are, were, and have never been in love. The book dissects “fragments” from thinkers like Freud, Plato, Nietzsche, Proust, Schubert, and many others, plus Barthes’ own musings on love.
The book is perfect for chilly nights when most of the world is too busy to ask simple questions like ‘Am I in love?’ To which Barthes answers – “Am I in love? – yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.”
2. The Marriage Plot (Jeffrey Eugenides, 2011)
The book, set in the 1980s, follows the lives of 3 friends a year after their college graduation. Not only about your typical love triangle, the story also nudges readers to reflect on their own experiences and transitions from student life to the “real world.”
“College wasn’t like the real world. In the real world people dropped names based on their renown. In college, people dropped names based on their obscurity.”
You might also want to read Middlesex (2002), the novel that won Eugenides a Pulitzer Prize. It explores gender identity, family secrets, love, desire, and youth.
3. Ang Ikaklit sa Aming Hardin
Ikaklit is a Bontoc term for sunflower. This is the first Filipino children’s book featuring a family composed of a daughter and her two mothers. It also features children from families deemed “unconventional” by society.
It won first prize in the 2006 Palanca Award for Short Story for Children.
“Lahat kami, tinutukso. Pero ang hindi nila alam, masaya at kontento kami sa aming mga pamilya. Dahil tulad ng mga magagaling na maghahalaman, mayroon kaming mga mahuhusay na magulang na nagpunla sa amin ng pagmamahal.”
4. Reportage on Lovers: A Medley of Factual Romances, Happy or Tragical, Most of Which Made News
This is a collection of Joaquin’s feature articles, under his pen name Quijano de Manila, covering quirky and heartfelt stories of love. These stories, captured many years ago, offer insights on the Filipino as a lover.
“Love should have no alternatives; love should be the sole reason for loving; love should spring of itself.”
For those who seek something with more action and mystery (other than those emanating from love), also try reading Joaquin’s Reportage on Crime: Thirteen Horror Happenings that Hit the Headlines (1977).
5. A Home at the End of the World
A tale of two boys who were best friends in the 1970s, separated by unlikely circumstances, and reunited in the 1990s. The book examines love, family, friendship, sexuality, relationships, and loss.
Again, this is not your typical love triangle, or perhaps a square: two men, one woman, and a baby.
“I am beginning to understand the true difference between youth and age. Young people have time to make plans and think of new ideas. Older people need their whole energy to keep up with what’s already been set in motion.”
For fans of either Cunningham or Virginia Woolf, you can read The Hours (1999) next. The novel also subtly explores women’s sexuality over the years, from Mrs. Woolf of the 1920s up to a modern-day version of Mrs. Dalloway at the dawn of the new millennium.
So many books, so little time. Here are other good reads for February: The Lover (Marguerite Duras, 1984), Kitchen (Banana Yoshimoto, 1988), The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes, 2011), Lullaby (Chuck Palahniuk, 2003), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera, 1984), The Kobayashi Maru of Love (Carljoe Javier, 2010).
Don’t forget to spread some love – love for books, that is – not only during this cool season, but all throughout the year. – Rappler.com