Saturday, December 28, 2013

Renato Redentor Constantino
December 27, 2013
The Family Files

The ship is listing. Quick grab your books.

I realized in late December that I hadn't gone through a mental exercise I used to love doing when, while walking through freezing Beijing with South African buddy Tristen Taylor, my mind stuttered and failed to complete a top-five-of-this and top-ten-of-that list of books. Que horror. Nothing that couldn't be drowned by distilled sorghum of course, but still incredibly bothersome. It didn't help that, on my return to Manila, one of the first things I saw on my phone was a post from Gina, a tag-ten-of-your-friends-and-share post about books that truly mattered.

There is a certain sense of duty when it comes to forming such rosters. I suspect some readers feel solemnly obliged, like me, to give unequivocal props to books that have opened the cosmos for them, some re-read so many times they have become part of the reader's veins.

The exercise is both sublime and stupid and herein lies the attraction, for these are fiendishly fickle lists, a kind of register that's likely to change every year, and each time we will agonize over what is left out even as feel a jab of righteous pride over books that make it.

So, attempting to erase the ghastly failure in Beijing, here's a year-ending list of top tops. At least there's something to change later.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books In No Particular Order:

1. Maps of the Imagination, The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi
2. Reinventing the Filipino Sense of Being and Becoming, Critical Analyses of the Orthodox Views in Anthropology, History, Folklore and Letters by Arnold Molinda Azurin
3. History Wars, The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past, ed. by Edward T. Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt
4. Wanderlust, A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
5. City of Djinns by William Dalrymple
6. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
7. Red Orchestra, The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler by Anne Nelson
8. Street Fighting Years by Tariq Ali
9. Constantine's Sword, The Church and the Jews by James Carroll
10. Voices of Time by Eduardo Galeano

If I could add 10 more, I'd add:

1. Dogs of God, Columbus, the Inquisition and the Defeat of the Moors by James Reston, Jr.
2. Destiny Disrupted, A History of the World through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary
3. High Tide in Tucson, Essays from Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver
4. Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver
5. Infinite City, A San Francisco Atlas by Rebecca Solnit
6. The Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali
7. River of Shadows, Eadward Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit
8. Under the Sign of Saturn by Susan Sontag
9. Democracy Against Capitalism, Renewing Historical Materialism by Ellen Meiksins Wood
10. The Great War for Civilisation, The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk

Top Ten Fiction Books In No Particular Order;

1. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
2. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
3. Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
4. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
5. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
6. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
7. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
8. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
9. Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
10. Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

Top Ten Poetry Books in No Particular Order

1. The Place that Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed, by Sixteen Rivers Press
2. Rio Alma: Selected Poems (1968-1985) ed. and trans. by Marne Kilates, Alfrredo Navarro Salanga and Mike Bigornia
3. Mga Biyahe, mga Estasyon: Journeys, Junctions by Rio Alma
4. Sa Panahon ng Ligalig by Jose F. Lacaba
5. Sa Daigdig ng Kontradiksyon by Jose F. Lacaba
6. Canto General by Pablo Neruda
7. Spain in the Heart by Pablo Neruda
8. Isla Negra by Pablo Neruda
9. If I Write You this Poem Will You Make It Fly by Simeon Dumdum
10. Latin American Revolutionary Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology ed. by Robert Marquez

There. It's done. It's already raring to be revised. #

Top and last pic by redster. Middle pic by Ia.

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