Friday, November 07, 2014

Filipino Friday #4: Diverse Books

Hello! It's Filipino Friday once again. How time flies! Next week is already FilReaderCon!

This week's prompt: Do you think we have enough diversity in the books that we read? Are our choices enough to satisfy our different tastes? Are our writers able to present the variety of people, culture, lifestyle, interests and so on? How diverse are your reading interests, and are you able to find enough books to satisfy your reading needs? Do you think we need more diverse books?

My answer: My short answer is no. At least for Pinoy books.

But there's a whole background to it. First of all, in terms of an international viewpoint, the answer is yes. There are a lot of books out there. The catalog on Amazon is both gargantuan and labyrinthian. If you can find anything from literary fiction to gluten-free vegetarian cookbooks to dinosaur erotica...that must cover pretty much *everything.*

But I'm talking about Pinoy choices. Are there enough choices to, for example, satisfy my taste? I want more stuff like F. H. Batacan's Smaller and Smaller Circles. I want science fiction by Pinoys. Where are they? I want more literary horror stories like Yvette Tan's short story, "Seek Ye Whore: Lust In Translation" and more comics like Trese by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. I want more young adult books like Candy Gourlay's Tall Story and Shine.  My son reads The Magic Treehouse books...but there's no equivalent for the Filipino experience. I don't think we have enough chapter books for very young readers.

So, why is this important when we Pinoys can actually go over to Amazon or Kobo and take our pick of international books? Precisely because of the third question in the prompt: do we have enough stories that depict our people, our culture, our lifestyle, our interests? That's where my answer is no.

My own preferences are very diverse. I read fiction (mostly literary, sometimes of the thriller genre like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl), non-fiction (mostly business books, research on education and self-improvement, recently a book called The Vegetarian Myth, which I thought was very well written). I read young adult fiction like Hunger Games and Candy Gourlay's books. I am a fan of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Ursula Le Guin, and Margaret Atwood. I also had an Anita Shreve period. I avidly follow must-read lists from Goodreads or on websites like Oprah's Book Club. I am always looking for something to read. I am the kind of person who naturally gravitates towards the written word, even food labels and product labels interest me. So, yes, you could say that I have a very diverse appetite for books. Currently, I think my need to read is currently satisfied, especially with such a wide array available in the international market. But my need for more diverse Pinoy books is still unsatisfied.

Diversity is a good thing. For life to thrive, there needs to be a healthy balance of environment and biodiversity. Even for the mind, I think the same is true. We need a healthy diversity of thought and experience to really thrive and flourish as human beings.

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