Here in Metro Manila, the most reliable bookstore is Fully Booked, particularly the main branch at BGC. Recently it has expanded its offerings to include a special selection of art materials. I am a book person. I read A LOT, and I read across a number of genres. I read both paper and digital books, finding the argument on which is better irrelevant, although I do keep paper copies of my most favourite titles because I hate having to be dependent on battery life when I need to revisit a volume. At this moment I am actively reading about eight books, shifting from one to the other depending on how I feel I need to be inspired or nourished by what I'm reading. I take what I read seriously in varying degrees, and I am always ready for a lesson or a message caught up in a phrase (hence a highlighter is always at hand). I don't force myself to finish books I don't enjoy -- if it's not telling me anything or it's not moving me after the first 2-3 chapters I let it go.
On a good day I can spend as much as US$200 on books in a single purchase (which used to happen about twice a year). But since I have been on very tight budgets I eke out US$10-20 per purchase spaced out every few months. I often ask for books as gifts during Christmas and on my birthday, and I take time scouring second-hand book shops (there's one right inside the supermarket in the neighbourhood).
I'm close to meeting my reading target of 75 books this year on Goodreads. Next year I'll keep it the same since I'm planning to go back to regular work.
Today I made a deliberate decision to visit Fully Booked because they are on sale, 20% off all the books. My discount card only gives 10% so that's a big deal. I thought carefully about what I have to go without for the next couple of months so I can use the budget for some books. So no movie-watching (sorry Eddie Redmayne -- I'll just have to see you and your Fantastic Beasts in my dreams, and I'll have to endure not watching the Assassin's Creed movie). Also, cut down on everything else (which, honestly, are already distilled to the basics that I'll be scraping things almost raw).
I arrived at the bookstore at half past ten in the morning. I first secured the books that my sister had asked me to buy for her (she gave me money for them) before I browsed for my own. I went through every floor and almost every shelf, taking my time and occasionally taking a good deep breath to savour the scent of paper and ink. On the uppermost floor was the new art material section and there I also took my time touching the products and literally getting a feel of which I should have. My heart was hammering in my chest from all the excitement and anticipation.
By lunchtime I had made my choices, and my friend S was also due to arrive soon.
These are what I got:
S arrived in time for lunch and we went for ramen as I was craving either Japanese or Korean food. It was a most delicious and pleasant lunch over which we talked about the idiosyncrasies of family relationships, family values, and how strangely young we both feel despite the reality of our actual ages.
After lunch we walked the length of Bonifacio High Street and chanced upon a bazaar of handcrafted items. S bought gifts while I looked around. I have long been immune to the lure of shopping for life accessories (i.e. buying more of what I already have that are not essential to my daily life or the growth of my spirit) and using shopping as therapy, so I pay attention when something really calls out to me.
I bought a bracelet that had a plane and a heart charm on it, and which immediately evoked to me the trip I am planning and looking forward to next year. It perfectly captured the sentiment of the journey. Then I bought a tiny dreamcatcher which I attached to my wallet -- the dreamcatcher was a key item and symbol in one of the stories that is inspiring me now, and I have always had a strong affinity with the subject of dreams, especially when connected with Morpheus, Dream of the Endless, and now further layered with the mythology of the Greywaren.
We went back to the bookstore for another round of browsing and I ended up buying one more book. But oh, this one is really, really worth it. It's going to fertilise the creative seeds that are lightly sleeping inside me now.
S and I parted ways at five o'clock -- pockets lighter but with souls recharged, inspiration boosted, and hopes surging.