I have always taken recluse to books when I?fm down and out. I became a book lover when I was, I think, in high school. A teacher of mine asked us to do a book review. Actually a novel, a romance novel, which we can buy cheaply at a third rate magazine stand. Here, novels of love in many forms, usually love surpassing the tantamount hurdles of life, abound. I never been to these stands before, I always kept a high chin on places like these and pass weary judgment on the place, more so, its unpopular patrons. But I was always been a teacher?fs pet. Once, during my elementary days, I even volunteered to paint all the pots in our classroom. I even paid for the paint! All these during the end of the school year. I could not let my teacher down now, could I? Especially now that I am a 4th year graduating high school student. But I have to keep the high chin, after all, I was the IT kid. I had my own nanny for myself. That was speaking a lot for those days. So I had my nanny buy the pocketbooks for me. Sure it was no mere pocketbook, I have to outdo myself this time. The teacher expects a lot from his best student. It was the best, at the time, in the contemporary novels. The author, Lualharti Bautisrta, was the most respectable romance novelist and it was the best book money could buy.

So I was set to outdo my classmates, to impress my teacher, even me. I thought, here?fs a dragging book, a book I have to read get done over with so I can worry about my clothes this weekend for the party. It was a Tuesday, and I can see myself beating me with the book every night, forcing myself to read it. I held the book in my face. I imagined it to be a comic book, a spiderman comic book to be exact. I want the same ardor and intent for this one. Page one passed, still not sleepy. Page 6 passed, not sleepy. It was a 245 page paperback book, as oppose to the mere 80 pages my other classmates were reading. And to my amazement, I was able to breeze to it in no time, like spotting a perfect Calvin Klein jeans in a throng of other jeans. It was amazing! The book was not all that good, but was not that bad. It made me feel good, not because I was able to sit down perfectly still with a book on hand and a bag of Lays on the other, it?fs because I was able to identify. I was able to empathize with the characters. Almost any character I felt sorry for or feel needs empathizing. It was a marvelous feeling. Back then they call me ice. It was a 2 face pun. Because I was the cool kid with the cool clothes and big allowance, and because I was an ice, inside. I never had shown any emotions at school. A lot of my friends cried a river on love, lost love or the lack of it. I on the other hand worry about the impending increase in my allowance since the cafeteria will hike up their prices. Don?ft get me wrong, I am a good friend. I?fm always there for them, and they knew it. It?fs just I don?ft believe that it?fs worth crying for, love that is. We are our own universe, no one completes us but us. Who ever wrote that line from Jerry Maguirre needs a serious beating in the head and an audience with me on the matter.

So that was my first knack on books. And by the way I got an A on the paper.

Life moved on, and did mine. I went to college. That meant a lot of partying, late night. Hang-over in the morning while listening to your professor blabbering what seems to me then was a chant from some cult or something. I had not lifted a book, or sift to the pages of interesting and complex characters. Except that of Plato, Aristotle and other great minds, as my philosophy professor told us. I have my share of books, but they where not interesting, there was no plot, no twist, just plain. As plain as a textbook on physics and calculus. My life of reading was as dead as the duck with broken wings on a river during hunting season. This life of drudgery crept on until 3rd year of college. A chemistry professor was a frustrated lawyer. He has passion for debate, unending quarrel about the exact molality of the sodium bicarbonate we mixed to make a bar of soap. Or the consistency of the solution to yield the most exothermic reaction. He was an idol for me. For he exudes confidence despite his little ?gimperfection.?h He is a polio victim. He lists to the right. But nevertheless, a damn good professor. He introduced me to John Grisham. The court room drama that captivated my interest to the legal profession. I was always intrigued by the passion these lawyers have. The way Grisham told the story, his careful choice of words suffice my intrigued. I was hooked. He was my personal professor to the legal system.

?c I remembered the first Michael Crichton book. I was spending the night to a friend?fs house. I brought a bunch of CDs for our listening enjoyment. I was early on the CD collecting thing, just as the CDs started to roll out, I had them. Talk about a spoiled rotten child! We went pass to Swing Out Sisters, then Michael Jackson?fs History album when I spotted a yellow gold paperback novel. The book was has a red logo of an MDs insignia (mercury?fs staff). A Case Of Need, written by Michael Crichton. What the heck, I already listen to these bunch of CDs anyway, might as well read this one. It won?ft hurt, and if you don?ft like it, you could always put it down, I told myself in silence. So I sat on the couch at the living room, lit a lamp (it was wee hours in the morning) and started to read. I was enthralled. The book gave new perspective to me like no other. He was great, Michael. He made me feel the characters?f gutt, their passion and fears, their anger and disappointments. And after all, it touches one of the things I am passionate about, abortion. But that?fs another blog session?c

I am now on my way to reading more?c

Right now, I have tons of tons of books. Yep, I was one of those who where caught up with the Harry Potter?fs adventures. I was first introduced to it last 1998. A friend gave me a paperback Sorcerer?fs Stone and I kept on reading the rest of the series. Though I collected them all (as of now 4 books since that was J.K. Rowling allowed me too just as yet) in hardbound. Sex and City DVDs were not enough for me so I went buying the book. HBO is really making a big money out of me and my cult members who follow the series. Nick Hornby had found a place in my shelf with his About a Boy and Talking to an Angel books. The guy is simply amazing. then there?fs the new age section, like in my CD collection. This one book that I can not get myself to finish (it has been almost a year now), Celestine Prophecy. And some other books like What Men Think About Sex. Of course how can I forget the local writers, there?fs Jessica Zafra with her 6-book Twisted series that make me more cynical with every turn of the page (which my friends doubts if I could get anymore cynical), Roberto Ong with his candor for relieving his schooling days in ABNKKBSNPLAKo and brutal frankness of Bakit Pabaligtad Magbasa ang Pilipino.

?c this year, I came into terms with myself, I am gay. There. I already said it, posted it in the world wide web. I still find it a bit difficult, but I?fm coping. And the power of books help me see through it. Right now, I am into Timothy James Beck. His first novel, It Had To Be You, was light, funny and resoundingly easy to read. But what I find most appealing to it was I was able to relate again. This time more personal to the character for Blaine Dunhill. He is like me, except I am not as gorgeous as Blaine (Beck describes him so good that I almost wanted him as bad as Daniel), same age and same concerns. Though I don?ft have a wife and we don?ft have divorce here. But unlike him, I never hid anything. I was me, no pretensions but a lot of eyebrow raiser. Everybody wants to know what, or rather who I am (as I would like to point at). I was not closeted, only confused for the first 25 years of my life (get ready for more blogs?c).

Books provide each one of us a meaning. Some people would think of it as a chore (with a big price tag) like what I felt at first, others a passion to read or gain more knowledge. I guess for me, it was an escape. Escape from here, from all of the worries of life but to the confines of my room, a bag of Lays and dreams that I was like the characters of the novel. Strong, intelligent, passionate and a good friend.


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