getting hooked on books

Last night I was hanging out with co-workers at our publishing house’s bookshop. Near closing time, a lady customer took a seat by the counter, one book in each hand. She was torn: “Which book should I get?”

“Why not both?” volunteered my friend Gracia, who’s from Sales and a certified booklover. (I mimicked a game show’s theme music for effects. Pressure, pressure.) Both books were novels (I didn’t catch the titles) and the only copies left. There was no guarantee either one would still be waiting for her on her next visit.

Our customer, we found out, started to enjoy reading at twelve when she got an entire set of Christian fiction books as a gift. And there was no stopping her since. Years later, we meet her in a bookstore tortuously pondering whether or not to let go of a rare find. (I have a feeling this dilemma plays itself countless times in her life.) As a high school teacher, she said that she shares her books to teenage girls in the hope that they too would be ushered into the wonderful world of reading.

Ask the bibliophiles you know and you’ll discover that most of them started their love affair with books early in life. A parent read to them every night; a ninang persevered in giving them books on their birthday—every year; a teacher pulled them aside and lent them a classic to check out; a principal detained them in the library for bad behavior.

The first book I owned was The Pied Piper of Hamelin, my prize in a poetry recitation contest in kindergarten. But the first books that really blew my mind away were C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. I was ten and the books were lent to me serially by my English teacher (who later became my sister-in-law).

Then came the requisite (at least during my time) Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew mysteries, followed by the cool Choose Your Own Adventure series. Now, as an adult, I gravitate to books that stir my heart and mind, and help me make sense of things—my faith journey, the human condition, glimpses of God’s hand at work.

I wouldn’t call myself an avid reader. I know some people who are far more into books than I am, delighting even in the smell and texture of the pages. But I certainly cannot imagine a life without books. Stripped of the opportunities to imagine endless what-ifs; to explore the workings of other minds; to participate vicariously in the experiences of others; to be challenged by truth and inspired to hope—A bookless life would be a tragic one.

I doubt if I would appreciate the power and beauty of the printed word now had it not been for encounters with books in childhood. Adult readers should propagate their kind by investing in the young ones in their lives.

Last summer I gave my little niece E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web; she enjoyed it so much she detests how the movie adaptation doesn’t stick to the book word for word. Her aunt, my sister, promised to bequeath to her the yellowed copies of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men and Little Women when she turns twelve. The anticipation is killing her.

Every young person, I believe, should be given the chance to meet good books that can interest them. And, hopefully, that encounter will blossom into a lifelong friendship with these fascinating creatures of ink and paper.

“I guess I’ll just have to skip going to Jollibee for awhile,” the bookstore customer sighed as she finally reached her decision. She paid for the two books, clearly excited to find out what wonders await her inside the pages.

Maybe one of those two books, one day, will land in the hands of a young person, swinging open the doors to many worlds. Here’s hoping that reading will also captivate him or her, for a lifetime.


soul cravings by erwin mcmanus

Currently Reading:

Soul Cravings
by Erwin Raphael McManus

walking from east to west by ravi zacharias Last Memorable Read:

Walking from East to West:
God in the Shadows

Ravi Zacharias


  1. And those avid book lovers are also the most likely candidates to start a blog *snicker*

    btw, just incase your in Davao, we’re organizing bloggers for a meetup on the 17th. Even before that we’re stringing a couple of eyeballs to get to know each other better 😀

    drop me a line at my blog 😀


  2. Whoops, March 17 pala yon… hehehe… if you want to refer other davao bloggers to go to the meet up, ok rin… Please email their URL’s to me so that we can personally invite them 😀


  3. tagalog komiks is great reading fare, abaniko! i enjoyed ‘funny’ comics the most as a kid 🙂 i know one multi-awarded children’s book writer who was enchanted by tagalog comics as a kid.


  4. My mother started reading to me when I was three. The title of the book was the little blue book of fairy tales. Over the years, the book got dilapidated and then chewed by our dog. I’ve tried to find a copy of that book when I was in college but I didn’t find it. I know it’s kid’s books but it has some relevance to me. Anyway, your post just reminded me and I should start looking for it again. With the internet, it shouldn’t be that difficult.


  5. my love affair with books started as soon as i can read, and it has been a constant, passionate and even shameless love affaird. and yes, the texture, smell and feel of books can be a rapturous event…

    nice look. sigh, this means i have to redo my links to reflect your arbitrary move.


  6. great idea, swipe! u should hunt down that childhood book and see what u think of them now as a grown-up. ‘some day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again.’ (c.s. lewis)

    ei pas! saw ur name in the ATS forum souvenir program. hope ur presentation went well 🙂 u actually came to mind when i thought of people who loved books so much they take pleasure in the smell and texture of the pages :p


  7. It was the Bible and some bible story books that I got hooked into when I was a little kid. Then the newspapers and the Bisaya komiks.

    It was because of a book report (in high school) that I got to read a novel: Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. Nobody bought/lent me a book then. It was only after college that I acquired my collection of novels.

    just dropping by and read some entries.


  8. ei kuya alex. nice entry about books. when I go to booksale and any other bookstore, actually, I can barely restrain myself to buy a good title.

    anyway, my affair with books (except textbooks ha. heheh) started when i was in grade 3, I started the Ilocano Bible, the only “literary” book we had then. heheh. later, I discovered the joy of reading the good ol’ komiks right in our neighborhood. heheh


  9. lazarus – thanks for dropping by 🙂 ‘a collection of novels’ sounds very, very interesting. can i raid ur library? hehe.

    ei mighty! (i’ve always thought ur name was kewl.) glad u came by. musta buhay?


  10. can anyone help where to buy “soul cravings” by erwin raphael mcmanus here in davao city…. please badly needed it, it was not available at national bookstores….. i would really appreciate any of your help.. tnx


    1. Hi, EJ! i’m with OMF Literature, and we distributed Soul Cravings a few years back. Not sure if we still have it on stock. If you want, you can visit our Davao bookshop at Tionko cor Mapa Sts. Hope that helps.


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