Episodic (Of Books and TV)

Sometime in college, I realized I was born with a reading list I will never finish. It was in elementary when I discovered the joy of reading. At that time, in the province, we didn't have a good bookstore. Wait, correct that--we didn't have a bookstore. We had a school supplies store which sell textbooks and once in a blue moon a fiction novel would find its way in the shelves of Mathematics or Panitikan. But I didn't get those because buying books were simply out of my wallet's league. I don't think I even had a wallet then, much more any money I could call my own, except the spare coins I saved when I skipped lunch. I spent a lot of time in the library, which was sort of my refuge because I had no inclination for sports--and I didn't like staying in school playing with my classmates once classes are done for the day. I was an introvert; I just didn't know what it was called then.

In the library, I discovered the Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, and Edith Hamilton's Mythology, among others. Even then, these series of books overwhelmed me. There were too many of them and I couldn't keep up. I could only imagine what else I missed reading.

In high school, I discovered The Chronicles of Narnia. I saw a copy of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe between textbook shelves. Before that, I had seen the short BBC TV series of the same name when a friend of the family brought VHS (!!!) tapes from Europe. It was the start of my long love affair with the series and with fantasy novels in general. I went to Manila for a vacation during a summer break in high school and I got the chance to buy all the seven books from National Bookstore. I remember being left breathless when I first entered National Bookstore. The feeling that I could live there forever and never think about the outside world again.

I studied in Manila for college and National Bookstore, Powerbooks and, later on, Fully Booked were my refuge from the chaos of the big city. I had moved from Sidney Sheldon and John Grisham to Pulitzer prize winners, more fantasies, a few biographies, and anything that caught my fancy--whether it's a beautiful cover or an intriguing synopsis. This is when I realized I will never be able to keep up with my ever-growing reading list.

For a long time I had resisted moving from hardcovers and paperbacks to electronic readers. I wanted the feel and smell of paper,  of turning the page and discovering what happened next, of putting a bookmark to recover from a tragic turn of events or soak in the beauty of words. But practicality won over. When I started working, I moved around a lot. At first, I tried to bring my books with me when I changed apartments, while the books I've read I had them shipped to Bicol, where I have several shelves of books, a third of them remain unread.

But then I moved to the US and when I got there I also moved between states for work. That's when I shifted to e-readers and bought my first ever Kindle. I adjusted and soon I had an entire library of books in my Kindle. I carried it wherever I go.

This has led to a shift on how I read. Before, I used to read books in one or two days, sometimes a week. At most, I read two book simultaneously in a span of two weeks, alternating between serious fiction and fantasy. But now, my Goodreads profile has more than a dozen books in my Currently Reading list. Some I've been reading for two years already. It's a mix of literary fiction, gay novels, collection of short stories, fantasy, mysteries, and a book about writing.

Now, I would read depending on my mood. Some days feel like the perfect time to read a gay novel, other days feel like mystery novel days and so on. I'd choose from my Currently Reading list and pick up where I left off. Even if where I left off was several months ago, I'd still be able to remember the story and everything that led to the moment I was reading. After a few pages, I'd stop and decide that I've had enough reading for a day and catch up on something else.

Usually that something else is a TV series or a movie. One that's part of the long list of TV series and movies I want to watch in my lifetime. The truth is, there's never enough time for everything. If in college I realized there were so many books, now in the era of binge-watching there are just too many interesting things to watch. So many that I have to accept there are some movies and TV shows I'll never have the time to watch. Even though they're a curiosity for me, they do not feel urgent or necessary. I've always wanted to watch Veep because it's lauded and critically acclaimed, but I never found the time between Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Outlander, etc. But I was able to watch the entire series when I was in long-haul flights to and from the US.

It got even more overwhelming when recently I got an unexpected upgrade in Internet speed from Globe and they threw in six months of Netflix for free. I decided to buy an Apple TV so I can watch Netflix on my TV instead of a mobile device. I subscribed to Hulu as well and downloaded a few other TV apps from CW, CBS, and so on.

My weekends are usually spent balancing what to read and what to watch. It has become episodic. I'd watch a couple of episodes, read a few pages, and constantly alternate between so many TV series and so many books. I have so many storylines in my head that sometimes I have to force myself to finish a TV series (or a book) so I could let go of it and move on to the next. But even then, there's still not enough time to finish them all. Because the world keeps on creating and even if I live long enough, it's still not long enough for everything that I want.

And it makes me wonder how people can be bored in this world when there's so much to do. I haven't even touched on traveling and everything else that takes time. But that's another entry for another time.


  1. Re: Boredom, it's like you ripped the words out of my mouth. I often plan elaborate weekends of cleaning or writing yet I'm sucked into the vortex that is Netflix.

    I too have succumbed to e-books. I still buy physical ones but I don't recall the last time i finished an actual book from cover to cover. Makes me wonder how else the internet has ruined us all. Lolz


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