Sunday, January 31, 2016

Substantialread: Ain't Nobody Here But Us Conveniently Symbolic Chickens

I read a lot of books last year. Too many to really take in, but some of them stuck with me - usually the ones that were already certified as classics by popular approval, and were more involving simply by virtue of them being considerably longer.

This year, rather than not reading any books at all (which was the only other option available, obviously), I've decided to read exactly one good (I hope) book a month, like a normal person or something. And to rectify the sins of the past by reading more women authors and proper, paper books rather than this extremely convenient digital nonsense, ransacking the used book shops at Davao's malls in the flimsy hope of finding some decent titles amid the posthumously fake V.C. Andrewses and Millennium Bug survival guides, then working out exactly how to get rid of them since those places inexplicably don't accept donations unless they're shipped in from abroad.

Since I only decided all this a few days ago, this month's book isn't especially long. And it's an audiobook. By a man. You don't have the power to fail me, only I can do that.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables

1851 / Audiobook / 344 pages / USA


I related to the architectural focus, since we're currently building a house (right, like I've hammered a single nail myself). I also appreciated the open-minded narrator who's sceptical about the fanciful superstitions built up around the real macabre happenings, but still baits us with an undeniable pattern. It hardly even mattered that as a non-Christian I find its core tenet of ancestral guilt being passed down the generations offensive.

With its richly symbolic prose, it's not a book you can passively listen to while playing Slam Tilt, and after falling asleep and having to find my place twice in chapter one, it became a book for lazy mornings rather than atmospheric nights. It wasn't because I was scared, right?

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