All about Seuss


Last Saturday, our book club Flips Flipping Pages held our July book discussion on one of my childhood favorites, Dr. Seuss.  I’d been looking forward to this discussion because we haven’t tackled any children’s books yet in a year of book discussions, and I was part moderator of this one, where I took on the discussion of the art of Dr. Seuss.

As a child, I was fortunate enough to attend a school with a principal that had special interest in children’s books, and so our library was well-stocked with the best of them. I remember discovering the Dr. Seuss section when I was in first grade, and I spent many happy hours in the library — well, happy for me, not for the maid who waited for me for hours at the gate, because I didn’t want to go home yet so I evaded her for as long as I can. Hehe.

For this particular discussion, I read three Dr. Seuss books (books #114-116 of 2009): How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss; Seuss, the whole Seuss, and nothing but the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodore Seuss Geisel by Charles D. Cohen; and Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, and Lane Smith.

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The Adobo Book

The Flippers with The Adobo Book author Nancy Reyes Lumen (center)

I must admit that I am one of the few people who are not fond of the Filipino dish adobo. I do eat it, but I don’t really enjoy it, and I think I know why — it’s one of the most recyclable dishes in Filipino cuisine because it keeps so well, and I am a person whose taste buds have a very short attention span. I don’t like repeating viands in subsequent meals, and when there’s adobo at home it does tend to be appear frequently on the table for so many days. Adobo was also a mainstay in our family excursions – whether it’s a day at the beach, or the times  we rode a Superferry (16 hours) to Bacolod or Iloilo when I was young). It was also standard baon (lunchbox) fare, and I specifically remember that I had a packed lunch of adobo during all the college entrance exams I took.

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Comfort Food

In a few hours, Flips Flipping Pages will be discussing books around the theme of Filipino food.


I’ve been looking forward to this book discussion, because I think among the Flippers’ core group  we’ve already proven our foodie status ages ago! A lot of the memorable foodie experiences I’ve had in recent time are with my Flipper friends: a weekend spent snacking in Tagaytay; Mike’s hummus; our British tea party; devilishly delish dinner at Wicked Kitchen; lunch at Casa Rap; Japanese buffet at Islandhopper’s farm; the humongous Al’s Rice; a French baker’s bread, and breakfast at Yogurt House in Sagada; and French dinner buffet at Log Cabin, also in Sagada. Practically every single monthly book discussion — or just about any time we’re all together — turns into a food trip.

For this discussion, I chose to read Anvil Publishing’s Comfort Food, edited by Erlinda Enriquez Panilio, which, incidentally, also happens to be book #100 of 2009! Comfort Food is a compilation of essays by notable Filipino writers and society figures. I actually got this back in 2006 for P40 from the Anvil bargain bin at the Manila International Book Fair, and I got as far as around two essays but I was only able to finish it for the book discussion.
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V-day reading (Book 30! Woot!)

Love Story by Erich Segal
Book #30 for 2009
Book #4 for Diversity Challenge (Reading group requirement)

Reading Erich Segal’s Love Story was like running into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time.

It must be ten years since the first time I read this book, back in second year high school, a time when all we ever wanted to read were books about undying love, books that make us gush and sigh and cry and wish that someday we’d be able to experience the things we read about (oh, but that is another story…).

I was actually dreading reading this again, because I felt I’d outgrown it already, and if it were not for the Flips Flipping Pages discussion, I wouldn’t have read it again, because the mere sight of the book actually had me snorting in derision.

I didn’t have a copy of the book, and I’d seen dozens of copies of it at Book Sale in the past, but of course, as luck would have it, no copies were to be found now that I needed it. I’d once again proven the law of Book Sale: the amount of urgency applied in seeking out a specific title at book sale is directly proportional to the possibility that it (and multiple copies, too) will turn up when you no longer need it or already have a copy. I ended up mooching a hardcover copy (yes, of course, if I have to mooch internationally, I’d rather have a hardcover) from California, and got it just in the nick of time, the day before the discussion.

To my surprise, I got through the whole book without a single derisive snort! Rereading it was much better than I expected. Though I wasn’t reading it with the eyes of a thirteen-year old girl anymore, I actually still liked it.

It’s the simplicity of the story that has given this book its staying power: rich boy meets poor girl, they fight for their love, but the triumph is short-lived as the girl gets sick and dies tragically young (oops, is there anyone who doesn’t know how Love Story goes?). I agree with our discussion moderator, Czar, when he said that Erich Segal knew when to rein himself in, just short of the point of being mushy.

Like Jenny, I love Oliver Barrett III’s name and numeral (hahaha!) — who wouldn’t? He’s smart, rich, handsome, athletic, and even his rambunctiousness adds to his charm. Jenny Cavilleri, on the other hand, is exactly the girl who can whip his cute little tosh into submission, with her snooty demeanor, smart-ass mouth and artistic temperament. The highlight of the book for me was the playful banter between the two, and the fact that Jenny always got the final word.

Yesterday, we also watched the movie and I was surprised to find out that the screenplay actually came before the book, and Segal actually just wrote the book to promote the movie. The book was mostly faithful to the movie, except for the point of view, but I felt that the final scene was better in the book.

One of the points raised in the discussion was that the movie was actually more realistic, because relationships (in this case, Oliver and his dad’s relationship) don’t get fixed just because someone dies, and closure doesn’t come that easily. While I see their point and agree with it in essence, I don’t think that was what the book meant to say. In the book, as Oliver cries in his father’s arms, I didn’t see Jenny’s death as a cure-all for their relationship, but rather an opening to reach out to each other, and merely the start of Oliver’s coming to terms with Jenny’s death.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” (note: in the book it’s actually, not ever, not never) is probably one of the most trite expressions about love today, and while I am not in the position to debate its meaning, I guess it’s not the line’s fault that several generations of readers (and film viewers) all over the world have used it for almost 4 decades now.

I didn’t expect to say this, but I’m definitely keeping this book.

Flippers celebrate V-day with Love Story at Red Palace!

My copy: hardcover first edition with dustjacket
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars