I have a confession: I do not read a lot of books. Sad, noh?

I still read a lot -- blogs, websites, magazines, some digital books -- but as for actual books, maybe just one or two a year. Yup, that bad.

It wasn't always like this.

I was a bookworm when I was a kid, asking for books from parents and relatives instead of toys.

In high school and college, I saved part of my allowance so I could buy books from National Book Store. I especially loved sales when I'd take my time looking for interesting books and filling up a basket with them.

I loved covering them in plastic, carefully handling the pages and trying not to break the spine, and making them look like I never read them. I loved rereading a lot of them, of course. And not lending them to anyone.

When I grew older, I stopped caring so much about my books' appearance. Some of them I didn't cover in plastic anymore. I even allowed myself to highlight favorite lines and new words so I could later on check their meaning. On the last page, I'd write all the page numbers with quotable quotes so I could easily revisit favorite parts.

I started to buy less and less books. I'd buy old issues of magazines from Book Sale coz they were so cheap. I'd also buy all these secondhand books. I hated bestsellers and I'd go look for all these obscure books from writers I've never heard of.

I don't know exactly how or when I stopped buying books for myself, but I bet it's pretty much when the Internet became so accessible. That was when I started giving away most of my books and magazines.

I don't have books anymore. I have maybe 20 books but they're all with my sister for safekeeping. One of these days I will visit her and check which books I can let go of so I don't have to take up a lot of space in her shelf.

Anyway, since it's a Thursday, here's a list of some of the books I really loved reading a looong time ago.

1 - Twisted by Jessica Zafra

This book made me want to be a writer. It’s the first Zafra book I bought and got to read. Of course, I reread it several times: when I was bored, when I felt like I was a bad writer, when I was lonely, whenever I wrote an article I was proud of. I remember loving the book so much I carried it around with me all the time.

2 - Eros, Thanatos, Cubao by Tony Perez

I’ve read all of Tony’s books but this has got to be my favorite because of all the interestingly strange characters and their equally strange stories. I’ve always felt like I could contribute some story ideas to Tony since I know a lot of weirdos. A lot. This book made me want to write short stories -- in Filipino -- which I actually did for some time.

3 - Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

I’ve always felt like I have multiple personalities so this book about the real story of a woman with multiple personalities definitely got my attention when I saw it at home. It was my mom’s copy and I didn’t need to ask for permission to read it. I loved the story so much I bought my own copy a couple of years after and read it a couple of times. I head there’s a movie version and I definitely want to see that.

4 - Wormwood by Poppy Z. Brite

I have to thank Karen Kunawicz for introducing me to this book. I remember reading about the author and her books in Karen’s column so when I found one copy in National Bookstore I was extremely happy. I love weirdos and mutants and outcasts. So yeah, I love this book. I read it a lot of times I feel like I'm friends with a lot of the characters.

5 - On the Verge by Karen Kunawicz

I love Karen! She is one of my most favorite local writers because apart from how she writes about things I am interested in (weirdos, solitude, connecting with others, gothic stuff), she is also a very passionate and honest writer. This book of hers is a collection of essays, most of which I could relate to so much it’s as if I wrote parts of it. Karen is a great essayist. I loved reading her weekly column in Mirror magazine called On the Verge. In fact, I used to drop by this small bookstore to get a copy of the magazine and get really annoyed whenever delivery was late.

I don't know why my book has blood.

6 – Understanding the Psychic Powers of Man by Jaime T. Licauco

I used to regularly read the weekly column of Jaime in Inquirer because I enjoyed all the stories on the paranormal, such as reincarnation, ghosts, and healing. Naturally, this book of his interested me, as well. I remember buying a lot of books on paranormal stuff, magic, and divination, apart from this one.

7 - The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

During my teen years I got interested in magic, spirituality, astrology, and all these esoteric stuff so books like this one filled up my bookshelf. I remember the book being such an eye-opener it made me want to read more on spirituality and just evolve.

8 - Manananggal Terrorizes Manila and Other Stories by Jessica Zafra

This came out before Twisted but I read it only after I got to read Twisted and fell in love with Jessica. I fell in love with every story. I loved not just the way each one was written. I loved how strange yet real and close to home each one was, like I knew the characters or how I even saw myself in some of them.

9 - The Best of Youngblood

I’ve been writing for Inquirer for more than a decade now but I’ve never written for the Youngblood section. I’m pretty content reading the column, actually. This first edition is my favorite because of one entry: that one from an anonymous writer called Quickmelt. Loved her style, her voice, her story. I wish I wrote that piece. Jealous.

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