Earlier this year, I resolved to do at least one book tag per month. Unfortunately, I was not able to do one last February, breaking a streak of about three years worth of monthly book tags. Nonetheless, I am restarting a new streak. For this month, I am finally doing one book tag that has been on my shelf for quite some time. I came across I Dare You Tag back in 2019 through Éimhear’s blog, A Little Haze Book Blog. I found it a fun book tag so I decided to give it a try. I tried to search for the original creator but unfortunately, I was not able to. Nevertheless, here is my I Dare You Tag.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

I always thought that Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way was the book I had the longest. It wouldn’t be my answer to the question anyway because I was finally able to read the first book in the daunting In Search of Lost Time book this month. Upon validation, it was another book in this famed work that was my oldest unread purchase, The Past Recaptured. After learning that it was the seventh, hence, the last book in the literary masterpiece, I had to set it aside until I complete all the books. I only have one book missing from the seven books. Meanwhile, I have yet to read The Aeneid. I have been putting it off because I am not sure of the structure. Get this: both books have been on my shelf for almost seven years! I have obtained both books in September 2015.

2. What is your current read, previous read, and what you’ll read next?

I am in the midst of a journey through European literature. I have just finished The Accident, my second novel by Albanian writer Ismail Kadare after The General of the Dead Army. I am about to start reading The Little Town Where Time Stood Still by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. After this, I am planning to read The Dumas Club which will be my second novel by Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte; my first was The Seville Communion.

3. What book did everyone like but you hated?

I wouldn’t say hated for it is too strong a word. However, I was disappointed with Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It had within its premises a very powerful story, an intimate peek into the atrocities that happened within the walls of the Nazi concentration camps. Moreover, it was based on a true story. The deal-breaker for me was the writing, the overall execution. The characters were underdeveloped while the writing felt like it was written as a movie script rather than a literary piece. What was a promising story was undone by these blunders.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself that you’ll read, but probably won’t?

I want to say James Joyce’s Ulysses but no. I am stern in my resolve to read every book that I own. Or perhaps Fifty Shades of Grey? But I have already given up the prospect of reading what is generally accepted as a bad text.

5. What books are you saving for retirement?

This question hasn’t even crossed my mind because it still seems so very far away. Moreover, my taste in books keeps on evolving. However, if I have to choose it will be (or may be) the spy novels of John le Carré. I think they will provide good company. I was thinking of Stephen King but I don’t like horror fiction in general. HAHA.

6. Last page: read it first or wait until the end?

Easy question. I will wait until the end. Not unless it is a reread, I will endeavor from the start.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper or fascinating ink?

Oh. Another intriguing question. Again, this has never crossed my attention because, most of the time, I don’t even bother reading the acknowledgment part. It has always been there I guess. Nonetheless, I do, believe that it is a fundamental part of the book. You get to know who helped the writer in accomplishing his or her work. Sometimes, writers share other information which can aid my understanding of the book, like in the case of Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob.

8. Which character would you switch places with?

Surprise! I haven’t chosen either Harry Potter or Hermione Granger though. I am picking Ron Weasley! He has two good friends in Harry and Hermione. He also has a big family, one that I never had. I want to experience how to be a part of a family as exuberant as the Weasleys. He also seemed naive but his naivete belie a heart of a warrior that was at par with Harry’s and Hermione’s although it was overshadowed by them. And yes, I want to experience the thrills and adventures of Hogwarts!

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time person, etc.)

Charlie’s experiences at school reminded me of my own experience at school. Like Charlie, I am a socially awkward person, the type that doesn’t leave much of an impression on the people I meet. While I excelled academically, I was socially a wallflower. I spent most of my time being a good student that I forgot how to enjoy the life of a student.

10. Name a book you acquired in an interesting way

I can’t think of one. I acquire books in the most straightforward manner, except for those that I acquired a second copy of, unintentionally.

11. Have you ever given a book to a person for a special reason?

I gave my friend a copy of Isabel Wilkerson’s Cate: The Origins of Our Discontents as a gift for her birthday. She listed the book as part of her Christmas wishlist the year before but none of us gave it to her so when I encountered a copy of the book, I bought it for her.

12. What book has been with you the most places?

My last international trip was back in July 2018. I was planning to travel on my birth month last 2020 as well but then the pandemic struck. When I travel, I always take books with me. During my July 2018 escapade, I had with me Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Together with these books, I traveled to Thailand, and crossed the border to Siem Reap, Cambodia, before culminating my trip in Hanoi, Vietnam.

13. Any “required reading” that you hated in high school but wasn’t so bad later?

The only required readings we had back in high school were for our Filipino subject. We read only works of Filipino writers: Ibong Adarna by Jose deal Cruz during our freshman year; Florante at Laura by Francisco Balagtas during our sophomore year; Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal during our junior year; and El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal during our senior year. I didn’t have much of an opinion on these books because, back then, I didn’t have much interest in literature.

14. Used or brand new?

I have to say both. I really don’t mind buying secondhand books. I actually frequent online booksellers. Moreover, there are more selections from them compared to the local bookstores. They have titles I wouldn’t normally encounter in the typical bookstores such as the works of Buchi Emecheta, Jose Donoso, and Tarjei Vasaas. I do, however, check if the books are still in mind condition. On the other hand, I buy brand new books, mostly for the new releases.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Is this a bad thing? HAHA. I confess. I did read all of his works. It started back during my university days when the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code was stirring quite the controversy. I liked his works, especially the earlier ones starring Robert Langdon because they were brimming with interesting subjects and symbols. My interest was driven by my curiosity. I did enjoy the exhilaration his books evoked. Do I think they are literary classics? Not necessarily.

16. Have you seen a movie you liked more than the book?

I can’t say that I have. I am not much of a moviegoer anyway. Maybe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The book’s language can be an obstacle. The worldbuilding was more astounding with such a physical manifestation.

17. Have you ever read a book that made you hungry? (Cookbooks included)

The first title that came to mind was Laura Esquivel’s timeless novel, Like Water for Chocolates. It was divided into twelve chapters, representing the twelve months of the year. More importantly, each chapter came with a recipe! Food was ubiquitous and its smell seduced the olfactory senses.

18. Who is a person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a friend who has a taste in books as diverse as mine. As such, I rely on the recommendations of fellow book bloggers or any interesting article I come across.

19. Is there a book outside your comfort zone that you ended up loving?

I am not a huge fan of science fiction although I have been having a breakthrough in this genre. When I started reading Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I was driven mostly by curiosity and the fact that it was listed in many must-read lists. Lo and behold! I ended up loving the book. So much so that I added more of Dick’s works to my perpetually growing list.

Whew. That was quite a long one. Nevertheless, I enjoyed answering the questions and I do hope you derive the same level of enjoyment from my answers and insights. As usual, I am not tagging anyone in particular but if this tag interests you, do feel free to do your own. Don’t forget to tag me though so that I can also check out your answers! That’s it for now! Happy reading and always keep safe!