Monday, October 13, 2003

Good literature expands your mind. We need all thehelp we can get.

When we first arrived, we heard about the National and Goodwill bookstore chains. Both have stores in Glorietta and we'd search through them to find reading material. We discovered both stores are badly organized and we cannot find specific titles. So while they are good for inexpensive children's books or for perusing the aisles in hopes something will grab our interest, we have been investigating a couple other book stores in the mall that seemed more promising. We found one named Power Books, connected to Tower Records, and another across the hall which also had a bookey name but is the size of a large shoe closet. Yet unless Harry Potter 5 was at the top of your list, it was still very difficult to find what you're looking for.

And then we discovered Fully Booked at Powerplant Mall. Ah, paradise between the pages. The stacks were full and organized. The children's section was vast and had everything their little hearts could desire, and titles I'd been searching for futily elsewhere. When Ian asked at the counter about a specific hardback, the clerk made a few clicks on her computer and gave him a clear and concise answer to his query. Trust me, this is no small feat. We live in a country where there are 4 overly polite handlers for every shopping aisle, yet few of them can answer a direct question about underwear, forget about an author.
We bought books of course because Ian is quickly running through the Harry Potter series to date (Can you believe he's never read them? Yes, so can I) and we've both heard rumblings of _The Da Vinci Code_ by Dan Brown. I'd heard good things about the Lemony Snicket series (_Series of Unfortunate Events_) so I bought the first book for Katherine. She has rapidly progressed through all the abbreviated Ladybird versions of the classics on her shelf so she needs some meatier books without hitting the lengths of Harry Potter himself. Bedtime has evolved to include 15-45 minutes of quiet reading for Katherine, while Rebecca peters out after 10 minutes and crashes. Any reading time is good though. It seems that Katherine always has her nose in a book. In amazing news, Rebecca read _Sir Small and the Dragonfly_ almost entirely on her own over the weekend. Perhaps I should pick that up for our own library as a memento of a big step in reading.
I've been trying to read more too. It seems that I either keep up with current events, or I can manage a novel. Sadly, never the two shall meet, I just can't keep up with both for some reason. This weekend I finished _The Poisonwood Bible_. What an amazing book and I encourage you to read it. I'd been told it took place in Africa, which of course intrigued me, but I'd heard nothing else and that's the way I like my novels. Just like movies, I don't like to hear about the plot, nor do I spend my time trying to figure out what's going to happen next. I like the ride for what it is and in a book I read it with a completely open mind to the words on the next page. That's why surprise endings are always just that for me. I'd rather be shocked than spend time figuring it all out only to reach the end and say "Well, I knew that's how it was going to go." What fun is that?
Other books I've read since arriving in Manila are few, but worthwhile mentioning.
_Siblings Without Rivalry_ is definitely worth a read, for any parent with more than one child. Many of the lessons involve older children, but there are enough ideas and techniques that apply to any age and age spread, that even if you aren't having troubles it can help you avoid common pitfalls in the future.
_In the Presence of My Enemies_ by Gracia Burham. OK, this is one you do need to know a bit of the topic. It's a true story about a missionary couple taken hostage here in the Philippines and held for over a year in the Mindanao jungle. It's a disturbing tale and the writing is a compilation of her thoughts, fleshed out on paper. She is not a trained author, but after the first couple chapters, it doesn't matter. The story alone provides the words and emotions without needing an author's descriptive flare.
_Third Culture Kids_ had been recommended to me several times, having been raised overseas myself. Oddly, not much of the book seems to really fit me. I have all the symptoms of being a TCK, without the actual disease of "fitting in everywhere but belonging nowhere". My home is with my family, whether that was my parents as a child or now my husband and kids, so it really doesn't matter about anything else. I've never felt lost, even though the questions "Where are you from?" still throws me for a loop. I've adopted Virginina, so I leave it at that. But I'm preparing myself for the future question of my own children. With four, they are destined to each take something different away from our mobile life overseas. Some will do well, others will struggle, they'll all want to know where "home" is. Perhaps the book will help me help them create their own realities for what "home" means to them.

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