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Laya

The first reaction of most people entering my room for the first time is "Wow! So many books! Have you read them all?" And when I say yes, they stare at me like I'm an alien from outer space. They are further boggled by the fact that I have not only read all of the more-or-less-a-thousand books they see, but that I actually re-read them. "But don't you know what's in them already? Why re-read them then?" they ask.




Why is it so hard for non-readers (and more than half of my friends are non-readers) to understand that a book is not just something to read, it is a world to visit? For many Filipinos, books are for school, books are for learning, books are something they don't have time for when they can engage in more fruitful pursuits like cleaning the house, doing business, or cooking. And since books are "for learning," this mostly equates to something difficult that they would much rather not spare time for once they're out of school.

But for me, books are new worlds, even universes, and their characters are friends... people I grow to care about, to laugh with their joys and cry with their sorrows, and even emulate their strength and heroism. So here I thought I'd list down the top ten worlds or universes that have meant the most in my life, to which books have given me entree.


  • A galaxy far, far away. Favorite friend: Princess Leia. For many people, this is the galaxy that started it all, the other universe that made us realize how small our world really is, and how infinite really are the possibilities that lie outside of it once we find out how to reach them. Although this really did begin with a movie, I also began collecting the books, so that I could revisit that galaxy again and again and again... Save me a seat on the Millennium Falcon, please.
  • Parallel Earth, Resources Negligible. Favorite friend: Menolly. It all began with Menolly, really; Anne McCaffrey has this gift of making us care about her characters. And yes, please... I want a dragon. But I'd settle for being a harper with a fire-lizard, as long as it sings.
  • Familias Regnant sector. Favorite friend: Esmay Suiza. I know this is called the Serrano series, but my favorite character is Esmay Suiza. Because of Once A Hero, I went on to collect and read all of the other books... and all of Elizabeth Moon's oeuvre, including...
  • Vatta's War universe. Favorite friend: Kylara Vatta. Elizabeth Moon took the name of a character I absolutely hated in Anne McCaffrey's books and gave it to a character I grew to love. Yes, Ms. Moon, now the joke's on me.
  • The Young Wizards universe, where wizardry=science + language. Favorite friend: Dairine Callahan. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Diane Duane's works remind me of Diana Wynne Jones + Madeleine L'Engle. This is a universe where words are the ultimate power, where naming a thing defines it, where renaming a thing changes its essence. Speaking of wizardry, how could I leave out...
  • Hogwarts. Favorite friends: Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood. I can't even begin to describe how I felt the first time I read Sorcerer's Stone. It was as if the sleepy little rural Philippine barrio around me melted away and an English countryside full of witches and wizards and muggles began to take shape.
  • Samaria. Favorite friend: Raheli sia a Manderra / Rachel. This is one universe I adore visiting, where angels actually exist, where music is the be-all and end-all of everything. Yes, I would like to be an Edori.
  • Egypt in the Victorian age. Favorite friend: Ramses Emerson. (Yay, finally a male friend! :P) Speaking of which, this suddenly made me wonder how the Emersons would have reacted to recent events in the country they loved and taught me to love, because they were Egyptophiles first and foremost. Amelia would be at the forefront with her sturdy parasol, and Ramses and Nefret and David (and Sennia and Jumanah) would be in the human chains while Sethos would be lurking around the fringes gathering information and the Professor would be at the palace yelling at high-ranking people, most likely.
  • Camp Half-Blood. Favorite friend: Annabeth Chase. Not only is she the daughter of my favorite Greek goddess, she's as kickass as her mom. At first I just read these books because a friend lent me copies, but they grew on me. I didn't think I'd grow to love this series, but I did! Hrm, whose daughter d'you think I'd be if I were in this world?
  • The Barrayaran Empire and its neighbors. Favorite friend: Miles Naismith Vorkosigan... "so small, so obnoxious, so wrecked, so incandescent." I admit that I wasn't much interested in the Vorkosigan books as well, but Miles kind of grows on you even though he's so small himself. Yes, I would be very interested in seeing Barrayar, especially the Dendarii Mountains, kthx.
Graphic credit: "Evolution limit" from zastavki.com.

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