Cracking a book open is the fastest way to escape quarantine without actually leaving your house. Most people have been slowly chipping away at their book hauls from years past to change their quarantine routines and bring their minds elsewhere. But according to a recent book sale, people have been looking back on our history instead of looking for an escape to fantasy.[READ: What’s making me happy: A book fair reading list, film photography and high school hobbies]
There have been several online book fairs held to sate the voracious appetites of readers who are still holed up at home. The recent Aklatan Book Fair was one of the many online literary fairs held this year. But instead of the typical categories like romance, young adult fiction and fantasy, local history books ended up as one of the top-performing book genre on online shopping platform Lazada.
History books reigned supreme
Aside from books about warring clans in another universe or two people falling in love against the wishes of their family, people have been picking up locally produced history titles like Ricardo Manapat’s “Some Are Smarter Than Others: The History of Marcos’ Crony Capitalism” and Primitivo Mijares’ “The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.”
“Some Are Smarter Than Others,” details the excessive ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos clan and their cronies through extensive research and actual receipts. “The Conjugal Dictatorship” chronicles the meticulous planning, corruption and abuses during the Martial Law Era in a firsthand exposé by the former Marcos confidante turned author himself.
These books (which are available for purchase online) are published by the Ateneo University Press, Ateneo de Manila University’s official publishing house. Established in 1972, the Ateneo University Press was one of 31 publishing houses to join the Aklatan Book Fair. They also emerged as the top-selling publisher for both editions of Aklatan.
In a statement, Ateneo University Press director Maria Karina Bolasco said, “[I was] surprised, couldn’t believe it. We are a university press! And history books to be second to romance, I didn’t think I’d live to see the day.”
The truth is in the text
Ateneo University Press head of marketing Almira Manduriao also shared her thoughts after hearing the news. “It’s not every day that you get news telling you that people are getting more and more interested in history. We focus more on scholarly and academic books, so we were thrilled to see people show their interest,” she said in an interview.
“Now more than ever, especially with our past being threatened by revisionists, it is encouraging. And for me, as somebody working to make these historical facts reach more readers, it is quite inspiring,” Manduriao concluded.
As the war against fake news and historical revisionism wages on, it’s a positive sign that people are reading up on our nation’s history. Paid trolls and the powers that be can push the narrative in whichever direction they want, but the truth is literally in the text, and it’s our responsibility to keep telling it.
Header image courtesy of the Ateneo University Press website
Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.