Like every bookworm in the country, I was stoked af to hear that Big Bad Wolf, the insanely low-priced, 24-hour book fair, was coming to the Philippines! I’d first encountered Big Bad Wolf when a friend of mine went to Kuala Lumpur in 2016 for a convention and managed to score some cheap art books. She came home ranting and raving about it, and fervently hoping that they would come to Manila soon. Hearing her stories about an endless horizon of books priced as cheaply as 15 to 20 Malaysian ringgit each, I had the same hopes. And soon, fate smiled upon us.
Fate smiled even more when Big Bad Wolf decided to give out preview passes! The sale was set for 16 to 26 February, but they allowed preview pass holders to come in from nine in the morning to eleven at night on the 15th. They held contests on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to give away those passes and, miracle of miracles, I won two!
Each pass gets two people advanced access, so I took AJ, the friend who’d first told me about Big Bad Wolf, and gave the other pass to our other friend, Ellie, and just told her to bring whoever. We got to Big Bad Wolf at the World Trade Center just a little after lunch. There weren’t that many people around, thank goodness. I guess since it was a preview plus the fact that it was a work day meant that the crowd wasn’t at its peak yet.
(For inquiring minds who want to know, I was actually on sick leave yesterday as I had a doctor’s appointment, and decided to make the most of it by heading to Big Bad Wolf right after. Thank you, doctor, for conniving with the universe to send me where I wanted to go.)
The big hall inside the World Trade Center was split into fiction and non-fiction, with huge banners marking out which was which. Under each banner, the books were grouped onto tables according to genre.
AJ and I grabbed a cart each and parted ways, agreeing to meet at the convenient book sorting area near the cashier in a couple of hours. Naturally, “a couple of hours” turned into four hours. By the time we met up again at the book sorting area to calculate the damage, it was almost four o’clock.
I managed to stay inside my budget of Php 2,000, for which I got a nifty twelve titles! I googled prices on Amazon for comparison, and if I had bought all twelve books in an actual bookstore, it would have set me back anywhere from Php 4,000 to Php 5,000. AJ, too, managed to snag four art books and several graphic novels for Php 5,000, which according to her would have set her back at Php 8,000 at Fully Booked.
I guess that’s what I liked the most about Big Bad Wolf. The books are actually on sale, as opposed to other book fairs that claim to have reduced prices but knock off a measly Php 20 to Php 50 per book. You don’t actually save. But at Big Bad Wolf, the prices were easily fifty to eighty percent off.
I also liked the feeling of hunting for treasure. The crew at Big Bad Wolf didn’t have precise lists of authors and titles like a conventional bookstore, so I was pretty much on my own digging through all the books, looking for stuff I’d like to read.
(An aside about looking for stuff to read, considering that a lot of the books at Big Bad Wolf were children’s books and YA: I would like to strongly encourage my fellow bookworms and book bloggers out there to check out this article on sexual harassment and abuse in the children’s lit and YA publishing scene, as well as the comment thread where abuse victims have come forward (but tread lightly – as with any article lately about sexual assault, abuse, and harassment, there ares some misogynist/apologist trolls in there whose comments may be triggering). Some very popular authors have been named multiple times, including Jay Asher who wrote 13 Reasons Why and James Dashner who wrote The Maze Runner. I just wanted to let the blogosphere know that I believe the victims. I believe and side with the survivors. And I would like to exhort those who feel the same way to not purchase the books of the abusers named in that article. Additionally, I would like to ask that Filipino fans who believe the victims and side with the survivors boycott National Bookstore’s scheduled book signing with Jay Asher. They have yet to respond to inquiries from Filipino authors, such as Rin Chupeco and Kate Evangelista, if they will be doing anything in light of the accusations of harassment and abuse. I want nothing to do with the support of someone who has done and enabled such awful, horrible behavior, with the invalidation of victims’ trauma and feelings, and I urge everyone else to do the same.)
At any rate, with that darker, more serious sidebar typed out (which – I should probably draft a separate blog post about it, considering the book and publishing community is one that’s near and dear to my heart, here’s a list of the books I’ve bought!
Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott
Goodreads Rating: 3.59/5
Summary: “Edith, a widow, rents out the rooms of her Brooklyn brownstone to four unusual tenants: beautiful agoraphobic Adeleine, who surrounds herself with the past; Thomas, an artist recovering from a stroke; Edward, a stand-up comedian, whose melancholy is sabotaging his act; and Paulie, a joyful young man with Williams syndrome. When dementia grips Edith, her ruthless son sees an opportunity to evict the makeshift family of outsiders. Compelled to act, they must come together to save their house.”
Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez
Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5
Summary: “When a witch doctor appears on the Marquis de Casalduero’s doorstep prophesizing a plague of rabies in their Colombian seaport, he dismisses her claims – until he hears this young daughter, Sierva Maria, was one of four people bitten by a rabid dog, and the only one to survive. Sierva Maria appears completely unscathed – but as rumours of the plague spread, the Marquis and his wife wonder at her continuing good health. In a town consumed by superstition, it’s not long before they, and everyone else, put her survival down to a demonic possession and begin to see her supernatural powers as the cause of the town’s woes. Only the young priest charged with exorcising the evil spirit recognizes the girl’s sanity, but can he convince the town that it’s not her that needs healing?”
A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Goodreads Rating: 3.83/5
Summary: “Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown entrusts her with the task of burning a secret bundle of letters. But when Grace’s drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers that the letters could reveal the grim truth behind a murder.”
Leaving Poppy by Kate Cann
Goodreads Rating: 3.74/5
Summary: “Amber’s forging a new life for herself, when suddenly she falls ill and her family come to look after her. However, something in the house responds to Poppy’s presence, something malign and threatening. Evil seems to permeate everywhere and Amber thinks she might never be able to escape.”
Witch Crag by Kate Cann
Goodreads Rating: 3.79/5
Summary: “In a world where ‘elite’ men rule and women and ‘weak’ men are second class, Kita and her friends must make a choice: to remain with tribes and accept arranged marriages and being treated with less value than sheep, or escape and journey to the place that even the strongest men fear with their lives – the witch crag.”
The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond
Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5
Summary: “Evie Flynn has always been the black sheep of her family – a dreamer and a drifter, unlike her over-achieving elder sisters. She’s tried making a name for herself as an actress, a photographer and a singer, but nothing has ever worked out. Now she’s stuck in temp hell, with a sensible, pension-planning boyfriend. Somehow life seems to be passing her by. Then her beloved aunt Jo dies suddenly in a car crash, leaving Evie an unusual legacy – her precious beach cafe in Cornwall. Determined to make a success of something for the first time in her life, Evie heads off to Cornwall to get the cafe and her life back on track – and gets more than she bargained for, both in work and in love.”
Butterfly’s Child by Angela Davis-Gardner
Goodreads Rating: 3.7/5
Summary: “When three-year-old Benji is plucked from the security of his home in Nagasaki to live with his American father, Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and stepmother, Kate, on their farm in Illinois, the family conceals Benji’s true identity as a child born from a liaison between an officer and a geisha, and instead tells everyone that he is an orphan. Deeply devout Kate is torn between her Christian principles and her resentment of raising another woman’s child. And Benji’s life as an outcast – neither fully American nor fully Japanese – forces him to forge an identity far from the life he has known. When the truth about Benji surfaces, it will splinter this family’s fragile dynamic, sending repercussions spiraling through their close-knit rural community and sending Benji on the journey of a lifetime from Illinois to the Japanese settlements in Denver and San Francisco, then across the ocean to Nagasaki, where he will uncover the truth about his mother’s tragic death.”
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Goodreads Rating: 2.78/5
Summary: “When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?”
Theater of the Gods by M. Suddain
Goodreads Rating: 4.0/5
Summary: “A space-opera, a philosophical quest, a steampunk adventure of epic proportions. This is the story of M. Francisco Fabrigas, explorer, philosopher, heretical physicist, who took a shipful of children on a frightening voyage to the next dimension, assisted by a teenaged Captain, a brave deaf boy, a cunning blind girl, and a sultry botanist, all the while pursued by the Pope of the universe and a well-dressed mesmerist. Dark plots, demonic cults, murderous jungles, quantum mayhem, the birth of creation, the death of time, and a creature called the Sweety: all this and more waits beyond the veil of reality.”
The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary
Goodreads Rating: 3.78/5
Summary: “The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare. But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked… and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth – or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.”
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse
Goodreads Rating: 3.68/5
Summary: “Sussex, 1912. In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to be seen. Here, where the estuary leads out to the sea, superstitions still hold sway. Standing alone is the taxidermist’s daughter. At 17, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it is all that is left of Gifford’s once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The stuffed animals that used to grace every parlour are out of fashion, leaving Gifford a disgraced and bitter man. While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible, but finds herself under suspicion. Is Constantia who she seems – is she the victim of circumstances or are more sinister forces at work? And what is the secret that lies at the heart of Gifford House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop?”
The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott
Goodreads Rating: 3.2/5
Summary: “Paris, 1815. Daniel Connor, a young medical student from Edinburgh, has just arrived in Paris to study anatomy at the Jardin des Plantes–only to realize that his letters of introduction and a gift of precious coral specimens, on which his tenure with the legendary Dr. Cuvier depends, have been stolen by the beautiful woman with whom he shared a stagecoach. In the fervor and tumult of post revolutionary Paris, nothing is quite as it seems. In trying to recover his lost valuables, Daniel discovers that his beautiful adversary is in fact a philosopher-thief who lives in a shadowy world of outlaws and émigrés. Daniel’s fall into this underworld is also a flight, for as he falls in love with the mysterious coral thief and she draws him into an audacious plot that will leave him with a future very different from the one he has envisioned for himself, Daniel discovers a radical theory of evolution and mutability that irrevocably changes his conception of the world in which he lives.”
Some tricks and tips to survive Big Bad Wolf!
- Leave food and drinks outside! Security will make you throw away any food or drink item in your bag before you enter.
- That said, remember to eat and hydrate beforehand. World Trade Center’s halls are huge, and as you can see, there are a ton of shelves and tables to browse through and explore. Hunting for treasure is thirsty work.
- Bring a rolling suitcase or huge backpack to carry away your purchases in. I had to make do with the plastic bags that Big Bad Wolf provided and my arms hurt like hell. On the plus side, I guess it counts as lifting.
- Big Bad Wolf accepts both cash, credit card, and debit card. There are also ATM machines in the area.
- Make a budget and STICK TO IT. That is, unless you’re okay with starving until the next payday.
- Beat the crowd by planning your visit wisely. AJ, Ellie, and I visited yesterday after lunch, and there were almost no people around. Bigger crowds began to trickle in after 5PM when work and school let out. I’m willing to bet that there’ll be less crowds late at night or early in the morning!
- Return books to where you found them! Let’s not make things difficult for the Big Bad Wolf crew.
- Head to the sale in a groupand plan out who explores what section. That way, you cover more ground at a quicker pace.