In this series we ask bibliophiles, prolific readers, and men and women of letters about their book consumption habits and their top picks for essential reading.
“The last book I read was The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus by Cirilo Bautista, our National Artist for Literature. Made up of The Archipelago, Telex Moon and Sunlight on Broken Stones, it is an epic poem that reimagines our history and psyche from the time of Magellan to the years after Edsa. Rizal figures prominently in the books so I re-read Noli for added context to Bautista’s characterization of our national hero. This is in connection with the upcoming Benilde exhibit on the life and work of Cirilo Bautista called “The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus,” produced under my office, the Center for Campus Art.
“I like reading in bed so I read at night, before sleeping. Sometimes I read in the morning, with my coffee. I used to buy more books but now I do a lot of reading online. If the books are really compelling I can read them simultaneously but if one captures my attention I concentrate on it. If things get too busy I resume with the unfinished ones after a few months.
“I discovered the library when I was in grade school in La Salle Bacolod while waiting for our pick up. That began my love affair with the printed word. There I discovered Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland—it blew my mind with it’s imagery! I realised that crazy was not bad and highly suggest this to young people who want to expand their imagination.
“I read nonfiction books on architecture, design, art, travel, culture, and history. To help me decide [what new book to read next], I read a few pages, scan the reviews, check out the authors’ other works if I don’t know them. The design of the cover gets my attention. I get recommendations from trusted sources, too.
“Theodore Zeldin, Peter Blake, Camille Paglia, Jan Morris, Pico Iyer, Alain de Botton, and Paul Theroux are some names that come to mind [of writers who have had the most significance to me and my work]. Peter Matheson, Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, James Michener when I was younger.”
GERRY TORRES’ ESSENTIAL READING PACK
The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich. “E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art gave me valuable insights on art history that I still carry today.”
An Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin. “An Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin was a serendipitous flea market find that engrossed me with its examination of the human experience. So much so that when I lost it in a train before finishing it I had to get a new one.”
Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia. “In the ‘90s I remember Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae—bold and brash, sweeping and contentious, too. Paglia’s audacity made me laugh but her argument on the binary forces of the Appollonian and the Dionysian was compelling.”
Venice by Jan Morris. “Jan Morris’ Venice beautifully captured the timeless allure of La Serenissima and opened my eyes to the well-written travel book.”
The work of architect Geoffrey Bawa. “Any book on the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa I recommend for those interested in tropical design. His tropical moderne aesthetic and practice of assiduously working with nature provides valuable lessons we can apply in our country.”— GERRY TORRES as told to JED GREGORIO
Gerry Torres is the Principal Architect of Gerry Torres Architectural Design, established in 2010. He is a tenured professor at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and holds a Master’s Degree in Design and Art Education from the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Gerry served as Dean of the School of Design and Arts where he founded the architecture, photography, animation, and digital film programs. In 2011-2012, he served as the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. He teaches architecture but is presently Benilde’s Director for the Center of Campus Art, the office in charge of curating and producing design exhibits for the College.