Friday, March 24, 2006

I usually take care of my books

In the mid-90s, I picked up the habit of reading novels. I think I stepped up from Enid Blyton and the Hardy Boys (I still cringe whenever I flip through these pages) when I browsed my mother’s rented copy of Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October.

Due to the influence of people around me, I also read John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Michael Crichton and Jeffery Archer. I began to frequent the novel renting outlets and my parents throttled the quantity of novels I was reading due to potential disruptions with my academic work, despite the triviality of weekly spelling tests and the like. In hindsight, I would say they are probably glad I did not take to endlessly watching Cartoon Network or staring blankly at music videos. Not that we had pay TV in that era.

Instead of using bookmarks, I used to make a fold at the corner of the page. Naturally, the fold created a crease, which is nothing more than an elongated region of broken lignin fibres. Of course, the damage is irreversible. Giving the paper a fold in the opposite direction merely expands on the original problem by breaking fibres on the other surface of the paper as well.

I did not care much. Books were nothing more than vessels of information- after the information was assimilated, the carrier was of no use to me. At any rate, the damage to the paper was only done at corners of the book, where the text was not printed on anyway, and where the paper was not load bearing, existing merely to give the page a non-zero margin.


A few days ago, David was reading one of my books when he flipped the front pages around to press it onto the back cover, making it convenient to hold with one hand. I almost screeched at him, but managed to restrain myself to just telling him not to do that to my books.

2 days ago, we rented a car to drive along the Great Ocean Road. I was unfamiliar with the way to the motorway from my new neighbourhood, and thus pointed out the route on the street directory and inadvertently designated him as the navigator should anything go wrong.

“So we are here right?”
“I’ll make a mark on the map.”
“Better not, it’s not ours anyway.”
“Just a small one with a pencil.”
“Ok lah, doesn’t matter anyway.”

He whipped out a black pen and drew a juicy 20mm oval around my street. I felt a serrated blade pen rip through my heart, despite fully knowing that the map belongs to the car rental company, not me.

“You better not do that to the Sydney street directory I loaned you or I’d be very tulan (extremely cross).”
“Ok ok, you look quite serious. I’ll be careful with that.”

It’s not exactly a disorder yet, but I take very good care of books in my possession. All my text books have no marks on them (most engineering text books are not meant to be read, even during revision) and are better than mint- plastic wrappers add a lot of structural integrity to the corners of paperback covers.

Even the photocopied and printed volumes are maintained in excellent condition. I’m pretty sure my copy of Spacetime and Matter lecture notes from Nottingham is in better shape than that of the person who gave it to me.

I still do not have a dedicated bookmark- I use whatever pieces of paper around that happen to be convenient. Most of the time, these happen to be ATM receipts and spent public transport cards. I still have a railway, bus and ferry day ticket from Sydney that serves as a mark.


This entry was made primarily with the intention of making sure this webpage does not become a full time photoblog. The problem is not with photoblogs. Rather, I fear I may lose all skills in written communication, and thus lose touch with ALL of humanity.

I may be a hermit most of the time, but I do not want to be a hermit all the time.

Which reminds me, I have not read a riveting, page turning novel in ages. I must get some from the council libraries soon.