To HH, my dear sis who shares my love for books (amongst many other things)
Taken with Nikkie
London November 2010
For the past two days I have failed miserably at Project 365. I did not manage to take any photos. The project is coming along much more difficult than I had anticipated... Daylight is short these days and it's been so busy I hardly had a chance to look at anything. However, I am not giving up. I may need to approach it in a less challenging way.
Day 30, I have a story for you. I got mail from HongKong this week. A friend of mine HH, who is currently studying there, sent me two stories and a lovely little message. I want to share one of them with you. It is taken from the book "An Apple A Week" by David Tang ( HH actually wrote an entry on this book here). According to her note, it sounds like I have a bit of a "reading obesity", something that my mum will be very proud to know.
I feel very much the same way as David Tang about this topic. It is quite alarming that people aren't reading as much, and even more alarming the things some of them read. A lot of people I know personally don't read selectively, if at all. I am no one to judge but it does make me feel a bit sad. I have to say I didn't start out as a reader, my mum was always very unhappy about this. But somehow I found my way to books very naturally since I started college.
As I don't have a photo taken for Day 30, I decided to use another one I took a while ago... very appropriate for the occasion. It is my stacks of book that have now been unpacked but no bookshelf-home to go to yet.
Thank you HH for sharing this nice little story. And did you buy this book in HK? It was a shame that there were quite a few typos non?
Hope you enjoy!
I am always horrified by David Tang
Whenever I go into the house of others, the first thing I always look out for are books. A house without books is, for me, like a man without clothes on. Just as a man is what he eats,, I would say that he is also what he reads. Reading obesity is therefore a wholly acceptable condition. Conversely, a man with reading malnutrition is a man under literary nourishment, and sooner or later, he dies ignominiously.
I am always horrified when I meet people who tell me they never read. I always ask, "Are you sure? Have you never read a book in your entire life?". "Never. I have never read a book in my life," they would reply. I find this proposition simply unbelievable. Once, a very well-known personality in Hong Kong was showing me his new home. It was vast. He had 10 bedrooms, 4 dining rooms, 3 sitting rooms, games room, cinema, sauna, steam-bath, swimming pool, tennis court - the whole lot. Yet I noticed, to my utter astonishment, that he did not have one single book on a shelf. He only had objects on shelves. He did have a couple of brand new coffee table books on a couple of coffee tables. But he did not have any proper books around. So I asked him why. "Why? I never read. I don't have the time. I have never read a book in my life." The first thought that came across my mind was utter disbelief, followed almost immediately with a huge sense of nausea and contempt; the intense irritation at the thought that here was a man rich enough to have a big schloss like the one he was showing off to me, yet so desperately poor in his grasp of books.
I would never have a friend, let alone a good friend, who doesn't read. All of my best friends read. If you don't read, you are dead, as far as I am concerned. For how else can your imagination be excited? How else can your experience experiences all the things you would never experience? How else can you be stimulated and excited by things about which you do not know. The philistines will of course stupidly and moronically argue that you can get all that on television. What utter tosh. Reading a book is an entirely superior activity to watching something on television. IN reading, you have to be proactive all the time. You need to make an effort to get through the pages. You need to concentrate and soak up the images and language of the print. You pause and you think; sometimes you re-read and re-think. You hold the book in your hand and you go around with it, half thinking about it and half-opening it and reading it. The whole ritual is enjoyment itself. Sometimes, we would come across pages which we cannot put down or marvel at the beauty of the prose. In television, by contrast, you don't have to be pro-active at all. You can be totally passive, switched off, anaemic, senseless, and yet you could still catch what flashes before your eyes. Because of this lower, much lower level of concentration, we naturally do not learn as much from watching the telly as with reading a book.
I find any home without books a home nor worth living in. In Hong Kong, I see so many fancy homes, costing billions of dollars, yet in so many of them, not a single book in sight; or in some cases, even worse, lots of books which are there obviously for mere decoration. That phoniness is perhaps even worse. Bookless homes really turn me off. I physically go sick when I think that people can go through life without reading. And they are often the ones who are bored easily. For me, my book is my best companion (next to my wife and dogs, just!), and I would regard life as not worth living if I were not able to read. When I died, I like the following on my tombstone:
"When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
His sins were scarlet, but his books were read."