Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The million dollar question comes to the fore. How much have you invested in reading? Have you a regular pattern of purchasing books? What constitutes your library? Would you have a treasure trove benefiting your family? Could you present a catalogue of your collections?

The books at home do beautifully make up the living space. Arranged as there are in the bookcases or on the racks they satisfy the hunger for reading while declaring that you are that close to knowledge where you want them to be. Naturally the dictionaries of various sizes and editions plus collections of idiom and metaphor references come handy when required. An atlas would be an added advantage as it would become a necessary reference point. At times we may want to know where ‘Sipilok’ or ‘Janda Baik’ is situated. The curious may want to know where the MISC ship ‘Melati V’ is being held ransom in the Gulf of Aden. Such curiosity needed answers fast. Curiosity kills a cat they say. Nothing wrong being one, or at least having that characteristic since it satisfies the urge to know. Dull and mundane: otherwise.

A must in a Muslim home would be a copy at least of the Holy Koran plus several copies of Surah Yassin. These would be conspicuously positioned in an honored position while easily accessed by members of the family. Other copies or titles of Islamic books would depend on the interest or inclination of the family members. To date literature of the ‘Haj’ and ‘Umrah’ would find themselves as companions to many households. Not surprising since many choose to visit the Holy cities Mekkah and Medinah when possible. Many new books on theology and biographies of Muslim personalities have greatly added to the collection.

Inevitably and not necessarily so, older homes would have greater collections of books as time would have determined the numerical. Where would you put yourself in harboring a love for books and as such proud with what you have built up as your treasures? Or are you that extraordinary person, youngish but with already a trove of treasures of your own?

The government RM1000.00 tax deduction per annum for books purchased and with receipts is a call for wage earners to frequent the book shops and indulge in a worthy and gainful pursuit: become more knowledgeable and at the same time acquaint the younger in the family to the world of printed matters. MPH and Popular are two main players in the book industry now with their bookshops in almost all big towns in the country. It is heartening to see throngs of customers at their shops and more so indulging in quiet reading over pages of new arrivals and books of their choice with consent from the shop owners of course. Much as many would like to cart a book home, the high cost halts such desire. These bookstores have taken the roles of libraries with the added convenience of being accessible, opened at convenient hours and free sittings. Whenever I am in Kuala Lumpur and at the big shopping malls, it would be hard to escape from being pulled to one or both establishments. More often than not at least a book would accompany me home and become a companion for the days following.

I have built a habit of purchasing at least a book on the occasion of my birthday, when on a holiday or for any odd reason. A note on the inside cover of the book would invariably indicate the day and date plus a brief description of the occasion. Over the years, these brief notes would bring back memories or recollections otherwise forgotten or obligated from memories. Imagine realizing where I was in August 1956, because a brief note in a book has taken the role of a diary. August of yesteryear would remind me of the occasions, even happenings while reflecting on the choice of the books that I purchased and its price. It helped to compare of prices then and now.

A home library with pre-war editions of works and writers would make the collection an envious treat to many book lovers. Much as reading has been a source of joy, the contentment of possessing some publications deemed out – of - print is an added bliss. See if you are in the same league. No doubt public libraries may have them on the shelves. It is no secret that many would scout into second hand bookshops and invariably picked out classics and collectibles.

Now let me list out some of the prints that make up my collections and obviously become reference points from time to time while at the same time helped to remind me of circumstances that took place at or around the time. Even at this review it reminded me yet again of events close to my heart and not to mention the content of the books themselves.

1. Spirit of the Wood ( The Art of Malay Woodcarving)
- By Farish A Noor and Eddin Khoo
- Periplus Edition (HK) Ltd 2003
Note (Purchased on 17/04/2006 and at a time when the news of the cancellation of the ‘crooked’ bridge hit the headline.)

2. Dr Mahathir’s Selected Letters to World Leaders
- By Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
- Marshall Cavendish ( Malaysia) Sdn Bhd Feb 2008
Note ( MPH Subang Parade 20 Feb 2008; just fresh being the second edition as the first printed Dec 2007 were sold out; meantime was in KL for the PAM Commonwealth Seminar at Marriot 19-21 Feb 2008)

3. Growing Up in Trengganu
- By Awang Goneng
- Monsoon Books Pte Ltd Singapore 2007
Note (MPH Putrajaya 3 Jan 2008, we were earlier at Kota Kinabalu and searched for the book but failed to get one there. The book received good coverage in the newspaper and was a selling factor)

4. The History of Sumatra
- William Marsden
- Oxford University Press Kuala Lumpur 1966
Note (A classic book being an Oxford in Asia Historical Reprints, purchased in 1975)

5. Ensiklopedia KERIS
- Bambang Harsrinuksmo
- Gramedia 2004
Note (Purchased at Gramedia Palembang Indonesia while on a visit to the city 2-5 May 2007 together with 13 family members. It was a visit to the Sri Vijaya Kingdom of the 15th century)

6. Malaya 500 Early Postcard
- Cheah Jin Seng
- Editions Didier Millet Singapore 2008
- Note ( Purchased several books including Chambers 21st Century Dictionary – Chambers Edinburgh 2006 at MPH KL with a special discount for the week)

7. Jelebak Jelebu ( Coret-Coret Anak Kampong)
- Rais Yatim PhD
- DTP Enterprise Sdn Bhd Kuala Lumpur 2004
- Note ( Purchased 27/6/2005 – it was only last week that I went for an ECG Test at Kulim General Hospital and two days ago one UMNO Vice President clamped with 2 terms suspension for money politic)

8. Biography of Prophet Muhammad
- Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab at Tamimi
- Darussalam, London 2003
- Note ( Purchased at KLIA – 28/5/2006 upon leaving for Umrah with stopover at Dubai before arriving Jeddah and leading a group of 24 family members)

9. Reflections of Pre Independence Malaya
- Mohamed Abid
- Pelanduk Publications Subang Jaya Selangor
- Note (Purchased 15 /6/2003 – on a day we paid a visit to ailing Tan Sri Othman Yeop Abdullah, a close friend and former Vice Chancellor of UUM at his home. He was in happy mood, alert and showing interest in life’s happening and expressing to perform umrah) alas he passed away later.
- The book was launched by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad a few days earlier with a fervent hope that no Malaysians will for any reason give up this land to anybody …

10. Complete Idiot’s Guide – The Internet
- By Peter Kent
- QUE Indianapolis USA
- Note ( Purchased 8/10/2002 while in Malacca – today there was a warning of exceptional high tide on the western coast of Malaysia due to the position of moon, sun and earth. Shipping, fishermen and those staying along the coast has been warned), also justified my earlier interest in knowing about Internet.


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Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

Pak Non

impressive collection.

Monster Mom said...

Last year I bought almost 100 books.. most of it 2nd hand but it didn't matter.

And so, this year I hope to slow down a bit...since I've yet to finish 50 books...hihi...

penyakit malas dah melanda la pak non!

Queen Of The House said...

Ever since working near the library, I've been enjoying free reading. But, nothing to show off as proof of reading lah.

KotaStar said...

Monster Mom and Queen of House,
Great to get yr feedback. Congratulation to former for acquiring that large no. of books. Keep reading for the wealth of knowledge and derived experience. To the latter while near the national library do visit and register yrself as memeber of Arkib Negara. You will be surprise what you will get there.