Monday, June 18, 2018

The Mistreatment of Books

Big Bad Wolf organizers and chain bookstore, BookXcess, opened Malaysia’s first ever 24-hour outlet in Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya in Selangor. On May 29, 2018. 

The 37,000 square feet store definitely proved to be both an immediate and massive hit but sadly, it also shows our bad manners! 

Some Malaysians don’t seem to care at all about how they treat books. 

I am a book lover – and so the photos below that were taken at BookExcess @ Tamarind Square had caused me real distress: 

Image credit: Syarah Basirah/Twitter 

Some of the books were roughed up, mishandled and manhandled. In fact, World of Buzz used the word "trashed". 

Moreover, if we had taken the effort to remove a book from its shelf, shouldn’t we put in the same effort and return it to its original place – after we have finished reading it? Or at the very least, put it in the book trolley. 

Why must we behave so dismissively by abandoning books and leaving them on the table? 

Soon enough, we will have an untidy clutter of books. That would be disagreeably displeasing! An eyesore!

These deeds tell us that Malaysians don’t have a clue about the proper care and handling of books. Or worse, we don’t care at all. 

It means we do not respect books. 

We ought to learn respect because books are special. Special because the texts take us inescapably into the world of the book – a book we can lose ourselves in. 

JK Rowling was known to have said: “I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book”. 

And that’s because when we open a book, its pages reveal true magic. 

Sure, magic means different things to different people.

Paul Auster (“The Brooklyn Follies”) described it best: “Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author's words reverberating in your head”. And if I may add, caressing your heart too. 

That is the magic that visits me whenever I read a good book. 

Anne Lamott (“Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”) expressed it eloquently when she said: “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die”. 

Indeed. If we know there’s magic in a good book – then, please treat it with love and respect. 

Why can't people just sit and read books and after they have finished, bring them back to where they belong? 

Stop being selfish; don’t just think about yourself. Remember books belong to everybody.

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