Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's on your nightstand?

So what are you reading?

I took this picture last February, when I was reading 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe. (I keep a record of the books I read. You don't?? I know. I'm a little crazy.)

I haven't read all the books here. I'm never short of books nowadays because I also go to the public library. I don't buy a book if I could read it for free, unless I must REALLY have a copy of it. Or I was at the bookstores and of course I can never leave empty-handed.

I loved Achebe's book -- borrowed from the library. The rest are mine. 'Borneo, the Stealer of Hearts' by Oscar Cook is a favourite. I like any well-written book about Sabah under the British. Come to think of it, all the good books about Sabah were written by expatriates, people who came here to work for the British North Borneo Chartered Company. People such as Oscar Cook, Agnes Keith (came with British husband), Ivor Evans (Among Primitive Peoples in Borneo), Owen Rutter (The Pagans of North Borneo) were all from the West and Sabah would have very, very little written history of the old days if not for them.

From these old books, I gathered that the public servants of those faraway days took their work very seriously. The DOs, the ADOs, the doctors visited the remote. not-easily accessible hamlets regularly. To get to the little kampongs, they rode ponies, travelled in boats and went on foot. Yes, people, they walked!

Now, tell me, how many present-day 'high-ranking' civil servants or YB Ministers would go to any place unless he's driven in a comfortable, posh, air-conditioned, 4-wheel-drive? And if he does visit any place, isn't every one expected to come out in droves, hours before his arrival just so they could kiss the proffered hand? And then listen to long speeches full of empty promises?

Sorry, I took the wrong turning and got carried away. I was talking about books...

'White Rajah' is a biography of Sir James brooke, the first white rajah of Sarawak. I've read 'Queen of the Headhunters' by Sylvia Brooke, a great read, and I want to know more about this dynasty of white rulers.

I haven't even read a page of Ken Follet's 'Pillars of the Earth'. Just the thickness of the book is enough to intimidate me! I'll get to it one of these days. 'Tears of the Desert' I read recently but I didn't like it as much as Gilbert Tuhabonye's 'This Voice in My Heart' -- both books about suffering and persecution in Africa.

In 'Sam's Story', Jaya Wardena tells about a simple village bumpkin who went to work in the city. Read the book! You'll be moved by Sam's experiences even as you laughed at his bumbling ways.

Well, what are you reading?

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