One of my eccentricities is collecting books. Not the popular books of today but those which your parents or grandparents have delighted in reading long time ago. Some refer to them as “obsolete” fiction but for me, they are classic. I have a penchant of collecting all the titles I can get my hands on from second hand bookshops. Why do I love these books? Maybe because they have fired my imagination. Their pages may have yellowed through the years but the stories remind me of people I am fun of, wrinkled and browned because of maturity, yet retaining the beauty that makes them interesting. These are my kind of books.
My hobby of collecting led me to different bookshops in the malls and shops around the City. Looking back, I started collecting since 2005. Just imagine how many volumes I got for almost 12 years now. Why am I collecting these books? What is special about these books? These are few of the questions that I have been asking myself whenever I find myself burrowed in some second hand bookshop’ shelves or in their *ukay-ukay sections.
I wrestled with my conscience so many times about the “sense” of collecting these books. Am I really investing my money on something that matters? They don’t cost me millions but if I will sum up my purchases from 2005, roughly I spent a thousand or more. Yet these books believe me or not fed my soul. In a way, they help me think and believe in the beauty of the human spirit, the” real” us obscured behind our “make up”, hiding the inner person. This I think we call “soul” needs some feeding like we feed our hungry stomachs.
To take care of ones soul is as important as saving for an insurance policy or a health insurance. It is an eternal investment since it takes care of something that has eternal value and that is the soul. My books helps my soul grow, be in touched with what matters with humanity, the foibles and finesse, the ugly and the exquisite combine. I rejoice in being a lover of these special books and I find delight in every pages of my collection. I keep them displayed so that I can look at them and find joy.
My burgeoning collection can be categorized into three: 1. Romance fiction 2. Detective fiction and 3. Classic fiction. Novels by Betty Neels top the list of my category 1 and some of these paperbacks are courtesy of Harlequin Romance dating back to 1972. Neels’ humor and interesting characters caught my fancy for years now and compared to some modern Romances available nowadays, none could equal the charm of this author’s plot and storytelling. Although, we keep coming back to Netherlands and England for its setting but the interesting thing is that the familiarity does not” breed contempt” rather it produces a sense of intimacy with the author and her characters, a feeling that you are “in the know” as if Jaap and Susan are your neighbors. The doctor-nurse tandem of her stories adds some drama to it plus the compassionate characters that she makes them. What’s fascinating about Neels’ women protagonists is that they are often plain “Janes” but meaty characters. Some women were described as “mouse-like” but they possess certain beauty in character, one which truly matters in reality.
* a Filipino colloquial term for bazaar or bargain. “ukay” means to dig.