Hualin Essay: The Pleasure of Books Collection

Hualin Note: This is an article on the books collection written years ago. One time, when I got back home in Chongqing, China from Tanzania, took some photos of  some book collection on the book shelters in the study of my house. Of course, this was the part of the collection after my home was moved to Nanping District, Chongqing from Jiangjin, Chongqing,  there remained a considerable part of the book in Jiangjin old house. Now put up the photo, for showing, to achieve the effect of illustrations.

Recent days, I was writing some essays with a smooth progress. Surely,  in the evening  when I sat down at the desk and could not help but started to write on. What to write, or write something about the book collection.

I reckon as long as one is the so-called cultural people (self-proclaimed also, such as me), he will be mostly fond of books, many cultural people are also forged a bond with books. Since ancient times, human beings’ evaluation of the book has being very high. In China, there has been a saying:` there is certainly the gold house inside book, there is certainly the beautiful woman inside book.’ (when I am reading, I would prefer more the beautiful woman inside book, hehe! ) The foreign scholar gave the higher level of book evaluation, with saying: `books are the ladders of human progress.’ You know, in the specific period  just after the “Gang of Four” fell in China, this sentence inspired the number of literary young people to read and studied at night by lights, yeah, the self-taught to become talents. Of course, the use of the book is a lot. Especially before the computer and the internet appeared, its use was even more. Looking at human history, how much knowledge has not been spread through books, how many thinking systems have not been elaborated in the book, how many inventions have not been recorded in the book? The inventors have gone with winds so long time ago, but the their results have been in the form of books circulating down. As the saying goes: `even scholar does not go out, he is still able to know the world.’ Why? Reading books has made him so. There is another saying: ` when book is really in need for one’s work, he will regret for having read too less. In addition to make people increase their knowledge, books also can give people lots of fun, lots of enjoyment, the so-called ` the beautiful woman inside book’. Since the Chinese famous novel the Dream from the Red Chamber (or Hongloumeng) was published, there have being countless number of readers for hundreds of years,  and the fans of the novel are the most famous book fans in the world. This is because that its funs are the men and women all crazy on the novel which has shown different spiritual worlds for the intellectuals or workers or peasants or businessmen. The readers share their joy, share their sad, share their life with the characters in the book.



Because of the temptation of books, since ancient times, people have got the nature of  books loving  and books collection. The Liaozhai (the Chinese famous Ghost Story) has had a vivid description of a book crazier who loved books as much as his life. Mao Zedong, the first empor of Chinese current dynasty, was obsessed with reading the Zi Zhi Tong Jian (the Mirror of the History) on the horse back  in his twenty-five thousand miles of  long march. Although Zhao Pu ( the famous premier of the Song dynasty) said he can `rule the world by half of the Analects of Confucius,’ yet he kept in hiding `the Analects of Confucius” in the personal drawer as a treasure, not showing the booklet with people. Even impoverished Kong Yiji ( a character in a novel by Lu Xun), was also a books lover, as he had no money to buy book, he had risked his life to steal books, he created the peerless famous saying ‘stealing the book by a intellectual is not the action of thief.’, which attracts bookworms’ sympathy and understanding.

In China, the book collection is a kind of culture. Since ancient times, in addition to the Royal and National Library, the private collection has also been popular. Eventually, a large-scale, well-preserved, long time stored book collection became a library. Some libraries have also become places of historic interest and scenic beauty. As for the famous library, I have only been to the `Tianyi Pavilion’, there I also felt a bit of the atmosphere of the ancient library.


Nowadays, although the e-book is in popular case with its the high-tech and very convenience, some people still have a preference for paper books for the strands of bookish. When you read a paper book, the book aroma is also a pleasure. As you know, reading a computer is a process of consuming your eyesight. In the past, I had read books for a few decades, even if I went countryside as intellectual youth and read in the dark kerosene lamp, such as reading novels, reading in the car, my eyesight was still in good condition. However, in recent years, by reading in front of the computer and online of internet, a good pair of my eyes is worn out, huh, huh.

Having written so much, I am afraid of getting off the topic. OK, get back and  talk about my own pleasure of books collection, lots of  fun on it. Since my childhood, I have been a books lover. I like the books as if  the landlords have the hobby  of collecting gold and silver.  No matter what kind of book,  I like to collect them.  Up to now, I still keep my college mimeographed notes. In fact, those mimeographed notes are certainly no use to my now, but I like the collection. I remember when  I studied in the Sichuan Agricultural University, Yaan, Sichuan,  the place I visited the most was the Yaan District Xinhua Bookstore. Not for anything else, I just went to see what the new book worth buying was. At that time, my sleeping place in the dormitory was the upper berth, on the head of my bed, there was a heap full of books. On my graduation day, my luggage quantity was the most among my roommates, that is, I had got more two extra wooden box of books, which gave me a big trouble to do consignment in Chengdu Railway Station.


After graduation, the habit of loving to buy books have not been converged, on the contrary, it has been intensified. When ever I was in business trip, travel for pleasure or return hometown, the favorite place was still the bookstore. Every time returned from a business trip, my luggage was always very heavy, they were not something else, and they were the books. Sometimes when I travel to a place, I would go nowhere except strolling the bookstore. When got into the bookstore, I kept in opening one book after another book, often forgetting to leave for lunch, fortunately I have not developed the stomach trouble now, hehe. I told my daughter that the books her daddy bought was the cheapest ones in the world. On this point, my daughter admired her father. In those days, the Chongqing railway station had an underground wholesale book market, every time when I went to the railway station, if there was some time, I would go to the book market to stroll around, there the books were very cheap. Of course, although the book from the underground book market were quite cheap, their quality were not guaranteed, hehe. But for the people  who were not rich, you have only to buy such a cheap bad quality book, just like in the True Story of Ah Q, Zhao Sir said to Ah Q, `You are also worthy surname Zhao?’ hehe! Of course, I also belongs to the same group people of  AH Q,not worthy to buy the expensive  book. For the rich people, the expensive books will be  purchased in the purpose of decorating  their face in the house.

Even in foreign countries, I could not change the bad habits of buying books. In my memory, in 1980’s I went to Australia for one year. Just before I needed to return home, my luggage was almost overweight, because there were so many heavy books inside the luggage. In order to reduce the weight of my luggage, I spent more than 100 Australian dollars to mail home a batch of books. When wife received the mail order, she thought I had mailed home some valuable items. She opened the mail, to her surprise, all the things inside the mail box were only books, huh, huh, that seemed as if being my pranks.

First of all, to make it clear,  I am not an upstart, only a poor scholar. According to the old saying: `the most useless person is the scholar,’ the most useless person is surely lack of money, hehe! However,  I still have got lot of books collection in my house, I used to buy books by sending no less than four digits of money. By a rough count, they are as little as a few thousand, as many as tens of thousands. All kinds of books, such as literature and history, ancient and modern fiction, astronomy and geography,  art album, chicken soup for soul etc., in this case I am still a little bit fashionable. Of course, I have a bit of complete collection of books for my professional field, after all, the collection of professional books will help a lot to my job, the so-called hand that feeds you, hehe!

I have a special study in my house. Although I am not a great man, I still enjoy my books collection in my own study. In my study, there are three combinations of bookshelves with a considerable collection of books, though it is too small in comparison with a library. Among my books collection, a kind of version of  the Ci Hai (sort of encyclopedia diction of Chinese charactors), the Chinese Large Dictionary, the Ancient Chinese Dictionary,  of course,  there are several versions of the Zi Zhi Tong Jian (the Mirror of the History), there are a incomplete collection of  the History of Twenty-four Dynasty. Also, the  “Modern English-Chinese Dictionary” printed by the Business Publishing House in1970’s, the book was not easy to buy  at that time and which were brought for me through tireless knot from Chengdu to Yaan by  my college classmate Ms. Yang Wenzhi because her father was the boss of Sichuan Xinhua Bookstore. For this reason, every time when I met her,  I would have a grateful heart towards her. In short, I am still very satisfactory with my own study, really a sort of feeling as if sit in the study and own the book city.

Of course, by owning so many books,  I certainly have not read them all, perhaps bit of professing like the old saying ‘Sir Ye seems fond of Dragon but really afraid of it’ . Or somebody might criticize me being arty instead of real scholar. I don’t care. I have just got  sense of accomplishment, pride, or see so many books here in my study. In the term of my knot on the book complex, I would like to borrow the sentence from Lao She autobiography as the summary: I am fond of book reading, without seeking the solutions, when ever I get the real meaning from reading, I will be so pleased that I forget to have meal.

OK, that is all I have written this time, hope you like my writing.

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