My new year starts in March, because I take annual vacation from late January onwards until March. It’s down time, reading time, and nature time. In Hong Kong and Bangkok, I found my reading haven in a couple bookstores that appeal not only to book lovers. I like the way these bookstores are decked out like a museum, with a touch of scholarly. I enjoy the open layout consider how precious space is in Asia, where every inch is used to maximize profit.
Browsing is an eye-opening experience. Browsing allows one to be bombarded with books of which the subject matter and author one has never heard of. It’s both enlightening and exciting. It’s inevitable that bookstore trying to appeal to the general public is cluttered with gimmicks of any kind. But a reader’s patience is often rewarded with substanced reads.I know what I don’t like—self-help books that are done to death, ghostwritten books of celebrities, chick lit, and romances—so I steer clear of them and come to cultivate interests in subjects I rarely get to read back home. I bought a couple books, written in Chinese, on buddhism and ideas of god but not necessarily about religion. As for fiction, Asia is the heaven for bargained UK paper editions of modern classics. Iris Murdoch, Graham Greene, Christopher Isherwood, Doris Lessing, to name a few, all for USD10. I know books are not friendly items to the skimpy luggage allowance, but I can’t help bringing back a stack that will see me through at least a few months.