Friday, May 21, 2004

Book haul

Picked up a few books at Belle’s yesterday. They must be going undergoing new management – the main store is being reorganized and selected books were 70% off. Hope this means that they’re bringing in a more decent selection of books, other than Oprah approved that is.

You have to dig through a pile of discounted books to find worthwhile books. All the more fun, like a treasure hunt.

I ended up with these gems:
1. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Botany ("The definitive guide to the roots of life on earth")
2. Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage
3. Penan Folk Stories (published by UNIMAS)

I’ve already started reading the dictionaries, and they are so fascinating. I have a love affair with words, and would sometimes read the Oxford dictionary for fun. Good practice for playing Scrabble as well. Although, it’s always fun to make up your own words during Scrabble. It’s not considered cheating when you’ve successfully convinced your opponent that your special word truly exists in the English language and your elaborate definition blows them away. * grin *

Initially, I wanted the Penan folk stories for my personal library but I decided that someone else would make better use of it – one of my guys who work for me. He’s such an amazing fellow. He was born and raised in a rural area, and never had the opportunity to go to college. Yet, he speaks better English than most local graduates that I’ve met. Part of this success lies in the fact that his generation was schooled in English by British missionaries stationed all over Sarawak at that time. Mostly, I would credit his incredible drive to better himself.

He’s also a writer. He’s been keeping a diary in English EVERY SINGLE DAY for several decades. This blows me away. And he’s had some very interesting experiences too: from traveling to Laos to teach the locals how to make a canoe; to being captured at the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan and thus, spending a month in jail in Jakarta.

I really think that he should get something published one day. He’s a wealth of local stories and information, especially about his own Iban culture. I’m hoping that this book on Penan folk stories would inspire him to collect his own stories from his longhouse, and get them published. It’d be invaluable to have this depleting knowledge (as the younger folks opt for town life, Linkin Park t-shirts, and tattoos that say “I love Suzie”) retained in a form that is available to all, don’t you think?

Oh, for all three books, ranging from prices such as RM30 and RM20.95, I paid about RM21 for the entire haul. Not too shabby, indeed.


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