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When you want to have a glimpse of what a person is really about, have a look at his or her book collection. Whether it is just a shelf-full or a house-full, it speaks volumes. (Sorry!)

Librarians are generally book collectors. We love books, you see. And when we have read a book that just takes our breath away, we want it to be with us.  But in this day and age, with the lot of books out there in the virtual realm, TNL does not quite know what book collecting is all about anymore.

Paul was a librarian and our friend. He passed on more than a year back. He collected lots of books.

TNL and a friend first visited his home when Paul’s sweet wife asked whether we wanted books for our library’s book donation drive. We were not prepared for what we saw.

Paul had a house-full. Literally. Every room in his house was filled with shelves of books. Even in the kitchen. It was astounding.

Last Saturday, we went to help his wife sort and price the books. She was going to have a garage sale.

It was difficult letting go. Every book held unspoken memories for the collector as well as his loved ones. Some books had orange stickers on the spine. We did not know what they meant. There were some she knew she would give away. There were some that made her pause and recall the person Paul was. There were some Paul bought specifically for his wife. These she kept.

Most of Paul’s books were self-help, motivational and health books. There were also some biographies, stories written by local authors, Christianity books, cool atlases, books on fish breeding, lots of mystery novels, feng-shui, hypnosis, etc.

As we completed our task, TNL realised that Paul did not collect a single art book. Her friend, a former music librarian, who was also helping out, added, “Nor a single music book.”

Overall, Paul’s book collection focused on the motivational, the inspirational, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.

TNL could imagine how Paul coped with the pain. He was reading up and applying the stuff he read. The trove of self-help, motivational and inspirational books hinted that he would have started collecting them way before he was sick. It was just him. Focused on improving himself and taking care of his well-being regardless of any circumstances. Being positive throughout, both for himself and his loved ones.

Right to the end, Paul remained firm in hope. Even now, the thousands of books remind us, once again, of his optimism and great mental curiosity. This was Paul, our friend.

One Response to “Our Friend Paul”

  1. Ruby says:

    Thanks for sharing. Yes, I remember Paul as an avid reader who was frequently seen at book stalls in NUS bazaars. I didn’t know about his reading tastes though, and look forward to seeing his trove of books, if they’re still available. I also remember him as the only person I know who uses the word “beholden”!

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