Selected Modern Chinese Essays: Eulogizing Books

By Ke Ling

I always think of books with profound feeling, being deeply indebted to them, as I am, for the warmth they have brought me.

Books are my beloved teachers. In my childhood, when I was deprived of happiness and schooling by poverty, books took me to their large bosoms and nurtured me generously. It is to them that I owe what I am today. Without them, I would probably have ended up in abject misery long ago.

Books are my good friends. They have offered me a golden key to broadening my horizons and ridding myself of stupidity and ignorance. They spare no efforts to help me.

Books are my sweethearts in my youth, my bosom friends in my middle age, and my companions in my declining years. Accompanied by books, I never feel lonely, nor fear social snobbery or fickleness of the world. They have made a rich man of me in the inner world. I cannot do without them even for a single day. When I feel tired out after finishing my work, or when I am in a bad mood, I’ll try to get close to books for comfort — the best way for me to find spiritual consolation.

Oh, if only I were a confirmed bibliomaniac or bookworm! But, unfortunately, I’m still not fully qualified for one yet!

I don’t know who was the despicable originator of the prison. Deprivation of freedom is the most savage punishment on earth for sure, but, as I’ve learned from my own personal bitter experience, if prisoners are permitted the right to read they should not be regarded as totally devoid of freedom.

Burning or banning books is the height of folly and barbarity, signifying a most horrible retrogression in history.

Of course there is also some rubbish among books to be avoided like the plague or Death by all.

It is the greatest pleasure for a writer to present to his friends gift copies of a book authored by himself or to have it offered to the reading public. And he will feel richly rewarded if his book arouses public interest and earns wide acclaim.

It is the greatest joy of life for one to spend his leisure time reading in quiet surroundings. On the eve of the fall of the “Gang of Four”, I used to go to Longhua Park every day for a reading session, seeking shelter from a sea of frosty looks and hostile stares in a world of my own. That will forever remain an unforgettable experience of my life.

Books are sunlight and air, rain and dew. I can’t imagine what would become of the world without books.