I’ve always been a book worm. I was the first kid in my class to master the dark art of deciphering these squigglies adults called “letters”. My reward for this achievement was a Larousse dictionary, which I kept reading — even though I didn’t understand everything.
I have today more than 2,000 books in storage somewhere in the New Territories. I have since then converted to eBooks — Amazon’s, since I’ve always been a good client of theirs and the Kindle app works on most of my devices — but I keep a few paper editions with me, books that will never be published digitally, probably.
I have now around 100 books in Kindle collection (including some free .mobi eBooks from the Gutenberg project). A few are duplicates from my paper stash; the rest new acquisitions. A large proportion of my dead-tree books are in French, since they’re early acquisitions. The majority of my non-fiction books (mostly reference and research materials) are in various Asian languages, predominantly Classical Chinese and Korean). The rest is essential fiction (thrillers, detective novels and the like) in English — either originals or translations from exotic languages like Swedish.
So, among these 2,000+ books, which ones are my favorites? And I don’t my “K-pop band of the week that everybody including themselves will forget in 6 months” favorites. I mean books I really love, books I can and have read multiple times over a couple decades. Here’s an unsorted list:
- All Nero Wolfe novels, by Rex Stout
- Léo Malet’s Nestor Burma detective stories
- Dictionnaire classique de la langue chinoise by Séraphin Couvreur, early 1900s.
I own a “late” edition — 1960s I think.
- 利氏漢法綜合辭典 By the Ricci Institute in Taipei. I actually own 2 copies, a full-size one and a “pocket” size whose font size is now way too small for my eyes…
I’d like very very much to own the Grand Ricci — 7 volumes of 1,200 pages each, and available on DVD…
- Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Although the last book is less entertaining that its predecessors.
- Everything by JRR Tolkien, except the poems, as I am bored senseless by poetry — purely a defect of my brain, I know…
- I used to be deeply in love with Mishima Yukio’s novels, when I was a teenager and young adult. I’ve been cured since, but I do have fond memories of his books. I also seem to remember that reading Mishima in Japanese was excruciatingly painful.
- Edogawa Rampo, a catchy Japlish pseudonym mimicking Edgar Alan Poe. I read one or two novels in Japanese, the rest in French, and it’s been way too long since I read them. Must dig ’em up
- Robert van Gulik’s Judge Ti novels, but also his more serious non-fiction books on Sinology were good companions during my student years. His translation of 棠隱比事 led me to read the original, very very slowly.
- I am also quite fond of Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar novels.