For the first time in a long time, I picked a book off a shelf . Actually, it’s the first time in a long time that I saw my books on shelves. For some eight months, they were in boxes while the house renovations went on. And still going on.

But the bedroom is finally ok (we’ll still need to replace the busted air con and get new blinds) and I thought I’d have a private celebration. A lazy night with a book. Even an old book I’ve read before.

But this copy of Tai-pan looks fairly new, yes. A gift from Alex who so pitied the survivor-of-a-tsunami looks of my old second hand copy of the novel.

I’ve missed doing that. Reading at night. Lights out. Husband snoring. Then, I’d start reading. Sometimes, with the bedside reading lamp. Sometimes, in the living room. If the book was good, breakfast was cooked really early because I didn’t sleep, I wanted breakfast done fast so I could get back to my book…

So, no, I don’t belong to the club where they read to fall asleep. I read to practice focus. When a book is good, it doesn’t make you fall asleep. If it’s so good then you can’t put it down. You want to know what happens because the buildup has been so suspenseful and intriguing.

Bad books make you fall asleep. Boring books. Books with plots so fucking silly you wonder if the author is a high school kid who wrote if after smoking bad quality pot.

But probably with a rich parent or the “right” connections because, well… that’s how you get published when your talent for writing is so so non-existent that your teacher needed to smoke a joint too to withstand the pain of reading your work while, at the same time, remain kind and generous for the effort you showed.

Hmmmm… If I had been one of his teachers, I’d probably have advised him to focus on “tax writing.” There’s this lawyer joke that if you’re having problems sleeping you should try reading the tax code at bedtime.

Diplomatic, I think. And truthful. And constructive too because there’s a practical advice there. “Look, you won’t be remembered for your stories like James Clavell but you can still make a living by writing.”

The point is, books by authors like that aren’t the bestside companions. Not for me, anyway. I love good stories. Tonight, it’s Tai-pan. For the nth time.