Pleasure dome to reading

Pleasure dome to reading

A long time ago, I wrote a column for this newspaper about my memories of visiting the National Library in Stamford Road and the Queenstown Community Library in Margaret Drive.

The news peg was the reprieve earned by the main library from being demolished for a road tunnel.

My mother and I had frequented the Queenstown branch and I waxed nostalgically about the smell of the books, the enticing feel of their weight in my arms and how they were so unputdownable that I carried a book with me everywhere, including to the shower, or propped up on the kitchen sink while I washed dishes.

The pages would crinkle and warp from the water, and I would try to iron them out before I returned the books.

I was writing - quite eloquently, I thought - about the beloved and constant companions of my youth, so imagine my horror when I received, a few days later, a letter from a librarian admonishing me for damaging public property.

I don't think it was an official missive but it was a stern scolding for mis-treating books that did not belong to me and deserved better usage.

I was mortified. Here I thought I was a book lover and it turned out I was a book abuser instead.

Her words stung, but I am happy to report I have not loved a book to death in years. Not only am I older and wiser, but much of what I read these days is also on a screen rather than a page (and I know better than to take my Kindle into the shower).

How times have changed. The National Library is gone, having made way in the end for the Fort Canning Tunnel, which I would wager is not half as loved as our repository of ideas was.

I guess economic priorities will always trump the sentimental, no matter what homage we pay to our heritage.

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