Precious Books That Enrich Lives

By Trailerman Sam

Each time my students ask me how I am always clued in on to what’s happening around the world each day, I’d tell them to read and treasure what they’ve read.

A wise man once said that reading a book means unlatching a completely new sphere of knowledge to the brain.

Only recently two of my students came to their senses and admitted to the strength in the above statement. The rest of them are still very much going goo-goo ga-ga over their Cap-cut or Tik-Tok videos.

Everyone has different kinds of interest and pleasures. Mine comes from books. And they’re everlasting and can last for generations.

Books, I must say, will never abandon you even during super hard times. I couldn’t agree more to when American novelist, screenwriter, television producer and short story writer George RR Martin said: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, and the one who doesn’t read, lives just one.” Something to ponder about from someone who had done “Game of Thrones” and “Beauty and the Beast”.

Recently too and out of the blue, Kasturi, a SYL or Sweet Young Lady and a former student, actually “melted” my heart. This was when she presented me with a book that had been on my bucket list for a considerable length of time. It was “912 Batu Road” by Viji Krishnamoorthy, born in Ipoh to a Tamil father and Hokkien Chinese mother.

It’s a very good book about the one-time serene lives of the Iyer and Tan families that were shattered by betrayal and treachery during the tough times of the Japanese Occupation in Malaya in the 1940s. What made me to put this novel on my priority list was the insights into my wartime heroes namely, Sybil Kathigasu and Gurban Singh. May their souls rest in peace. These freedom fighters had risked their lives without any sense of fear for this beloved country, now Malaysia.

I must emphasise that the contents of the books we read for a reason or otherwise actually seep into and become a part of our conscious souls. Books that I had bought actually burnt a hole in my pocket. But what the heck, they serve a useful purpose in life!  

Over the years, the books that my niece and brother gave me including the above titles are my most precious treasures.

Although I do know that in this digital age and modern technological era that books are available in electronic form, I’m not a naysayer to this new medium. But I’m still old school when it comes to books, just like back in my school days.

The first thing I’d do when I have a new book on my hands, then and now, is to flip open the pages, put them close to my nose and inhale the scent of fresh paper! Why don’t you give it a try? Don’t worry, it’s not like sniffing glue when there’s a high chance of you getting intoxicated or addicted.

There were times when I had to part with some of my precious collection when I reasoned that they’ll bring better benefits to the receiver. One was a collection of a complete set of magazines, Images of War, published by the Marshall Cavendish/Imperial War Museum (Jan 1, 1989) some years back. The lucky kid who got them was my neighbour’s son, Khalash Nanada Kumar, who has now become a journalist.

I beamed with pride when he was recently invited to Cannes in France to  report on the International Film Festival where our Oscar winner Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh had top billing. Khalash was given the opportunity to write about new films of all genres, including documentaries, from all around the world at the glitzy French Riveria.

About a month back, I gave away a set of colourful set of encyclopaedia:The New Book of Knowledge by Grolier (Jan 1, 1984). A 21-volume illustrated edition which provided rich information on many topics. Vaisnav Gunalan, my grand-nephew, was the lucky recipient. He was sure bewildered with its content and colour.

I’m still holding on to my large collection of Lat cartoons in book form and Combat Picture Library by GM Smith (March 1959-1985). Have to part with them before I part this world!

Somehow, I feel a little miserable for I had misplaced a book I am fond of – Misery, a psychological horror thriller by Stephen King (Viking Press). It was a gift from a Swiss friend who came to visit me. I had wanted to pass it on to one of my former students who had picked up the reading habit!

Trailerman Sam is a popular tuition teacher in Penang. If he is not teaching, he is writing, drinking plenty of coffee and probably star or planet gazing. He can be reached at

The views expressed here are that of the writer’s and not necessarily that of Weekly Echo’s.