I have finally conceded that the house is overflowing with books, and after giving away many of the children’s, it’s time for the ultimate sacrifice of giving up my own. I could ship some to the in-laws’ – god knows, they have space – but something in me balks.

Instead, I cull through my collection and see what I can sacrifice. Books I know I will not reread. This is the barbarity of Hong Kong and it’s shocking 10,000$ a square foot.

I post on an FB page for circulating books. I don’t have much hope because these pages are peopled by expats who think Central is all of Hong Kong. But miraculously someone replies. She lives a few stations away from me.

We have a little exchange over messenger. It is charming. She offers me some books in exchange. Although accepting would defeat the purpose, I can’t resist. To accept would be defeating the purpose. That little conversation made me smile. It made me think how this is how one could make friends – though of course I don’t want new friends, no sir. We, two perfect strangers, bonded over books.

We did the exchange the next morning. It was quick, no further chat. A little disappointing, but nevermind. As I said, I don’t have space for new friends. But for a fleeting moment, that feeling. There are people out there who get it.


I gave away three books and landed up with four. They were just what I needed over a long weekend filled with silence.

  1. Landline by Rainbow Rowell: I have wanted to read Eleanor and Park for the longest time. But I guess this was the book I needed to read right now, even if it was somewhat romanticized. A marriage filled with resentment. This line:

    When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.

  2. The Expatriates by Janice Lee: Another one I’ve wanted to read for ages, but with the PhD I have never had the time. I probably still don’t. But right now I needed to lose myself in something. The Expatriates is about the kind of expat I am not, the rich ones. But it is set in Hong Kong and so recognizable. I have a thing about collecting books from places I’m tied to. This one I will keep.
  3. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: I had heard about the Poisonwood Diaries, but somehow never felt compelled to read it. This one drew me in because of Frida and Diego. The lady who gave it to me said she gave up before it got to the Frida part. I’ve got to the Frida part, and it’s pretty good.