This is an example of a small thing that one may not think about, but makes an impact on comfortable life here.
Back home, I was an avid reader. A typical library visit resulted in me bringing home 3 – 4 novels. Then, repeat 2 or 3 weeks later. Books were a constant companion. On long rides, they made the time go fast. Boredom was instantly cured by taking me away to some alternate universe. Passive learning was continuously happening. Books were a very big part of my life.
Since coming here, my literary consumption has dropped drastically. Being in a small town, the library has no English books. Even in the bigger cities, the variety of available English books is limited. I know, I know…Amazon.com is just a few keystrokes away, but the point is that books (that I can read) are not as easily accessible as they used to be.
Reading on the internet has somewhat made up in this area, but call me old fashioned if you will, there is nothing that beats the feel of a nice thick volume. The weight, the smell of the paper, the feel of the spine, and that soft, undescribable sound of turning pages – these things cannot be replaced.
Of course, there are many things to do in Taiwan, and not having easy access to books hasn’t impacted my life is a strongly negative way. It’s just a small comfort that’s missed. In the swirl of constant cuture shock, never-ending examination of how things work, why they happen the way they do and perpetual re-programming of what I consider normal, having something familiar – like a library with English books – would make life just a little bit easier.
Obviously, this is not Taiwan’s problem, but mine. The one good thing about it, is that it spurs me on to learn Mandarin that much faster.
So if you’re a bookworm, can’t read Mandarin and are coming to Taiwan for the first time, be aware – you may have everything set up perfectly, but there will be those nights when you’re gonna miss a nice, juicy book.