As a lifelong book enthusiast, she had accumulated a trove of volumes, each carrying sentimental value but tragically, a devastating fire consumed her collection.
In this era of digitization, where everything an individual wants to read is on the other side of a click, printed copies still have their own charm. According to Stora Enso, 65% of individuals still prefer physical copies of books while reading. This inclination is fueled by a variety of factors, but at its core, it's the tangible memories and the sense of materiality that continue to hold sway. People who give books as a gift express a lot. They share a beautiful symbol of the relationship between the receiver and the giver. A TikTok user, @microwavedbrains, held the messages of her close ones near her heart in her collection of books. A book-lover since her childhood, Rodina Abdelkader had brought a ton of copies and received many over decades. However. unfortunately, she lost almost all of them in a fire.
On July 30, Rodina Abdelkader, known by @microwavedbrains on TikTok, uploaded a video showing her charred bookshelves. The video has garnered almost 898k views. It was evident by the ambiance of the video that she was very emotional about the loss. As she went ahead and touched the books, the spines were crumbling to ashes. In the text overlay, she shared with the viewers how it was hard for her to think about her bookshelves for long because of the regret that creeps up in her because of being unable to save her books.
She added, "Every book I had was either from childhood, second hand, gifted to me by professors with special notes, meant so much to me, had all my notes and receipts...agh." The fact that everything was falling apart in front of her was heartbreaking. Fictional worlds give people a space to feel comfortable when the real world fails to, and Abdelkader lost many shelters in one go.
In one of her videos, uploaded on July 7, she shared a series of images showing a charred room. Through the text overlay, she expressed how a house fire caused her to lose everything. She lost her house as well as her beloved cats.
People on TikTok rallied behind her, connecting to her deep bond with her books. She made a follow-up video, where she updated that the books lost in the fire were unsalvagable, which further led to an outpour of emotions from the viewers. Many encouraged her to start all over again with her books and build a collection. Even though she might not have the messages of the people who gave the books to her, the fictional world which symbolized her relationship with them could be with her.
@gotanybettersuggestions wrote a beautiful message for her, "You are here. Your beautiful heart and mind are your own personal library. You will build a new library. But right now, it's okay to grieve. Time to heal." @wannabelexi was one of the many people willing to donate, "My personal collection has grown to over 400, idk, if we read the same genres, but I'd be willing to send you a few to get you started again?"
She began to get many offers for donations in monetary form as well as in books. Abdelkader was overwhelmed by the people's response and, in a story since deleted, wrote, "I am just so moved by everyone's offer to share their well-loved books with me." She has a GoFundMe page linked to her account for people to donate so that she can rebuild her book collection again, which till now collected over $4.7k.