Unilever’s John Broome reveals how collecting old books helps him decompress, explore and discover.

TCC: What’s your passion?
JB: Collecting and reading old books. I have over 2,000 cluttering up the house now.

TCC: Why?
JB: Reading is a peaceful counter weight to the high stress workplace and old books tell a story beyond the one they are meant to. Most are older than you or I and are from a time most people have either forgotten or never experienced. Often you find an old newspaper clipping or other item amongst the pages. It makes you think, who put it there, why and what story does it tell itself? Here’s an example: last November we went on holiday to Samoa where we chanced upon the house (Vailima) where Robert Louis Stevenson lived until he died in the late 19th century. It’s a beautiful place literally stuck in time. So I started exploring his life, which culminated in me finding a complete 25 volume set of his works published in 1911, in a dusty old bookshop in Norfolk, UK. These have now found a new home in Sydney!

TCC: How long have you been indulging in it?
JB: Back in 1991 I was stuck in hospital recovering from an operation and picked up a book a visitor had brought in. I never read before then. I haven’t stopped since.

TCC: How often do you get to indulge in it?
JB: Everyday! Just ask my bank manager

TCC: What difference does it make to your life, professionally and personally?
JB: It helps me decompress but also to explore and discover.

TCC: Who do you share your passion with?
JB: My wife and eldest daughter are also readers.