As part of the #BuySingLit campaign, some books in bookstores now have a little sticker on their cover which says ‘Buy Local Read Our World’. Still, I found many sales assistants in bookstores confused as to which books were ‘SingLit’ books (which I could pay for using #BuySingLit vouchers) and which weren’t. They had to consult their computers, printouts and also, their managers. Often, one title would *not* be classified as ‘SingLit’ in one store but would be SingLit in another. This confusion meant I had to visit many bookstores. And I came to realize why bookstores can barely survive in Singapore if they don’t rely heavily on sales of assessment books, stationery and kids’ storybooks, among other things. The sales assistants don’t know their ‘products’ well enough to up-sell and cross-sell. They can help you locate a title and collect your cash, but won’t be able to comment on your book selection or make a helpful (unsolicited) recommendation.
Anyway, if you happen to have #BuySingLit vouchers you have yet to use (they expire end of this month), here are my Sing Lit recommendations for you. *Note that there’s one title which is a new release and hence won’t be applicable.
#1: Here Now There After (edited by Yong Shu Hoong, published by Marshall Cavendish)
This book is super cool as it comes with a $5 pre-loaded NETS FlashPay Card. It’ll totally save your ass if you forget to bring your EZ-Link card out one day. The book has poems, short stories and comic strips inspired by public transport! I love the short story by Neil Humphreys – ‘Drunk And Orderly On The MRT’. Poet Gwee Li Sui also contributed two poems to this collection!
#2: China Rich Girlfriend (Kevin Kwan, published by Anchor Books)
This book is deserving of the title ‘unputdownable’ reserved for only the best reads. I’m absolutely amazed by how someone born and raised in Singapore can write something so fabulous that it becomes an international bestseller. Yes, Kevin wrote ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ first but I think he got his mojo working only towards the end of Crazy Rich Asians, and fully unleashed it in China Rich Girlfriend. You can read the second book even if you haven’t read the first one. I sure did. Now I’ve read them both.
#3: Crazy Rich Asians (*as above)
It’s easy to see why this topic of ‘rich Asians’ would make for an internationally bestselling book. People around the world are fascinated / irritated / shocked at the obscene amounts of money some Asians possess, and the way they flaunt their wealth and spend their moolah. We desperately need an author to dish out the dirt on the internal politics of the rich and (supposedly) fabulous, how money need not necessarily make one happy (so the rest of us don’t feel so bad), and satisfy our curiosity about how the disgustingly rich folk eat / travel / marry / shop / etc. Stop wondering and just read this book. 😀
#4: Invisible Trade: High-Class Sex For Sale in Singapore (Gerrie Lim, published by Monsoon Books)
The stories in this book (supposedly all factual accounts) border on the fantastical. Behind closed hotel room doors, it seems that some men ask escorts for the most improbable favors. (Without revealing too much, I’ll just say their asking an escort to strangle/choke them using her thighs is just a mild request). A book like this one is definitely a money-spinner; this copy I have (published in 2013) is already its 7th edition! There’s a second book which I did not purchase. I thought one was enough. I was eating at Paulinni at Chinatown Point and I thought I was watching an actual scene from this book happening right before my eyes. Seated at the table next to ours was a petite Asian lady (I’m not sure about her nationality) and a Caucasian guy (a loud, talkative bloke). He kept asking her the weirdest questions I shall not list here and telling her about his hobbies and basically, how awesome he is. And all the time, I’m wondering if these two are meeting for the first time (and how yummy my pizza is). Then he passes her some money from across the table. Let’s just say my imagination went wild after that, as he stood up and walked off without waiting for her, as she followed meekly behind. *The book cover’s so seductive that my book-averse other half actually picked it up to read as well. LOL.
#5: 17A Keong Saik Road (Charmaine Leung, published by Ethos Books)
I read this book twice as the first reading didn’t tell me what I wanted / expected to know. With the second reading, it was more of reading between-the-lines. Truth be told, I didn’t even know that Keong Saik Road was ‘famous’ for being a red-light district in the past. I thought there was only Geylang. This book opened my eyes to a small segment of Singapore’s history where we used to have ‘entertainers’ akin to the geisha in Japan, ma jie who took the vow of celibacy but still had (female) lovers (!), and how these ma jie adopted (read: bought) children so there would be someone to look after them in their old age. *Note: Not a BuySingLit title as apparently, it’s a new release and therefore not on the list (yet).
That’s all for now. Once I’m done reading another 5 books, I’ll publish another post here. So stay tuned. 🙂