The Jakarta Post
The curvy bookshelves at [email protected], Singapore. (Shutterstock.com/sattahipbeach)
Most Indonesians do not associate Singapore with books, as the city-state is better known as a shopping-haven or family-friendly getaway. The low penetration of Singaporean literature in Indonesia does not help either.
When people talk about a city for bookworms, what comes to mind is London, New York and Melbourne. But Singaporeans are readers. Singapore's National Library Board revealed that there are 2.4 million library members, almost half of the total population, with 33 million library loans in 2016.
So, where should you go when you're tired of the cityscape and yearn to find refugee between the pages instead? Check out this list:
Strolling down Orchard Road is almost obligatory when in Singapore. However, one can only shop so much before one goes bankrupt. Nestled on the third and fourth floor of Orchard Gateway, [email protected] is a tranquil spot to escape the crowd.
The library is open to the public, although you need to become a member to borrow a book. Choose your seat and take a copy from approximately 100,000 titles of the library's collection. Let your feet rest and mind wander.
The small library also has an urban minimalist look, perfect for an Instagram snapshot.
2. Books Actually
This independent bookstore is located at 9 Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru. Although it has a solid selection of contemporary and classic fiction, its specialty is Singaporean literature, with some titles published by the bookstore's imprint Math Paper Press. Novels, novella, essays, anthologies and poetry books are available, but tourist might want to check out the Balik Kampong series to learn about the forgotten side of Singapore.
You can find a book vending machine in front of the store, with each book wrapped in white paper and only given a short description. Try finding your bookmate for 20 Singaporean dollars.
Books vending machine at Books Actually, Singapore. (JP/Devina Heriyanto)
Be careful while opening the door so that the bookstore's resident cat Cake doesn't get out.
3. Woods in the Books
If words aren't really your thing, go check out Woods in the Books. The independent bookstore is also located in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood, but specializes in picture books instead.
Woods in the Books: The store's front is often used as a backdrop for #ootd snapshots. But don't just stop there, as the mural may seem pale in comparison to all the books on offer, available for all ages. (Woods in the Books/File)
The store's facade is often used as a backdrop for #ootd snapshots. But don't just stop there, as the mural may seem pale in comparison to all the books on offer, available for all ages.
Find the store's second branch Books Ahoy!, marketed toward a younger audience, at 583 Orchard Road.
Yes, we know that there are Kinokuniya stores in Jakarta. But the collection in Takashimaya, Orchard Road, is far superior than any in Jakarta - making it an obligatory visit for any bookworm. You can find almost everything, bookwise, probably even lose yourself among the shelves.
Don't forget to bring your passport if you're planning to do a book haul worth more than SGD 100 for a 6 percent goods and service tax refund.
5. Secondhand bookstores at Bras Basah Complex
If you like the smell of old books, go to the Bras Basah Complex for a book crawl. Two of the most popular stores are the Evernew Book Store, which sells English and Chinese novels alongside comics, art books, and academic references, and Knowledge Book Centre which focuses more on textbooks. Both bookstores will also buy your used books. (mut)