A friend asked me recently what books to recommend. There was a book sale last month at Borders so I basically bought those best-seller types of books, hoping for entertaining reads. Borders books are generally rather pricey, but I had that coupon for 30% discount per book. If you are buying more than one book, all you have to do is just make multiple copies of the same coupon – somehow the cashier insists upon separate physical copies of the coupons. Call me a cheapie, but honestly, I don’t see the need to pay 30% extra if there is a promotion going on! It would be a pity if Borders were to close down. Even the interior of the bookstore feels rather gloomy – are they saving on electricity with the dim lights?
While it’s always a pity that a book shop has to wind up, I won’t feel nostalgic if Borders Singapore were to close down. Yes, it had a great environment: initially when it first opened, its floor to ceiling glass-window exterior at Wheelock Place – with seats for customers to sit on and browse through books – made hanging out in a bookstore cool. But the fact was its books were relatively expensive (to the point it only made sense to buy during sales) and the stock selection not as great or varied as say, Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City. And it was trying to do too much: CDs, toys, stationery, cafe, DVDs. In fact, I had greater feelings for the MPH Stamford Road closing down/moving away, partly because I spent much of my spare time as a student there. And who else can forget good old Popular bookshop? Any bookworm who grew up in Malaysia and Singapore could not possibly not know Popular. In Singapore, I remember visiting the branch at Bras Basah Complex often. And today, Popular is still there, and with a more updated look! There were also a lot of other smaller book shops at Bras Basah Complex, and some exclusively Chinese bookshops at Victoria Street. But sadly, they have either downsized or dwindled completely.
So back to the books: so far I have blazed through the first of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series. These days it takes me forever to finish a book so the fact that I managed to finish reading this so quickly makes it rather exceptional. It really is quite a thriller and an entertaining read, notwithstanding the gory violent details and somewhat strange English (the book was originally written in Swedish). Another book I’ve been reading is Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw, which is more like a collection of essays. Or brief short musings about a chef, a dish, a kitchen or a summer fling. So, would ‘essay’ be the right word? I don’t know. But Bourdain’s writings are edgy, so where the book lacks substance, it is more than made up for by eloquence and verbal agility.
What books have you been reading? And where are your favourite book haunts?