Friday, February 27, 2015

New Purchases

Received these on Wednesday.  Can't wait to show.

Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 27, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452114156

Flip Fashion: The mix'n'match
  • Publisher: Laurence King Publishing (April 30, 2013)
  • ISBN-13:  978-1856699235

  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (March 17, 2007)
  • ISBN-13:  978-1560977889
Wacky & hilarious illustrations by John Cuneo

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Bookstore

My Bookstore : Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop

A truly enjoyable read, and make me the more envious.

Like Luis Alberto Urrea - one of the writers in the book, I didn't grow up with a local bookstore in my hometown - Sandakan, East Malaysia.  As far as I can remember, the only place that I could get some children periodicals (兒童樂園) and comic weekly (漫画周刊) when I was a kid was more of a stationery store that happened to carry a limited number of magazines/periodicals, mostly from Hong Kong.

Since my family migrated to Singapore eons ago, the place I frequented the most was the library from which I borrowed my favorite mystery cum sci-fi novel series, the Wisely (衛斯理) by Hong Kong author Ni Kuang (倪匡) and some romance novels by YiShu (亦舒) .  However, I was not much of a reader back then.

In the years between then and now, I've gradually become a proper bibliophile.  Thanks to the many bookstores in our local book sanctuary Bras Basah Complex, Popular, MPH, Borders (unfortunately closed in 2011) and Kinokuniya.  When last my family shifted one year ago, I had more than 50 boxes of books.  Though to be honest, 30 boxes of them were manga.  Last count is about 5000 copies, and still growing.

If memory serves, my beloved indie bookstore BooksActually was only opened in year 2007.  With the addition of Littered With Books and Woods In The Books few years later, making the book scene here more vibrant.  And yet with the ridiculously souring rental in Singapore,  a number of bookstores have closed down in the recent years too.  Coupled with the booming of ebooks, it is nevertheless a worrisome trend worldwide.  Still, I do believe that book and technology can co-exist.

Now I am anticipating my chance to be in New York this summer.  If my application goes successfully (pray hard!), it will be a dream come true and I can visit the bookstores mentioned in the book.

Excerpts from the book :

Wendell Berry pg16

I am hardly a materialist, but I am not an immaterialist either.  The material, tangible presence of the things of this world is important to me, and I understand its worth increasingly as human experience becomes increasingly immaterial. A "text" existing only on a screen and in the mind is not, to me, a book. To me, it is not enough that a book is thought realized in language; it must also be language further realised in print on paper pages bound between covers,  It is a material artifact, a thing made not only to be seen but also to be held and smelled, containing language that can be touched, and underlined with an actual pencil, with margins that can be actually written on. And so a book, a real book, language incarnate, becomes a part of one's bodily life.

One's bodily life, furthermore, is necessarily local and economic.  And so to the life embodied in books must be added the life of bookstores.

Sometimes I go to buy a certain book.  Sometimes I go with no purpose but to see what books may be there and to visit a little while with the people who work there.  The place has the quietness, the friendliness, the smell, and the tangibility that a bookstore ought to have.  It is a fair incarnation of the manifold life of books.  To go there and find a book I didn't expect or didn't expect to want, to decide I want it, to buy it as a treasure to take home, to conduct the whole transaction in a passage of friendly conversation - that is in every way a pleasure.

Douglas Brinkley pg32

The summer sun pounded mercilessly down without a single layer of cloud to snuff out the UV radiation,  In the scorching streets of Austin, it was dry and hot, with no gusts of wind to make the 104° Fahrenheit temperature any less suffocating. The heat was starting to make me irritable.  Why wasn't I in some nirvana like the Hampston or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? That's when I directed my little Volvo to the only true oasis in this downtown-cum-hipville: BookPeople.

(Typical Singapore weather.  Love the way he described such merciless sunny day.)

Peter Geye pg132

The are many reasons I love books: for the worlds they show me, for the things they teach me, for the way they feel in my hands or in my satchel, for the way they look decorating my house, for the questions they arouse from my children, for their mystery, for their cold or warm truths, for their lies, for their promise.  But mostly I just love being transported to some place outside of my everyday life.

Edith Pearlman pg267

Diversity is not the Booksmith's mission; it just happens - the town is home to people of all ages, ethnic groups, skin colors, degrees of education, degrees of craziness.  All are welcome here, as long as they keep their voices reasonably low and their clothing mostly on.

Les Standiford pg313

It was close to five, and time for a drink, I thought.  Another sultry summer afternoon in Miami, circa 1981.   Thunderheads boiled over the Everglades a few miles west, promising a downpour any minute.  No point in hanging around the office any longer.  Business was lousy.  Who needed a private eye in a town where everything is public?

And that is when she came in.

"I'm sorry," she said as she appeared in the doorway.  She was a trim brunette with curls and the kind of figure that makes men want to write sonnets. "I knocked," she said, "but it looks like your girl is gone for the day."

Gone for the year.  I wanted to tell her, and still wanting her last two weeks' pay, but why shake a client's confidence? I pointed to a chair.

She sat down and crossed her legs.  I admired the process.  "How can I hep you?"

She dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. "It's my boyfriend," she began,

"There's always a boyfriend," I muttered.

She looked at me plaintively. "His affection have been alienated."

I nodded. "So he's fooling around, and you want me to find out who with?"

She shook her head, "It's worse than that," she said, "He wants to open up a bookstore.  It's all he thinks about."

I leaned back absorbing it all. "So you want to have him Baker Acted.  Why didn't you just say so?"

She dropped her gaze. "It's all so shameful," she said.  Out on the street a klaxon sounded.  What's a Klaxon? I wondered.

"He'd been going to law school," she was saying, "And then, when that didn't work out, he started teaching high school English.  But I know that was only because he got to read books and talk about them." She looked up, shaking her head. "Now he wants to sell them.  He's in love with books."  Tears were running down her cheeks. "Books and books," she said helplessly.

I came around my desk and put a hand on her shoulder. "Listen," I said. "I'm just a fictional character, so I'm prejudiced,  But your boyfriend....what's his name?"

"Kaplan," she said, "Mitchell Kaplan."

"Right," I told her. "What this Kaplan's doing is important,  Books are important."

"But this is Miami," she said. "People fish. They drive fast boats.  They commit fantastical crimes. They don't read."

"That could change," I said. "This Kaplan's a smart guy."

"How would you know that?" she said.

"Well, he picked you, didn't he?"

(Interesting way to introduce the bookseller Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books through a fictional character Exley from one of his Miami crime novels)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I was caught by surprise to find there is this little bookstore BOOKTIQUE at Citilink Mall last night.  My first impression was with the fierce rental at such prime area, not even MPH could survive here, how can an indie bookstore with seemingly sparse selection of titles can sustain ?

Lingered a longer while and soon I realised the selections are mostly books on books, books on writing and writers, novels by local writers and some classic literary works.  Also few children picture books on books.  Very specific genres which surely attract bibliophiles (booklovers) and writers.  Thus the slogan "Where Writers Shop".

But still, I wonder if such population is big enough. Singapore's reading scene is not as compelling like in the West or Japan where so many readers can be seen in parks or in trains. Hmmm.

Anyway, I walked away with My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop edited by Ronald Rice as a gesture of support.

In celebrating of Chinese New Year, Booktique is giving out a red packet when you shop with them.  No lucky numbers but bookish quotes which can be used as bookmark.  Sweet.

Mine is :
I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

An online check afterwards then I learnt that the place is merely a pop up store till May 2015.  They are still searching for a permanent space where writers could go and be fuelled by the books and people.

Keep it up!

Go to their official website to find out more of their stories.

From 1st February to 14th February, Booktique is launching a campaign asking readers from all over the world to compose a love letters to their favourite book. These love letters can be handwritten or typed and delivered or emailed to Booktique. They can be in the form of prose or poetry. The letters will be displayed across the white walls in our shop and thereafter a book will be planned for a selected collection of letters.

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” ---- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Monday, February 16, 2015

National Design Centre

Formerly St Anthony’s Convent (1879-1994), later occupied by the NAFA(1995-2004) and the Chinese Opera Institute (1995-2009), it was then converted to become Design Centre in 2011.

The Prototyping Lab, where I had my bookbinding workshop yesterday, was just launched in Dec 2014. It offers members of the public the access to tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Welding equipments, and anyone can test design concepts, create prototypes and refine their products in the lab - all they need to do is simply sign up for one of the various membership packages.
Isn't it interesting and exciting ?
Some protortypes on display.

Link Stitch Binding

My second workshop on bookbinding.  This round is at The Prototyping Lab @ National Design Centre - an interesting place that I never ever venture before.

The necessary tools required to get our work done.
We're making a Dos-à-dos binding (from the French meaning "back-to-back"), with Link Stitching from the German.
Our Lecturer Ian of The Thistle Bindery
After 2 workshops, notice that the first hole to stitch through is always the 2nd one from Top

My work. Not bad ya.

Can't wait to sign up for the upcoming workshops next month.

Monday, February 9, 2015

TGIF Karaoke Night

We ordered a tower of 1664.  The funny thing is the glasses are all for Carlsberg.
Anyway, a very enjoyable night with a semi sexy strip show forcefully presented by our birthday boy.  Ooh La La !!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cereal | Sex Criminals

Totally 2 different genres.

 Cereal, a quarterly magazine about travel & lifestyle from UK.
Like the layouts and the stylishly muted photographs - a lot of empty, breathing space within.

Not so much on the comic itself, I am more attracted by the retro-style cover designs. By the way, creators are Matt Fraction & Chip Zdaeaky, published by Image Comics.