National Reading Day

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Saturday, July 30 is Singapore’s first National Reading Day, part of the National Reading Movement, a initiative launched to encourage Singaporeans to read. According to The Straits Times, “The push to get more people to read comes amid survey results that paint a sobering picture of the reading rate here. A survey by the National Arts Council conducted over a 12-month period from March 2014 found that only 44 per cent of respondents had read at least one ‘literary book’ a year. Another survey by [National Library Board] in July 2015 showed that only half of Singapore residents had used library services in the past year, with numbers dropping as they age.”

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In the past few weeks, I’ve seen a number of gimmicky books-related products float across my social media… to capitalize on the National Reading Movement, perhaps?

Founder Adam Tie recently reached out to me about his new venture, The Novel Encounteran online bookstore that sells books on merely a description, such as “Book 8: She Will Rise” or “Book 10: A Circus Act.” The product descriptions offer no cover art, no plot summary, and no reviews. “Just a significant sentence and the promise of a literary adventure,” Adam says. The Novel Encounter offers free delivery in Singapore for orders over SG$50. Use promo code SGFREESHIP.

LocalBooks.sg is new online bookstore featuring, well, “local books.” Its search function is rather baffling; are you looking for a book for “a mom who needs to upgrade” or “someone who needs a sign”? Still, it seems like a sweet site to find new #sglit, if you are so inclined. LocalBooks.sg offers free delivery in Singapore for orders over SG$80.

Singapore institution BooksActually just launched The BooksActually Box, a monthly subscription box. A “curator,” or bookstore worker whose recommendations and reading profile closely matches the customer, selects a book and “a little gift that will complement your reading experience.” Purchase 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions, SG$129, SG$229, SG$369, respectively.

Similarly, Carpe Librum Singapore, bi-monthly subscription box that offers customers a paperback novel and “a number of other little bookish goodies” for SG$35 per month (inclusive of shipping/handling). July’s box included a signed copy of Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim, a notebook, an Ikat-inspired bookmark, Singlish stickers, “Complain King” pencils, and discount vouchers to BooksActually and Epigram Books.

Would you buy your books this way? (TBH, none of these products appeal to me personally—I am a library gal, have an eclectic taste in books, and I have too many books on my to-be-read list!) What other quirky consumer promotions have you seen?

Fictive Fingers

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When I last blogged about Fictive Fingers in 2013 (!), self-taught artists Aisah and Hani Dalduri had quit their day jobs and opened a printmaking studio in a heritage building in Chinatown. Fictive Fingers specialized in handprinted textiles and had developed a sweet line of products, ranging from apparel to stationery. “We sew and print and paint everything,” Aisah told me. “Just the two of us.”

Three years on, the sisters’ small business has grown. Their large, airy, bright design studio, now in eastern Singapore, continues to champion traditional hand-printmaking methods. Now, apart from producing their own range, they work with brands and organizations, such as The Body Shop, Esplanade, Foreign Policy Design, Mercedes-Benz, National Arts Council, National Library Board, National Heritage Board, Singapore Tourism Board, The Substation, and more. They also hold classes and talks for the public. Of note is their “Community Print Studio Program” which allows members of the public access to a designated workspace, a washing and drying area, materials from screen to inks to pre-made stencils, and DIY kits, as well as useful reference books. No prior experience is required and participants may bring along kids as young as three.

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Fictive Fingers sells out almost of their products almost immediately, and I always kick myself for not clicking “buy” fast enough. Not this time! I recently scored an “Oatmeal Raga Signature Pouch” (top). I desperately want one of their kimonos, but I’ll have to wait for the next product release!

Connect with Fictive Fingers on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

More Bookmaking at Woolf Works!

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Due to popular demand, please join me at Woolf Works, Singapore’s only co-working space for women*, for another series of three bookbinding workshops.

Each workshop is limited to 10 participants, so register now! All workshops are SG$20.00 per person, which includes a set of professional-quality tools and materials.

All proceeds from this series will be donated to AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC), Singapore’s only specialized service for women who face sexual assault.

Saturday, September 24, 2pm – 5pm
Make a Coptic Stitched Book!
The Coptic stitch technique is a historic binding using decorative papers and exposed sewing at the spine, and originated in Egypt in the 2nd Century C.E.

Saturday, October 15, 2pm – 5pm
Make a Single Signature Hardcover Book!
The simplest method of binding a single signature codex, or a book bound on one edge, is with a pamphlet stitch. In this class, you will make a hardcover case using book cloth and decorative endpapers.

Saturday, November 12, 2pm – 5pm
Five Fast Bookbinding Techniques!
In this fun and relaxed workshop, participants will become pros at five simple techniques, including glued and sewn books, single sheet and ‘signature’ books, and even an accordion. This is a perfect for class for zine-makers, scrapbookers, and poetry chapbook-makers.

* Workshops are open to all genders, not just women! All workshops to be held at Woolf Works, 19 Carpenter Street, #05-01.

Singapore International Children’s Film Festival

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A friend—a neighbor and a preschool teacher—stopped us in the elevator yesterday and told us that we must go to the Singapore International Children’s Film Festival, curated by Big Eyes, Big Minds and held at The National Gallery of Singapore. And, so we did!

The Festival aims to showcase the best new “high quality, culturally diverse, and value affirming” films for children from around the world. Big Eyes, Big Minds’ vision is to increase media literacy by cultivating film appreciation, increase the knowledge of the craft of filmmaking, and provide a platform for children to screen their own creations.

We screened One, Two, Achoo, a series of shorts for children ages 2 to 6. Octopus (Germany) by Julia Ocker, One, Two, Tree (France) by Yulia Aronova, and Rita and Crocodile: Zoo (Denmark) by Siri Melchior were outstanding. The Preschooler also enjoyed Perfect Piggies (USA) by Sandra Boynton and Achoo! (Japan) by Yuki Hirakawa. Her father and I cared far less for Trude’s Flatmate: Digger (Germany) by Johannes Weiland, Klaus Morschheuser, and Michael Bohnenstingl, a film that relied on “noble savage”/”white savior” tropes, which was rather discomforting. The shorts not in English are both subtitled and voiced-over. 

The Festival resumes next weekend, and there are offerings for every age group. Buy tickets here. Go, go, go and vote for your favorite! The filmmakers who receive the most votes will receive a prize from Singapore’s children.

More Bookbinding at Naiise!

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This September, please join me at Naiise, my favorite destination for carefully chosen, well-designed, quality goods across a variety of price points, for another bookbinding workshop.

The workshop is limited to 12 participants, so register now! All workshops are SG$40.00 per person, which includes a set of professional-quality tools and materials.

Saturday, September 3, 2pm – 5pm
Five Fast Bookbinding Techniques
In this fun and relaxed workshop, participants will become pros at five simple techniques. This is a perfect for class for the beginner!

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