Singapore Shopaholic: BooksActually and Birds & Co. [UPDATED]

If you follow me on Twitter, you will know I have become a huge fan of BooksActually, an eclectic and inviting independent bookshop. Old typewriters line the staircase. Vintage cameras perch on bookshelves. Here and there: antique maps, vintage glasses, tea cutlery, coin albums.

And the books! The store houses a thoughtfully curated collection, handpicked by owners Kenny Leck and Karen Wai. I’ve already spent countless hours browsing the shelves in this restored, three-story shophouse*. While I’ve come across copies of my personal favorites—Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth—I’ve also been introduced to a number of contemporary Singaporean writers, including Suchen Christine Lim and Cyril Wong.

And that’s really why I love this place. It has heart. Leck and Wai are committed to preserving and promoting Singapore’s literary arts. They host events with all sorts of interesting writers and artists; sell copies of Singa, a now-defunct literary magazine that showcased local literature; and publish limited-edition works by Singaporean writers under their own imprint, Math Paper Press. Most recently, the press released the first issue of Ceriph, a quarterly literary journal committed to providing space for “experimental or up-and-coming writers… [and collecting] new works of prose, poetry, social commentary, photography, and visual art.”

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BooksActually also hand-stitches notebooks under the brand Birds & Co. I am a paper nut and you can frequently find me at BooksActually’s sister store longingly fingering the spines of their hand-bound notebooks or rifling through baskets of hand-printed bookplates and postcards.

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Do check out BooksActually’s Flickr stream and tell me that you don’t agree:

[*UPDATE: BooksActually has relocated to 9 Yong Siak Street in historic housing estate, Tiong Bahru. Their new space is large, airy, and just as beautiful.]

(Additional credits: Photographs via BooksActually’s Flickr stream. Used with permission from the stores’ owners; Tape strip clip art via Pugly Pixel; Scallop medallion via Pugly Pixel.)

5 responses

  1. I haven’t been here yet… it looks beautiful :).

    Saw on Twitter that you’re gonna explore Tiong Bahru. Am not that familiar with it except I know there’s a mall there called ‘Tiong Bahru Plaza’ and a famous hawker centre somewhere there too. I found this blog that’s totally dedicated to the area. That might help…

  2. I’m so glad I stumbled on your blog! My husband and I are moving to Singapore next month (from Texas) and I was hoping to find a great bookstore…keep up the great posts..and photos! (: