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?

The Magic Jungle

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Yesterday, for what is likely the last time*, The Preschooler and I returned to the Esplanade for PLAYtime!’s latest production, The Magic Jungle. PLAYtime! is an interactive theatre series for children aged two to four. The Magic Jungle, which invites children on an adventure to a very Southeast Asian jungle with a tapir, a sambar deer, a sloth, and a hornbill, is directed by Ian Loy and features memorable music by Stan X Soap.

This production was rather different than previous ones that we have seen—in a good way! The play was wordless for the most part, and the actors’ gestures and movements forwarded much of the narrative. Chelsea Crothers, who played the deer and the sloth, was quite exceptional! Stan X Soap’s compositions featured Asian instruments, such as the slenthem and the tabla, and Asian vocal elements, such as lyrics in Bahasa Indonesia sung by Venytha Yoshiantini. And the cast was truly diverse which, I suspect, kept the offensive “humor” that has plagued previous productions at bay.

The Magic Jungle closed its run today, but do look out for it as I know it will be staged again!

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* She’s outgrowing these productions, nothing more; she was, for the first time, not enchanted by with PLAYtime!’s colorful, interactive elements.