Book Hunting Expeditions

Discovering SG’s Bras Basah Complex: Where Books Books Books Reign Supreme

Since our trip to San Francisco, I’ve been wanting to discover if the used bookstore Green Apple has a Singapore Equivalent. Discovering Bras Basah Complex is truly a blessing (to my purse and oft-used credit card). After being here in Singapore for two years, I find this absolute smorgasbord of used books that are truly nice; that is, if you are patient enough to comb through layers and layers of books, you get to capture some rare finds.

Bras Basah (located right beside the National Library Building) is actually a hub where you can find stalls and stalls of book stores, art materials, health and wellness stuff and a few more stuff besides. This afternoon, cheapskate that I am, I just visited two used bookstores: Book Point and Evernew. However, there are soooo much more that I have yet to visit, namely the Children’s Book Center found in the 4th level (I haven’t even reached that section yet), the Cat Socrates Bookshop in the 3rd level (which I think sells hard-to-find books) and Basheer Graphic Books – who knows they might even have some Sandman Comicbooks on sale (wishful thinking never hurt anyone).

These are the places though that I have actually visited:

First stop was Book Point where this delectable sign caught my eye

As avid a collector as I am, there was nothing in here that caught my eye. I did see Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Headless Cupid, but other than that, the titles are not really worth raving about. Most of the books are also in dismal condition, a veritable book lover could weep seeing the books’ tattered state. My daughter ended up choosing these two comic books worth 1.50 each:

We haven’t really crossed over yet to the ComicBookDarkSide, but I figured that since Ela already has a collection of Archie Comics, this would not be a bad addition to the yet-unread pile.

Next stop: EverNew Bookstore. And yes, that’s me combing through their 3 for 5 SGD books.

 

That is me poring over bargain books in Singapore's Bras Basah Complex

This, by far, is my new favorite bookstore. They have one whole section just devoted to children’s books: from Junie B Jones to Roald Dahl to nice picture books! Here are some of the stuff that I found in the children’s section – OLIVIA!

I enjoy reading this Little Pig. And I found this award-winning book by Peter Pavey, One Dragon’s Dream – perfect for children who are just learning to count and read. And yes, both of them are worth 2sgd each. My daughter, of course, has her Junie B Jones fix with these two books, worth 1 sgd each. Yes. Astounding.

More importantly, I was able to tease out these two YA fiction treasures, a Philip Pullman (The Shadow in the North) and an Italo Calvino (if on a winter’s night a traveller). Together with the hardbound Junie B Jones book, all three cost a grand total of 5 SGD.

Over and above Calvino’s reputation as one of the finest Italian writers in the 20th century, any book that talks about the art of reading and literary materials coming to you at some weird point in your life, would always always be a sure hit – for a book hunter like me. Of course Philip Pullman is a classic. I was unable to put down His Dark Materials. I can not wait to read this “terrifying adventure set in the back-alleys of Victorian London.”

And true enough, patiently poring over rejects would yield substantial results. I was able to find another Philip Pullman (Tiger in the Well) and a Gao Xingjian novel, the first Chinese writer ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. I believe that Soul Mountain can bring the Chinese culture even closer to my sensibilities – something that I definitely need, living now in Singapore. And yes, Rowan of the Bukshah by Emily Rodda also caught my eye. I got these three babies for a grand prize of 5 SGD. How could one not possibly love Bras Basah Complex?

And yes, I shall come back to check out the other bookstores I noted above. So many books, so little time. Will share with all of you my finds as soon as I have checked out the other stalls. ‘Til the next bookshopping event.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

6 comments on “Discovering SG’s Bras Basah Complex: Where Books Books Books Reign Supreme

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  4. Hi,

    Looks great! Thanks for the recommendation. The problem is I don’t know how to get there. Do I get off the Bras Basah station and the building is just nearby? I visited SG two years ago and sadly I wasn’t able to scour bargain places, so this time I’d like to take advantage of the time I spend there. Also, I’m wary to visit Kinokuniya because I don’t have much money with me. Haha.

    Anyway, thanks! Will wait for your reply. 🙂

    Like

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