47. Debt of Honor, in Cheras

I know it's been awhile, but I finally found someone today while waiting for the bus. We even had lunch together.

I know it's not really a surprise, but the whole time we talked it was about books. He's moved on to reading Clancy because he's almost done with all of Robert Ludnum and Michael Crichton's work. (I think Ludnum's been read here before, but in case Crichton doesn't ring a bell, his most famous work is arguably Jurassic Park).

He's been reading since primary school, and now reads about six books a year. I ask him where he got the book from (a nearby library) and whether he goes to libraries often (he's a member of the National Library, but hasn't been there in years). In turn, he asks me whether I've heard of a TV show called "Reading Room" (I hadn't, but here's its IMDB page). In his words: "It's about an old retired man who rented a shop to encourage young people to read."

When do you read? I ask. "To wait for something, anything lah. Like now. I even read over meals. If I find a book interesting, I can keep reading into wee hours of the night." And for the first time since I've started this site, the tables turn. The laboratory manager is asking me questions. "What do you like to read?"

It's a question I ask everyone I come across for ReadKL, but one I've never thought of an answer for. A few seconds of silence (where do I start?) "These days, books about the brain," I begin, "but I grew up reading Greek mythology, and other books lying around the house. Fairy tales, Middle Eastern tales, the Mahabharata, Tao Te Ching. After that it was classic fiction, then contemporary fiction, like wild imaginative stuff, and now more science and non-fic I guess. I was lucky that way, to start out young. I never stopped."

"I liked Enid Blyton when I was young. And Agatha Christie. My eldest son developed a reading habit when he was small too," he tells me, quite pleased, "but the others not so much." I ask him how old his son is. "Thirty-one". I don't know why I am surprised, but I am; he then tells me he's sixty-two himself. I like that his smile when he mentioned his son was still so new, like we weren't talking about decades ago. We also talk about how since books didn't exist naturally in our environment, the human brain probably wasn't wired to read; we had to train it that way. Maybe if enough time passed without practice we'd never find the desire to pick up books, having replaced it with other 'unnatural' habits that were easier to acquire, like electronics. We also realize we can't remember which Bronte sister wrote Jane Eyre. (It was Charlotte).

By the time we walk up from lunch, the bus arrives. Perfect timing. We sit in different parts of the bus, and I noticed he had returned to his book.

PS: Have fixed the comments section. All spam is gone and hopefully for good. If you're reading this, thank you for still reading this. It's been one dry spell after another for ReadKL, but when a break comes along, I'd like to think it was worth it.

46. Life of Pi, at The Cookie Cat Subang Jaya

He plans to major in linguistics although he doesn't read a lot. However, he reads magazines religiously, and makes a habit of actually reading books for assignments instead of reading summaries and study guides. Currently he's reading Life Of Pi by Yann Martel for an assignment. The laptop next to him is playing an audiobook version at the same time (what a great idea!). He likes to read indoors or in cosy environments like cafes, and his favourite book is Being Happy.

on buying books online in Malaysia

if you avoid crowds, take your time browsing, or just hate going to bookstores (& the malls they're in), then today you've run out of excuses! Turns out you don't actually have to leave the house at all to get your hands on a new book. After a bit of surfing, I found a few places where people in Malaysia can buy books online (consider this post as alternatives to the obvious Amazon.com). 
You won't always need a credit card with these vendors; some accept anything from Paypal to Maybank2U, bank drafts, etc.  

IMPORTANT: ReadKL is not being paid to recommend these links. These are just options. Be responsible and do some research before picking out an online bookstore (eg. call them, google them, read up), and only purchase from one that you're comfortable with.

  • Kinokuniya charges RM8 delivery charge for online orders on this peninsula, but as Ah Yap puts it, going to the KLCC store in person involves paying "for petrol, tol and KLCC per-hour-based car park fee" anyway. Orders are processed on working days. Read Kinokuniya's user's guide for more info.
  • MPH is everywhere in KL, so it makes sense that their site is a virtual bookstore too. Available books arrive within 14 days, and at the time of this post, delivery charges are RM7, or free if your order exceeds RM150. Read their FAQ.
  • Aphrohead and BookDepository are two bookstores not based in Malaysia, but offer free shipping here anyway, so you only pay for the books you buy! Bear in mind that BookDepository has a few currency options, convert them to RM and see which works out cheapest for you. You'd be surprised how a buy from one of these shops might end up cheaper than one from the 'big guns' of Kino or MPH.
  • Times Bookstores has delivery but personally I find their website a little confusing, because it doesn't seem like a virtual bookstore. However they're "happy to offer home & office delivery" but only with a minimum order of RM200. Any less, and a RM10 fee applies. Read their Customer Service section.
  • AcmaMall is based in Singapore and is fairly popular in local Google searches. A general complaint is that purchases can be held up at customs if the books bought are considered 'banned' in any way, but naturally there are also good testimonials as well. At the time of this post, shipping for books (even pre-orders) are free, and estimated to take 5-14 business days. Read their First Time Visitors section.
  • Advanced Book Station is a store in Taman Melawati, but you can shop from them online too (cause they're advanced! hehe). I couldn't find an FAQ or anything on delivery charges, but they're open to inquiries by email/phone & volume discounts. Read their contact page.
  • Ujana Ilmu has an extensive collection of books in Bahasa Malaysia, even with various university publishers. I've only googled them a little but their reputation seems to be sound. Payment accepted in most forms, including Paypal & Western Union.
  • Henghebooks for local Chinese reading (sorry I can't say more, I don't understand the site's language).
  • Lee Book has a lot of methods of payment, Chinese & English educational books and a very cute website.
  • Synergi Books is a blog for secondhand books. You'll find a rather large collection; paperbacks for RM6-15, and hardcovers from RM12-20. As for the shipping rates, scroll down on the website and look to the right.
  • Mudah.my has a music/movies/books section with secondhand books for sale. Click here.

  • Here's another one, BetterWorldBooks (thanks Nxsa for sharing this great find). They sell cheap used books rescued from landfills to help fund global literacy initiatives. Used books save the environment, and even the shipping is carbon-neutral. They ship for $3.97 worldwide, which is currently just a little over RM13. Nxsa says that it might take a month for the book to reach you though. Read their FAQ.

Feel free to retweet, add options I left out, or leave feedback in the comments section as always.

45. true singapore ghost stories #14, on the LRT

This photo was taken with my phone, while commuting back home. He's a teenager who's a big horror buff. He's currently reading this famous series by Russell Lee in chronological order, and is obviously a fan.

from the baca@lrt project on 16 January

photos by reezuan

and you must must must check the official BACA@LRT facebook album with over 140 photos! thanks to Zamri for the link.

44. pryor convictions & other life sentences, in jalan ipoh

he's getting an x-ray done, for his persistent headaches. Richard Pryor is his favourite comedian. He's sad he never got to see him live, but the book did come with a dvd boxset, gifted by a friend. He says he likes "history books & serious fiction that can make me laugh."

The last book he read was DBC Pierre's Ludmila's Broken English.

Baca @ LRT

We received an email about a facebook group that looks really exciting. Self-described book lovers are most invited to bring their books to the LRT Terminal Putra at 9:35am. Then everyone will read on the train! It's going down this Saturday, January 16th. Come, and spread the word!

Saturday, January 16th, 9:35am, beginning at LRT Terminal Putra.