Saturday, November 25, 2017


So like one of the things that I'm doing to distract my brain is reading. Unfortunately, Longform doesn't link to as many new articles as I like. Luckily for me, I found out about BiblioAsia!

BiblioAsia is a quarterly magazine by the NLB (National Library Board). Each issue has its own theme and there are tons of interesting articles inside.

There are basically four ways you could read the magazine. The first is by getting a paper copy although I have no idea where you'd get one, since the site just says that it's also distributed to "members of the public." The next way you could read it is via the NLB ereading program using Overdrive. This lets you read offline, but the formatting isn't very good and there's only one issue.

The remaining two ways are online.

If you want to read the latest issue, you can use this link. Only the latest articles can be accessed from this site but they are beautifully formatted with pictures and it's really a pleasure to read them. And while most of the articles are in English, there are also Malay, Tamil, and Chinese articles. So there's really something for everyone.

The last method, which has everything from the archives, can be found at this link.

This does require to download and read from a PDF, so it's not very suitable for a phone. Anyway, issues/articles I recommend are:

1. Volume 13 Issue 2:
- Murder Most Malevolent: an article about some of the most horrific murders that occurred in Singapore (horrifying and fascinating read)

- A History of Singapore Horror: a history/exploration of horror in Singapore folklore, books and films. True Singapore Ghost Stories, Incredible Tales and more are discussed.

- An Unusual Ambition: The Early Librarians - this is mainly cause I like books so reading about the people who work with books for a living was fun.

2. Volume 12 Issue 1:

- Old World Amusement Parks, exploring the history of New World, Great World, and Gay World

- In Remembrance of Reading, about reading and our memory about reading

- The Anatomy of a Book series (this appears in a few issues) and it's pretty interesting to learn about the parts of a book.

3. Volume 12 Issue 2: The entire issue because there are loads of articles about food! Really liked the one about brands that we used to have and how European families in Singapore made their food. And unrelated to food, but there's an article about a woman and her grandmother's experience in WWII that was surprisingly moving.

4. Volume 11 Issue 3: The entire issue of this too, which is about crime in the old days and has articles on Chinatown when the triads still ran it, Chap Ji Kee, Opium, the history of Bugis Street, etc.

5. Volume 10 Issue 1:

- My memories of Reading: the author's account of how books made her who she was (and I read so many of the books she did too - Chalet Girls, Secret Garden, Little Princess and much more!)

- Folk Tales from Asia: which highlights some of the books in the NLB's Asian Children's Literature Collection. Love the introduction and pictures of Indian handmade books, Japanese woodblock prints, and Chinese binding.

By the way, this article is also supposed to have a reprint of a Neil Gaiman speech but it's taken out of the PDF (guess they didn't get the rights). But you can find the speech on The Guardian.

6. Volume 9 Issue 3:

- Communal Feeding in Post-War Singapore: did you know that for about two years, there were "People's Restaurants" located all over Singapore that were supposed to provide healthy meals for cheap? I didn't and it was interesting to read about this short-lived program

- Mrs Beeton in Malaya: I've heard of Mrs. Newton and her cookbook, but I didn't know about her influence in this part of the world! So I found this really eye-opening.

7. Volume 7 Issue 1: The Growth of Imagination in Singapore - Children's Literature in English (1965 - 2005). This is a bit dated, given that it stops at 2005, but you should read it if you're interested in learning more about local children's literature and how it changed.

Anyway, I hope all these have showed you that there are tons of interesting articles on a variety of subjects in the archives. Plus they are all free to read, so if you're looking for reading material, this is a good option.

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