I’ve fallen in love with bookstores for different reasons. The size. The layout. The sheer number of books. But what made me go crazy over this small neighborhood shop was its thoughtful selection of titles. Books Actually is an independent bookstore located in quiet Tiong Bahru that's a total haven for book lovers.
The bookstore's interiors are very welcoming and don’t feel the least bit commercial to me. It has an eclectic/homey retro vibe that really encourages you to peruse each book and explore every corner of the store. Wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves carry critically-acclaimed works, classics, pop-up children's books, special editions, contemporary canon, and other such gems. Angela Carter. Yukio Mishima. Truman Capote. Jeanette Winterson. Italo Calvino. But if you're looking for popular titles from Nicholas Sparks or Stephanie Meyer, you should head elsewhere.
I love Books Actually especially for its generous selection of Asian authors and for its science section that made me salivate (not on the books, don't worry). I was even tempted by a few locally published anthologies, but I thought about saving those for another visit. The books I ended up buying were pricier than what I usually purchase from Kinokuniya or Borders but given the harder-to-find nature of these works, I didn't mind at all.
There are other lovely touches around the store, like a collection of colorful vintage typewriters, retro postcards, and thin hand-stitched notebooks (I bought a bunch of these to give to friends as presents). I swear, I could spend hours there. When it was time to go, I was loaded with so much longing for the books that I was leaving behind. 'Had we but world enough, and time,' Andrew Marvell always tells me. I completely understand.
Books Actually is located at No. 9 Yong Siak St., Tiong Bahru, Singapore. Hop on the MRT's East-West (Green) line going to Joo Koon Station and alight at Tiong Bahru. Take Exit B. Yong Siak Street is a short 5-7 minute walk away.