Vote for your favourite Classic Beach Books!

Summer is a few months away in Australia and to celebrate its arrival, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)’s The Book Club is having a poll. The show wants to know your favourite Classic Books for the beach. Cast your vote at this link between 2nd of September and 4th of November.

Image is taken by Anjum Malkana / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Ten most popular Classic Beach Reads will be announced in a special one-hour episode on 2nd of December at 10 pm.

The Book Club is aired on first Tuesday of every month at 10 pm. Each episode is described as “an explosion of robust and passionate discussion covering one new release book, and one enduring classic”.

For more information on the show, visit the official site, Facebook page and Twitter.

Benefits of renting books: #6 Improve English proficiency

‘Bahasa Malaysia’ is the national language in Malaysia. English and Mandarin are widely spoken, particularly in main cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Education First’s English Proficiency Index listed Malaysians as highly proficient English speakers. Yet recently several people have noted that English proficiency of Malaysian university graduates are quite low (read articles written by The SunLok Wing Kong and/or BA Hamzah for more details). As a result, these graduates become unemployable in the English-medium private sector (‘Bahasa Malaysia’ is the medium of instruction in the government sector).

There are many ways to improve one’s English language skill. One of the ways is to read (click here to see other strategies).

Out of 28,000 books stored in SS Readers Corner, majority of them are written in English. I asked my friend, who is an English graduate, to recommend books for English as Second Language (ESL) learners. She suggested these titles:

  • ‘Harry Potter series’ by J.K. Rowling
  • ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger
  • ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by C.S. Lewis
  • ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon
  • ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by L.M. Montgomery
  • ‘Peter Pan’ by J.M. Barrie
  • ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll
  • ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Johnathan Swift

Even though these titles are categorised as young adult and children’s books, the language deployed in each book is rich. The plot has substance hence making it appealing to adults and teenagers.

We have the complete set of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' in our store

We have the complete set of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ in our store

Some of the suggested books are available from SS Readers Corner. Visit our store to rent the books and work on improving your English proficiency.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts to encourage people to borrow/rent books. Click on the number to read previous posts: #1#2#3#4 and #5.

Vote for your favourite Penguin special ‘Drop Caps’ cover design!

Twenty-six Penguin Classics books have been selected for a makeover! Penguin Drop Caps features 26 books that have “a specially commissioned illustrated letter of the alphabet” on the cover (refer below). These designs are the work of typographer Jessica Hische and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley.

Most of the ‘Penguin Drop Caps’ covers

Here is a list of Title and Author chosen for ‘Penguin Drop Caps’ collectibles:

Alphabet Title Author
A Pride & Prejudice Jane Austen
B Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
C My Anthonia Willa Cather
D Great Expectations Charles Dickens
E Middlemarch George Eliot
F Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
G Lord of the Flies William Golding
H Siddharta Hermann Hesse
I An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
J A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce
K The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd
L Native Speaker Chang-rae Lee
M Moby-Dick Herman Melville
N Five Children and It E. Nesbit
O BUtterfield 8 John O’Hara
P Swann’s Way Marcel Proust
Q The Greek Coffin Mystery Ellery Queen
R Haroun and the Sea of Stories Salman Rushdie
S Cannery Row John Steinbeck
T The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan
U Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath Sigrid Undset
V Candide Voltaire
W Leaves of Grass and Selected Poems and Prose Walt Whitman
X Sky Burial Xinran
Y When You are Old William Butler Yeats
Z The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Out of the 26 covers, which one is your favourite design? Vote at this link by 12th of September. Three most voted covers will be selected for a giveaway. For updates, visit Penguin Books (Paperbacks) USA’s Facebook page.

The Guardian readers vote for 51st BookBench

Almost two weeks ago, I wrote about Books About Town’s BookBenches project. In summary, the project is a celebration of London’s literary heritage and enjoyment of reading. Fifty books that highlight London’s best were chosen and painted onto book-shaped benches. These BookBenches are placed all over London city.

Some people were surprised that certain London fictions were omitted from the project. Many believed that ‘Harry Potter’ by J.K. Rowling was snubbed.

The Guardian has graciously asked readers to nominate and vote for their favourite book that was not selected for the project. The winning vote will be honoured on an extra bench, number 51. Votes were cast and congratulations to Neil Gaiman! The 51st BookBench will feature artwork inspired by ‘Neverwhere’.

The bench will make its appearance at the end of August. Details of the artist will be revealed soon.

ps: SS Readers Corner has 2 copies of ‘Neverwhere’. I am borrowing a copy and looking forward to experience a London adventure. Have you read the book? If ‘yes’, then ‘Like’ this post.

Our copies of ‘Neverwhere’ has this cover design.

Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change YOUR life

The United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland celebrated World Book Day on 6 March 2014. To celebrate the glorious day, readers were invited to nominate books that have rocked their worlds. Votes were cast and a list of ‘Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change YOUR life’ was created. Using ‘Writes of Passage’ instead of ‘Rites of Passages’ for the survey/campaign… that’s brilliant!

Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change Your life

Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change YOUR life

Out of 50 books, 10 were chosen as the most popular books (see below). There is even a poster of the ‘top 10’ poster (click here to view).

Title Author Genre
1 The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins Dystopic, Science Fiction
2 The Fault in Our Stars John Green Romance
3 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Fiction
4 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone J.K. Rowling Fantasy
5 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell Dystopia, Science Fiction
6 The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank Autobiography
7 A Street Cat Named Bob James Bowen Autobiography
8 Lord of The Rings J.R.R. Tolkien Fantasy
9 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky Fiction
10 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë Historical romance

I am familiar with all the works (either by reading the books, watching book-to-film adaptations and/or visiting a memorial) except for ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’. I don’t usually read non-fiction but reviews seem good. Will read the book if my mood-for-something-different strikes.

Based on the ‘Writes of Passage’ list, is there any book that piques your interest? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

If you have read any of the 50 books, like the page. 🙂

How do you arrange your collection of books?

This post is a response to The Guardian’s poll on home library. Most of the readers (37%) organised their home library according to genre. This is followed closely with ‘alphabetically by author’ (18%) and ‘totally random’ (14%). Check out photo contributions from the readers to The Guardian. My favourite is definitely ‘Literary Spectrum’ (the one featured in the article) because I have never seen a personal collection of books that are arranged by colour.

I organise my books according to genre. However nowadays my books tend to be randomly placed due to the lack of shelf space. I have a L-shaped built-in bookshelf. If you look at my ‘shelfies’ (below), the books that are lying horizontally are newer than those that are standing.

How do you arrange your collection of books? Cast your vote in the poll below.


Bookmark vs. Dog-ear: How do you record the last page read?

When I got the job as a website admin/blogger for SS Readers Corner, I enthusiastically shared the news with my book-loving friends. Our discussion, which started with my responsibilities, shifted to our reading habits. One friend asked, “Do you dog-ear the pages of your book?” and my response was a firm no.

I love books regardless whether they are mine or borrowed. I am a known bookworm amongst friends and family so I get plenty of bookmarks as gifts. I usually have a book in my handbag so I carry a bookmark with me all the time. I would never fold the corner of a book page.

There were times when I couldn’t find a bookmark and was desperate to record the last page read without damaging it. The easiest solution: grab any flat item within reach (usually in my wallet or purse). There are plenty of choices for a makeshift bookmark (refer to picture below) but the most popular ones are used train tickets and receipts.

The different types of bookmarks I use: a proper bookmark, a business card, an ang pow (a money envelope), a postcard and a train ticket.

The different types of bookmarks I use: a proper bookmark, a business card, an ang pow (a money envelope), a postcard, a train ticket and a tissue.

How about you? If you use a bookmark or any item(s) displayed in the picture, like this page. Do you use other creative methods to mark the last page read? Share your views in the comment box below. Alternatively you could answer by voting in the poll.


‘100 Greatest Romances of All Time’ survey – surprise and snubbed entries

The organising committee of Romance Festival 2014 has listed their top 100 romance books of all time. You could complete the survey here but in case the survey is closed, click on the image below. I agree with most of the entries although I think some titles are in the list because of their popularity. There are books that should and shouldn’t be in the 100 Greatest Romances of All Time list.

Surprised entry

I was quite surprised that ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky was in the list. In my humble opinion, the story had a different focus: identity development during adolescence. The book is about how Charlie finds his place in the world. His infatuation with Sam is a side story. I don’t think the book has enough romantic content to be in the survey.

Snubbed entries

One important book was snubbed: ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by the late Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez. The story is about enduring love; Florentino and Fermina went through so many life challenges and the only time they got together at the end of the book. I read this book in 2007 so I quickly checked Goodreads reviews. Perhaps this book did not make into the list because it takes awhile to warm up to their love story.

I was dismayed that ‘Paradise’ by Judith McNaught not in the list. It is one of my favourite books and I always re-read whenever I am bored. In most romance stories, a conflict between hero and heroine arises because of miscommunication. This element works here because people used snail mails, landline telephones and telegrams for communication in 80s and early ’90s. ‘Paradise’ is about “love conquers all” and I believe it is one of the 100 greatest romances of all times.

Do you agree or disagree with my views? Are your favourite romance books missing from the survey too? Share your views below.


Top 100 romance books of all time as chosen by Romance Festival 2014

Top 100 romance books of all time as chosen by Romance Festival 2014