Merry gifts to get for friends
It's the most wonderful time of the year, with the streets already aglow with the familiar festive lights, and malls playing those catchy Christmas carols.
But for those still wracking your brains over what to get for your family and friends, we've just the gift for you: Our cool collection of books.
Why books? Well, they're entertaining, don't need to be recharged, don't need connectivity and, as Stephen King said, "books are a uniquely portable magic".
Here then is our list of recommended gifts that will surely to put you in everyone's good books (or as Santa likes to call it: his "Nice List").
FOR FICTION FANS
HARRIS BIN POTTER AND THE STONED PHILOSOPHER by Suffian Hakim
Speaking of magic, here's something magical to spice up the holiday spirit! A spoof on Harry Potter, Suffian's Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher follows the eponymous hero on a quest to save the magical folk in Singapore from turning into kosongs (people devoid of magic). Filled with Suffian's sharp wit and knack for Singaporean humour, this book promises more than a few chuckles for you and your friends–and more importantly, the magic that resides deep within ourselves. Who ever said that the British are the only ones who could wave wands and cast spells?
DEATH OF A PERM SEC by Wong Souk Yee
A rather unusual choice for Christmas, we know. However, this will be the perfect companion for those friends who are already fired up about the General Elections coming next year. (You know who you are!) Set in 1980s Singapore, the novel narrates the events after the mysterious demise of the permanent-secretary of the housing ministry, Chow Sze Teck, accused of accepting millions of dollars worth of bribes. Nominated for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2018, Death of a Perm Sec gives us a glimpse into the dark side of politics, and the lengths that people of power will go to for power.
BEST NEW SINGAPOREAN SHORT STORIES VOL. 4
Edited by Pooja Nansi and Jason Erik Lundberg
Gathering works from bestselling and award-winning storytellers such as Balli Kaur Jaswal, Ng Yi-Sheng, and Cyril Wong, this "best of" anthology of short fiction is the one-stop for uniquely Singaporean stories. Exploring the various relationships that Singaporeans share with the Lion City, the book shines the spotlight on contemporary issues that we face today. For instance, how do you balance friendship and a career that could potentially cause the end of that friendship? Or what are the lengths that you would go to save a failing marriage? This new collection of short stories reaches out to with the reminder that we are not alone in our struggles and experiences. Plus, they're a good read!
FOR NON-FICTION ENTHUSIASTS
THIS COULD BE HOME by Pico Iyer
Drawing from his stays in Raffles over 35 years, Pico Iyer pens down a personal and thoughtful memoir about a Singapore that we, more often than not, take for granted. It looks at how Singapore deals with its heritage and its past, even as the country hurtles forward into the future. It's not only a reflection of his time here, but also an ode composed for the "Grand Old Lady" of Singapore by arguably, the world's greatest travel writer alive. Capturing the emotion of his experiences, This Could Be Home is the book to get for lovers of lyrically-prosed travelogues and memoirs.
DON'T CALL ME MRS ROGERS by Paige Parker
Life lessons are bountiful when you're on the road. Take it from Paige Parker, who went on a road trip across six continents in an epic journey that changed her worldview forever. On the trek, she witnessed the harsh realities of boy soldiers in Angola, women being oppressed and societal systems that challenged her idea of "civilisation". The life lessons she learnt are ably captured in the pages of this book—lessons that anyone: men, women and children can all learn from. An inspiring holiday read, Don't Call Me Mrs Rogers is the perfect gift for those who wish to embark on their own mini journeys of self-discovery ahead of the brand new year.
Did you know that the Istana was originally called "Government House" by the British? And that the Singapore Government, under the auspices of President Yusof bin Ishak, declared that the Istana should "belong to the people of Singapore"? These fascinating facts about one of Singapore's most recognised landmarks are compiled into three easy-to-read books, and make the perfect gift for those who love to awe their friends with facts and information (we all know someone like that, don't we?).
Also available: a version done specially for younger readers, called the Open House Adventures, which you can have a look here.
FOR GRAPHIC NOVEL GEEKS
We all have that one friend who is constantly geeking out about the newest comic release of Rick and Morty or New Mutants. Lucky for you (and them!), we have something that will appeal to comic fans everywhere—the latest brainchild of Sonny Liew (The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye) and Hsu Li Yang: The Antibiotic Tales. Alternating between present-day and post-apocalyptic Singapore, this comic hypothesises the disastrous—but not inconceivable—repercussions of mankind's abuse of antibiotics. (Because the effects are #real.) Whoever said that medicinal science can't be a topic during Christmas?
OK, we admit that we can't mention Singapore graphic novels without mentioning this one. This is a popular gifting choice that anyone is bound to love: the triple-Eisner Award-winning bestseller, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. Revisit the years of Singapore's swift rise from a third to a first world country, as witnessed through the eyes of comics artist, Charlie Chan. The graphic novel is more than just a collection of art works by the fictional artist—it presents a daring alternative narrative on Singapore's political and economic history. Definitely an interesting topic for conversation at any Christmas party!
FOR THE FOODIES
THE DOMESTIC GODDESS WANNABE BAKES by Diana Gale
Christmas isn't whole without food, food, and MORE FOOD. Get a taste of Diana Gale's mouthwatering East-meets-West recipes from her cookbook for novices and expert cooks alike. From treats like Teh Halia Chiffon Cake, Cheesy Garlic Bread Roulades, and Spinach and Mushroom Scrolls, there's no reason for anyone to complain that there's a lack of variety in their diets any longer.
WET MARKET TO TABLE by Pamelia Chia
Pamelia's debut cookbook is more than your usual compilation of recipes—it also helps wet market newbies navigate their way around the wet market, especially in an era of supermarkets and online grocery shopping. Featuring more than 80 recipes, Pamelia offers a modern and fresh take on what you can do with these ingredients—jambu galette, anyone?—Wet Market to Table is a must-have for all foodies and is suitable for kitchen novices and experts alike. What's more: the ingredients are cheap, and the recipes, all easy to follow!
Last but not least, here's something for kueh lovers: Christopher Tan's The Way of Kueh. With more than 100 recipes recorded within its pages, this cookbook is a heartfelt homage to Singapore's kueh heritage and history. Christopher gathered interviews from local kueh artisans and shares their stories and legacy in one handy cookbook. For those who want to make these traditional recipes from scratch, the book provides step-by-step guides and insights to the different utensils, ingredients and techniques needed to create that perfect taste and texture.
Remember to place your orders by the 4th of December to get your books delivered in time for Christmas! Alternatively, you can get them at our Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop.
Didn't find what you were looking for? Why not browse through our gift recommendations for kids here?