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Looking for a good read? Four great new books out in Singapore this month


The Painted Alphabet

Diana Darling

Editions Didier Millet | 167 pages

Subtitled “A mythical story of Bali”, this sensual little book is a gem for anyone who is attracted to Bali, it’s people and its intricate culture. Author Diana Darling has been living on the Indonesian island since 1980 and is married to a local man; her book was first published in 1992 and has been slightly revised for this new edition.

Its lively if utterly fantastical plot is based on the tale “Dukuh Siladri”, oral versions of which the author sought out from elderly Balinese friends; she says it used to be performed ritually as a mystery play. Full of interesting detail about the Balinese way of life, but never ponderously so, it’s a thoroughly entertaining read – perfect for your next visit to that mystical Indonesian island.

Verne Maree

Savour Chinatown: Stories, Memories & Recipes

Annette Tan

Ate Ideas | 273 pages

Think you know Chinatown? Ten minutes with this book will shed a whole new light on the neighbourhood many know mainly for noodles and bauble shopping, bespoke cocktails and upmarket boutiques.

Chapters are divided into areas, such as Telok Ayer, Boat Quay and Smith Street, with short stories of families who fought around the gangsters and brothels of the mid-20th century to establish businesses that are still thriving today. The book is packed with old photos, interviews, maps of key places and recipes for everything from kaya to Hainanese chicken rice.

But it’s the stories told by the older folks that really grab your attention and pull you in. This book is a historical, yet sentimental – and at times, downright juicy – read that will deepen your appreciation for the Chinatown we know today.

Monica Pitrelli

The $100 Startup

Chris Guillebeau

Crown Business | 285 pages

Halfway through The $100 Startup, I was optimistic about falling upon a business idea that would allow me, in the words of the author, to reinvent my life and make a living too. Now that I’ve finished the book, my high hopes have turned to dust. While reading the book I searched high and low for a business idea, because Chris Guillebeau says entrepreneurs find ideas everywhere they look. I looked, and it exercised my mind day and night. Either I don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body, or I don’t have enough passion for anything.

I love the idea of the freedom, flexibility and monetary rewards that the author says come from a micro-business, and I like the way he explains in simple language how to make it happen, with lots of real life examples of successful businesses. How easy is this: “To start a business you need three things: a product or service, people willing to pay for it and a way to get paid.” Simple. Email me if you have an idea (that you’ve not already cashed in on).

Katie Roberts

Stop the Bullying!

Julie & Andrew Matthews

Seashell Publishers | 160 pages

Two events prompted the Australian authors to write this book: the suicide of cyber-bullied 17-year-old Melburnian Allem Halkic; and the systematic cruelty to loner Richard Plotkin by five young men in the state of Victoria that permanently disfigured and almost killed the 59-year-old.

Compellingly presented, and written with evident passion, Stop the Bullying! includes many real stories and testimonies of both bullies and bullied, under chapter headings such as “Bullied to Death”, “Bullying at School”, “Bullying at Home”, “Tips for Bullied Kids”, “No Innocent Bystanders” and “What You Can Do”.

A clear, bold format and wryly humorous illustrations make it ideal for children to read, too – and I think every one should.

Verne Maree