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Good Reads To Get You Through Covid-19 (And Beyond), As Recommended By A Book Fairy

If there is a silver lining to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, however glimmeringly small, it might be that it’s forcing people to slow down, re-evaluate things and get back in touch with things they’ve constantly put off. Many are picking up new – or old – hobbies and while many institutions and creatives are making the best of the situation by digitising, certain experiences are hard to replicate, though, such as that simple, age-old pleasure of getting lost in a really good book.

Since we’re all staying indoors more than ever, now’s the time to get back into reading that classic you keep telling yourself you would take it up some day. Or better yet, why not step out of your comfort zone to discover authors of vastly different backgrounds, communities and experiences?

Lit queen Ruby Thiagarajan

If you’re looking for fresh reads, one of the best places to start in Singapore would be The Moon, an independent bookstore, cafe and events space known for championing titles penned by under-served communities – more than half their stock of books are written by women and authors of colour.

We’ve enlisted Ruby Thiagarajan, The Moon’s resident book curator, to give us her top literary recommendations here. If none of the titles above finds a right fit with you, you’re always welcomed to try The Moon Mystery, where customers pay a flat fee and fill out a form about their reading preferences – which Thiagarajan then proceeds to suss out a book she thinks is most suitable for them.

Enjoy the recommendations and if it hits a sweet spot with you, do shop local as much as possible. After all, local businesses need your patronage now more than ever.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
“I finally read this after having it recommended to me by every cool person I know. It was definitely worth the read. The main character is an It girl who feels that life is meaningless and so enters a state of hibernation for a year. It is very entertaining at times – it takes place in New York City at the beginning of the new millennium and carries some scathing perspectives on the artifice of the art and fashion scenes – but also leaves the reader with plenty to think about.” Get a copy here. Sugarbread by Balli Kaur Jaswal
“Balli Kaur Jaswal is possibly my favourite Singaporean writer. Sugarbread is her second novel and it’s set in Singapore in the ’90s. It’s really easy to feel close to the characters in all of Balli’s books (yes, I’ve read them all!) and Sugarbread is no different. The main character, Pin, is a schoolgirl navigating both her traditional Sikh upbringing and the challenges of being a minority in Singapore. It’s a gorgeous story about family and the secrets we keep.” Get a copy here. Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
“Something I suspect we’re all learning during the circuit breaker period is that a lot of meetings could’ve been emails and a lot of tasks could’ve been eliminated. (Anthropologist) David Graeber is one of my go-to writers on politics because he writes about radical ideas in a very accessible way. Bullshit Jobs is about the rise of pointless work in our contemporary society. I expect that this will resonate with most people who’ve ever had an office job.” Get a copy here. Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau
“This book is pure atmosphere. Told in a series of vignettes, Pink Mountain on Locust Island is noir fiction for the 21st century. There are plot points – 15-year-old Monk lives in an unnamed city’s Chinatown and quickly becomes entangled with some unsavoury characters – but it’s best to enjoy this book like you’re watching the scenery go by from a train’s windows. The imagery is electric.” Get a copy here. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
“Whenever I find myself wondering about a cultural phenomenon, I quickly find that New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino’s already written about it. Trick Mirror is a collection of essays about self-delusion and the great con of modern millennial life. The topics covered in this book range from Internet culture to reality TV and Tolentino’s commentary is both entertaining and incisive.” Get a copy here. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
“Freshwater is a truly unique novel. It draws on the writer’s Nigerian heritage and is steeped in traditional Igbo beliefs. The protagonist Ada is an ogbanje, or a spirit child, and much of the book is told through the voices of the various spirits who inhabit her. There’s a bit of a learning curve with the style of this book but I promise it’s worth it. It’s a stunning exploration of tradition, mental illness, gender, and community.” Get a copy here. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
“Kitchen is a slim novel that can probably be read in a single sitting. It will stay with you for years after you’ve finished it. Like a lot of other books I’ve read that were translated from Japanese, the writing is sparse and controlled while still being packed with emotion. I won’t give too much of the plot away because it is such a short book save for saying that it’s a lovely story about love and life after loss.” Get a copy here. Things I Don’t Want To Know by Deborah Levy
“I’m a huge fan of Deborah Levy’s fiction – it’s compelling and strange, a winning combination – so this title is right up my alley. Things I Don’t Want To Know is an extended autobiographical essay where she explores her journey as a writer and the motivations that feed her creative process. A must-read for any writer.” Get a copy here.