Nooks for books: Singapore's lesser-known literary gems

Nooks for books: Singapore's lesser-known literary gems
Earshot Cafe at The Arts House.

SINGAPORE - If your literary interests lean less to mass-market tastes, and more towards niche interests such as clan genealogy, colonial Singapore or even stupa art, there are places you can go to feed your curiosity.

There are small, alternative reference libraries in Singapore, including a tiny nook with books on Confucius and clan lineage in a clan association in Bukit Pasoh, and a Buddhist library carrying tomes on meditation, death and literature in Geylang Road.

Singapore-centric volumes abound at the National Museum of Singapore's library, and local writers and poets' works, some long out of print, find a home at The Arts House.

However, students looking for a cosy corner to study, take note: Seating spaces at these libraries are minimal and strictly for readers only.

Some are open to the public by appointment only.

Life!Weekend checks out Singapore's lesser-known literary gems.


What: Readers must take off their shoes before entering the pristine Buddhist Library, located in a shophouse in Aljunied. The 20,000 titles sit on tall dark-wood shelves, creating an old-world feel. There are tomes on the religion, as well as on topics such as death, Indian and Tibetan literature, cultural studies and Buddhist art.

Must-read: Deathing: An Intelligent Alternative For The Final Moments Of Life by Anya Foos-Graber, who writes that preparing for eventual death should be as natural as preparing for natural childbirth. Buddhist Stupas In Asia: The Shape Of Perfection by Joe Cummings and Bill Wassman, a coffee-table book crammed with full-colour photographs of one of the oldest religious symbols, and showcasing the spread of stupa building and Buddhism across Asia.

Where: No. 2, Lorong 24A Geylang Road When: Noon to 9pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am to 9pm on Sundays, closed on Mondays Info: Call 6746-8435 or go to

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