Why it’s good to read your favourite books again (and again)

Updated: Mar 25

Which titles did you reach for during the lockdown?

Mine was Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper Chronicles. I would’ve gone on to re-read for the nth time their Kate Daniels and Hidden Legacy series too.

I still could. 😊

The thing is, there’s still time. And it feels good to know that our favourite stories will always be there to lift us up and make us think.

Kenny Leck, a bookseller at BooksActually, can relate. “To be honest, I did not manage to re-read the one book that I had always hoped and planned to re-read,” he admits.

Kenny Leck, BooksActually
Meet Kenny (photo courtesy of Arts House Ltd)

“The book in question is actually Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials.”

Why the trilogy? “The reason I loved it so much was the fact that every character that Pullman created, it showed a side of what every human being is capable of, the good, the bad, and the inertia of our being.

“It taught me that there is always goodness and darkness in this world, or any other world if there’s any. Regardless, the world will be poorer if we the beings residing in it do not take action when challenged by darkness, and do not share when blessed with goodness.”

Kenny’s recommendations

Established in 2005, BooksActually is an independent bookstore in Singapore.

They have a wide and curated selection of fiction and non-fiction titles under different subjects, such as historical fiction, art and design, essays and poetry, romance, food and travel, philosophy, and more. They also have works by Singaporean authors.

BooksActually Singapore
It's a treasure trove of tales and adventures

Avid readers and collectors will love that BooksActually carries obscure, hard-to-find, and out-of-print publications too. And they even have their own imprint, Math Paper Press.

Plus they deliver. 😊

With the pandemic and Circuit Breaker, how did Kenny’s reading habits and book “browsing” experiences change?

“During the lockdown, browsing and buying a book meant doing it on an online platform,” he observes.

“To a certain extent, it allowed me to discover new books as everything is just a click away. When I am in a physical bookstore, I tend to gravitate towards the book sections that appeal to me, and would only explore new book sections if time was available.

“But browsing online usually from the comfort of home or the workspace, it allowed me to explore books by just clicking from one title to the next.”

So which new books did he pick up?

#1 Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

“It’s a book on a human activity that is deeply familiar to any human being as long as you master its techniques – swimming. For individuals who either had never learnt to swim or are afraid of being immersed in a large body of water, to entertain the idea of that same human being stranded in an open ocean with nothing except a life vest – this is a true manifestation of survival.”

#2 I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan

“It’s a memoir of author and journalist Ahmet Altan on his ongoing incarceration in a Turkish prison on trumped-up charges by the Erdogan regime. The book was only made possible when the manuscript was smuggled out during his imprisonment.

“This is a memoir of his survival against an ideology, and survival as a prisoner serving a life sentence. In his words, ‘A prisoner counts everything. Except time. A prisoner discovers time.’

“I think what made me pick up both books was their take on survival.”

You could say it’s timely

One of the things that keeps me sane is to read. I think it’s important that we continue to do so.

Kenny agrees. “It is a window into another place, another life, another perspective, another time,” he muses.

“A book by itself is a companion through the tough times, a safe harbour when the world decides to make very little sense.”

You’ll rediscover things about yourself too.

“Personally, for me, the reading of a good book seeds questions that propel me forward,” Kenny states.

“When I read I Will Never See the World Again, it asks me to question how vain and insecure a human being can be to take away another individual’s right to live as he or she is. And the question(s) guides me towards a different set of actions as best as my world allows me.”

So which book from your shelf will you lose yourself in next? 😊

BooksActually is at 9 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168645. Check out their site, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.