Alvin In The Room: Journal

Visiting local bookstores while traveling

Visiting bookstores is one of my favourite things to do when I am traveling overseas. Maybe you say I can find all the books I need in my home Hong Kong, as an international city. I can tell you absolutely that it's not, and exploring local bookstores is always fun! Besides, I have recently got the habit of reading paper books even outside Hong Kong, and I still need to get books from the bookshops there.


Explore local literatures which help understand the society

Local bookstores do have their own publications, including literature especially those which can't be exported and exposed to overseas markets, but which include the stories based on the local society's history and setting, so that readers can have a wider view and understanding of one place. Travelers are always encouraged to visit bookstores, especially the independent small shops as a gateway to the society and culture there!

Even though their works are not necessarily written in English, or the language you are familiar with, you can still interpret the meanings through the pictures and graphs provided. Or catch a glimpse of the photography books in order to know about the past and different seasons of a city.


Editor's picks and mystery books  

Bookstores have their own business mode. In Hong Kong, I can rarely see the editor's picks especially the one handwritten! I do love the picks as it is the sincere way of staff recommendation as they really read those books before the suggestion. The picks also show the staff are not only labour, but they also act as an important role of curators to help readers explore more great works!

Some bookstores have their 'mystery books' being sold, that is, the books wrapped so that customers don't know what the books are before they buy, except some highlights provided by the staff. Blind Date with a Book, the mystery books sold in Perth Australia, claimed that they curate some great books which may be ignored by the public, and wrap them in order to let readers explore more books to read. It is true as the ranking in the shop, book review in media, and the design of the cover always influence our reading choice. In fact most books are good works. Serendipity shall be an important part in reading.


Local bookstores recommended  


  • In the community of Tiong Bahru, Singapore
  • An independent bookstore with its own publisher promoting Singaporean literature. A vendor book machine for mystery books as well!

Elizabeth Bookshops

  • Three stores in Perth CBD and Fremantle
  • The Perth's local bookstore with 'Blind Date with a Book' for further exploration and serendipity of books for readers.


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