Very few store openings are worthy of fanfare, but the latest addition to Tropicana Avenue in PJ certainly fits the bill. At a time of mass digitisation, the idea of an independent bookstore getting into the ring with the likes of Kinokuniya and MPH renders most into a state of incredulity. But for literary lovers, this will be welcome news.
There’s a definite sense of deliberateness when one walks into Lit Books – every book you see has been stocked and placed with a purpose. Husband-and-wife team Min Hun and Elaine conservatively estimates that they have read about 60% of the books available in-store, while the rest are on their TBR – to be read – list. So if you’re not quite sure what new reading material to add to your nightstand, they’ll be at hand to make some helpful recommendations based on your favourite genre or author.
Here’s what you need to know about Lit Books and why it should be your go-to bookstore and gift shop!
Lit Books is owned by writers and purveyors of books
If a bookstore owner says that he has read 60% of what he stocks, you can be pretty sure that he takes the printed word really seriously, to say the least. Min Hun credits his reading habit to his late mother, who passed down classics to him. “My first book was actually a 2-in-1,” he reminisces, “On one side it was Black Beauty, and on the other side, upside down, was The Prince and the Pauper.” He spent most of his career as a financial reporter, first with local publication The Edge and then Reuters.
Elaine on the other hand, picked up reading on her own as a child. She started off with mystery – reciting a familiar list of detective series such as Three Investigators, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and of course, those by Agatha Christie. She has since widened her reading appetite to anything that expands her knowledge. Prior to launching Lit Books, she spent almost a decade with The Edge as a writer.
There are probably many a story with tragic endings of couples going into business together, but Elaine says that “Min Hun takes care of the books and I take care of the non-book stuff.” Compartmentalising is key!
Together, the power couple is like the Spotify of books. Tell them what you’ve enjoyed reading, and they can rattle off a list of “You Might Also Like…”
Lit Books stocks more than just books
Literary fans can also wear their hearts on their book sleeves with trinkets from Out of Print, Franklin Mill, and Obvious State, to name a few. Hang an iconic quote on your wall, doodle on notebooks with a Staedler rainbow pencil, or bring a Le Petit Prince clutch to your next dinner!
The Great Gatsby tote by Penguin: RM68.00
Oscar Wilde tote by Out of Print: RM72.00
Literary art print by Obvious State: RM108.00
Pouches by Out of Print: RM49.90
Jumbo triangular 4-colour pencil: RM5.50 each (buy 6 and get a sharpener free)
For the budget-conscious, revel in the glorious scent of bound pages while enjoying a cuppa or two from the Lit Bar. Nespresso coffees await – a hot long black currently goes for RM6.00, and each cup comes with a biscoff (a portmanteau of biscuits and coffee). Tea-drinkers can order the Honeydew Green tea or South Melbourne Breakfast tea, amongst others.
Lit Books caters to all readers
New readers, readers who haven’t picked up a book in a while, and die-hard bibliophiles will find page-turners in every shelf. Min Hun’s aim is to position Lit Books as a general, neighbourhood bookstore. Currently, they are stocked with about 10 – 15% backlist books – older books as opposed newly published titles, which are conversely called frontlist. Fans of literary classics will delight in collector’s editions of Jane Eyre and Sherlock Holmes, as we did! For the cover art connoisseurs, the Pan 70th anniversary paperbacks are a sight to behold.
Literally literary lovers will also be glad to know that there won’t be any of those pesky little sticky price tags to pick out of the back covers – simply remove the folded price tags from within.
Lit Books wants to be more than a bookstore
Reading isn’t just a hobby – it’s a lifestyle! Min Hun and Elaine designed the space for events – book clubs are more than welcome to have their regular meets here. Further down the road, they’d also like to host board games like Scrabble and Boggle (duh!) and even open to arts & crafts workshops.
Lit Books wants to help you with your tax relief
You read that right. Simply register yourself as a member and all your receipts will be kept in their system. During that time of the year, just request for a copy and voila! Say goodbye to crumpled, faded receipts that once represented a little less tax for you to pay.
So, where to begin? Here’s a selection of good reads from the purveyors themselves:
Min Hun’s reading list:
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman, illustrated by Michael Manomivibul – “Just because it’s cool!” Hardback retailing at RM157.90.
- The Man who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk – “It’s the first English translation from a popular Estonian book.” Retailing at RM75.90.
- The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee – “This is my favourite non-fiction book of the past decade.” Retailing at RM79.90.
- Stoner by John Williams (50th anniversary edition) and Booker prize-winning novel Last Orders by Graham Swift – “These are just great novels.” Hardbacks retailing at RM93.95 and RM79.95 respectively.
Elaine’s reading list:
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – “It’s a gripping read with a major plot twist!”. Retailing at RM75.90.
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – “This is one of my all-time favourite books.” Hardback retailing at RM69.95.
- How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer and Vintage Munro by Nobel prize-winning author Alice Munro – “ If you can’t focus on one big, long book and you just want snippets, these are great reads.” Retailing at RM70.50 and RM49.90 respectively.
- I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong. – “This opened my eyes to the world of microbes and gave me an insight into why they are important in our world.” Hardback retailing at RM109.90.
Lit Books is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 11:00am to 9:00pm.
P-01-11 Tropicana Avenue,
12, Persiaran Tropicana,
Tropicana Golf & Country Resort,
47410 Petaling Jaya,
Tel: 03-7886 6988.
Bonus: Parking is free for now!
Lit Books only accepts cash at the time of writing.
By Ching Yee.