The Young Literary Fans Sequel: Nourishment of Bookstores
Sporting black-framed spectacles, armed with a film camera, a tablet computer, a book, and hanging out at a café the whole day long… This appears to be the common description of a typical young literary fan. However, no matter which generation we are in, the bookstore is the place to be for literary fans.
After her visit to the Chou Sing Chu Foundation’s “I Remember Gallery” exhibition, columnist Chew Moh Yuen penned down her thoughts on the nexus between the young literary fans and the bookstores in the 20 December 2015 edition of Lianhe Zaobao. Is it possible for these younger literary fans to maintain a steadfast passion for words without reading? In her article, Chew reminisced about the famous bookstores, like Hong Kong’s second-floor bookstores, Paris’ Shakespeare and Company, and San Francisco’s City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, before the advent of emails and the Internet.
Also in her article, Chew wrote about the bookstores around Bras Basah Complex in the 1960s and 1970s when our society was not as affluent as today. It was an era when the benevolent bookstore owners deliberately turned a blind eye to the fact that many students from the less well-to-do families lingered in their bookstores and browsed for hours without buying; the owners imperceptibly opening the wells of imagination for these book lovers.
These fond memories of going to the bookstores are also captured in THE BRAS BASAH bookstore journey, a Chou Sing Chu Foundation publication. This 16-page publication documented 20 bookstores based in Bras Basah Complex, presenting the readers with the scenic view of the bookstore forest in an area that once had the highest density of bookstores.
The “I Remember Gallery” exhibition that was launched in July 2015 has been well received by the public. To date, the exhibition has been to the public libraries in Woodlands, Toa Payoh, Central Library, Jurong, and Cheng San. Chou Sing Chu Foundation will be expanding the reach of this exhibition further to shopping malls and schools in 2016. Also in the pipeline are plans to collate and publish the stories about local bookstores in order to present a complete picture of their rich history to the readers.