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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Bringing back the love of reading

Three initiatives started by young Singaporeans tap on social networking platforms like Facebook and Tumblr to encourage the love for books and language
The Straits Times - May 14, 2012
By: Sara Pua
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Bringing back the love of reading -- PHOTO: MOVABLE LIBRARY

THREE initiatives started by young Singaporeans are winning a following among those who love to read or master a foreign language.

One initiative called Books & Beer Singapore was started last year by Ms Eileen Lee, a communications executive, and Ms Melissa Low, an energy analyst.

The duo, both in their mid-20s, met in Copenhagen while campaigning for climate-change efforts at the 2009 United Nations climate conference. They decided to start Books & Beer as a way to recycle old books.

Their idea has since evolved from its green origins to a platform for sharing books and conversations. The aim is to 'reignite the spark for reading in Singaporeans', the pair said in an interview via e-mail.

Books & Beer has hosted eight meetings, with the most recent one held on May 6 at Ardent's Cafe Bar on Neil Road. Each three-hour session gives participants a chance to exchange books and engage in stimulating conversation over beer and food.

Books & Beer also collaborated with Tete-a-Tete - Language Tables on a travel-inspired meeting in October last year.

Started last year by Mr Terence Yeo, 25, a senior officer at the Economic Development Board, Tete-a-Tete aims to establish a platform for those with a passion for languages to gather and hone their linguistic skills.

Said Mr Yeo: 'Tete-a-Tete is a community platform that allows people who have learnt a foreign language to practise speaking it with others.'

Native speakers turn up at the event too. The most recent session on Saturday at Blujaz Cafe on Bali Lane featured six languages - German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Italian. Participation is free of charge.

Another reading project - Movable Library - was started this year by Mr Norman Teh, 27, a design planner, and Ms Chew Jia Ling, 26, a bank associate.

Said Mr Teh: 'We started this as sort of a fun leisure activity, spurred by the idea that books, once you read them, just sit on your shelf until you pass them on to someone else.'

Books can be mailed to an address stated on their Facebook page or handed over personally to, say, Mr Teh at his office at the Goodman Arts Centre.

Books donated range from classics like The Great Gatsby to Russian literature like The Adolescent.

Donors are encouraged to print out a bookmark available online and write a short message on why someone should read the book. The bookmark is then placed in the book. The new owners can pass the books on, or return them during the next event. At the first Movable Library event on April 21, held at the Botanic Gardens and Esplanade Bridge, 45 books were given away.

All three initiatives have tapped social networking platforms like Facebook and Tumblr to garner exposure and expand their offerings.

The environment, for instance, will get a plug when Books & Beer celebrates its first anniversary next month. Ms Low and Ms Lee intend to launch an event that will celebrate World Environment Day.

Movable Library said it is in talks with flea-market organiser Public Garden to take part in a flea market at the Singapore Arts Festival later this month.


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