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Guide to Great Book Clubs in Singapore

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Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life - Post Category - Mama About TownMama About Town

Whether you’re a voracious reader or you’re picking up a book for the first time in a while, mama, Singapore’s many book clubs leave you spoiled for choice!

Are you keen to find an in-depth intellectual discussion, or perhaps you just prefer your wine with a side of books? We checked out book readings around the island so you can find the book club that’s just your speed!

National Library Book Clubs

When I first came to Singapore, like many expats, I didn’t know a soul. But I loved reading so one day I hopped along to the local library and to my absolute delight, it hosted a book club I could join. It was the best decision ever for someone looking to settle down in a new country with ease. The library has upped the ante on reading with its National Reading Movement, launched last year, and introduced many new book clubs to suit every age and cultural background. There are book clubs hosted in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil — for both kids and adults. Some particularly mama-friendly ones include Reading Aloud (which brings books to life — Harry Potter is the next one on the schedule!), Singapore Literature (a fab way to learn about local authors and more about local history and culture), and the Heartlands Book Club for inspirational non-fiction books.

Where to find them:

Reading Aloud is held at [email protected]: 277 Orchard Road, #03-12#04-11 orchardgateway, Singapore 238858
Singapore Literature is held at the library’s Central branch: 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064
Heartlands Book Club is at Bukit Batok Public Library: 1 Bukit Batok Central Link, #03-01 West Mall , Singapore 658713

How much: Free!

Hungry Hundred Book Club

Rachel Westbrook taught English to children and by the time Sundays rolled around, she was hungry for adult conversation to stimulate her senses (and good food, too!). She also wanted to conquer lists like ‘100 top bestsellers’, ‘100 books to read before you die’, ‘100 best novels of all time’, and therein formed an idea. She began the Hungry Hundred Book Club on Meetup.com expecting a small group of people. What she hadn’t anticipated in her wildest dreams was its quick ascent to almost 4,000 members in seven years.

Rachel posts well in advance what the club will be reading for the next few months along with the dates so mamas can plan ahead. You can simply RSVP and rock up, no strings attached. The club gets members from as young as 20 years of age to retirees in their 60s and 70s.

Since it is held on a Sunday evening, it’s suitable for mamas who can hopefully get away from snot and schoolwork once a month. You’ll meet expats as well as Singaporeans willing to grab a bite and tear apart books with a significant cultural, historical or literary significance.

For the past few years, meetings have typically been hosted by Charlie’s Paradiso in Boat Quay. The atmosphere is dark and cozy — think black leather sofas in a wood floored cigar/whisky room.

How to find it: Check out their website at www.meetup.com/hungryhundred.

How much: It is free and easy to join, with the click of a button. The only cost is the food you purchase on the day of the meet-up.

Books & Beer

When friends Melissa and Eileen first advertised a book swap on Facebook in 2011, no one turned up. But the moment they added “beer” to the books, the crowds quickly started pouring in. They wanted to encourage reading but not in the traditional way so they called themselves a “traveling book swap community, with an ice cold-twist”. You guessed it mama: the beer is the icy twist of this bi-monthly mobile book club.

You can expect to find events in a new café or bar so participants experience a fresh ambience while getting a chance to trade in well-read books for new ones. Most people on the 5000-strong mailing list are between 18 and 35, and the events are held late afternoons on the weekends, making it quite family-friendly. There is no reading or organized discussion happening on the actual day, but you can indulge in a mighty conversation or two with like-minded booklovers.

Expect free books, happy hour priced drinks and pop along for a toast to books, booze and babble.

Blind date with a book, anyone?

How to find it: Check out www.facebook.com/booksandbeersingapore

How much: Free; look them up on Facebook, Instagram or email them at [email protected]. Cost involved is your own drinks on event day.

British Association Book Group

Mamas, what’s your idea of happiness? If you are anything like me, being curled up in bed with a book and a cuppa is enough to make you smile or cry. The only way to up the happiness quotient is an opportunity to share your feelings with another book lover. As members of British Association, you get a chance to participate in their spirited book clubs. Six monthly book clubs are running at the moment, meeting on different days around the island.

Hosted in members’ homes or neighbourhood cafes, the clubs, mostly catering to expat wives, are ground zero for friendship and camaraderie while adding to your book or kindle library. If you are looking to do something constructive with your time and want to meet new people without putting in much hard work then this is the book club for you. River God by Wilbur Smith, The Divide by Nicholas Evans and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult are some of the books read recently in one of the groups.

Other nationalities with similar set-ups include the American Women’s Association and ANZA; check out your home country’s local association if you’re looking for discussion in your native language!

How to find: www.britishassociation.org.sg/book-group

How much: BA membership, $150 annual fees.

The Singapore Girly Book Club

A global club with over 50,000 members in 70 cities, this all-women’s club came to Singapore two years ago. A favourite with mums who love to get out and about to meet, greet and sip a wine, all while indulging in nappy-free conversation, the club meets monthly on a weeknight and discusses books like The Unseen World by Liz Moore and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Once you join, mama, it may be hard to leave as most members build meaningful connections and friendships. They even meet at the book-themed Book Café, conveniently located near Robertson Quay.

Where to find it: www.girlybookclub.com

How much: $5 per event plus drinks

Mamas, would you believe there is even a vegan book club? Of course there are also myriad online options, from Oprah  to the amazing bibliophile destination Goodreads. But if you’ve still not found what you’re looking for, then why not start your own book club? Advertise on Facebook and call a few friends, or pay a small fee via meetup.com and design your personalized book club open to the public. You can even approach the local library for space if you have a brilliant idea they can’t resist.

Happy reading, mamas!

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