We’ve rounded up our favourite books about Singapore – from shophouses to hawker stalls – that are perfect as going away gifts or for your own home!
It’s that time of year again…when lots of families seem to be leaving Singapore as they either relocate to a new assignment, or head back to their home country. If you’re looking for the perfect going away gift, a keepsake book about some of Singapore’s most iconic features – including its gorgeous architecture, incomparable cuisine, even the amazing airport! – is just the ticket to remind friends what a special place this is.
On the other hand, we simply love surprising and delighting visitors who arrive without the foggiest idea of Singapore’s rich culture and storied history — what better way to get them excited to explore than with these very same books? Whether you’re been here 10 years or two months, you’ll want to make sure these Singapore books are in your library, mama!
Click to check out our gallery of favourite Singapore books!
How many times have you walked or ridden past one of Singapore’s most gorgeous homes and wanted a peek inside? Architecturally and culturally significant – and unlike houses almost anywhere else in the world – Singapore’s black and whites have quite the storied history. This beautiful book explains their fascinating backstory, and provides a glimpse inside of Singapore’s most magnificent residences.
Buy it at Raffles Gift Shop or Areca Books for $58/RM135
The culmination of a three-year-long collaboration between an architect, an art educator and a fine art printer, HDB is a fascinating showcase of how much of Singapore’s population lives and celebrates its diverse culture. HDB’s are anything but cookie cutter, and this book proves it, with a behind-the-door look at 118 different households across Singapore.
Buy it at Gatehouse for US$37.99
It’s not every city whose central park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! In fact, the SBG is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the list. Surely any mama moving away from Singapore would love a reminder of one of Singapore’s most beautiful spots, from the amazing Orchid Garden to reliving memories at Jacob Ballas.
Buy it at Marshall Cavendish for $28
So this isn’t actually a coffee table book — rather, it’s an anthology of 35 short stories, poems and essays from 29 different authors on the Singapore literature scene. Inspired by our relationship with all things travel-related (itself a huge part of living in Singapore!), In Transit explores questions about travel, aspiration, belonging, and home.
Buy it at BooksActually for $19
Both we and our kids love this beautiful little picture book for children between 5 and 10 that introduces them to Singapore’s rich history from the 14th century up to the present day. The engaging storytelling and interesting, little-known facts are great for Singapore novices of any age — but the vivid illustrations are our favourite part!
Buy it online and at various book and gift shops for $25
Food is a huge part of the Singaporean identity and clearly a major point of national pride, but it’s undeniable that hawker culture – and Singapore’s once-thriving street food scene – is quickly disappearing. Not for Sale painstakingly documents over 100 hawker centres and incorporates thousands of hours of interviews with Singapore’s true culinary masters. The stunning black and white photography perfectly captures hawker culture, and will immediately transport you to your favourite hawker centre no matter where you are in the world, mama.
Buy it online for $88 (free delivery within Singapore, international orders: $20 (Asia) / $40 (Others), estimated 7-10 days Delivery )
The colourful shophouse sits alongside the Black and White and HDB in the Singapore trifecta of unique architectural gems. Singapore Shophouse takes an in-depth look at the origins of this fab architectural style, all accompanied by beautiful, colourful photography that brings this stunning building form to life.
Buy it online and at Kinokuniya bookstores from $64.20
Street photographer Aik Beng Chia started photographing the daily lives of people and the streets of Singapore in 2008; his first monograph, Tonight the Streets Are Ours showcased Little India after Dark, and he’s also a regular contributor on the popular Instagram account @EverydayAsia. Gritty and honest, Singkarpor (how “Singapore” sounds when pronounced in Hokkien) is a heartfelt chronicle of the less manicured side of the Little Red Dot.
Buy it at Naiise or Books Actually for $47
Urban Sketchers Singapore is a local network of artists who meet up to capture everyday life in Singapore and its most iconic buildings and landscapes through gorgeous drawings. Although you can now find subsequent editions chronicling specific neighbourhoods, this inaugural compendium balances reflections on urban context and city planning with charming slice-of-life illustrations.
Buy it at Naiise for $47
This super cool “art and travel guide” features contributions from Singapore’s top contemporary artists, along with a specially commissioned map by artist Danielle Tay. Each of the nine stories – divided into themes like “Urban Experiences” and “Rethinking Borders” – connects readers to actual locations detailed on the beautiful and stylish map, which you can handily pull out to pop in your pocket!
Buy it at BooksActually for $89
Lead image sourced via Pinterest.