Three in One

Monday was a good day. I call it a good day because I ended up spending half my day ogling at books, smelling them and of course, reading them!
I’ve always lamented that Penang’s bookstores are a sorry bunch. It used to be just Popular, Times and MPH but the size was the factor. Small, cramped bookstores and limited titles (and some truly archaic ones as well) did not make for a good book day. I could not stand and read a bit before someone would jostle and say “excuse me” in the narrow aisle that I was standing in. That spoiled my book browsing.
That’s why I loved going back to KL. The bookstores were humongous. So many books to read and enjoy compared to measly old Penang.
But like all bookworms, you simply must go with a good friend or partner who is also into books. Thank God my other half is as mad about books as I. Oh, he’ll go for his marketing and biz books while I’ll be in the Arts and Crafts section, and Cookery section and then go back to the Fiction section before I join him at the Business section.
But Monday was different! After so many months of back-to-back weekend work and overtime (no, you don’t want to know), we decided to check out the new Popular Bookstore and the new MPH at Gurney Plaza. We heard they were now bigger than ever. On the same floor.
Actually there are three bookstores on the same floor at Gurney Plaza. One is the Big Bookshop, MPH is just directly opposite this bookstore and on the far end (almost hidden) is the Popular Bookstore.
The Big Bookshop is getting better. It’s similar to Popular. Which means it sells affordably-priced books. Also, books which belong to the last millennium. Some books are truly the type you can find in your Grandma’s study. I think they buy stock overruns or something. I once picked up a recipe book for only RM2.99. But the lighting doesn’t make you want to linger or read much. The sharp, almost-too-bright flourescent lighting reminds me of school labs. It makes books look unappealing and drab. And the book arrangement…well, let’s just say they look like books on exhibition. But sometimes, you can find some good buys here. Nic grabbed a whole set of DIY books for less than RM20.
MPH is definitely the queen of bookstores on this floor. Its books may be pricier but they have great titles, superb lighting, music which makes you want to linger on and on, and staff who look like they DO know something about books. And chairs to plonk your bum on too. I say it’s the whole environment really. Soft yellow lights, good placement and arrangements of books, lots of books to pick up and read. Sometimes it’s the total experience you know.
Popular tries hard. I guess you have to try hard to shed that Petaling Street, cheap-cheap image after a while. But this outlet is better than most Penang outlets. Lots of good titles. These days, they have a wide range of business books. They have two sections – one for the English section and the other for the Chinese. And trying to copy MPH in KLCC a bit… but on the whole, it has improved greatly in terms of variety. Lighting, arrangement, colours (green!) and weird fonts (think ugly) still make this place a bit odd to linger. And the “reading bench”. Made for giants says my other half. As tall as I am (I am about 5 ft 6), my legs still dangle like a little kid’s when I sit on the bench.
However, I can’t complain. I was like a kid in a candy store when I saw the three bookstores on one floor.
And so many books to dip into!
If it weren’t for the freezing aircond or the near closing time, I wouldn’t have left!

2 thoughts on “Three in One”

  1. speding time at a bookstore + eating there will b a great day out. altho i hv not really eaten in a bookstore b4.
    u know, u may find some1 jostling his way thru at the relevant sections u frequent.


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