September 2020 bestsllers

The past month has been tough for the bookshop – as for many businesses. But it’s still with a spring in our collective step that we highlight the bestsellers for last month. At the top of the pile there’s a welcome return for Bettina Chua Abdullah’s brilliant anthology, Telltale Food (Hikayat), a fine collection of writing about food and much else. In the runner’s-up slot comes The Legacy and Heritage of Loke Chow Kit, Junn Ng and Ch’ng Symn’s recent study of the life and the architectural significance of the man after whom the famous central district of KL is named. Because we ran a bookstall at the recent Jazz on the Jetty concerts, music-themed books feature strongly. Making a surprise return to the top ten are two fine books from Marco Ferrarese: Banana Punk Rawk Trails, his inimitable study of the music underground in Malaysia and beyond; and his collection of off-beat, leftfield travel writing, Marco Yolo (both from Gerakbudaya). It must be the month of combacks because Saidah Rastam’s beautifully written Rosalie and Other Love Songs (SIRD) reappears – a fine study of the provenance of Negaraku and much more besides. Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues (Penguin Books) is a searing memoir of the Lady’s life, struggles and artistry. Another great African-American woman, the non-pareil Toni Morrison, also features with her profound and necessary collection of late essays Mouth Full of Blood (Vintage Books). Haruki Murakami‘s excellent collection of short stories, Men without Women (also from Vintage Books) makes a first appearance. For the second month running Robert Macfarlane’s The Gifts of Reading (Penguin Books) finds a place at the top table, an elegant and impassioned tribute to the world of books and of course the act of reading. The top ten is rounded off with Liberate Hong Kong (Mekong Review), a first-hand account of the year-long democracy movement which now faces draconian repression from the Chinese state. Happy reading.

Charis Loke
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