So if you didn’t know, Carpe Librum is a bi-monthly book subscription service that costs $35 (including local shipping)and comes with a paperback novel and a number of other little bookish goodies.
This month, Carpe Librum’s theme was Made In Singapore. Presumably because our country’s 51st birthday is next month and National Reading Day falls at the end of July.
So the box featured a whole bunch of truly Singapore goodies and today I’m going to be unboxing and reviewing each item that was included in the box.
A signed copy of Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim
“I don’t aspire to be nice. I do what is necessary to get what I want.”
Born on the night of the nation’s independence, Gimme Lao is cheated of the honour of being Singapore’s firstborn son by a vindictive nurse. This forms the first of three things Gimme never knows about himself, the second being the circumstances surrounding his parents’ marriage, and the third being the profound (but often unintentional) impact he has on other people’s lives.
Talented, determined and focused, young Gimme is confident he can sail the seven seas, but he does not anticipate his vessel would have to carry his mother’s ambition, his wife’s guilt and his son’s secret. Tracing social, economic and political issues over the past 50 years, this humorous novel uses Gimme as a hapless centre to expose all of Singapore’s ambitions, dirty linen and secret moments of tender humanity.
As is fast becoming Carpe Librum’s signature style, there was a beautiful, signed copy of Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim in the box.
Now I’ve never heard of this book primarily because I don’t read or bother with local literature. I know I probably should but I just can’t make myself care enough. But I’m really excited about trying this book. It looks really interesting and I’m hoping that it will push me to read more local novels.
There was a beautiful red notebook in the box that said, ‘I am not kiasu. I am Singaporean.’ This notebook is from Epigram Books and I love it. It has blank pages and it is the perfect size to stuff into a small handbag or even a pocket if you are a boy and have the wonderful privilege of actually having functioning pockets on your clothes.
I actually have a notebook exactly like this one from a random shop. It’s a a plain black one and I use it or when I interview people or when I need to take notes for an article. I was actually running out of space and I know I’ll certainly use this one as a backup.
An IKAT Handwoven Bookmark
Who doesn’t love bookmarks am I right? This gem is limited edition from Gypsied and it is absolutely gorgeous! I love the colours and the material. And speaking of the material they used, I have to say that for a cloth bookmark, I was very surprised to find that it was actually quite sturdy. I will certainly be using this all the time.
Okay this one is something that you will 100% not get if you are not Singaporean and that is precisely why I love it so much.
So in Singapore, we have this slang that we call ‘Singlish’. Basically it’s a mix of Malay and English and Chinese that forms phrases that are super common here but that pretty much no one else understands or can accurately say.
So these stickers from Zinkie Aw have some of our more popular phrases and I really love it. Though someone needs to explain what ‘Hanar Hanar’ is because even I’ve never heard of it before.
“Complain King” Pencils
This is another thing that I love because it is so uniquely Singapore. This beautiful set of six pencils have some famous Singaporean complaints on them and I am in love with them. I only wish I used pencils more often because I would totally use these everyday if I did.
And of course, because I am Singaporean, I have to complain now. I really didn’t like the fact that Carpe Librum put discount coupons in the box. This month, Carpe Librum gave us a 20% discount for Books Actually and a 15% discount for Epigram Books.
Now I love discounts. But not in a book subscription box. The idea of the box is to get tangible stuff. You mean I now am forced to go spend more money (on top of what I’ve already spent for the box) on two different stores to get books I may not even really want (Epigram only has local books)?
And of course I have to use the discount codes because let’s face it, I’m Singaporean and I need to get my money’s worth right?
Hmm… The more I write the more I think that the coupons were an excuse to let our inner Singaporean shine through our complaints and ‘kiasu-ness’…
Anyway, that was the only not so fantastic item in the box.
As usual, I really enjoyed Carpe Librum’s book box and I am so grateful for the team who work so tirelessly to curate the boxes each month and to deliver them to each and every person who orders one.
I’m especially grateful this month because I was covering the National Day Parade preview on the day that they were delivering the boxes and I needed Huda to deliver the boxes earlier because of it and she very kindly did it for me even though their schedule was packed.
I know I can’t wait for them to announce their next box because I will be first in line.