I’m a huge bookworm, and I’m always on the hunt for new books to read. Before Circuit Breaker, I visited the library on a regular basis, but I found myself purchasing a lot more books over the last few months due to the libraries being closed. However, it’s definitely an expensive habit to maintain, but it doesn’t have to be. Now that libraries have re-opened, I’m genuinely excited to be able to go back and explore their shelves to see what I can check off my to-read list.
Here are a few of my personal recommendations that you can find at the library, and a couple of tips you may not have known about the borrowing process.
East Asian Fiction
1. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami (2017)
2. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)
3. Botchan by Soseki Natsume (1906)
I’ve always been a fan of fiction, but when I read my first Haruki Murakami novel back in 2012, I was exposed to a new part of the genre that I’ve been hooked on ever since. Since then, I’ve explored several other novels written by Asian authors, but I was truly surprised when I was able to find a large selection in my own neighbourhood library. Almost the entire Murakami collection is available to borrow, including his latest historical fiction work, Killing Commendatore.
Also available is one of my favourite books of all time, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara — revolving around the lives of four friends in New York City, this is literally one of the most tragic but best books I have ever read — I borrowed it 4 separate times until I finished reading it. You can also find much older work, such as Botchan by Soseki Natsume, which was originally published in 1906.
1. Superman: The Coming of the Supermen by Neal Adams (2016)
2. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury by Bill Watterson (1988)
3. X-Men: The Mutant Empire Omnibus by Christopher Golden (2019)
For comic book fans, the library’s got you covered. There’s a huge selection of graphic novels and comic books available, from treasuries of your favourite comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes, to popular superhero classics by Marvel and DC. Apart from comic book compilations, the library also has some standalone comic issues that are usually arranged on the shelves chronologically, but you may have to do some digging to find them.
Tip: Comic books and graphic novels are quick to read, but sometimes you don’t want to make multiple trips to the library just to pick up the next copy. You can borrow up to 16 physical books at a time, with the same extendable 21 day loan period. On top of this, you can also check out up to 16 e-books, to give you a total of 32 loans!
1. 1984 by George Orwell (1949)
2. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1926)
It’s no surprise that the library has a selection of classic literature available, and if you skimmed through these novels while you were in school, now may be the time to give them another chance. The last book ever written by George Orwell, 1984 is a dystopian novel revolving around a futuristic time where mass surveillance is the norm, with Big Brother always watching.
Although these novels are now considered some of the best works of all time, it’s a pity that The Great Gatsby wasn’t truly appreciated until after the author’s death. When Fitzgerald died at the beginning of World War II, he believed that he was a failure due to how poorly the book had initially sold, but it went through a huge revival during the war, leading to its inclusion in high school literature syllabi and the several stage and film adaptations most of us have seen today.
Tip: If a popular book has been borrowed by someone else, you can make a reservation through the NLB Mobile App or on their website so you can be notified and pick up your selection at your chosen NLB branch, for a small fee of $1.55.
1. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019: Classroom in a Book by Jeff Carlson (2019)
2. A Smarter Way to Learn HTML & CSS: Learn It Faster by Mark Myers (2015)
3. Tabletop Game Design for Video Game Designers by Ethan Ham (2016)
The library also has a pretty decent selection of useful how-to books, including a range of Adobe training workbooks that I wish I had when I was relying on YouTube tutorials and playing around with Creative Cloud. If you’re looking to start a new hobby or learn a new skill, instead of subscribing to expensive online classes and apps, try going old-school with a book that could get you started.
Tip: Not all books are available at every library, so look through the NLB online catalogue to find what you’re looking for. You can search by title, author and simple keywords, but you can also look specifically within your library of choice to see if they have what you need.