Literature is one of the best ways to learn about a country and its people – their history, perspectives and focus – all readily displayed for readers to discover. For an exciting reading adventure, here are some of the best independent bookstores in Kuala Lumpur.
Coming a long way from its indie book selling origins, Silverfish Books now encompasses a full dedication to the Malaysian literature scene by educating, publishing and selling titles by emerging local authors deemed outside of the mainstream. Claiming to be the leader in Malaysian-English publishing, Silverfish has nurtured the growth of Southeast Asian post-colonial stories and accounts. Its only physical store in Bangsar is the place to go for new-yet-undiscovered gems and a good introduction to modern literature in Malaysia.
One of the oldest bookstores in all of Kuala Lumpur, this innocuous space deals mainly in secondhand titles from any and every type of collection. One person’s trash is truly another’s treasure here as visitors lose themselves exploring the many corners in the two-story shop for books, magazines and comics they haven’t seen or have been looking for for years. Under an unassuming old billboard above a little door, the Junk Book Store blends in with the practically ancient neighborhood of pre-war buildings – blink and you might walk right by it.
The popular BookXcess has been growing steadily all over Kuala Lumpur, branching out from books to pop art collectibles at extremely affordable prices. Its key selling point is its extremely discounted sales of popular Young Adult titles sourced from overprints and remainders on the way to be mulched. BookXcess is also known for being the organizers of the Big Bad Wolf book sale, an annual mega book sale and the largest of its kind in the world.
Oyez!Bookstore brings to light Malaysian authors and illustrators and publishes picture books with fun and familiar tales for parents to share with their kids. Local stories depicting mythical Malay princesses and magical forest creatures – which the old Malaysian raconteur will remember telling over fishing trips and on late evening porch swings – as well as original, simple tales are beautifully and adorably presented in pictures, poetry and fun prose, giving children a much needed exposure to local folklore, lessons and value-filled stories. Although the market for local books is slow growing due to the popularity of Western fairy tales and classics, Oyez aims to be the breath of fresh literary air for children and fun-loving adults alike.
So much more than a basic bookshop, Projek Rabak encompasses all forms of art beyond literature in its gallery expansion in Kuala Lumpur, all the way from its home base in Ipoh. Sourcing provocative materials from passionate Malaysian youths, this indie space favours the non-conformists, the almost-abstract and the daring who are brave enough to put their dreams in word, paint, or performance. The gallery is also the force behind Ipoh Kreative, a week-long annual creative festival aimed at educating locals on the value and quality of pop art and culture.