So you’ve made resolutions to keep fit, eat better, shop sustainably and so on. Likely to be on your New Year’s list, too, is the promise to read more.

That, in our opinion, is the easiest hurdle to tackle in your 12-month race towards self-optimisation. Well, maybe not if you’re planning to read the great Russian novels, hardened by themes of gloominess and suffering. But definitely so if you look to home for your new reads.

In fact, there is an array of exciting books now being offered by Singapore’s beloved publishers, such as Epigram and Ethos Books. Whether you’re into poetry or fiction, these local titles will certainly satisfy your curiosity, quell your boredom and inspire you to take on 2021 with a new perspective. Below, we’ve picked the best new books to add to your reading list.

Header photo credit: Brigitte Tohm / Unsplash

1
The Dogs by O Thiam Chin

The past can be a scary thing. In award-winning author O Thiam Chin’s latest novel, Guan is made to confront it after the death of his father. Upon moving into the latter’s flat, Guan begins exploring his new neighbourhood which, in that funny way our minds work, only brings memories of a long-lost friendship to the surface. Along with the nostalgia come unanswered questions, forgotten pain and unresolved regrets — the whole works. As The Dogs’ protagonist tries to make peace with the past, we get a reality check on all the work that goes into meaningfully creating that fresh start we all yearn for.

(Photo credit: Penguin Random House)

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2
We Make Spaces Divine by Pooja Nansi

The “we” in the title of Pooja Nansi’s upcoming poetry book refers to those who are often excluded from the collective. That is, those who are marginalised, discriminated against or ignored by society. In her new poems, Nansi gives them a voice as well as something even bigger: the space to simply be. In light of all the acts of intolerance, violence and hate that the world has witnessed in the past month alone, We Make Spaces Divine will certainly make for a restoring read.

(Photo credit: @pnansi / Instagram)

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3
And Softly Go the Crossings by Danielle Lim

You’ll live more than nine lives through Danielle Lim’s new anthology of short stories. The Singapore Literature Prize-winner shows us a multitude of perspectives, from a man attempting to connect with his estranged, moribund father, to another who tries on job after job following his retrenchment. The common threads of these situations are transformation and healing, which Lim weaves together to create rich, emotional narratives.

(Photo credit: Penguin Random House)

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4
The Orchid Folios by Mok Zining

If you’re still easing into the habit of reading, The Orchid Folios is a nice place to start. Mok Zining’s debut is lightweight — only 144 pages — but fascinatingly rich with the history, symbolism and floricultural study of orchids. Hybrid orchids, such as the Vanda Miss Joaquim we call our national flower, take precedence in the book, which itself is an amalgamation of a poetry collection and a documentary novella. What you’ll get from it, besides a deeper appreciation of flowers, is a new perspective on Singapore’s national narrative.

(Photo credit: Ethos Books)

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5
After You by Cyril Wong

Fans of Cyril Wong (and there are plenty) can pore over the acclaimed poet’s latest anthology, which dives into themes of love, death and time. True to Wong’s signature style, his new poems bring light to profound emotions amidst ordinary situations, digging deep into the human condition. In other words, After You will speak to pretty much anyone with a heart.

(Photo credit: Math Paper Press)

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Pameyla Cambe
Senior Writer
Pameyla Cambe is a fashion and jewellery writer who believes that style and substance shouldn't be mutually exclusive. She makes sense of the world through Gothic novels, horror films and music. Lots of music.