By Zoe Liew
There’s a secret pleasure in reading a book with a past. A book once enjoyed by a stranger. Who was she and what was she like? Did she enjoy the book and is that soy sauce or the remnants of a dead bug which met an untimely death, entombed forever in those pages?
If you’re keen on getting good reads without breaking the bank. Read on. Here are 10 places where you can get your book exchange game on.
Avid reader Gladys Wong couldn’t bear to see hundreds of books being turned into scrap paper so, in 2014, she began organising monthly meetups where preloved books could find new owners. There’s only one rule. Bring one book and you may take another home. No fees, no time limits.
Wisma TM open-air car park, Taman Desa, 58100 Kuala Lumpur. Meets first Sunday each month, 845 am – 1045 am
The programme administrators of this USJ-based book swap are more selective. Fiction and non-fiction books, as well as Malay and Chinese books, are welcome but it’s best not to bring your Sejarah textbooks, religious literature, and old newspapers to the SJBEP cabin in USJ. Mouldy, stained, old books with loose pages and overly yellowed pages are best kept to yourself too. Storytelling sessions are also hosted here regularly.
Subang Jaya Book Exchange Cabin, Jalan USJ 12/2F, Subang Jaya. Opens 3–5 pm on the first and third Sunday of each month.
#3 #LeBookieBooth, Jaya One
You may have spotted an antique red phone booth that looks rather out of place in Jaya One but did you know that it was created by the Tunku Scholars Association Malaysia, The School, and KLBE to encourage children to read? Well-kept books for youths of all ages are welcome. However, academic books, travel guides, and magazines will not be accepted. A one-for-one trade policy is also in place here.
#LeBookieBooth, The School at Jaya One, Jaya One, 72A, Jalan Universiti, PJS 13, 46200 Petaling Jaya. Opens 10 am – 9 pm daily.
Though it’s mostly known as a place for tabletop gamers to gather and indulge in board games, this board game café in Damansara Jaya also has a chest full of books. Books swapped need not be centred on gaming. You’re welcome to take a few titles home but do give some of your own in return.
All Aboard Community Gaming Centre, 40-2, Jalan SS22/25, Damansara Jaya, 47300, Petaling Jaya. Opens 6-11 pm on weekdays, 2pm-11 pm on weekends, closed on Tuesdays.
An initiative created by The KL Book Appreciation Club (KLBAC), the volumes in the initial collection were contributed by members of the local book club. General fiction books by well-known authors are most well-received. The entire initiative runs on trust. So, do leave a book as you take one and enjoy a good ol’ cup of joe while you’re at it.
Artisan Coffee, Lot 19, Jalan 13/2, Seksyen 13, 46200 Petaling Jaya. Opens 8am-8pm daily.
Another KLBAC initiative, the book barter station was set up in February this year to spread the love of books amongst Malaysians. This café is also a favourite of foodies on vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. This station currently lacks some fiction so stop by to trade a book or two or simply give some books for the love of literature!
Real Food Mont Kiara, 1 Mont Kiara Mall, No. 1, Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. Opens 10am-9pm daily.
Set up by a Malaysian film producer as a place for creatives to chat and hold discussions, this café-gallery hosts events revolving around music, motion pictures, food, and art. The book swap corner founded by KLBE in partnership with the café also allows purchases at RM5 per book.
Aku Café & Gallery, No.8, 1st Floor, Jalan Panggong, 50000 Kuala Lumpur. Opens 11am-8pm daily. Closed on Mondays.
Book lovers may also switch new and preloved books with Itch 2 Switch founder Vannitha Balasingam at Amcorp Mall’s weekly flea markets on Saturdays or in Taman Desa by appointment. More exchange locations will be set up throughout the Klang Valley soon including one at Pop by Jaya One. The switch fee is 20% of the book’s saleable value. If the book is saleable for RM10, the switch value and fee of the book would be RM10 and RM2 respectively. Titles traded must belong to the same genre.
Meets every Saturday, 11am-6pm at Amcorp Mall flea market, 1st floor and at Taman Desa by appointment
Simply bring your books to the northern offshoot of KLBE and gain literary treasures from other Penangite bibliophiles! And while you’re there, you could watch some performances and stroll through the arts and crafts market. Leave your car at home though and bike or use public transport to get there since the area around Beach Street is a car-free zone every Sunday.
In front of Alliance Bank, Beach Street, 10300 George Town, Penang. Meets every 3rd Sunday, 7am-1pm.
Red Inn Court’s hostel owners incorporated Penang’s colonial heritage into the décor and mixed things up with up environmentally friendly facilities such as heat-recycled hot spa showers and eco-ventilators. The free library is open to both guests and the public. Fiction and non-fiction titles that inspire wanderlust are highly preferred.
Red Inn Court, 35C, 35, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang. Open 9am-5pm daily to the public and 24/7 to guests.
See Also: The Culture of Vanity