• Vivian Teo

Why you need to visit Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop at least once in your lifetime

Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop is a treasure trove for Singapore books and a must-visit for parents looking for well-written children literature.

You’ve probably already seen pics of Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop which was opened earlier this year, what with its iconic display of Singapore books across an eleven-metre long bookshelf that says 'Hold Singapore in Your Hands'. In real life, it’s a sight to behold too.


Initially I had thought the bookshop only stocked books published by Epigram, turned out you can also find titles from other publishers at the bookshop. So, it really is a treasure trove for local books, especially children’s literature. (Only focusing on kidlit here, I'll leave you to discover the adult titles in the bookshop!)

Like many adults my age, I grew up reading Enid Blyton books. I probably owned almost every single title by the author that was available then. Never mind that boarding schools, castles and the English countryside were unfamiliar to me – books are, after all, suppose to take us places.


Fast forward to today, my children are reading and enjoying Enid Blyton books too. But sometimes I do wish there are stories with settings and backgrounds that are more relatable for my children. So imagine my delight when we discovered the Ellie Belly series. The series were the first local English middle grade books my kids read. They liked them so much we even bought the Chinese versions of the books. Being able to relate to places mentioned in the books like Bishan Park and The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum made the stories that much closer to heart for them.


I do have mummy friends who actively seek out good local books for their kids because, like me, they like the idea that their children are able to read about stories set in Singapore, where we sometimes take for granted its history, culture and landmarks just because we live here.


I remember when I was a kid, there really weren’t as many choices of Singapore books (but hands up those who remember reading True Singapore Ghost Stories, Mr Kiasu and The Teenage Textbook!). But these days, there are so many more middle grade/early young adult book choices that are set in Singapore – The Diary of Amos Lee, Danger Dan, Sherlock Sam, Mount Emily, Extraordinary Losers – just to name a few.

The choices for early readers are even wider, some featuring topics like Singapore landmarks, diversity, special needs and societal concerns that are written in a way that’s educational and easy to understand for young children. Just offhand, I can think of the Timmy & Tammy Discover series, A Place for Us and The Plano Adventures.

My girls, at seven and nine, are reading middle grade books now but we still enjoy the occasional picture books. The latest being the Harry books, which are about the life of Lee Kuan Yew. I recall their faces being in awe as I read to them in Chinese what our founding father's life was like when he was a kid in school.

When my kids were much younger, I remember a picture book I had picked out among many from the library. It was one with dragons (because my girls were SO into dragons then!) and when reading it, I was surprised when it mentioned East Coast Park and chicken rice. The storyline and illustrations were beautiful, and my surprise stemmed from the fact that back then, I didn’t know there were such high quality picture books featuring Singapore. (I feel a little embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the title and I blame mummy brain!).


Sometimes I think calls to support #Singlit are misconstrued as calls to buy local literature JUST BECAUSE they are written by local authors. I want to say I don’t buy and read Singapore books because they are written by local authors, but I do so because they are truly good stories that can hold their own among those written by foreign authors.


Btw, I didn’t leave empty-handed. Got this for my girls!

Kelly and the Krumps by Ken Kwek

I'm expecting Kelly and the Krumps to be an amusing read and I love that it features a female protagonist (On a side note, I really wish there are more middle grade books featuring kickass female leads - I have two daughters after all! - and also reason why I'm writing an upper middle grade/young YA novel with female lead characters, but that's a story for another time!).


Christmas is coming, and if you’re looking for children’s titles as gifts for the young ones, come by Huggs-Epigram if you haven’t already. I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the book gems you can find.


Bonus tips for your trip:

- The bookshop also hold events such as readings and book launches, and regular Authors/Artist-in-Attendance sessions where you can meet authors and illustrators of Singapore books. Follow Epigram's Facebook page for updates.


- The bookshop is cashless and only allows for payment via NETS, credit card, PayNow among others, for book purchases.


Find Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop at 45 Maxwell Road #01-01 The URA Centre, 069118 or contact them at +65 62924456. Opening hours are at 7am-5pm for coffee and 10am-7pm for books on Monday-Friday; 8am-12pm for coffee and 10am-2pm for books on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.


Disclaimer: I paid for my purchase, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.


©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.

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© 2019 Vivian Teo