Stay-home guide for Monday: Listen to stars read poems, make your own book nooks and more


1. Listen: The Love Book App

The celebrity readings are the hook, but the app offers other textual inspirations. PHOTO: THE LOVE BOOK APP

Sometimes, all one needs is Tom Hiddleston aka Loki crooning John Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci in one's ear.

Hiddleston, along with other British acting luminaries such as Helena Bonham Carter, Damian Lewis, Helen McCrory and Emma Watson, read a marvellously wide-ranging selection of poetry in The Love Book App. The text is included, so this is a perfect newbie's introduction to poetry as well.

The celebrity readings are the hook, but the app offers other textual inspirations. These range from quotes by famous people, organised under themes such as "I love you" to "Funny" to love letters from such personalities as Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine de Beauharnais and Edith Wharton to Morton Fullerton. Not all the selections are read out loud. But if you are inspired, the app offers users the option to record their own readings.

The creators of this interactive app have made it available for free during the pandemic, a bonus for those in search of literary solace.

Info: Download the app at the Apple Store and Google Play.

2. Make: DIY book nook kits

The kits available online are quite wide-ranging depending on your budget. PHOTO: ETSY

The latest craft-meets-book nerd craze is the Book Nook. This is a 3D diorama one can slot into one's bookshelves as a decorative accent. Sure, hardcore book nerds may sneer at those who actually can spare space in their shelves for such fripperies. But a beautifully decorated book nook looks like a tiny world and is the perfect representation of the wonders of books.

The kits available online are quite wide-ranging depending on your budget. You can start by going to various blogs for free instructions and templates. Felt Magnet has a good step-by-step guide for beginners, complete with layouts and printable wallpaper. Those with woodworking abilities can try Argo Builder's more ambitious imaginary bookshop street project.

Alternatively, you could buy DIY kits off e-tailers such as Etsy and Shopee. The prices range from $63.60 for a Diagon Alley scene on Lazada to $127.13 for a Japanese alley on Etsy.

3. Watch: Breathless Puppets

Remote video URL

Dance rarely translates well to the screen. But this short film by noted British choreographer Akram Khan and France-born animator Naaman Azhari bridges the gap between the two mediums nicely.

Instead of just shooting a live performance, the creators opted to recreate dance in rotoscope animation, made by hand drawing over live-action footage. The result is startlingly life-like movement that unfolds in line drawing form. That makes it far more watchable than a staid filmed stage work as there are visually engaging moments where the lines intersect in hypnotic fashion, suggesting the full weight of bodies in motion.

The work tells the story of two friends whose love of dance is challenged by patriarchal disapproval. They are reunited years later under very different circumstances.

The work is co-commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Theatre du Chatelet and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay as part of the Postcards From Now series, which presents works from artists under lockdown.

Info: The work is available for free on the Esplanade's Offstage website, along with three other commissioned films in the series.

4. Tar Pau Nation: Easy, healthy meals with herbal chicken from Pokpok Keh

The Original Pink Salt Chicken Bento. ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

Herbal chicken is one dish that can be chilled or frozen with little loss in quality when reheated. So I knew I wouldn't go very wrong with the food from Pokpok Keh, an eatery in Yio Chu Kang Road that specialises in the dish for delivery.

Hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken is wrapped in paper and aluminium foil with Chinese herbs and baked till tender. There are variations such as Original Dang Gui Pink Salt Chicken ($27) and Ginseng Pink Salt Chicken ($29).

If you do not like the medicinal smell of herbs, there is also BKT Pink Salt Chicken ($27), which is cooked with bak kut teh spices like white peppercorn and garlic clove. You can have them delivered warm and ready to eat, or frozen.


5. Shelf Care: Sorcerer To The Crown is a Regency romp with pontianaks

Regency romance gets a post-colonial spin in this delightful historical fantasy of dragons and pontianaks. PHOTO: PAN MACMILLAN

Regency romance gets a post-colonial spin in this delightful historical fantasy of dragons and pontianaks, which its Malaysian author has described as "the kind of book you read when you have a cold".

In an alternate 19th-century England, Zacharias Wythe becomes the first magician of African heritage to be appointed Sorcerer Royal to the Crown.

It is his unenviable task to restore England's waning magic, all the while beset by racist attacks, accusations that he murdered his predecessor and the occasional assassination attempt.


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