By John van Wyhe
NUS Press/ Paperback/ 316 pages/ $29.96/ Books Kinokuniya, BooksActually and Littered With Books
In the mid-19th century, tourist Ida Pfeiffer was one of the most famous women in the world.
The Austrian circled the globe alone - twice - at a time when it was unheard of for women to travel solo. She pioneered budget travelling and survived storms at seas, malaria, robbers, cannibals and other myriad dangers. But today, few know her legend.
Dr van Wyhe, a National University of Singapore senior lecturer, encountered Pfeiffer while researching naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who visited Singapore around the same time as Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer loved Singapore and visited more than once, going on a hunting trip and staying on Pulau Ubin.
Her travel diaries are not a perfect record - she misspells several local names, such as the Kallang river as "Gallon", but Dr van Wyhe believes they nevertheless provide an important window into what Singapore was like in those days.
"It's a world that has gone. Back then, Singapore was a mixture - a busy metropolis, the busiest harbour in Asia, but not that far away, there was this wild jungle which she loved.
"She was the very beginning of tourism - travel then wasn't really possible because there weren't tours, so she just did it herself."
2 . NON-FICTION
DO I MATTER?
By Wong Lai Chun
Epigram Books/Paperback/192 pages/$16.90 before GST/ Major bookstores
Wong is senior assistant director at the Samaritans of Singapore, a non-profit organisation focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention. In this book, she examines the factors that influence one's self-esteem and how one can build a foundation of resilience.
MOST EXCELLENT AND LAMENTABLE
By Jason Erik Lundberg
Epigram Books/Paperback/192 pages/$18.90 before GST/ Major bookstores
This collection gathers 14 stories, including The Stargirl And The Potter, in which an unearthly girl with luminescent skin appears in town; and Slowly Slowly Slowly, in which the patients of an eldercare home are transformed into slow-moving animals to extend their lifespan.
KEYS OF ARCHELLOS
By Eunice Li-Tan
Armour Publishing/Paperback/328 pages/$15.94 before GST/Books Kinokuniya and Popular
In the third instalment in the Luminous Sword fantasy trilogy, hero Jusvin searches for Archellos Land's nine magical keys and a locket and meets different peoples such as giants and the citizens of the Undersea Sediment.
MY SUN, MY SUN
By Malvina Kang, illustrated by Haw Shing Yee
Math Paper Press/Hardcover/24 pages/$22 before GST/ Books Kinokuniya and BooksActually
Kang, founder of studio Hom Yoga, pens mindfulness books for kids. With this book, which is inspired by the sun, child readers can mimic the illustrated yoga poses.
By Jian Yang
Marshall Cavendish/Hardcover/144 pages/$37.38 before GST/Major bookstores
Jian Yang, the world's top male collector of Barbie dolls, started making dresses for his dolls out of tissue paper while on a business trip in 2017 and posting his creations on Instagram, before flushing them down the toilet. He documents this transient couture, from ball gowns to kimonos to a mermaid tail, in this book.