Of books and bookshop hopping…. and oh, some Moomins too!

I love this t-shirt.

On the 29th April , Moscow was washed clean by a thunderstorm. The air was delightful; it mellowed the heart and made one want to start living again.

Mikhail Bulgakov, ‘Black Snow’.

I know we are already way past April, and I’m definitely nowhere near Moscow, surrounded with days that are wrapped in high heat and humidity over here. The air is also far from delightful….. but somehow I found these opening lines from Bulgakov’s Black Snow, to be quite apt for reviving this little space with a sort of ‘comeback post’.

The unplanned absence from this blog for the past three over months was largely due to a lack of inspiration for writing/ posting (among a host of other factors), but fortunately, not from reading. In fact, I have been feeling more ‘alive’ and voracious in my appetite for books and reading in the last two months, than what I could remember having felt, in years. And it feels great.

I find myself pulling out books from forgotten stacks and shelves every other couple of days or so, and wanting to read everything at the same time, or something different every time. This haphazard kind of a reading may probably seem absurd and even frowned upon by serious readers out here, but all I can say is that, I found much comfort and pleasure in doing so.

As for the hodgepodge of stuff I have been reading, I’ll probably save it for another post.
For now, I thought I’d just share some long overdue snapshots of some highlights (bookish ones, that is) taken from my trip to Taipei early last year.

First off…. The Moomin Café.

My dinner. (That’s probably the cutest piece of carrot I ever ate!) 😀
And that’s my Hattifattener rice with olive eyes. 🙂 Shame though, that one of them fell onto the floor shortly after the photo was taken. :p
Check out the cutleries.
And the delightful artworks lining the walls leading to the washroom.

One doesn’t need to worry about dining alone here…. there are some friendly (& not-so friendly :p) companions to be had, if one fancies.

Next up….. ‘the most beautiful secondhand bookshop I’ve ever seen’.

The cosy Mollie Used Books is truly a haven for book lovers to escape from the bustling city.
Having a kitty to stand as sentry at the shop front just makes it all the more purr-fect!! 😉

Besides busily snapping away with my handphone, I did also manage to come away with a Tatyana Tolstaya hardback. 🙂
Loved the place so much, had to come back for another visit during the daytime as well.
Kitty guard wasn’t looking as sprightly this time, but that’s probably because it had just gotten off the night shift, I guess. :p
Back to work again…… (this is definitely one ‘meow-del’ employee, I’m telling ya!) 😀
“Hey, will you please keep it down? There are people trying to read here!” (kitty on the job)

A few other beautiful bookish nooks around the city…..

This lovely little book shop is located at the grounds of the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in central Taipei.

This was definitely one Dickens I’d never come across before, have you? And you thought you’ve seen them all. 🙂
I just love the design of this building and the cool, soothing colours of the exterior facade. So therapeutic.
This is one of the few Japanese chain bookstores that can be found in some of the popular malls around the city.

This one was taken inside the Eslite bookstore (Dunnan branch) during the wee hours of the morning. Yes, it’s a 24 hour bookstore, and makes for a great hang out spot for nocturnal readers. 🙂

Whose Books – another great little nook for used books, located in the Zhongzheng district..
You might find gems like this at the top of those inviting stairs. 😉

“Let us now praise pretty book covers….”

This was the one that really made me wish I could read Chinese.

This one did actually come home with me, though. 🙂

One rainy Thursday afternoon

Book in hand – Edward Hollis’ ‘The Memory Palace’.

Five Thursdays ago, I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at this lovely public library at Beitou Park, Taipei. It was a wet and cold day, and plans had to be changed and adjusted in order to accommodate the weather, but for me, it presented just the perfect excuse to seek refuge amongst friends……. books.

The beautiful exterior design of the library.


This eco-friendly piece of architecture was once voted as one of the 10 coolest green buildings in the world, as assessed by an international travel website.


It’s design is supposed to resemble that of a ship.


The interior is just as lovely.


I could spend hours between these aisles.



Found a delightful stack to settle down with.


I’ve only recently discovered Bernd Heinrich’s works. And this one has definitely been added into my wishlist. A real beauty of a book, with charming illustrations thrown in good measure.


Another interesting title to explore further.


If only there was a “Rewind” button that can wind back the hours, and return me to that particular rainy Thursday afternoon…..


Has anyone been checking out from any of these…..

Stockholm Public Library
Central Public Library, Vancouver
Bristol Central Library, UK
Rijksmuseum Research Library, Amsterdam

These are just a few of the beauties included in the 25 Most Beautiful Public Libraries in The World, according to the people at Flavorpill, a New York based culture guide blog. Incidentally, these are also the same people who gave us the 25 Most Beautiful Bookshops in The World sometime back earlier this year.

So, back to my question at the top. Has anyone here been actually checking out books from any one of these 25 public libraries? Or are any of these to be found anywhere within your easy reach? If your answer is in the affirmative, I do envy you!

As for myself, sadly none of these libraries are in any way within my reach. The only comfort I can take is that at least I have had the pleasure of visiting this one, which happens to be the No.25 on the list. 🙂

Taipei Public Library, Beitou Branch

A 20 minute train ride north of Taipei City will get you there. Beitou is actually a lovely little spa town, famous for its many hot springs. We were there for the hot springs actually, and stumbling upon the lovely library was truly a delightful surprise.  

The Xinbeitou Metro Station, which is within walking distance to the library.
View of the library from the main road.
The library's outer deck. It does look like a ship's deck, especially after the rain and the decks are wet.
The Thermal Pools

Guess that’s one down for me, and 24 to go ‘a-hoping-to-visit-someday’!
What about you? Which ones are you most hoping to visit someday? 😉