Where The Lit Books Are
Coffee, Tea, Or Books?
GUEST WRITTEN BY JEYNA GRACE
“We are not an ‘atas’ bookshop—it’s just that some titles are very much available elsewhere and there’s no reason to spend our very limited budget on those titles.”
If you’re looking for books you most probably won’t find in a chain bookstore, Lit Books in Tropicana Avenue is where you should go. Founded and managed by a husband and wife team, Min Hun and Elaine were former journalists who had both decided to take their love for books to the next level.
Min Hun and Elaine started Lit Books in December, 2017. However, that wasn’t the beginning of their ‘once upon a time’. The story of these ardent bibliophiles started when they were just children. Min Hun states that during their formative years, “there really wasn’t much around entertainment-wise—we had three channels on TV, no internet, and the radio stations weren’t playing terribly interesting stuff”. Both Min Hun and Elaine were part of a generation where reading was one of the main forms of entertainment for children. And as they were surrounded by people who believed books are important, they developed a love for reading at a young age.
“This rubbed off on us, sometimes in a less obviously good way—I was always the boring friend who gifted a book at birthday parties while everyone else gave Transformers and GI Joes.”
With a passion for books, Min Hun entered university with a dream of owning a bookstore. Alas, for many years, he thought of it as something “nice to do but really, you can’t”. Elaine knew about Min Hun’s desire but even as a couple, they brushed the thought aside countless times—it was nothing more than a pipe dream when the frustrations at work sunk in. Then one year, when they no longer found meaning and purpose in their day jobs, the pair decided that enough is enough—they were going to turn that dream into a reality.
“I didn’t want to put on hold something I really wanted to do for the sake of the security of doing something that I really didn’t want to do.”
Still, opening a bookstore is easier said than done. Both Min Hun and Elaine had no clue on how to operate a bookstore in Malaysia. Neither of them had any experience either. Thus, they relied on the internet, with bouts of trial and error, in order to get their bookstore off the ground. However, the internet alone wasn’t enough. They received encouragement from family and friends, and were blessed with the support of their customers as well.
“Everyone we’ve worked with so far has been nothing but supportive and encouraging.”
Currently, Min Hun and Elaine are both operating Lit Books full-time while juggling extra gigs on the side. Their hope is for their bookstore to be profitable enough, allowing them to focus their attention on building a cultural hub for the literary community in Lit Books itself. The duo believe that “literary events not only bring together like-minded people into the store, but also help encourage broader reading habits”.
“We believe that everyone, not just the youth, could be reading more. If the statistics are to be believed, only 3% of Malaysians who claim to read regularly read books. We really can’t say what the secret is to getting people to reading more, but we can tell you that we are trying our best to make sure that there’s a place for people to find just the right book to read if they are looking for one.”
If you’re an avid reader looking for a literary community, classics from all around the world, or just for a hot cup of coffee to pair with a good read, then pay Lit Books a visit. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
“There is a history to books that extends beyond the stories they are trying to tell; the binding, the cover art, the paper, the notes in the margins, the inscriptions, the water damage—they tell more than just the story within the pages. There is a permanence about books that I think appeals to us—a marker of a place and time in your life—which makes them an artefact.”
Lit Books is located at:
Unit P-1-11, Level 1, Tropicana Avenue
12 Jalan Persiaran Tropicana
47810 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603 7886 6988
Tuesday and Sunday: 1pm to 9pm
Wednesday to Saturday: 11am to 9pm
P.S. Lit Books carries a limited number of my own novel, The Slave Prince. So if you’re ever in the need for a young adult fantasy read, do check with Min Hun or Elaine if they have any copies left!
The author, Jeyna Grace, worked in the publishing industry for over four years, where she engaged with brands such as Disney and Mattel on licensed projects in Malaysia and Singapore. Her two fantasy novels, ‘The Battle for Oz’ and ‘The Slave Prince’, were published by Inkshares in 2015 and 2018 respectively. She also won the Geek & Sundry Fantasy contest in 2016 and was nominated as a CLEO HotShot in 2018.