Follow the bookstores

At Eslite Pier 2 誠品駁二.

Wednesday evening, at Eslite Pier 2 誠品駁二, coloring books are still on display… Should I get one for the four day long Dragon Boat Festival 端午節 week-end?

My attention drifts towards the impressionists coloring book, reviving nightmares of art class in middle school, and then locks in on the 1000 Dot-to-Dot book cover.

It arouses enough interest for me to pick it up, and leaf through it, but what looked like a fun concept quickly overwhelms my mind with all those tiny dots, thousands of dots!!! The impulse to buy is subdued, a picture posted on Instagram will do. 😉

Sigh, so much for the long week-end, stricken by random episodes of torrential rains, but thankfully, with long enough breaks to go fetch some food, or hop from one coffeeshop to the next caffeinated and air-conditioned refuge. At least, temperatures cooled down, making it pleasant to ride outside, I just have to be careful not to slip on the wet tiles.

Connecting thousands of dots felt like a mind numbing way to pass time, and ironically, I ended spending part of the short holiday on a rather menial task which sounds just as, if not more mind numbing… like mapping 80+ bookstores on a map!

Although, as a maps and bookstores enthusiast, I found some odd enjoyment in this assignment, and got myself a little more acquainted with the geography of Taiwan.

A while back, — kudos  to Lettres de Taïwan — I discovered the Poetries from the bookstores《書店裡的影像詩》 project, a séries of short videos introducing (only in Chinese, no English sub-titles) 40 independent bookstores spread in different corners of the country, each with their own stories, and distinct characters.

The project was successful enough that a second season is in the works, and thanks to a group of francophone volunteers, the mini-documentaries are also available with French sub-titles. To learn more about the project, and the movie director Hou Chi-jan 侯季然, check this interview translated in English.

The Poetries from the bookstores《書店裡的影像詩》videos can be found on YouTube, and here, I’ll share one of my latest cool discoveries in town: Takao Books ─三餘書店,  an unassuming old three stories family home, slightly renovated into a welcoming bookstore, coffeeshop, and a place for the young local community to meet and exchange.

For a more informational piece about the project, read this!


One bookstore leading to another, I found myself adding more to the map, like Molin second-hand bookstore 墨林二手書店 in Tainan, where I have gone on some notorious shopping spree to stock up on books in Traditional Chinese, in the event I wouldn’t be back to Taiwan for a while… how little did I know, hehe.

There’s also Taiouan 台灣e店 in Taipei, a must-go for any lovers of Taiwanese culture, where I caved in, and bought a DVD of Doraemon多啦A夢 in Taiwanese, LOL.

I also finally got around to sit-down, and sift through the Kaohsiung monthly event calendar booklets, in search of the illustrated maps featuring various bookstores in town. Back then, I remember thinking how convenient it’d be if those were online, and who knew?! Unspoken wishes do come true!

Based on these informational art pieces which first got published towards the end of 2013, the city recently launched a fairly decent site (only in Chinese) listing all the bookstores in Kaohsiung. I’ve included them in the above map as well. (Note, that most of the malls are often home to a bookstore chain, but I’ve currently left those out).

I’m only familiar with a few from the Kaohsiung list, but now that I know where they all are, I will surely take the time to investigate further.

Now, let me wish you a happy bookstore wandering, and out of courtesy for everyone…

「請勿攜帶書籍進洗手間」Please, don’t take books with you to the bathroom. (seen at 若水堂 高雄店)

PS: feel free to suggest other cool bookstores you think deserve to be added on the map. 🙂

(last updated: 2016/08/26 五)


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