Papurchase: Books for Girls (and Enlightened Guys)

For the longest time now, I have secretly yearned to get married at Borders.

That was before I discovered the National Museum also hosted weddings.


But that’s beside the point. The point is that I’ve always loved reading. (Although the literary merit of some of those books is suspect- case in point: Shopaholics.) In my teens, I would spend countless hours haunting the public library or second-hand bookstores. To date, bookshop browsing still remains as one of our favourite date activities or time-fillers.

So it’s no surprise that one of our favourite gifts to each other is The Gift Of Knowledge (by which I mean Vogue).

Here’s a shortlist of some of my favourite books that Mr Chong has so generously gifted me with:

1. Not strictly a book per se, but highly informative nonetheless, heh. One of my top three lifelong dreams (after “get married at Borders” and “die in a hot air balloon”) is an annual subscription to fashion magazine Vogue! Mr Chong made that wish come true last Christmas by ordering twelve months of Vogue for me, and the first issue just arrived today! Thank you sweetheart!

2. Mr Chong and I were lured into an MPH sale and we lingered there till closing time, where he eventually paid for this and stubbornly refused to let me return him the money:

Its sequel has been titled Call of the Mall (really!)

The author, a self-described “urban geographer and retail anthropologist”, has been christened “the Margaret Mead of shopping”.

In a chapter that’s snazzily been entitled, “You Need Hands”, Underhill discusses what he’s termed the “hand allotment issue”, or how shoppers shop when one or both hands isn’t free:

“The most amusing manifestation of the hand issue was in a supermarket I visited. Like just about every retailer in America today, this market had decided to put in a coffee bar, where shoppers could sit and drink. This wasn’t the first coffee shop I’d seen in a supermarke, but it was the first one to truly understand how the whole thing should work. It had also put in cup holders on the shopping carts, meaning that you could drink and drive. That clever little touch sells coffee, I’ll bet.”

Underhill also shares a memory of a young man caught shoplifting classical music tapes on video surveillance:

“Only after watching him take the tapes over and over on the film did I notice that that bag he slipped them into was from a chain that had no location at that mall. I passed on that tidbit to the client’s security executive and told him that they should be watchful whenever such “wrong” bags were spotted in their stores. I got back a note saying that they had discovered several thousand dollars in theft using that method of detection.” 

Some other interesting issues raised by Underhill include:

  • the butt brush effect, or how women who get bumped by other customers tend to leave the shop without buying anything
  • the catchment basin, or how sales of cosmetics increase when there is a recessed space where women feel safe enough to remove their makeup and test out the cosmetics in relative privacy (as opposed to having to endure the butt brush effect)
  • that to entice customers to pull over, petrol stations should put up prominent signs advertising “The Cleanest Toilets On The Highway”

2. I’m now the proud owner of two Jane Austen clothbound beauties, courtesy of my very own Mr Darcy:

Guess which two Mr Chong chose?

4. But my favourite and most recent papurchase is an Alice in Wonderland pop-up book beautifully illustrated by Robert Sabuda.


I fell in love with this pop-up book so instantly and irrevocably that I didn’t even wait for Mr Chong to get it for me. I whisked out my credit card and bought it myself. Three clicks cheers for Amazon and worldwide shipping! 

Here’s a video of the Alice in Wonderland pop-up book: Andrew and I love the bit where Alice tumbles down the rabbit hole!

p.s. And who says the ABC is  just for children? Here’s a striking and boldly-designed alphabet book  for those of us who still can’t get enough… the 1930s music is delightful as well!

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