Exploring The Best Singapore Nonfiction Books A Dive Into The Cultural And Historical Nar 139204463

Exploring The Best Singapore Nonfiction Books: A Dive Into The Cultural And Historical Narratives

Feeling lost in a sea of Singaporean literature? With an array of books to choose from, finding the right one can be challenging. From cultural narratives to historical tales and personal memoirs, this blog will navigate you through some exceptional non-fiction works that capture the heart of Singapore’s vibrant heritage.

Curious yet? Let’s plunge into this literary journey together!

Key Takeaways

  • Nonfiction books in Singapore cover a wide range of topics, from biographies to history essays and travel guides.
  • Memoirs and autobiographies offer fascinating insights into the lives of prominent figures like Robert Yeo and Lee Kuan Yew.
  • True crime titles like “The Tenth Man” and “Gold Bar Murders” provide thrilling narratives set in Singapore.
  • Cultural and historical nonfiction books explore the unique identity and heritage of Singaporean culture.

Nonfiction Books in Singapore

A stack of nonfiction books with a map of Singapore in the background, representing a bustling city atmosphere.

In Singapore, nonfiction books are loved by many. In 2016, most of the top 10 bestselling books were nonfiction. These books give us true stories about people and events. They help to teach us new things.

There are all kinds of nonfiction books in Singapore. You can find biographies, memoirs, history essays and more! Some show great photos like “Through the Lens of Lee Kip Lin: Photographs of Singapore 1965-1995”.

Others talk about good food or help you travel better.

Books like “Lonely Planet Singapore” guide travellers around the city. Other ones tell unique tales about our past. For example, “Singapore Unbound” uses old texts and poems to talk about our history.

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Memoirs and Autobiographies

A stack of well-worn books with glasses resting on top on a wooden desk.

Explore the captivating personal stories of prominent figures in Singapore, such as Robert Yeo and Lee Kuan Yew, through their memoirs and autobiographies.

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Robert Yeo at Eighty: A Celebration

A portrait of Robert Yeo surrounded by stacks of books at his desk, showcasing different faces, hairstyles, and outfits.

Robert Yeo gave a lot to literature in Singapore. He wrote poems, plays, and books about his own life and the culture of his homeland. His work is celebrated in the book Robert Yeo at Eighty: A Celebration.

Dr. Ismail S. edited this book as a tribute to him. It shares Robert’s words on many topics like painting a picture with words (poetry), making stories for theatre (playwriting) and telling true tales about life (memoirs).

The book also talks about one of his famous plays called “One Year Later”. This play was about how things change when people speak against the government (political dissent). It shows that Robert’s work has always been deep and thought-provoking, just like we see in this special book made for him.

The Singapore Story: Memoir of Lee Kuan Yew

A photo of Lee Kuan Yew standing in front of Singapore's parliament building, showcasing different looks and expressions.“The Singapore Story: Memoir of Lee Kuan Yew” is a must-read. This book talks about the hard times Singapore faced to be free. The man behind this book, Lee Kuan Yew, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore.

He shares all about his fights against people who did not want Singapore to stand on its own feet. These people were colonialists, communists and communalists. His words help us understand how Singapore grows from a small place into a strong nation that we see today.

This account forms part one of his memoirs. If you love history or want to know more about how nations grow, this book will keep you glued till the end!

True Crime

A detective uses forensic tools to examine a crime scene in a well-lit area with a bustling atmosphere.

Explore the thrilling world of true crime with classic Singaporean titles like “The Tenth Man” and “Gold Bar Murders.” Immerse yourself in captivating mysteries that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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True Crime Classics: The Tenth Man, Gold Bar Murders

A photo of a stack of gold bars with a magnifying glass on a vintage desk.

The Tenth Man, Gold Bar Murders is a true crime classic book that tells the story of a fast-paced and sinister robbery and murder in Singapore. The crime involved a gang of ten men who targeted a gold merchant and his two employees.

Their motive was to steal 120 bars of pure gold. This gripping book not only explores the criminal investigation but also delves into the cultural and historical narratives of Singapore during that time period.

It offers insights into the motives behind the crime and provides context within Singaporean history.

The Murder of a Beauty Queen

A blood-stained diary and broken pen on a vintage vanity table in a crime scene photo.

The Murder of a Beauty Queen is a true crime story that revolves around the mysterious and shocking murder of a beautiful and wealthy widow. This captivating case attracted immense attention, not just in Singapore but also in Malaysia.

The circumstances surrounding the murder raised many questions and suspicions, making it a compelling mystery to uncover. Author Alex Josey delves deep into this crime in his book “The Murder of A Beauty Queen,” providing readers with an extensive exploration of the investigation, trial, suspects, evidence, motives, and more.

This intriguing tale has been covered in three different books on true crime specifically focused on Singapore.

Cultural and Historical Narratives

A diverse group of people from various cultural backgrounds gather together and share stories, creating a bustling and vibrant atmosphere.

Explore the rich cultural and historical narratives of Singapore through a variety of nonfiction books. Dive into these captivating stories that shed light on the unique identity and heritage of Singaporean culture.

Discover books like “Singapore A Modern History,” which provides an insightful overview of Singapore’s development from colonial times to modern-day. Another book worth exploring is “Sing Musicals: A History Of Singapore Musical Theatre” by Kenneth, offering an in-depth exploration of the vibrant musical theater scene in Singapore.

These books, along with many others, delve into the arts, history, politics, and various aspects of Singaporean life, providing readers with valuable insights into this diverse nation.

Social and Political Critiques

A diverse urban skyline with people of various backgrounds and styles, captured in a crystal clear photograph.

Get ready to dive into thought-provoking essays that challenge social norms and question political systems. These books offer a critical lens through which to view Singaporean society, sparking important conversations about home, community, race, and environmentalism.

Don’t miss out on these powerful narratives that push the boundaries of Singapore’s cultural landscape.

The Singapore I Recognise: Essays on home, community and hope

A vibrant and diverse community garden filled with blooming flowers and bustling with activity.“The Singapore I Recognise: Essays on home, community and hope” is a collection of essays by Kirsten Han, an activist in civil society. In this book, she explores the complexities and layers of home in Singapore.

Through her thought-provoking critiques, Kirsten provides different perspectives on social and political issues that are often overlooked. The essays offer insights from civil society voices that are rarely heard.

They delve into the experiences and reflections of Singaporeans towards communal care. Described as fresh, well-articulated, semi-autobiographical, hopeful, redemptive, reflective, and self-aware, “The Singapore I Recognise” is a valuable read for anyone interested in understanding the nuances of life in Singapore.

Brown is Redacted: Reflecting on Race in Singapore

A diverse group of individuals stand in front of a multicultural mural in Singapore, showcasing the city's heritage.“Brown is Redacted: Reflecting on Race in Singapore” is an anthology that explores the experiences and narratives of brown individuals in Singapore. The book aims to shed light on how brownness is perceived and understood in Singaporean society.

It was inspired by a performance-lecture called “Brown Is Haram” and is edited by Kristian-Marc James Paul, Mysara Aljaru, and Myle Yan Tay. The anthology acknowledges that it may not capture the entire brown experience but strives to create a singular narrative.

It addresses important themes like diversity, ethnicity, identity, representation, racism, discrimination, and marginalization through personal stories and reflections.

The book contributes to a larger exploration of nonfiction books in Singapore that delve into cultural and historical narratives. It offers a valuable perspective on the complexities of race in the country’s social fabric.

Making Kin: Ecofeminist Essays from Singapore

A vibrant and diverse rainforest showcasing a bustling atmosphere and rich plant life.

“Making Kin: Ecofeminist Essays from Singapore” is a book that explores diverse voices rooted in women’s experiences in Singapore. It offers social and political critiques on decolonial sentiments, land reclamation, and cis/het/patriarchal norms.

The essays emphasize the importance of kindness and creating a sense of kinship. Readers resonate deeply with the personal stories shared within these essays. The book features a diverse group of women making kin with one another, aiming to change the narrative and stretch the imagination within Singapore.

Personal Essays

A diverse group of people from different cultural backgrounds sharing stories and experiences in a bustling cityscape.

Some personal essays in Singapore nonfiction include “What We Inherit: Growing Up Indian” and “Growing Up Perempuan.”

What We Inherit: Growing Up Indian

A group of Indian children in traditional clothing playing together in a multicultural playground.

“What We Inherit: Growing Up Indian” is a collection of personal essays written by Indian women and men in Singapore. This anthology contains 38 deeply personal essays that explore the Indian experience in Singapore, reflecting on Indian culture, Singaporean identity, and personal stories.

The book delves into topics such as cultural heritage, identity formation, multicultural society, intergenerational experiences, ethnic diversity, and cultural memories. Praised for its poignant and diverse narratives, the anthology offers readers a chance to gain insights into the complexities of growing up Indian in Singapore.

It is described as timely, relevant, meaningful with inconvenient truths and painful retrospection found within the pages. The book was launched by AWARE Singapore organization which adds to its significance in addressing important societal issues.

Growing Up Perempuan

“Growing Up Perempuan” is a collection of personal essays that explore the experiences of Muslim women in Singapore. In this book, you will find stories filled with love, loss, strength, and resilience.

These narratives offer unique perspectives on femininity, identity, empowerment, culture, diversity, religion, and intersectionality. “Growing Up Perempuan” is part of the larger “Growing Up Indian” project that aims to share the voices and stories of Indian women through personal essays and poems.

With 276 pages in paperback format, this book provides an opportunity to dive deep into the lives of these incredible women and gain a better understanding of their lived experiences.

Singaporean History

A diverse group of students gathers in front of a historical landmark for a photo.

Explore the rich history of Singapore through books like “Khairat Kita: A History of Malay/Muslim Mutual Aid in Singapore” and “My Nantah Story: The Rise and Demise of the People’s University.”

Khairat Kita: A History of Malay/Muslim Mutual Aid in Singapore

“Khairat Kita: A History of Malay/Muslim Mutual Aid in Singapore” is a project that explores the history of mutual aid within the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore. This project includes interviews, photographs, essays, and personal reflections to document this important aspect of Singaporean history.

The focus is on volunteer-led initiatives known as Malay/Muslim Mutual Benefit Organizations (MMBOs) which have been providing support and assistance for centuries. These MMBOs serve as social anchors in the community and play a vital role in helping those in need.

The aim of the project is to preserve the remaining MMBOs and highlight their significance in Singapore’s history.

My Nantah Story: The Rise and Demise of the People’s University

“My Nantah Story: The Rise and Demise of the People’s University” is a historical account that captures a significant moment in Singaporean history. It tells the story of Nantah, a ground-up university funded by the Chinese community, which became a source of pride for them.

The book draws from diverse sources previously unavailable in English, shedding light on biases and prejudices against Nantah. It challenges the current narrative surrounding the university’s demise and provides a counter-state perspective on its downfall.

Through this book, readers gain insight into how oppressed people united in the face of challenges and learn about an important chapter in Singapore’s history.

Diversity and Inclusion

A diverse group of people smiling, captured in a bustling cityscape, with perfectly clear and vibrant photography.

Explore the perspectives on disability and inclusion in Singapore through “Not Without Us.”

Not Without Us: Perspectives on Disability and Inclusion in Singapore

“Not Without Us: Perspectives on Disability and Inclusion in Singapore” is a collection of essays that focuses on disability and inclusion in Singapore. It aims to establish disability as an important aspect of the Singaporean narrative by adopting a creative and critical disability studies approach.

The book features the voices of persons with disabilities, advocating for empowerment, equality, and social inclusion. Published by Ethos Books, this work addresses issues such as discrimination and ableism while promoting accessibility and representation for individuals with disabilities in creating an inclusive society.”.

Singapore, Incomplete: Reflections on a First World nation’s arrested political development

The book “Singapore, Incomplete: Reflections on a First World nation’s arrested political development” explores the underdeveloped political culture and structure in Singapore. It argues that the unique blend of comfort and control in politics is becoming untenable for the country.

Highlighting Singapore’s middle-aged status, the book sheds light on its arrested political development. One key issue raised is the lack of diversity and inclusion in Singapore’s political landscape.

The book delves into the challenges that Singapore faces in terms of diversity and inclusion, offering reflections on these important aspects of a first-world nation’s political progress.


A person reads a book about Singapore's cultural heritage surrounded by shelves of nonfiction books in a bustling library.

In conclusion, these nonfiction books offer a fascinating dive into Singapore’s cultural and historical narratives. From memoirs and true crime to personal essays and social critiques, there is something for everyone to explore.

These books provide valuable insights into Singapore’s diverse heritage and history, allowing readers to gain a deeper understanding of the country’s past and present. So go ahead, pick up one of these amazing books and embark on an exciting literary journey through Singapore!


1. What are nonfiction books?

Nonfiction books are books that contain factual information and real events, providing knowledge about a particular subject or topic.

2. Why should I explore Singapore nonfiction books?

Exploring Singapore nonfiction books allows you to delve into the cultural and historical narratives of the country, gaining insights into its rich heritage, traditions, and significant events.

3. How can I find the best Singapore nonfiction books to read?

You can find the best Singapore nonfiction books by researching popular authors, reading book reviews, checking out recommended book lists, or visiting local bookstores and libraries for suggestions.

4. What can I learn from exploring cultural and historical narratives through these books?

By exploring cultural and historical narratives in Singapore nonfiction books, you can gain a deeper understanding of the country’s diverse heritage, traditions, society, past events,and how they have shaped its present-day identity.

5. Can anyone enjoy reading Singapore nonfiction books even if they’re not from Singapore?

Yes! Anyone with an interest in learning about different cultures and history can enjoy reading Singapore nonfiction books as they provide valuable insights into a unique country’s experiences that expand one’s knowledge beyond their own culture.

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