A bookstore and cafe where you can bond over ideas and hang out all day? The Moon, we've been waiting for you...
Dreamers, book lovers and lingerers, this is your moment. The Moon bookstore has landed at Mosque street in the heart of Chinatown, and this shop-cafe-events space is giving us all the #flashesofdelight. From its deliciously curated collection of books (someone here’s got great taste in covers), to the the hanging plants, great coffee and the light-filled, cushion-strewn reading room upstairs, this is the fantasy hangout us bookish types have been waiting for in Singapore.
And it took 27-year-old Sarah Naeem to make it happen. I first meet the force behind all of this while ogling special edition, leather-bound copies of Dune in a glass cabinet – the only ones available in Singapore, apparently. She instantly declares her obsession with the Dune chronicles, her full-on bibliophile leanings and pop culture smarts bubbling over as she lets me in on a documentary about the film adaptation I need to see. We sigh together over the equally beautiful copies of Wizard of Oz and Sherlock Holmes and drop everything for a chat. And that’s just what this place is all about: instant connections over big imaginations.
So, why The Moon? Why here? Why now? A graphic designer and branding consultant (just check out The Moon’s mermaid logo), Sarah says she never imagined this is where she’d end up. But during a visit to her hometown in Pakistan two years ago, a particularly evocative bookstore left an impression – and triggered a longing for something similar back here in Singapore. She couldn’t find anything that could give her that same feeling, so here we are. “I had no experience running a retail space, but the idea of a bookstore and cafe, and building a community was so strong for me. And things fell into place so beautifully,” she says.
As for the name? It was inspired by the feeling of being ‘over the moon’ – what Sarah wants this space to evoke. And yeah, she’s into the phases of the moon and confesses she’s a bit of a hippy. “It’s a little whimsical – we don’t take ourselves too seriously here,” she says. “We like to read good books but at the same time we also read romantic novels and I don’t want to feel ashamed of that.”
It’s a pretty colourful collection here: modern lit, a cool clutch of children’s books, intriguing non-fiction and the occasional occult title alongside beautifully designed cookbooks. Yes, cover art is essential in the curation process (“I do think you can judge a book by its cover,” says Sarah). But take a closer look: at least 50 per cent of the titles here represent female writers, from as many people of colour and as many diverse voices as Sarah can pack on these shelves.
“This isn’t just about the store though,” she says, “It’s community-based. I want this to be a space for ideas, where people come together, meet like-minded people and see where that takes them.” So on street level you’ll find the books and cafe. (“It’s a natural way to meet people,” she explains.)
Upstairs you’ll find the reading room and events space, where a play was recently staged. It’s a space to chill out with your book – BYO is all good, and a second-hand library is also in the works – have a conversation, or bring your book club crew. There are some seriously good events lined up we can’t tell you about yet, but just saying: don’t underestimate the bookish set.
“We’re very particular about what we want our customers to experience: what do they see, how do they feel, what do they smell? We even have a custom scent we’re about to introduce,” Sarah adds. (It’s bergamot, rosemary and patchouli, if you’re wondering.) “We want this to be a place that’s super welcoming and super comfortable. You should leave here feeling warmth.”
So yes, you’re welcome to hang out here for hours browsing books, sipping that coffee, grazing through the menu so thoughtfully being put together and lounging on those cushions upstairs.
The Moon has literally been open less than a week, but it already has pull: mid-afternoon, people are wandering in, leafing through pages and staying for coffee and cake. I’ve sidled into the last seat available myself to nurse a latte.
From behind the counter, 17-year-old Alex – who has the coolest after-school job, by the way – confides: “My school friends don’t really read books; they don’t think it’s cool. They go home and watch K-drama. But I don’t want my generation to lose all of this,” he says, surveying the scene.
I think we’re going to make it, kid.
The Moon; 37 Mosque Street, Singapore 059515