I'm a sucker for coffee-table books about aspects of Malaysian history, but hadn't realised that Penang based publisher Areca Books had such a great catalogue, until I stumbled across some of their books in Silverfish yesterday.
A couple of their earlier titles are old friends. My copy of Streets of Georgetown, Penang by Khoo Salma Nasution is very tatty after guiding not only my own rambles round this fascinating city, but also after being lent to numerous overseas visitors who want to know exactly what they are looking at.
Penang Postcards Collection also by Khoo Salma Nasution, with Malcolm Wade is a much-thumbed treasure. (Though I have a minor niggle - the paper used doesn't seem to like this humid climate very much and the pages stick together.)
Yesterday I added to my collection Days Gone By : Growing Up in Penang by Christine Wu Ramsay, which Chong Kwee Kim described in the Star as the classic Chinese tale where :
a poor Hakka migrant from China who rose to become the owner of the famous Tambun Mines in Perak (at one time the world's greatest tin producer) and a Vice-Consul of China in Penang.
The book is worth buying for the old photos alone, culled from family albums, and I reckon that it is very reasonably priced at RM50.
And also, Penang Through Gilded Doors by Julia de Bierre which focuses on the wealth of heritage buildings on the island. James Bain Smith's photographs are nothing short of stunning. What I particularly love is that they allow access into interiors, from kampung houses to grand mansions, that I have never had the chance to see for myself (but have always longed to!). It's heartening to see the restoration work on these buildings, and how lovingly they are cared for.
Even if you know Penang very well, I'm sure this beautiful book will help you to see it with fresh eyes.
I will be slowly - as I can afford to - collecting the other titles in the series!