Whenever I am back in Petaling Jaya I try to drop by Lit Books, an independent bookstore owned and run by a husband and wife team, Min Hun and Elaine. (I must thank son Andrew for giving me a heads up about the store.) Husband and wife came from sterling careers in journalism, corporate communications and business consulting. So why were they running a book store in a day and age when many brick-and-mortar bookstores were closing and online giants like Amazon ruled? The last time I was back I sat and chatted with the owners over a cup of excellent coffee.
Like many adventures, it began with an idea that just wouldn’t go away. For some time, Min Hun had had the idea of starting a bookstore. While his career traversed more predictable paths, the idea of starting a bookstore refused to go away. This was often what I told folks considering pastoral ministry or overseas missions to look out for. Usually, if a calling is from the Lord it persists over time. At first Elaine wasn’t convinced, but a series of incidents led them to a point where both felt convicted to birth a bookstore.
The other sign that something is from the Lord is that God provides divine connections along the way. As I listened to them tell the story of how the bookstore came about, I heard about how they were led to the right people at the right time. And to the right location. I heard about how when the bookstore was up and running, all sorts of interesting people approached them with interesting suggestions as to what they could do with Lit Books. In less than a year, Lit Books has already hosted all sorts of discussion groups, book launches, and even a few live jazz evenings at the bookstore. This is a place that is alive.
As always, I asked them about the M word. What was the mission of Lit Books? As son Andrew said, there was no way that an independent bookstore could beat the big boys like Kinokuniya or the online stores on pricing. There was no earth-shaking answer. Min Hun said that their mission was to run a good bookshop that would curate good books and engage people. One thing they did was to sell books that they were familiar with — they had either read the books or knew the back story behind the books in their store. As I reflected further, I saw that they were cultivating a community and touching lives through the exchange of ideas — both from the books the folks read and from the interactive events that they ran from time to time. Ideas and community, truth and love, well this follower of Christ is a supporter and a believer. Did I mention that they worshipped in a Presbyterian church downtown? Let me be clear that this is not a Christian bookstore that pushes Christian propaganda. It is just a good bookstore and I think the Lord is pleased with that.
As a fan of mystery novels, I am always on the lookout for new authors. I have a found a few at Lit Books. During my last visit I chanced on a few books by Keigo Higashino. I picked up one but as I was about to pay for my purchases, Min Hun asked whether I had read Keigo Higashino before. I said no. Then, he insisted, I must start with The Devotion of Suspect X. I surrendered to knowledge and wisdom. And I am now thoroughly lost in The Devotion of Suspect X.
So live long and prosper, Lit Books, live long and prosper, Min Hun and Elaine.