The Aesop Women’s Library: voices unbound

Following an inspiring journey across various countries last year, the Aesop Women’s Library returns to Malaysia, reaffirming the brand’s commitment to amplifying women’s voices and stories. This year, Aesop will unveil its second instalment of the ephemeral library, taking over Aesop TRX and Aesop IOI City Mall from 14-16 June 2024.

Complimentary books by women-identifying authors and allies to cherish, share and discuss.

During this period the shelves are being cleared of products, instead showcasing a curated collection of books by local authors who identify as women and allies. The library features a selection of 27 titles in three languages, including writers such as Saras Manickam, Dr. Chai Siaw Ling, and Charissa Ong. Visitors can take home a complimentary book of their choice—no purchase necessary.

‘Voices unbound’ celebrates the powerful impact of the written word and its ability to elicit deep emotional responses. The initiative aims to highlight Kuala Lumpur’s flourishing literary community, emphasising the diverse perspectives and narratives that contribute to the city's rich reading culture.

The reading list

The collection includes titles that span a wide range of genres and a multitude of voices, including My Mother Pattu by Saras Manickam, by Dr. Chai Siaw Ling 蔡曉玲, and Daylight Dialogues by Charissa Ong—highlighted below.

Peruse the full list

Saras Manickam, ‘My Mother Pattu’

Saras Manickam’s extensive experience as a teacher and writer of school textbooks and coffee table books has shaped the authenticity that defines her debut collection of short stories, My Mother Pattu. This background provided her with deep insights into character narratives and life stories. Chosen as the Book of the Month by The Asian Review in October 2023, her tome has garnered numerous accolades, including the regional prize for Asia in the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Contest. In March 2024, PEN Malaysia recognised Saras Manickam as one of the country’s significant women writers.

‘…gender is fluid and shouldn’t stop love from taking root. To love is to be free.’

Dr. Chai Siaw Ling 蔡曉玲, 洞

Born in Kuching in the Sarawak region, Dr. Chai Siaw Ling earned her PhD from the Department of Chinese Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, at the University of Malaya. She later returned to the university as a Senior Lecturer, a role she continues to occupy today.
Her accolades include first prize in the Prose category at the Huazong Literary Awards, the Film Novel category at the China Times Taiwan Literary Awards, and the Hai-O Mahua Literary Awards.

‘Representation is vital for all kinds of equality.’

Charissa Ong, ‘Daylight Dialogues’

A UX designer with dreams of becoming an author, Charissa Ong initially struggled to find the right publisher for her first book, Midnight Monologues. In a bold and fruitful move, she decided to open her own publishing house, Penwings Publishing, in 2014. A few years later, she penned Daylight Dialogues and became one of Malaysia’s top 10 bestselling authors. Her two books have earned multiple recognitions, including a spot on MPH’s bestsellers list in 2020.

‘Stories have to be told, be read and be passed on, to remind us of our community through shared experiences. ‘

A collaboration with Two Book Nerds Talking, to further promote self-expression through the written word.

Over the course of three episodes, Honey and Diana, hosts of literary podcast Two Book Nerds Talking, explore this year’s Women’s Library theme and book selection, enhanced by insights from collaborating publishing houses. Two Book Nerds Talking aims to bring the Malaysian perspective on all things book-related, with the hosts combing through book lists to find hidden gems and taking on passion projects related to gender and minority advocacy.

Listen to the podcast

Episode 1 (Part 1)     Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcast

Episode 1 (Part 2)     Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcast

Episode 2     Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcast

A partnership with content creator Human Edition, sourcing stories that inspire.

The Aesop Women’s Library is also collaborating with @human_edition, a social-media platform devoted to sharing stories from individuals from all walks of life. Co-founded by two architecture-graduates-turned-content-creators, Human Edition has produced four documentary-style episodes exploring the literary landscape of Kuala Lumpur.

Episode 1     Watch on Instagram

Episode 2     Watch on Instagram

Further reading

The full catalogue of titles and authors featured in the ephemeral Aesop Women’s Library can be found at the link below.

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