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Image by The Straits Times

50 Things To Love About Singapore, a collection of 50 keenly-observed essays about the nation, was launched yesterday evening at the Singapore Writers Festival.

The book contains essays by some of The Straits Times’ most authoritative reporters on a wide range of subjects which are uniquely Singaporean, such as native wildlife, the grand dame of nightclubs, Zouk, and the COE system controlling the number of vehicles on the road.

The book is published by Straits Times Press, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, to mark the nation’s Golden Jubilee and The Straits Times’ 170th anniversary next year.

The event, which took place at the Festival Pavilion on Singapore Management University’s campus green, was attended by editor of the collection and senior writer Susan Long, Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez, as well as several writers who contributed to the book.

At the event, Ms Long spoke of how she and the writers put the collection together.

“We wanted the book to be authoritative, but accessible, so we tried to write an unofficiously as possible. We tried to be funny and witty where possible, and on occasion we succeeded,” she said, noting that government bodies and corporations have pre-ordered almost 2,000 copies of the book.

Mr Fernandez recalled how Ms Long sold the idea of the book to him as a love story.

“She said, ‘Don’t worry, it won’t be cloying, it won’t be sickly sweet. It’s the kind of love you have with parents, friends, someone you know, the kind of love that lets you say things straight to their face, share in their joys and pains, and tells you when you’ve succeeded and made a hash of it.’

“I thought that trying to strike that note of celebration and yet critique is quite difficult, but if anybody can do it, Susan can.”

Senior correspondent Radha Basu and senior economics correspondent Fiona Chan, who both contributed multiple essays to the book, also fielded questions by Ms Long on the challenges faced in writing the essays.

Lawyer Vijai Parwani, who is in his 40s, bought a copy of the book for himself.

He said: “I like the writers, and I like their style of writing. I’ve seen their names in the papers, people like Rohit (Brijnath, senior writer) and Marc (Lim, sports editor). But what I’ve read from them is always in a news style, and I wanted to see what they have to say about Singapore from a more personal perspective.”

The book is available at all leading bookstores at $25. To order, e-mail stpressbooks@sph.com.sg or call 6319-8347 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on November 7, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.