If you're having trouble finding nonfiction books about Singapore in bookstores where you live, I suggest you wait until you arrive, then browse local shelves, where you'll find a trove of books about the country and its history, culture, arts, and food, along with local fiction. For interesting and informative reads that you can find (or order) through your neighborhood bookstore, here's a good place to start:
From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, by Lee Kuan Yew (HarperCollins), details the history and policies behind Singapore's remarkable economic success, written by the man who was at the helm.
The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, by Lee Kuan Yew (Prentice Hall). An intimate account of Minister Mentor Lee's personal journey, this book will give insight into one of the world's most talked-about leaders.
Crossroads: A Popular History of Malaysia & Singapore, by Jim Baker (Times Books International). A readable history of Singapore and Malaysia from a longtime resident and expert.
The Singapore Grip, by J. G. Farrell (Knopf). A highly enjoyable work of historical fiction written by a Booker Prize winner takes you back to Singapore on the brink of World War II to examine the last days of the British Empire.
King Rat, by James Clavell (Dell). In this novel, set in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation, an American POW struggles to outwit the system in a harsh prison camp.
Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad (Penguin Classics). Written in 1900, this classic narrative tells the story of a man's struggle to find redemption in a Southeast Asian post.
West from Singapore, by Louis L'Amour (Bantam). Few knew that Mr. L'Amour was a Merchant Marine in Southeast Asia. In this novel, he creates his brand of fascinating American West storytelling, only this tale takes place in the waters around pre-World War II Singapore.
Rogue Trader, by Nick Leeson (Time Warner). The subtitle says it all: "How I Brought Down Barings Bank and Shook the Financial World," written by Singapore's most notorious expatriate.
Few major motion pictures have been shot in or are about Singapore. Of note is Peter Bogdanovich's Saint Jack (1979), the only American film to have been shot entirely in Singapore. It was banned by the Singapore government, as it had been filmed secretly, capturing the city's seedy underbelly. The film is based on a (currently out-of-print) novel by Paul Theroux of the same name. Ben Gazarra plays the title character, who is a pimp in 1970s Singapore. In 2008, the film was finally removed from the black list.
Nick Leeson's autobiographical work Rogue Trader was made into a movie of the same name in 1999 starring Ewan McGregor.
While Singapore has a small fledgling local film industry, one director has received top honors at film festivals around the world for his excellent homegrown Singapore films. Director Eric Khoo's most recent project, My Magic (2008), was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 61st Cannes Film Festival, where the film's screening prompted a 15-minute standing ovation.