Robin Sharma’s Fans Share The Best Lesson Life Has Taught Them

Robin Sharma Best Life Lessons

On Tuesday, Robin Sharma asked his Facebook fans to share (via a comment) the best lesson that Life has taught them. The author of the international bestseller ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ (and many other titles) received an overwhelming number of replies, and he also took the time to comment on some of those which resonated with him and which he was curious about. I’ve picked a few that stood out for me among the top comments on that post, and am listing them here with minimal editing (just for length and clarity)…

#1: Everything happens for a purpose and that purpose is to change you. To change you the way Nature wants you. So it’s better to learn the lessons ASAP instead of crying and complaining. And, of course, not running away from the events as well.

#2: The good news: Nothing lasts forever. The bad news: Nothing lasts forever.

#3: Put yourself first – don’t live your life to please others. Also, starting over is okay, if you’re not happy because you’re in the wrong direction.

#4: My peace of mind is the biggest wealth that I possess. I can’t let people have control over me and my thoughts.

#5: Be your own biggest believer, fan and advocate.

#6: Everything that happens to you, happens with a reason. So you could learn, experience something new. So, no matter how the situation looks like, be certain that it is good for you. If it isn’t, it means the journey isn’t over yet.

#7: I am a Cancer survivor. Last year, things did not look good for me at all. I had stage 3 cancer which spread through my lymph system. 2 major surgeries and a LOT of chemotherapy later I am still here smiling and loving every second of life. The biggest lesson I learnt from this entire experience: A positive attitude and making the best out of the worst situation can get you through ANYTHING. Life is so precious, so beautiful and at times it is really scary but a very positive mindset beats anything life throws at you.

#8: ‘This too shall pass’ is life’s greatest lesson. Stop expecting that people will behave according to what you wish them to. And it’s good to focus on your own happiness and make it a priority.

#9: I have been bitten by more than 2000 honey bees. I think no one will believe but that happened to me. Doctors always say that I survived only because of my will power to live. So this inspires me every time. If you decide on something from your inner soul, you can do anything, you can achieve anything that you want. That is the lesson of my life from myself.

#10: Never have a habit of judging people. Because, one day you will feel like killing them, because of what they did. But very soon, they do something great to you. And you got to feel bad for thinking bad about them. So just listen to the beauty of life. Never judge, never ever react.

#11: Always count your blessings. I have a transparent piggy bank where I put in coins whenever something good happens to me. If I’m really happy on a particular day, I’ll deposit more money! Everyday, I see that piggy bank filling up and think how blessed I am! It’s a great feeling. When it’s full, give it away to a charity of your choice! See your life change!

#12: God never takes something away without replacing it with something better; it’s always done in our best interests. Defeat only exists if we allow it to. Patience, a positive attitude, hard work and perseverance is key!

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There are over 1,300 responses so if you’d like to read a few more, head over to this FB post.

Personal Branding 247: The Only Book I’ve Bought 10 Copies Of

Andrew Chow author

I own copies of all 3 of Andrew Chow’s books. Personal Branding 247 is the newest one 🙂

The author would probably have given me a complimentary copy, ‘cos I wrote him a decent endorsement of his book (he liked it enough to put it on the cover). And even though Andrew Chow had sent me the manuscript of Personal Branding 247, meaning I already have the soft copy of the book, I knew from the first read that I had to buy this book for some people I care about. It’s just that good! So I bought 10 copies during the book launch, and have personally gifted 3 copies (thus far) by hand to some of my pals. 🙂

Personal Branding 247 recipients

I’ve recently fallen in love with picture collages. 😀 So the first copy went to C while we were having a calorie-intensive yet delicious meal at Patbingsoo at Plaza Singapura, the second copy to T, an ASEAN youth leader from Thailand, while we dined at the kawaii Pompompurin cafe at Orchard Central, and the third one to J at his kiddo’s 1st birthday party – the food from Neo Garden catering was really good (I love curry chicken at buffets, seriously) 😀

I hope you guys enjoy reading Personal Branding as much as I did!

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I recently came across a website with folks offering coaching regarding Personal Branding for a cool $8,000. That caused me to laugh out loud. Who are those people, ah? All one really needs is to purchase Andrew Chow’s book, and maybe buy him a coffee thereafter and there’d likely be little difference in terms of value received. I was frankly very shocked at how much Andrew shared in Personal Branding 247. Some of those pieces of advice were things I thought he’d only share with FRIENDS, not people who buy a $25 book. Because Andrew does personal coaching himself, I was wondering why he’d share so much in a book instead of leaving it for a class or course.

I guess I don’t know my friend very well. 😀 And if you have attended one of his classes, you’ll be wondering if you’re getting a Masters degree after the course, because the content is so solid and possibly even overwhelming in terms of scope and depth.

I know that he’s a very giving person. Some people are Go-Getters, while others are Go-Givers. Andrew definitely is in the second camp. Instead of thinking how he can get more and more for himself, he’s always giving to others. I still have so much to learn from him.

While he’s happy to meet folks for coffee, I give people a hard time when they try to ask me out for coffee. I need to know exactly what the agenda is first. Wedding? Insurance? MLM? 😀 If I don’t get a satisfactory response, no deal.

I’m especially skeptical towards authors these days. Because there are lots of people teaching others how they can publish a book quickly and easily (even Andrew Chow does that), there are some authors I have met and didn’t quite like:

#1: Guy who published a book about marketing, and gave me MANY copies of the book. He wanted me to help give them out to the millionaires, CEOs, business people I was interviewing for my blog (back then). And what would I receive in return for carrying those books around, and handing them out for him as his unpaid marketing person? Erm… the OPPORTUNITY to give out free books (read: gifts) to my interviewees. How lovely! Thanks. 😛 I gave them out to the guy at the prawning place I went to, some of my blog coaching students, and other random folks. 😀

#2: Guy who published a book about millennials, who met me supposedly to discuss an interview. But he suddenly whipped out copies of his new book from his backpack and wanted me to take them with me. I wasn’t even carrying a backpack or large bag or anything like that. So I had to carry them in my arms for the rest of the day? Well, no thanks. Not even a decent paper or plastic bag for me to carry those books? The book seemed like a good read (I only read half of it) but I questioned how much of it was truth, because he had showed up pretty late for our appointment. And I’m not impressed by people who show up late. What sort of personal branding is that?

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If you want to read books which will make a difference in your life, written by authors who walk the talk and have a wealth of experience to share, then you might want to start with books authored by Andrew Chow. I wouldn’t recommend any other “Personal Branding expert” (or team, or consultant). After all, his is the only book I’ve ever bought 10 copies of.

#BuySingLit 2017: The SingLit Books I Bought & Those Which Rocked

BuySingLit

As part of the #BuySingLit campaign, some books in bookstores now have a little sticker on their cover which says ‘Buy Local Read Our World’. Still, I found many sales assistants in bookstores confused as to which books were ‘SingLit’ books (which I could pay for using #BuySingLit vouchers) and which weren’t. They had to consult their computers, printouts and also, their managers. Often, one title would *not* be classified as ‘SingLit’ in one store but would be SingLit in another. This confusion meant I had to visit many bookstores. And I came to realize why bookstores can barely survive in Singapore if they don’t rely heavily on sales of assessment books, stationery and kids’ storybooks, among other things. The sales assistants don’t know their ‘products’ well enough to up-sell and cross-sell. They can help you locate a title and collect your cash, but won’t be able to comment on your book selection or make a helpful (unsolicited) recommendation.

Anyway, if you happen to have #BuySingLit vouchers you have yet to use (they expire end of this month), here are my Sing Lit recommendations for you. *Note that there’s one title which is a new release and hence won’t be applicable.

#1: Here Now There After (edited by Yong Shu Hoong, published by Marshall Cavendish)

buysinglit here now there after

This book is super cool as it comes with a $5 pre-loaded NETS FlashPay Card. It’ll totally save your ass if you forget to bring your EZ-Link card out one day. The book has poems, short stories and comic strips inspired by public transport! I love the short story by Neil Humphreys – ‘Drunk And Orderly On The MRT’. Poet Gwee Li Sui also contributed two poems to this collection!

#2: China Rich Girlfriend (Kevin Kwan, published by Anchor Books)

buysinglit china rich girlfriend

This book is deserving of the title ‘unputdownable’ reserved for only the best reads. I’m absolutely amazed by how someone born and raised in Singapore can write something so fabulous that it becomes an international bestseller. Yes, Kevin wrote ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ first but I think he got his mojo working only towards the end of Crazy Rich Asians, and fully unleashed it in China Rich Girlfriend. You can read the second book even if you haven’t read the first one. I sure did. Now I’ve read them both.

#3: Crazy Rich Asians (*as above)

buysinglit crazy rich asians

It’s easy to see why this topic of ‘rich Asians’ would make for an internationally bestselling book. People around the world are fascinated / irritated / shocked at the obscene amounts of money some Asians possess, and the way they flaunt their wealth and spend their moolah. We desperately need an author to dish out the dirt on the internal politics of the rich and (supposedly) fabulous, how money need not necessarily make one happy (so the rest of us don’t feel so bad), and satisfy our curiosity about how the disgustingly rich folk eat / travel / marry / shop / etc. Stop wondering and just read this book. 😀

#4: Invisible Trade: High-Class Sex For Sale in Singapore (Gerrie Lim, published by Monsoon Books)

buysinglit invisible trade high class sex for sale in Singapore

The stories in this book (supposedly all factual accounts) border on the fantastical. Behind closed hotel room doors, it seems that some men ask escorts for the most improbable favors. (Without revealing too much, I’ll just say their asking an escort to strangle/choke them using her thighs is just a mild request). A book like this one is definitely a money-spinner; this copy I have (published in 2013) is already its 7th edition! There’s a second book which I did not purchase. I thought one was enough. I was eating at Paulinni at Chinatown Point and I thought I was watching an actual scene from this book happening right before my eyes. Seated at the table next to ours was a petite Asian lady (I’m not sure about her nationality) and a Caucasian guy (a loud, talkative bloke). He kept asking her the weirdest questions I shall not list here and telling her about his hobbies and basically, how awesome he is. And all the time, I’m wondering if these two are meeting for the first time (and how yummy my pizza is). Then he passes her some money from across the table. Let’s just say my imagination went wild after that, as he stood up and walked off without waiting for her, as she followed meekly behind. *The book cover’s so seductive that my book-averse other half actually picked it up to read as well. LOL.

#5: 17A Keong Saik Road (Charmaine Leung, published by Ethos Books)

singlit 17a keong saik road

I read this book twice as the first reading didn’t tell me what I wanted / expected to know. With the second reading, it was more of reading between-the-lines. Truth be told, I didn’t even know that Keong Saik Road was ‘famous’ for being a red-light district in the past. I thought there was only Geylang. This book opened my eyes to a small segment of Singapore’s history where we used to have ‘entertainers’ akin to the geisha in Japan, ma jie who took the vow of celibacy but still had (female) lovers (!), and how these ma jie adopted (read: bought) children so there would be someone to look after them in their old age. *Note: Not a BuySingLit title as apparently, it’s a new release and therefore not on the list (yet).

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That’s all for now. Once I’m done reading another 5 books, I’ll publish another post here. So stay tuned. 🙂

Book Review: The Christmas Guest by Daisy Bell

The Christmas Guest by Daisy Bell

I think animal lovers will absolutely adore this book. And while it *might* look more suitable for children, adults will enjoy it too. I even shed tears reading this book, testimony to the good writing. The author, Daisy Bell, writes from the perspective of a young golden retriever puppy first named (an unfortunate) ‘Mr Snuffles’ and then ‘Teddy’.

The puppy ran away from its first set of owners. At that time, he’d been more of a ‘show’ puppy, for stuffing into handbags while his female owner had tea with her girlfriends. Their home, while grand, lacked the warmth of a real home.

That’s how he found himself on the doorstep of a family who came to love him like a family member. It was not all rosy at the start – what with the pup digging up the flowerbed, to taking the blame for what the old family cat had done. Eventually, things took a turn for the better, and you should read the book to find out what happened *wink*

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This book is a really good read – you might complete it in one sitting. 🙂 If you have a child who loves dogs (especially golden retrievers, like I do), this book is great for teaching things like these:

  1. That horridly glum neighbor might be enduring pains you know nothing about. So don’t judge.
  2. That same neighbor might be the answer to your prayers. So be kind.
  3. A pet is for life, just like a baby. So be responsible.

Book Review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

A Street Cat Named Bob

There’s no other word to describe this book besides ‘heartwarming’. James Bowen had been addicted to heroin, had lived on the streets, was estranged from his family and in his own words, been “selfish” (had not needed to care about anyone else apart from himself). Then this street cat appeared in his block. And in nursing ‘Bob’ to health, James found healing for his own physical and emotional ailments. Life with Bob was better and also worse, as Bob was an asset when it came to James’ busking (this ginger cat is an amazing crowd-puller) however there were people who got green-eyed or simply didn’t like the duo and tried to (in Singaporean terms) ‘sabo‘ them. With a series of best-selling books, plus a movie, I think James and Bob are set for life. Hopefully James never finds himself ensnared by drugs again, and may Bob have more than ‘nine’ lives so he can keep on being a wonderful pal for James! 🙂

Watch this:

One thing which struck me when reading this book was how us busy ‘city people’ would not have given a dirty, ill street cat the time of day. It would just not register on our radar at all. But for James who was recovering from his drug addiction, he didn’t just see the animal’s ‘brokenness’, he thought it reflected his own. Some people might say that he is using the animal to make money, but cats being cats, Bob is unlikely to be so affectionate towards James if the two didn’t share a bond that strangers don’t know about.

It’s hard enough to get a cat to walk towards you for a pat. Try getting one to stay around your shoulders. I do think Bob was sent by the divine just for James. And I cannot be happier for how their lives have turned around! I want to watch the movie!!!

On another note, it would probably have been so, so different for James if his parents had stayed together. James isn’t from a poor family. Quite the opposite instead! But the divorce, and teenage angst (I think), plus the frequent moving and switching of schools (and the bullying) ended in James finding himself on the streets.

Now, with more than half a million fans on Facebook, a series of books, and a film, James is clearly bent on sending a message of hope to not just the readers and the moviegoers, but those who are plying their trade on the streets – never give up!

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Definitely read this book if you are in need of an inspiring TRUE story. Also, get this book as a Christmas gift for someone who loves cats. I know who my copy is going to. 🙂

Also, here’s the movie trailer!!! 😀

 

Interview with Swati Joshi, Author and CEO of Influenshine

Swati Joshi Influenshine

1) You are an engineer by training so how did you discover your passion lies in business and marketing? What prompted you to start your digital marketing firm, Influenshine?

I like to think of myself as a versatile person, and that I can become whatever I want to be. As a teenager from a small town in India trying to decide my future career path, I could only think of engineering as a profession that could lead to a feasible career and my desired lifestyle. I got into the best engineering university in India (Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur) through a lot of hard work and then joined a big corporation which allowed me to travel the world. Throughout my corporate journey, I felt I had much untapped potential. I knew I had more to give to the world. After meeting my husband, I found myself drawn further into his expertise areas of business and marketing.

While I was pregnant in 2015, I thought about the direction in which my life was going and the legacy I was going to leave. That’s when I first thought of taking matters into my own hands and starting my own company. Influenshine serves several businesses based in Asia and helps them enhance their digital presence. It is my way of starting to make an impact on the world.

2) What were the main challenges you faced in starting your company, and now in growing it?

The most challenging thing when I started the company was wearing multiple hats at the same time. It was daunting and time-consuming. But as the founder I wanted to get my hands dirty and be involved in every aspect of the company. I have now formed a team which can take care of many aspects of the business. Now the main challenge for me is find the best people who will take the company and the practice of digital marketing to the next level.

3) Which are your most memorable experiences of working with clients on their digital strategy? 

I love the part when clients are amazed at the reach they can get through digital campaigns. Traditionally, you could take out an ad in a magazine or newspaper for a few thousand dollars and hope for the best. But with digital ads, you can measure exactly how many people saw your campaign, clicked on it or took action. Clients are often pleasantly surprised at how much more cost effective this strategy is. It feels great to be able to craft campaigns that perform better than their expectations.

4) As a wife, mother, author and entrepreneur, what are your top time management tips?

Firstly, prioritize and delegate. If somebody else can do a task better than you can, give it to them. I try to get as much help as possible (that I can afford!) to help me both at home and at work. I try to focus on the ‘quality’ part instead of trying to do it all. It helps me keep my sanity!

Secondly, learn to use technology to help you. I list down my daily, weekly and long-term tasks and priorities, and save everything on my online calendar. I dedicate time slots for my work, and for my personal life. Everything from my client meetings, brainstorming for my next blog post to my daughter’s swim class is on my calendar. That way I don’t miss anything.

Thirdly, learn to say ‘No’ without being sorry about it. Saying ‘No’ to certain things means you are prioritizing and taking control of your time. Don’t let others waste your time if you can help it. Meetings can be a big time-sucker too – replace one with a phone call if it isn’t necessary.

5) You are also a blogger and you contribute articles to sites such as The Huffington Post. How did you get started with writing for The Huffington Post and which articles have gotten the most support from the online community?

Earlier this year, I decided to write more. I have always loved writing – I used to write and edit for my school and college publications. I started writing on LinkedIn, and to reach a bigger audience, I also decided to submit an article to the editors at The Huffington Post. They liked my article and set me up as a Contributor. I have written about 8 articles for them so far, and have always been amazed at the response I get and the number of tweets and mentions after each article. It has helped me reach a wider audience and I love publishing on their platform. The article that was ‘shared’ the most is about Video marketing, and I guess it really echoed the sentiments of the online community which is beginning to realize the potential of videos as a marketing tool.

6) Which are the books, people and/or movies that have made the biggest impact on your life?

I think there are too many to list! I learn so much from the books I read and the people I meet. I grew up reading a lot of science fiction, so technology has always been an area of interest. Of late I have been reading books about business and marketing – a few books which have stayed with me are: Good to Great, Made to Stick, Purple Cow and Zero to One.

7) You wrote the book ‘Untangling the Web: Developing a blueprint for Digital Marketing‘. Who should read it, and what edge does this book have over other existing books on Digital Marketing?

I got my understanding of digital marketing from many different sources. There’s a lot of information out there, yet it’s all scattered and fragmented, and isn’t structured well for the brain to process at one go. My book aims to give readers a concise overview of digital marketing, and help them derive the understanding and confidence needed to make decisions regarding business growth and strategy using digital marketing techniques. I try to take away some of the mystery behind the jargon, and help people gain a quick understanding of online marketing. So the book is ideal for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, and new marketing executives who want to grasp the fundamentals of digital marketing to enable them to make better decisions.

8) Which top (possibly international) brand would you like to have as your client, and how would you assist the company in doing even better?

I would love to work with a company like Unilever. They have an amazing leader in Paul Polman who believes in purpose and sustainability. He also has goals of increasing the company’s social impact, and I find that admirable. I would love to craft more stories around the company’s efforts in minimizing its environmental footprint and doing social good. We need more of such corporate stories!

9) You help companies craft their brand story. What is your personal brand story?

My personal brand story is about creating an impact, driven by passion and determination. Even since my childhood, I have always been passionate about stories and ideas, i.e. content, and how it influences minds and changes the world. I am determined to create top notch content that inspires and moves people. I believe I can empower business-owners and professionals, especially women like myself, to achieve greater success through the use of technology and powerful content. I would like to create more success stories through the knowledge I have acquired and through my wonderful team at Influenshine!

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For a limited period starting from 3rd September 2016, you can download Swati’s new book for FREE here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LB07VCM

Review: Paulo Coelho’s ‘Adultery’ and Lauren Manning’s ‘Unmeasured Strength’

Book Review Singapore

Completed reading 2 of the books I got at the recent Books Warehouse Sale, which is still ON till this Sunday by the way. I’m not sure how YOU pick out books (maybe read a chapter first?) but I chose these two simply because one was written by “Paulo Coelho” and the other was also a “New York Times Bestseller”. Turns out I hit literary gold with them. 😀 And yes, these are available for the box sale for S$50. So you can stuff a box full of books (maybe 20+ titles?) and each copy will only cost about S$2 or less. It’s ridiculously cheap. As an author myself, my heart bleeds a little. As a reader, I’m over the moon.

Anyway…

Here’s my (short) review of the two books:

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

It’s quite interesting how a male author writes from the point of view of a married woman committing adultery. Strangely enough, it’s rather convincing. I think this book might speak to many people. How come some people seem to have it all (an awesome spouse and I mean nothing sexual by this, a beautiful family, a great career, etc) and yet feel “depressed” or sad without having a legit reason to feel that way? And how many can resist the urge of keeping BOTH a stable, loving relationship AND a thrilling, sexually-satisfying affair by the side? Variety is the spice of life, no? And what causes women to lose their senses when they think they’re in love with a guy (whom, on hindsight, appears to be the kind you should flee from, and not run towards)? How can you live with the guilt of having NOT confessed to your husband about the affair you were involved in, simply because he seems to know (and he seemingly says so) and tells you he still loves you the same? After ten years of marriage, how does one keep the spark (or dying embers) alive? Are couples simply staying together for the sake of the children, and nothing else? This book makes readers think, question, and also face up to their own myriad temptations, desires, fears, and expectations. A short book but it’s a thought-provoking one, for sure.

Also, did you note that there are three cherries on the cover? Cute. 😉 Two are ‘facing’ each other, with a third party off to the side.

Unmeasured Strength by Lauren Manning

I didn’t actually pay much attention to the cover picture when I picked out this book. But if you’ll look closely, you’ll see that Lauren’s left hand is hidden behind her back, and there’s uneven coloration of her skin. The fact that she’s in a red dress and heels doesn’t seem out of the ordinary until you read her story and realize that this woman nearly lost her life during the Sept 11 terror attacks. She suffered burns on 82% of her body. And it took many years, an immeasurable amount of pain and equal parts courage for her to get her life back on track. This book made me cry… and cry again. It’s not just a recollection of what happened during that fateful day, it’s also her memoir. She got married once, and got divorced when the first marriage didn’t work out. And when she finally found Greg, the marriage wasn’t going as smoothly as they’d wanted. A heated quarrel, and a neighbor’s (unrelated) phonecall stopped Greg from being in the same building that morning. A situation involving missing keys at their weekend home caused Lauren to head to her office later than usual, hence she had not yet taken the lift up to her office when the terrorists struck. If she had been upstairs, she’d most certainly have perished like the 658 colleagues in her company who died that day. If Greg had also been at an event he wanted to go to, their ten-month-old child would have become an orphan.

Likewise, she recounts an incident from her childhood in which she was ahead of her sister running (accidentally) into a wasp nest. She got stung everywhere but some calamine lotion managed to do the trick. Her sister didn’t get even a single sting. Later on, it was discovered that her sister was highly allergic to bee stings, and if Lauren had not pushed ahead of her sister (to show who’s the eldest, i.e. the ‘boss’), Gigi might have been in serious trouble.

What I take away from this book is that when God’s hand is over your life, it doesn’t mean there will be no suffering. In fact, there might be tons of it. You might be stung from head to toe, but it means your sister’s life is spared and your family remains intact. It might also mean that you get burnt beyond recognition, yet you get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reconnect with family and long-lost-yet-treasured friends. Lauren once thought she had it all and could do it all. Then the terrorists struck and she almost lost it all. Only after that could she truly begin to understand what it means to have it all. Her husband’s love for her is really commendable. Lauren herself writes that other men might have bolted, but Greg remained steadfast.

I’ve always wanted to ask God why good people suffer while bad people seem to thrive. But now I am beginning to understand. Sometimes that suffering happens for one’s own good, for God’s purpose in your life to be fulfilled. Without going through all that unimaginable and horrific pain and suffering, and not witnessing Greg’s steadfast presence and committed love through it all, Lauren’s (second) marriage might not be as strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended in divorce, assuming the terrorist attack on 9/11 never happened. Indeed, everything happens for a reason and it’s only by looking back that we can begin to connect the dots.

Read this book, but prepare some tissue first.

Back By Popular Demand: Books Warehouse Sale 5 to 14 August

Books Warehouse Sale

If you don’t already know, the books warehouse sale is back! 🙂 I was BLOWN AWAY by the selection of books – everything from children’s books to business titles to cookbooks. I got my hands on 30+ titles! LOL! 😀

If you want to know the opening hours for each day of the sale, head over to SG Book Deals’ facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sgbookdeals/?fref=nf (I recommend that you check the FB page often to know when they’re all sold out, as I’m sure they’ll be before the actual end date ‘cos the sale is wayyyy too awesome!)

*TIP: The warehouse sale is at 438 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1. Do not key in ‘438 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10’ into your GPS / Google Maps or you’ll end up at HDB Blk 438.

Books Warehouse Sale location

5 – 14 Aug 2016

Mon-Fri : 1pm to 6pm, Weekends and PH : 10am to 6pm

No. 438 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Industrial Park 1, Singapore 569619

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Books are going at 1 for $8, 3 for $20, and box sale at S$50 each!

Some books at the main hall may have price tags; ignore the price tags.

*TIP: GRAB a box as it’ll give you the best deal. You can easily stuff it with 20+ books, and pay just S$50. Each book will cost you just S$2 maybe? (@_@)

 

Range:

Quality books, mostly brand new – Fiction, Baby and Toddler, Readers, Young Adult, Professional and IT, Business, Lifestyle, Cookbooks, Crafts and Hobbies, Travel, Christian.

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Take public transport as parking lots are limited; get to the sale by bus/MRT from Bishan.

*Do not queue overnight as the facilities will not be open till operational hours the next morning.

*Bring your own trolleys as the books can get quite heavy.

*Please leave the children at home if you can as the warehouse can get pretty crowded!

SG Lit Prize Winner: ‘The Sound Of Sch: A Mental Breakdown, A Life Journey’ by Danielle Lim

The Sound Of Sch by Danielle Lim

The Singapore Literature Prize handed out 22 awards recently, and a co-winner of the English Non-Fiction Prize is Danielle Lim. I borrowed her book from the library, and I found it really deserving of the award. ‘The Sound of Sch’ is the true story of Danielle’s uncle Seng, who suffered from schizophrenia, and how her mother, Chu, became caregiver to both Seng and their mother.

Danielle has both an M.A. and B.A. from Oxford yet she writes in such a way that ordinary folk like myself can appreciate her recollections – Singapore between 1961 and 1994, the Singlish, the dialects spoken, the irrational fear people have towards those they deem mentally ill (‘siao’).

This 165-page book is indeed one of those rare literary gems that may be fully devoured in one sitting. I was close to tears reading about how the Ah Ma (the author’s maternal grandmother) tried to kill herself twice, succeeding on the second attempt. What would prompt an old lady to drink detergent?! Is it the daily agony of severe rheumatoid arthritis? Is it the guilt of delaying her son’s medical treatment at Woodbridge Hospital (now IMH), preferring to go to bomohs based on other people’s ill advice? Is it seeing her son daily and feeling this inextinguishable anguish at how this former top student could have had a bright future (career, wife, family) but ended up as a sweeper at the Police Academy? What (literally) pushed her over the edge when she threw herself out of the flat? If her main concern was about who would take care of her mentally ill son when she’s gone, and who would remind him to take his medication daily, why would she kill herself?

This book deals with so many interesting themes, but I’m not sure I’ll want to read it again because there’s so much pain within those pages…

  1. Love and loss: Seng’s would-be wife left him for his friend. I wonder if this was the trigger for his mental ailments. But can we blame this woman for what she did – choosing who she wanted to be with?
  2. Guilt: A mother’s guilt for not giving her son the treatment that might have ‘saved’ him from this terrible illness, and possibly guilt too at burdening her daughter with the need to care for Seng. Also, there’s the author’s own guilt for not spending a bit more time (and a few more loving words) with Ah Ma before heading off to school, which may or may not have changed Ah Ma’s mind about committing suicide.
  3. Desire to escape: The author’s mother ‘left home’ for a few hours but we’ll never know exactly why she did that, where she went, what she did. But it’s clear her love for her family keeps her going, and she says she came back so she can tie her daughter’s hair before school the next day.
  4. Meaning of life: What’s the meaning of life for someone like Seng? Someone who supposedly had a bright future, someone who excelled in school, someone whose classmates came to for advice… who became the one whom people forgot about, who was relegated to being a sweeper, whom people shunned because they think he might be crazy and violent.

It is clear, to me, that this book has helped achieve the author’s aims. I do agree with her now that not all mentally ill patients are violent, and we don’t necessarily have to be afraid of them. I do constantly bump into one weird guy at Hougang Mall. He has a small build, it’s hard to tell how old he is (but he’s probably above 40) and he talks to himself a lot. People generally let him be as he doesn’t cause any trouble. Though sometimes I wonder why he’s carrying so many NTUC FairPrice plastic bags with seemingly empty detergent bottles in them. I do give him a wide berth each time I see him. I know not why. Maybe he’ll hit me with an empty bottle? Hmm.

Perhaps he’s just like Seng. Perhaps something bad happened in his life, just like something bad will happen in all of our lives. But perhaps something changed for him after that. And there’s no real need to be afraid of him. He’s likely someone’s son / brother / uncle who’s just out for a walk. And if our society is to be truly accepting of all peoples, then let’s start at home with the sons and daughters of Singapore.

The Shed That Fed A Million Children by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow

The Shed That Fed A Million Children by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow

When I saw this book at Booktique, I knew it would be a really good read. And I guess I must have a gift for picking out books. LOL! This book kept me on the verge of tears as I devoured its pages within 2 days. The author, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, describes himself as someone who is painfully shy, and who would happily take a job that requires him to meet no other human being. In fact, he was a fish farmer. What happens thereafter is nothing short of a miracle. He became the founder of Mary’s Meals, which is providing meals everyday for over a million children in impoverished parts of the world, and he has had to speak in front of countless groups of people to share about the work he does. He has been named as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and nominated as a CNN Hero. He got to dine with the Queen, and he and his wife got to meet (and were blessed by) Pope Francis!

Here’s a documentary (‘Child 31’) about Mary’s Meals:

What Mary’s Meals does is to ensure children get at least one good meal a day so they can attend school with full stomachs. Parents are thus more likely to let their children go to school (as there’s the promise of a meal) instead of having them stay at home to help out.

When reading this book, you’ll be confronted regarding your notions of what “charity”, “volunteer work” and “sustainability” (of such work) mean. And I have learnt so much, just from the 307 pages within the book! Here’s a quick summary:

  1. When God has a plan, your human limitations won’t matter.
  2. The difference between bringing ‘aid’ vs. comfort. Supplies vs. a hug and words of comfort.
  3. See ‘aid’ as gifts, and figure out how they may be accepted and utilized.
  4. The terms “refugees” and “displaced people” conjure up inaccurate stereotypes. Get to know them as people first.
  5. Care for the dignity of the people you are helping. Ensure they don’t face public humiliation when receiving ‘gifts’.
  6. When you do God’s work, He will end up fulfilling your dreams in the process.
  7. Target your values; don’t value your targets.
  8. God will provide.
  9. “Charity, without suffering or sacrifice or even failure, is actually something else. Philanthropy perhaps? Or aid work?”
  10. “All those who have more than they need share with those who lack even the basic things”.
  11. Hunger is usually caused by poverty, not lack of food.
  12. The local community has to ‘own it’.
  13. On photo-taking: “Like others around us who had come to help there, I took photographs. But later, when I looked at them, I felt ashamed that while people screamed for their lost loved ones I had been there taking pictures. I decided then that sometimes, even when you felt pictures were essential to help with the raising of desperately needed money, it is better to leave your camera in your pocket”.
  14. “The average cost of a lunch in the United States could feed a child in a developing country for an entire year” – Annie Lennox.
  15. “Do not let your love be a pretence… Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor” – St Paul

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This book retails at S$24 at Booktique at Citylink Mall. I love how the books at this indie bookstore are all individually wrapped – I reuse the plastic as book sleeves to protect the cover of the book! 😀