Lessons From Jaclyn Ying Wedding Episode

Took this photo of Michael in his favourite B&W format.

A Facebook post from a newlywed went viral over the past week. Many Singaporeans shared the post, shamed and took pot shots at the photographer. I met up with my good friend and pro photographer Michael Chan, and discovered that Michael has actually reached out to the photographer over Facebook.

Below was roughly what Michael shared with me.
“I almost wanted to share the post but decided not to. This is a crisis in that photographer’s life and I think this [situation] can happen to anyone. It might be difficult for this photographer to move on from this chapter of his life. So I reached out to him as I wanted to help him take better photos.”

Michael will be meeting the photographer in question soon. Let’s hope he gets better at photography. It’s very human for us to laugh and shame. But let’s not forget the virtue of empathy. Blessed by the sharing. Thank you Michael for an important lesson on empathy and thank you for teaching us that it’s a human thing to help another human being.

Many friends have told me that my photos are nice (thank you for your kind words but I got a lot of areas to improve on) and asked how did I pick up photography. In 2011, I was about to embark on my first solo backpacking trip to Taiwan. I asked Michael if he could lend me a DSLR to try out photography.

Michael not only lent me a DSLR, he lent me a Canon 5D Mk II, the best Canon DSLR of that time. That’s unheard of because who would lend such an expensive equipment to a novice? That’s like a soldier lending his rifle to a civilian. Thank you Michael. The bible says a friend loves like a brother. Thank you for being the embodiment of that statement. I’m still shooting today because someone lent me a DSLR 5 years ago.

VOLUNTEER WITH US: BE A LKCNHM GALLERY GUIDE! (Repost)

Natural history and biodiversity buffs, you’re gonna love this. Hurry sign up!

Story first seen in Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum microsite.

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Are you:

  1. a believer of lifelong learning?
  2. interested in sharing your knowledge of natural history and heritage with museum visitors from all walks of life?

Be a part of LKCNHM’s volunteer gallery guide family

The LKCNHM Gallery Guiding Programme aims to support the gallery and Museum by training guides to provide an enhanced visitor experience for our large and diverse audience. We hope this will inspire a life-long commitment and understanding to the natural world.

Details

 
Role: Gallery guide at Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Purpose and responsibilities: To enhance visitor experience by interacting with the public and giving them more information about the various exhibits and the biodiversity and heritage galleries

Commitment: At least a year

Day/time: Any day except Mondays, for four hours per session

Frequency: At least once a month

Skills and qualification: No particular skills, experience or qualifications needed!  However,essential criteria are:

  1. keen interest in natural history and heritage,
  2. willingness to make a commitment,
  3. enjoy sharing information with, and enthusing people.

Training: In-house training will be provided over the course of a month (approximately 15 hours). This includes orientation and introduction to the museum, gallery familiarisation, effective guiding techniques (communications skills and questioning strategies), interacting with visitors, zone specialisation, learning from objects, script development, health and safety and gallery procedures.

The training schedule can be viewed here.

 
Interviews: Interviews will be conducted on the second week of August. We will be in touch one week as soon as we can to schedule it.

Are you ready? Register now!

7 Things Every Introvert Needs to Know On His First Job

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Starting on a new job can be a rather scary experience. Not for the extroverts for sure, but definitely for the introverts. I mean, it’s a new environment, you have to pick up things from scratch, and you have to above all else… make new friends and talk to new people (including your bosses and your bosses’ bosses). “What if I don’t do well at the job?” “What if I don’t pass the probation?” The self-doubts that echoes in your mind are almost deafening.

This week marks my first week at a new job. Not that it is my first job, but as an introvert, starting on a new job can be quite a daunting experience. And I am sure many introverts will concur. But you know what? You are a champion. Here are 7 things every introvert needs to know while starting out on his first job. This article goes out to all the introverts; the dreamers, the Jedi masters and the people who secretly wish they can make the world a better place.

#1. You beat your competitors to get the job

I was heading home when I received a call from one of the companies that interviewed me. They told me that they would like to offer me the job and asked if I would like to take it up and come in the following month. I told them I needed time to consider. They then told me that I am their “first choice”.

If you’re about to commence on your new job at an MNC or SME, realise this. You are your company’s first choice. More often than not, introverts tend to give themselves less credit than they should. But you must know that you are not the only applicant for the position you are currently in. For mainstream positions like marketing, HR, sales and finance, there were probably more than a dozen potential candidates shortlisted after rounds of interviews. Prior to that, there were probably hundreds of applicants or more who applied for the job. But from that huge pool of applicants…. You got the job!

That calls for a celebration! Unless you applied for some rare weird ass job that no one applies for, or you applied for a queer position with the longest job title like ‘Director, Head of CEEMA (Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa) and Latin America Equity Focus, Institutional Client Group – Fundamental Equity, Corporate & Institutional Banking – Global Markets,Deutsche Bank AG’ (2008 longest job title).

#2. Your employer sees your potential

The reason why you got the job and the other confident and smart-looking candidate who sat beside you at the waiting room didn’t? Your employers and superiors probably see your raw, hidden potential or the value you can bring to the company. Is it your deep analytic skills? Is it your management skills? Or your ability to work with minimal supervision? Could it be your uncanny ability to crunch numbers? Or your ability to write like Shakespeare? It could even be that your employer likes your character and demeanour!

The bottom line is, your talents and potential contribution is invaluable, and your employer sees your potential. So go on, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.

#3. You can do better than you think you can

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

– Marianne Williamson

When Marianne wrote this, she must had been referring to us introverts, I’m certain. You my friend, are greater than great. You can excel at the job beyond your self doubts and wildest imaginations. You will make it!

#4. Your colleagues would like to know you and help you

Okay, this one is a little tricky because it really varies from company to company. Some companies are buried up to their neck when it comes to office politics. But I would like to think that most aren’t, at least not the company you’re joining. So far, most of the colleagues that I met in my jobs are nice and do not mean any harm. As introverts, we are often very comfortable in our own skin, having our meals alone, travelling alone, drinking coffee and having cake alone (Yes!). Taking that huge step to get to know new people or even ask for help can be rather intimidating.

But, know that many of your colleagues would like to know you better and be your friend. They would also like to help you settle into your job and render you help when necessary. Take a step of faith. Say hi. Ask for help if you need help with activating your email (I know). Who knows, an amicable friendship may blossom from there.

#5. You bring much value to the company

Many of the world’s greatest minds and history makers are introverts. Think Albert Einstein, Mahaatma Gandhi, Warren Buffet, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Steve Wozniak and of course, Steven Spielberg! Bubbling is their mind full of ideas that have the potential to take the world by storm just as it has for the past centuries.

I can’t help but think that the world would be less bright and less brilliant without introverts. Think of a world without Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Harry Potter, e=mc2 and theory of relativity, slavery abolishment, Google and ET the movie. And you know what? You are associated with this class of people.

#6. Your emotional make-up gives you an unfair advantage

Ever had people teasing you for being difficult to understand, or that you are ‘too sensitive’? Take a longer time to respond because of a longer thought process? Well what do you know, that could very well be your advantage! Being sensitive allows introverts to read the atmosphere in the boardroom ahead of anyone else. That ‘sixth sense’ or intuition gives you a heads up, creating some lead time as to how you should respond in your body language and choice of words. You play a pivotal role in diffusing the situation in an intense meeting room atmosphere.

Introverts often have high empathy too, making them great employees in the lifestyle industry. Think about all the disastrous PR crises that took national headlines in recent years. An introvert would not have make that boo-boo.

Being difficult to understand isn’t so bad either. Again, Facebook, Microsoft or Apple would not have existed if people who were ‘difficult to understand’ did not exist. And of course, longer thought process gives you adequate time to think through what you should say to your client and your boss instead of being like that straight-shooter colleague who’s always saying the most inappropriate things at the meeting.

#7. You will do well at the job.

After all is said and done, I just want to tell all fellow introverts, “You will do well at the job”. Scrap that. Let me rephrase. “You will do exceedingly well at the job.” Now repeat that to yourself, out loud. In 1994, Japanese researcher, Masaru Emoto performed a series of experiments and observations on water and the physical effect that words, prayers, music and environment have on the crystalline structure of water.

Emoto then hired photographers to photograph the water crystals in their before and after state. The water crystals were beautiful and gorgeous when they were showered with loving words, peaceful music and prayer but deformed when they were exposed to hateful words and loud, unpleasant music. The average human is made up of 60% water. Now, quickly start thinking of positive words to say to yourself! Positive (and negative) thinking verbalised out loud is like giving yourself a self-fulfilling prophecy.

All in all, introverts are very important to every company, big and small. You can’t have a company filled with extroverts. It would be far too noisy and far too little work done (Opps!). So, if you are an introvert about to start on your new job, or are already working, remember this 7 things. Now go conquer the world!

References:

http://hereisthecity.com/en-gb/2008/06/03/whos_got_the_longest_job_title/

https://urbantimes.co/2014/01/most-famous-introverts/

http://www.fastcompany.com/3032028/the-future-of-work/7-famous-leaders-who-prove-introverts-can-be-wildly-successful

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/13/famous-introverts_n_3733400.html

http://www.highexistence.com/water-experiment/

http://highability.org/the-gifted-introvert/

Devotion: Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it

PHOTO: Michael Chan

PHOTO: Michael Chan

So the parent birds have to keep flying very fast, all day long, collecting food for their family but, however many times they come, they never have to use the exhortation of our text! The little birds in their nests are far more sensible than we are. When God hovers over us with His wide-spread wings and covers us with His warm feathers, He has need to say to each one of us, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” But the little birds take good care, without any teaching, to open their mouths wide that their mothers may fill them.

You probably will know, by putting it in practice, better than by any explanation that I can give you, but, certainly, first of all, I should say that it means that there should be a greater sense of your need. The wide-open mouth means that you hunger. The little birds need no instruction in opening their mouths except the inward monitor. They feel a lack of food—they are growing, and growing fast, and feathers have to be made—and they need much food and those strong needs of theirs make them open their mouths by instinct, as we say.

Brothers, if we had more sense of our need, prayer would be more of an instinct with us—we would pray because we could not help praying! We would pray, perhaps, less methodically, but we would pray, probably more truly, if we prayed because there were groans within us caused by intense pain and moaning that came out of inward agony and longings that came out of the consciousness of our dire necessities. Surely, this kind of opening of the mouth, by the sense of our need, ought to be easy to us, for our needs are very great.

I must not say that they are infinite, for we are only finite beings, but they are so vast that only Infinity can ever supply them! What is there that you do not need, my Brother? Someone said in prayer, the other day, that we were “a bag of needs.” That was a very accurate description. Are we all conscious of our many needs?

An abstract from a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon, April 7, 1876

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ensures even the little birds are fed. Are we not more valuable than these? Let’s have a greater sense of our need and God’s role in meeting our need. Our desire for God to meet our need will materialize in us praying to Him more because that desire is an expression of our human weakness and an opportunity for God’s divine ability to meet our need. God is a God who wants to meet our need if we hunger for Him and seek Him in prayer.

I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10.

Writer’s Note: I shared this devotion with my cell group and was pleasantly surprised to see my friend, the talented Michael Chan‘s beautiful capture of a mother sunbird feeding her offspring on Facebook. It reminded me and painted a beautiful picture of us as believers coming to God with our needs, and God meeting all of them. Thanks Mich!

References:

Christian Classics Etheral Library, n.d. The Wide-open Mouth Filled. Retrieved from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons50.xvi.html

I Almost Published My Own Book

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Remember the time when you were young, innocent and above all things, bold? You dreamt big dreams. The world was your oyster, and you believe you can do all that you want, be all that you can be and it will come to pass? And then, the world beat the hell out of you? Last year, I thought of publishing a book about Singapore. The book would chronicle 50 nostalgic stories of places, activities and occupations of Singapore.

This project seeks to rediscover the places, occupations and activities that older generation of Singaporeans can identify with. These places, occupations and activities are nostalgic and showed Singaporean’s way of life in the past. In each of these stories, we look at their significance and learning points from the past. Eg. Cobblers – difficult trade but was a means to get their children through university, people who lived in kampongs – despite living with different ethnic groups, the ‘kampong’ or community spirit is strong, etc. This coffee table book is a platform for older Singaporeans to connect with their past and for younger Singaporeans to learn about the amicable traits of the past.

All in all, what we seek to subtly communicate with our readers through this book is that while many of these cultures iconic to Singapore may cease to exist in the future, there is a beautiful attribute to learn from each and every single one of them. In them show the immensely rich Singaporean culture, the shared experiences Singaporeans have regardless of race and language, the aspirations we have for a better tomorrow, as well as something every Singaporean (community spirit, diligence, etc) of today can learn from.

Introduction of project that was sent to SG50 Committee

I was so excited at the beginning and commenced on the project even though I did not have any concrete plan to bring it to fruition. I whipped out my camera and went places. The project took me to places and introduced me to people I wouldn’t normally speak to have I kept to my daily routines. I took photos of Singapore’s last Kampong and interviewed a former resident. I interviewed one of Singapore’s last remaining traditional ice-cream vendors. I spoke to a newspaper vendor auntie. I interviewed a stall owner and took photos of famous Lavender Food Square which has been demolished sometime last year.

Later on, I got to know about the SG50 funding campaign. I pitched for funding and after a long and arduous process of emailing back and forth, I received news that the project was approved and I would receive up to 75% funding.

By then, the initial excitement has already long but died out. While I had already established an agreement with a local publisher, I have to face a very real problem of funding the remaining 25% and manpower issues to meet the National Day deadline. After my last potential sponsoring company decided not to fund the project, I decided to pull the plug on the project.

That, together with other things happening in my life made me feel terrible. Ah, quarter life crisis. I thought that I could be a somebody in the PR industry but I am not. I thought that I could start a social enterprise but it did not come to pass. I thought that I could start a business but that did not work out (yet) either. I thought I could be a missionary/full time worker but I am nowhere close (yet). But the biggest mistake I made was letting the world beat and trample all over me, telling me “You’re done. You can’t do it. You can’t be it.You just can’t.”

But if my faith was anything, it was my saving grace.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

This was one of the verses I remembered since my youth. I always imagined a ‘me’ that’s 10 (or 20) years older coming to me and telling me, “Don’t worry (so much), mate. Everything will work out just fine.”

I think that if we allow our mistakes, failures or even missed opportunities define our level of success, we will be mentally crippled for sure. Who defines the standard of success anyway? Where is the yardstick to measure against so that I can determine that “I have lived a full life”? Is a self-made millionaire considered a success? What about the billionaire then? Is the cleaner then considered to have ‘failed life’?

Don’t let the world tell you what you can or cannot do, who you can be or not be. If you are defeated in your mind, you have already lost. But if there is anything we could do, it would be to ‘not give up so easily’.I personally think this is one area I need to work on as well. I will end with a quote from my favorite author.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Maybe one day I will publish a book.

“Fathers, don’t piss your children off”

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1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Ephesians 6:1-3

Parents play a paramount role in the growth and development of their kids. For mothers, while their responsibilities may vary from mother to mother, the mother is indisputably responsible for carrying the child for 9 months, and bringing him/her into existence. The father however, has the principal responsibility to care, provide1 and to lead/guide his family. The relationship between the father and child is placed with utmost significance in the Kingdom of God such that God Himself liken His relationship with us to that between a father and son.

Bible Scholars inferred that husbands/fathers automatically assumes 3 primary roles; the Prophet, the Priest and the King2. The importance (or lack) of (good) fathers can be observed in our generation where single mom families or families with absentee fathers are highly dysfunctional, resulting in problematic/dysfunctional families and kids. Furthermore, instead of providing wise council and teaching their children (in the ways of the Lord), fathers are hated by their children. Rather than coming under the tutelage of their fathers, the furthest fathers can get to in conversation with their children is “Have you eaten?”, “Need money?” or “Come home early”. Why?

Parents often quote Confucian value of filial piety to their children – or shove it down their throats – while Christian parents quote Ephesians 6 to their children. *Much similarities has been observed between the values advocated in Christianity and Confucianism. The father works especially hard to provide for his children’s every need. However, why is it so that his children detest him?

People often quote Ephesians 6:1-3, but they often forget about the adjacent verse;

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

It seems that the God of the Bible has already foreseen ahead of time that fathers will aggravate their children, and children will hate their fathers huh?

Do fathers not love their children? Of course not. But could it be that their actions and words negate the good they have done? While monetary provision/support is important, emotional, mental (and spiritual) support is just as important. “But when I was young, my father treated me like this too. He said and did the same things. That’s what I was taught about fatherhood.” You must understand that this is the 21st century. Not the 70s, 60s or 50s. Not 100 B.C or 100 A.D.

“That’s my way of loving them.” Times has changed. Call it strawberry generation if you like, but this generation – and how they function – is here to stay. Fathers, you can’t simply be the Provider that provides the dough and say “I can do whatever the hell I want, say whatever I want to say because I bring in the dough and I am your father and that is for your own good.” It just doesn’t work in this century.  And precisely because your father taught you in such a way that you know to be displeasing, all the more that method of parenting should stop at his generation. Not because you don’t love and honor your father but because you love and honor your own children.

“FOR A COUPLE OF hundred years now, each generation of fathers has passed on less and less to his sons–not just less power but less wisdom. And less love. We finally reached a point where many fathers were largely irrelevant in the lives of their sons… Being a father is life’s fullest expression of masculinity. But for many males, life consists of a search for the lost father.”

Abstract from ‘Fathers and Sons’ article on Psychology Today 3

Here’s my own story. Growing up, I was extremely fearful of my father. I was ‘taught’ to ‘behave’ for not doing so will result in several physical chastisement. As I grew up, I grew in resentment of my father to the point of hate until I was gloriously saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. But even as a believer, it is not easy for me to love and forgive. Today, the physical chastisement may no longer be applicable, the verbal toxins continues to grieve my heart. I have to choose love over hate every single day.

Does my father not love me? Absolutely not! When I wanted an iPad and a DSLR, he got them for me. But he made me feel terrible (about myself). I am human, and what I feel will be a result of his actions and words. I do not write this in condemnation of my own father for that will be sin onto me. My point of this entry is to share my point of view of (Godly or lack of sound) fatherhood and its consequences in human society. Pastor Paul Scanlon from Life Church wrote a fantastic book titled ‘I am not my father’. The main gist of the content can be condensed into two main points;

  1. I am not my father – If I have a father who may not have performed their duty to love, protect and care for their children, then I am not my father. Not that I hate my father, I love my father nevertheless. But I do not subscribe to the methods of my father. I do not become like my father. I become a better father to my children just as Christ has called me to be.
  2. I am not my father – If I have a father who was exemplary in his teachings to me, and has performed his duty to love, protect and care for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs, I honor him for it. But I am not my father because every good father would wish for their children to excel and do better and parenting than they will ever do. My father would have wished for me to become the bestest father to my children than he will ever be.

Fathers enter fatherhood with the birth of a child. But fatherhood is also an art – that takes a lifetime to master.

Fathers, you have a holy calling by the Lord to train your child (in the ways of the Lord – Proverbs 22:6). But your words and actions may be provoking and as a result, creating distance between you and your children. Fathers, before you say or do something, think about how your children will feel. Unfortunately, your words and actions have the potential to negate the good you have done. But isn’t that the same for everyone else? Someone once said, “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” Some people are living under the same roof but the distance between them is like from planet to planet. That is NOT what God called for you and your children.

“Becoming Father the Nurturer rather than just Father the Provider enables a man to fully feet and express his humanity and masculinity. Fathering is the most masculine thing a man can do.”

Abstract from ‘Fathers and Sons’ article on Psychology Today

Fathers, you may ask “Is there hope in the restoration of my relationship with my son?” Yes there is. The thing is, no matter how strained the relationship currently is, all children longed for an intimate relationship with their fathers deep down in their heart – even if their outward demeanor says otherwise. Because God Himself has sanctioned that His relationship with us His children is that of Father and child, there is hope.

Fathers, ask yourself honestly today, what are the actions and words you partake in that ‘offends’ your children? Is it extremely necessary for you to say or perform that action – not doing so will result in significant monetary/life/health damage? If yes, is there another way you can bring your good intentions across? If your answer is no, then can you agree to disagree? Or is there another alternative or method to bring your advice across?

The truth is, your children are learning how to manage you as their father as you are learning how to manage them as your children.

Sons and daughters, you may ask “Is there hope in my being able to communicate with my own father?” Yes there is hope.

“.. the Old Testament ends with a great prospect – a time when there will be reconciliation between children and their earthly fathers, and by implication – between human beings and the Perfect Father.”

Abstract from 100 Verse Bible: The essence of the world’s most popular book 

How do I take active steps to do so? First, you got to pray to God. Chances are, we all have bitterness and unforgiveness against our fathers. Prayer softens our resolve to bear those grudges. Pray to God the Perfect Father who heals your hurts and helps you to forgive. Prayer helps us to look at the situation objectively, thus allowing us to remember all the good our fathers have done for us. Recognize that your father is also human and he will err. But it does not remove all the good or isolate his love for you.

Next, pray for your father. He too will have had hurts accumulated in his own life. Pressures of life (work stress, financial stress, health problems, or even his relationship with your mother, etc) which we do not know about can also affect him adversely. Pray for him. If you are the only believer in your family, it will be significantly difficult to reconcile but impossible is not in God’s dictionary, neither should it be in yours. We always quote “When one in the household is saved, the household will be saved” or “You are the salt of the earth, light of the world”… time to believe in what you preach.

Good fathers (read: dad) are not extinct. I believe that current strained relationships can be restored and new fathers can be better fathers than their own fathers. I believe that the dysfunctional family unit is an attack by the devil. Dysfunctional family births forth individuals who make bad choices. The dysfunctional individual affects the family, which in turn affects the community, affecting the marketplace, then affecting the society, country and the world as we know it. But Jesus is our Hope! The family unit must be restored and made strong so that change can be present one level at a time until society is transformed.

Lastly, may I invite each and every one of you to pray this simple prayer with me that the family unit in Singapore will be strong and that God will bring reconciliation for fathers to children, children to fathers.From Fathers to Dads

Father God,

Thank You for being our Perfect Heavenly Father.
In You there is no blemish or spots.
Thank You for gloriously saving me.
I pray that You will come and bless the family unit in Singapore,
Reconcile fathers to sons, sons to fathers,
Reconcile fathers to daughters, daughters to fathers.
I rebuke the attacks of Satan on the family unit.
Devil you have no place in the family unit.
Father I pray that You will receive Love and Forgiveness in every household.
I pray that You will empower every Father to live out his calling as Prophet, Priest and King.
In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen.

Footnotes and References

Although in modern times, women are drawing higher salaries and taking up higher positions in the workforce due to the feminist movement; hence commanding a greater voice in the family unit.

Fesko, J. Every Father a Prophet, Priest, and King. Retrieved from http://www.genevaopc.org/articles/theology/93-every-father-a-prophet-priest-and-king.html

Pittman, F. 1993. Fathers and Sons. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/fathers-and-sons

4 Stibbe, M. 2010. 100 Verse Bible: The essence of the world’s most popular book. UK: Monarch Books.