Monday, December 31, 2007

The Greatest Secret In The World
By Og Mandino

I read this book years ago but its simple lessons are a joy to behold. Mandino has a talent of reducing the complex into a few simple sentences.

The writer is behind a series of "greatest" books. Those who have become literary friends of this author will know what a treasure they have in their hands.

On those occasions in my life when I needed some inspiration, I will pick up a Mandino book and recharged myself. We all need to be reminded of the truly great and simple.

For there's really nothing complicated about life unless you wish to make it so. Mandino is the master of the doeable and the workable. He distills the precious gems of a great life into simple formulas that all of us can understand and act upon.

Like so many of his contemporaries and those who had come before him, Od Mandino spins a tale or a yarn and make it entertaining. He talks of enthusiasm, high spirits and change of attitude.

Anybody who is familiar with the rudiments of education will understand Mandino's words and philosophy. His books, particularly this one is so straightforward and simple that you will amazed that wisdom wears only simple clothes.

There are "teachers" who walk among us mortal beings with many lessons yet unheard. Mandino, I believe, is one of these teachers. If we heed his wise words, our lives will be so much richer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Gerald is an old friend of mine and an office colleague. For a better part of 18 years, he has laboured on his pet project. There were times when he must have felt like giving up because he wasn't sure if the book he was working on will eventually seen the light of day.

I recall the times through the years when he came to me to express the doubts and the frustrations he has had over this book. In many ways, I understood, sympathised as well as empathised with what he was going through.

For one thing, finding a publisher for a book with that kind of title is never easy. Then there are the copyright laws and other legalities that make publication seemed like an uphill battle at times.

Gerald underwent all that and more. Finally one day about a year or two ago, he again engaged in a conversation with me over "In the Eye of the Tiger". Out of a sense of frustration with Gerald's consistent hesitations and procrastinations, I blurted out: "You are not getting any younger. You have walked this path longer than most normal writers. It's time for you to do what you must. If you have any satisfaction or reward that you think you deserve for slogging on this project of yours, now is the time to do it. Spend your own money. Forget about cornering or signing that book deal with a faceless publisher. That may never come. Once it's done, at least you know you have done it.
"Decades from now, Gerald, when all is said and done, at least you can boast to your grandchildren that their grandpappy has one book to his name. And nobody can take that away from you."

Before I know it, Gerald went on an overdrive and got his book published at last - all at his own expense. I thought that was the best testimony of what he has expounded in his book, In the Eye of the Tiger.
Figuratively, he jumped on the tiger and rode it. Now that that mission has been accomplished, I am pleased to say that the book is undoubtedly a good read.
Any reader would realise quite quickly all the passion that has been invested in the book. Gerald lives his life along the principles he so believes. A man can have any hobby in the world, my friend Gerald has seen it fit to absorb the principles embodied in all of Sylvester Stallone's movies, especially The Rocky series.

I am glad this book has brought much joy to an old chum. It is not often that a person can truly feel happy with his own achievements. To have a book with such a title on the book shelves of major bookstores is truly something to be proud of.

Initially, there were doubts among a number of people, among them Gerald's friends, that whether this journalist can see it all through. But praise the Lord, Gerald stuck to his guns and romped home a winner.

The principles expounded in the book and the anecdotes that accompany most of the guideposts make a book of such nature quite palatable. Even if you are not an admirer or a fan of Stallone, you would appreciate the trouble that the writer had gone through to amass the mini-mountains of facts to put his points across.

In the Eye of the Tiger is recommended for those who are seeking answers to their lives. It doesn't matter if you are young or old, Gerald's book will shine a path in the darkened corners of your mind, and hopefully lead you to higher ground.

I have read a draft of this book before it was published and I have just digested the finished product. The writer has gone through numerous revisions of the manuscript before it saw print.

It has taken thousands of hours and much mental energy on the part of Gerald to finally sculpted it to its final form. The end product will make any writer proud.

Gerald Chuah has done a fine job. The important thing is he believes in himself. It has been a long and interesting journey. I am sure there were times when he probably question whether it was worth it.

Thank goodness, those moments were fleeting. Those painful moments are now history. The door is thrown wide open. Gerald can now hold his head up high and walk with a steady gait.

He has done well and he knows it. Congratulations, Gerald. You have earned it all. Now go and reap the rewards of your literary labour.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

by Jim Stovall

I am usually not in favour of heavy tomes that hurt my arms through sheer weight and the time involved in perusing the hundred-odd pages.
So it was with some delight that I picked up The Ultimate Gift recently. Honestly though, it was its brevity that attracted my attention.
Finally, I thought, something that won't tax my mind too much. I have a low threshold of books that are purposely written to be thought-provoking in a pedantic manner.
I am no stranger to Og Mandino books or those inspirational books by Norman Vincent Peel, and other writers who have written some of the wisest and shortest books on the market.
The Ultimate Gift is a marvellous read. It can be digested in one sitting. No need to rush through it. It calls for intermittent pauses to ponder its lessons. Nothing really too heavy, as I have said before.
Jim Stovall is a great story teller. I am thoroughly smitten by this book. The messages within are simple and unforgettable. I have from time to time in the passages of my life encountered similar tutorials but have forgotten most of these life's lessons in the rush towards fulfilling other human wishes and needs.
The Ultimate Gift revived all the lessons that I have been taught but have forgotten with the passage of time. Within its pages, lie some shiny nuggets of truth that come our way but like all mortals with an inclination to forget and ignore, we tend to lay our clammy hands on items that have no lasting value.
Stovall has put together a string of ideas that have long been immortalised elsewhere outside the library of life in one small book.
If I were to recommend a book to anyone this year, this could be it. It is a healthy read. It should be read by all of us who are constantly in a hurry to get rich. We are often too busy to smell the flowers, take a stroll or don't even have time for our own families.
The Ultimate Gift will act as a gentle reminder for us all to rethink life's priorities. We will be poorer by missing the points in this book. The best things in life are often the intangibles.
These are the experiences that do not have dollar signs on them. They are not legal tender from our perspective, and yet at the same time so beneficial that if we could practise the principles for the rest of our lives, we will be the happiest people on earth.
The treasury of life is often right in front of us but we are constantly too busy looking over other people's shoulders for that pot of gold that never was there in the first place.
The Ultimate Gift should be read not once but many times in our lives and at different times of our lives. It should serve as a regular reminder of the finer things in life. We need to be told again and again that happiness is never found in the number of zeroes in our bank accounts but in laughter, joy unexpected, love unconditional and perpectual kindness.
The joy in our hearts is worth a thousand pounds of solid gold, the smiles that we give are better than all the beautiful things around the house and the laughter that echoes through our daily lives is certainly more valuable than the accolades we readily receive whether or not we truly deserve them.
This then is the true message of The Ultimate Gift. It is to look at the really important things in life and not find out a little too late at the twilight years of our existence on earth.
Better to have experience all the things that give the greatest joy at an early age than to regret all that has passed despite being surrounded by some of the trappings that are coveted by the silly, ignorant and the miserable.
Read this book if you want to touch the helm of heaven and breath the fresh breeze of eternal joy.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I AM MUSLIM by Dina Zaman

SOMETIMES a book appears on the shelves of local bookshelves that won't garner a second glance but there are a selected few that draw one's attention.
I Am Muslim is one of those that tends to capture a visitor browsing through the New Arrivals. I suppose it is the title that is catchy. Everything that has the word "Muslim" or "Islam" on it has the ability to arouse a non-Muslim's curiosity.
Honestly, I have no expectations whatsoever when I started reading it. I knew it must have some message within the pages.
As it turned out, it was written by a woman who has some interesting ideas of what it was like to be a modern Muslim woman living in a fast changing world. The most interesting aspect of this book is the writer's courage in tackling subjects that are avoided by most Muslims.
I reckon these are the subjects that are discussed freely in the confines of one's home but in I Am Muslim, Dina dives headlong into the "sensitive" subjects. Some of these are Sex, lifestyles, beliefs in ghosts and other things.
To most non-Muslims, these would be non-issues but in Malaysia somehow it is not politically correct or socially polite for Muslims, especially Muslim women, to dwell at length on these subjects.
I don't think they are taboo but they are just not talked about in a public forum, and a book is considered a "public forum". The notion at present is that this book is more popular among non-Muslims.
Many non-Muslims are curious about the thinking of modern Muslim women. Some of us are of the opinion that what is portrayed daily in TV news programmes as well as in newspapers and magazines are not reflective of the actual situation.
It is good that someone like Dina comes along and clears the air. Of course, it would be erroneous to think that she represents the majority of Muslim women. But it is also informative to know that there are certainly others who share her sentiments.
What then is the message in this book? I suppose if you were to ask me to say it in one sentence, I would say: "A good Muslim woman who calls a spade a spade."
Almost 99 per cent of us are not saints so regardless of our religious beliefs, we do have faults. But the bottom line is we all want to be good people, and if we are parents we want our children to be good people when they grow up. Perhaps even better than us.
So it is not uncommon that generally Muslims are like the rest of us. They too have children. They too have good qualities, faults and fears like the rest of mankind.
I Am Muslim sheds light on corners that are not often discussed freely with non-Muslim. The bonus point about this book is its honesty and its desire to show the world that Muslim women are not the stereotype as being perceived via the printed lines of newspapers or even shots from CNN.
It is refreshing to find out that behind every Muslim face, man or woman, is a person much like you and I. We do not have to be suspicious of each other or hold on to those prejudices that are stumbling blocks to good relationships.
The time has come for the courageous ones to step forward and speak up. Dina is one of these people. She should be applauded for her efforts.
It is a good read. It is not a mind-blowing treatise on an obscure subject that is foreign to all of us. Those who wish to understand their Muslim sisters a little more should spend some time reading this book.
It may alter your perception of Muslim women in general. Dina may not be the typical Muslim woman but I certainly don't think she's represents the minority.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

by Annie Kirkwood

There are some books pertaining to the longevity of life on Earth that are best left on the shelf. There are a small number that excite and provoke thinking among the non-believers and stir the souls of the faithful.
Years ago, I was browsing through the shelves of the neighbourhood second-hand bookstore when I came across Mary's Message To The World. Since, I am a Catholic, it naturally arrested my attention.
It was also natural that I should extract that book lodged among the many and gave it a few quick glances. What started off as an act of curiosity led me to the purchase of the book and a reading session that was unhurried and yet suspenseful.
Who doesn't want to know the fate of the earth through Our Lady? No point telling those who are not Christians about the legitimacy of the messages.
Short of being labelled as a horror monger, I have kept what I have found out from the book to myself, with exception of a few friends who share my interest in predictions about life on earth and all its natural and unnatural happenings.
Basically, this book dwells on a numerous "conversations" the mother of Jesus had with a woman living in Texas, USA. The "talks" began in 1987 and ended in 1991.
The most interesting parts of the book touch on the catastrophies that are about to visit earth and its inhabitants. The Mother of Perpectual Succour said those tragic events that were about to come have been held in abeyance for 10 years.
As with everything else that we call life here on Earth, events and actions can be changed, thus altering the course of Earth's future.
The crux of the messages is clear. When all the things take place as they may or will, the cost in human lives will be colossel. Our planet currently has about 6.5 billion people.
The disasters that are predicted will reduce earth's population by at least one third. In other words, the casualties are in billions. Thus, the idea is to prepare ourselves for what comes after.
We are reminded of our real purpose on earth and in this life. The right path is explained by Mary to all of us who wish and want to listen. Generally, all our lives will be affected. There will be no exception, no mater where you stay in the world.
The safest platforms for us all are love, truth and prayer. On these shall our salvation lie.
Those who have read Mary's Message To The World may find its contents disquieting because it talks about "Florida returning to the ocean" and the "evacuation of New York City by 1993".
Naturally, all that have been said would come to pass have not taken place. This year is 2007. In other words, the events are long overdue.
When the author took note of the predictions in the second half of the 80s, the changes on earth were predicted to take place in the early 1990s. Nothing happened.
Subjects like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes were brought up. People on earth were forewarned that these disasters would take place in places not known to have experienced these kinds of upheavals.
In the last century, apparitions of Our Lady have been documented from Fatima, Lourdes to Medjugorje in Yugoslavia. Her messages are widespread. The faithful naturally need no reminders or spiritual advice.
The idea has always been "not to come to save the righteous" because they are already saved.
What then is the benefit of reading this book? Let assume that this book is a figments of Annie Kirkwood's imagination, where then lies its merits.
With the benefit of hindsight, I would say the greatest contribution of Mary's Message To The World is the spiritual advice that is sprinkled generously all over the pages.
Even if those words did not "come from beyond", they are sound advice. Who among us are foolish enough to ignore good advice, regardless of the source?
Let's push our scepticism and cynicism aside and focus on the good, the bright and the positive. No matter what is the eventual outcome of global heaing, global catastrophe or global armaggedon, one thing's for sure, the way to heaven is through the garden of heaven and love's the key that unlocks its gate.