Ethos' End Of Year Staff Picks December 16, 2017 09:30

Whether you're looking for a meaningful gift or something to pore over during the holidays, the Ethos team have curated our favourite titles just for you.

When thinking poverty, also think inequality October 17, 2017 10:00 1 Comment

by Teo You Yenn

In 2013, I began to do research to better understand the lives of people who live in HDB rental flats. Over three years, I visited people in their homes, chatting with them about their experiences, learning about their everyday living conditions, work lives, family lives, their kids, and their encounters with neighbors, schools, social workers.

I thought I would eventually write a book that would surprise people, because it would be a book about poverty in Singapore. That would be surprising because many people think poverty does not exist here. I recently completed writing a book of essays detailing what I found. I surprised myself because it was not the book I had set out to write. In the end, I wrote a book about poverty and inequality, not ‘just’ about poverty.

A few days after I finished a complete draft of the book, I went out celebrating with some friends. My friends proceeded to do what friends do—first they congratulated me, then they gave me a dose of hard truths. They informed me that people don’t read books anymore. So, although it’s very nice that I have poured everything I have into it—years of my life, and my heart and soul—no one is going to read my book. One of my friends joked that I should just tweet pieces of it out to her because that’s all she can manage to read these days.

So, with the knowledge that perhaps few people will ultimately read the book, I shall attempt to summarize what I have written in it. And I will do so by anchoring my remarks with three tweet-sized statements.

My first tweet-sized statement is this: the story worth paying attention to is not poverty per se, it’s inequality.

You Yenn Photo 1(Credit: Teo You Yenn)

As mentioned, I started this project thinking I was studying poverty. By going into people’s homes, I saw how cramped their space is and how poor their living conditions are. By talking to people, I saw how tough it is for them trying to balance wage work and care responsibilities. By hearing their stories about jobs, I saw how hard they have to work and how little they get in return for their labor. By asking them about their children, I saw how much their kids struggle in school and how worried parents are that they will eventually have difficult lives. By listening to them talk about their crises, I heard about their feelings of humiliation trying to access social assistance. In paying attention to their everyday experiences, I saw how little dignity they are accorded in our society.

While collecting this research data, I was living my own life. I have the same needs—for a home to live in, for a job to work in, for caregivers for my child when I’m at work, for getting housework done and meals cooked. My kid also needs to grow and learn, also has homework to complete. In the three years when I went back and forth between their world and mine, it became clear that although my respondents and I have similar needs—for things, for relationships with others, for love, for respect, for dignity—our needs are met very differently. Our needs are met differently not because we are doing things radically differently but because we face different social conditions.

What is inequality? A shorthand for thinking about it is this: inequality is about how people can need the same things and indeed do very similar things but face very different outcomes.

The first few essays in my book detail the everyday experiences of people living with low income and, very importantly, they situate their experiences in the larger context of this wealthy city, juxtaposed against people with more money.

Situating the low-income experience in the wealthy city is important for a number of reasons.

First, people do not live in isolated bubbles, we live in society. Our sense of wellbeing is embedded in our relationship to others in society. How people experience the world—the respect or dignity they feel or do not feel is very much about where they place in a social hierarchy and the way that translates into everyday interactions. When I go about my day with people addressing me as “Prof Teo” and my respondent goes about her day cleaning toilets as people pass her by without seeing her, these are the concrete experiences that shape our sense of belonging and of who we are.

A second reason to situate the low-income experience in the wealthy city is this: once we see that inequality is partly about how people can have the same needs and do the same things and yet have different outcomes, then we must ask—how come?  

This brings me to my second tweet-sized statement: we must learn to think and talk about power.

You Yenn Photo 2(Credit: Teo You Yenn)

One profoundly problematic common sense belief in contemporary Singapore society is the belief that individuals reap what they deserve. It is a belief sometimes expressed in the form of “in the end, it’s up to the individual.” We think individuals have choices, and that what they do with those choices is what makes or breaks them. If people ‘choose’ to work hard, they will be rewarded. If they ‘choose’ to be lazy, then they will fail. This belief is premised on an illusion of a flat society—where everyone has about the same choices and the same freedoms to exercise agency. This belief stems partly from an avoidance of the discussion of power differentials and sometimes an overt misunderstanding of how power works.

One of the dominant themes that comes up in discussions of poverty alleviation, both in Singapore and elsewhere, is the notion of ‘empowering’ the poor. In the abstract, no one can criticize this. Of course what we want to do is empower people. But if you listen more closely to the discourse around this, you will keep hearing this other word in the talk about empowerment: ‘mindset.’ Empowerment is typically framed as being about changing the mindsets of the poor—changing their feelings of self-belief, their sense of confidence, their attitudes toward their lives. The logic goes that once they change their mindsets—toward employment, parenting, or education—they will be empowered to do things differently and their lives will hence improve. This ‘empowerment-mindset change’ framework is actually a theory of change—it entails a set of presumptions, beliefs, and claims about how change can come about. This is a theory of change that is embedded in many of our institutions. This theory that individual mindset changes can lead to changes in the material circumstances of the low-income underpins our education system and its claims of meritocracy, as well as our institutions set up for social assistance.

The problem with this theory of change about individuals and mindsets and so-called empowerment is that power is a material condition, not a frame of mind. People sitting in positions of power—where they are able to make decisions that shape their own and other people’s lives—are powerful not because they feel empowered but because they have power. Their feelings of empowerment are an outcome of their actual ownership of power, not the cause.

One can think—and indeed many of the low-income people I speak with try to think positively—“I can do this. I must try.” But if one is in fact lacking in actual power—lacking in control over time; lacking in leverage in the labor market; lacking in bargaining power with managers, teachers, social workers, landlords, creditors; lacking in voice to get one’s interests represented in social policies—if one is lacking in all these actual forms of power, no amount of merely changing how they think about themselves will change these realities. People feel disempowered precisely because they are disempowered. The notion of ‘choice’ is useless when people don’t have genuine options. People do not and cannot manufacture choices as individuals. Choices are accorded or not accorded based on how systems—of education, of the labor market, of welfare—are set up. And the way systems are set up, by certain groups and not others, embed within them different choices for different groups of people, partly along class lines, and often intersecting with ethnoracial and gender lines.

Inequality is about structure, about systems, about differential power. A shorthand way of thinking about it is that systems—with their rules, regulations, criteria—reward certain practices and punish certain others. Systems do not accord the same choices to all people, even when they claim they do. A major part of my book is therefore to show that our systems—of education, of care, of labor, of welfare—embed within them class biases. They afford to people in this country different degrees of choice, such that the hard work of my respondents is recognized and rewarded differently from the hard work of people like me, such that my love for my family is legible and valorized in ways that their love for their families are not.

It is important to have a theory of change that includes an accurate recognition of power differentials. This involves two things: first, it must be made explicit that people don’t all have the same choices. Second, it must also be explicit in pointing out that when I use the word “system,” it is not a box with no actors, no agents. Specific persons, groups, institutions are making rules by which everyone must play—we should not pretend that there is no human agency behind how systems work and therefore how inequalities are reproduced.

The kind of theory that dominates now—with its emphasis on empowerment through mindset change—directs us toward trying to craft solutions that are about changing low-income persons. With a theory of change that better reflects empirical realities, we can focus on thinking about how to change the rules, regulations, logic, principles, that are embedded in our institutions, and what must change in the way those decisions are made.

My third and final tweet-sized statement then is this: since the story is about inequality, then this is a problem for us not of ‘them.’

You Yenn Photo 3
(Credit: Teo You Yenn)

It would, quite frankly, be easier to just talk about poverty, write a book about poverty. I would offend fewer people. I can stay comfortable.

Given the data I now have, that would be ethically problematic. The reality is this: when you recognize some people’s disadvantages, you must also confront other people’s advantages. The story of poverty isn’t about exclusion in a flat world, it is about injustice in a hierarchical one.

At the same time that I am meeting kids who enter Primary 1 and are immediately marked as falling behind, I live my own life in a social milieu where kids enter Primary 1 and can already read and write. In one ear, I hear about parents worrying they can’t help with homework and can’t pay for tuition, and through my other ear, I hear parents complaining about their weekends being burned because they need to drive their kids from one enrichment activity to another. I meet kids the same age as mine struggling to read at the same time that my kid blazes her way through the Harry Potter books.

What is one to do? We have been hearing for a number of years now that the solution is to ‘level up.’ Like the empowerment claim, this is hard to argue with in the abstract. Again, however, let’s take a step back and look more carefully at what’s happening in the education system as a whole. It searches for and rewards precocity, it centers on high-stakes exams, it is oriented toward narrow forms of defining merit or lack thereof, it allows for the buying of these qualities in the private shadow education market. If these remain the rules of the game, you can level up but this will not change the fact of stratification among our nation’s kids.

At this point, you may ask: are you saying that we should hold some children back so that other children can catch up? Sort of but not exactly. For sure, if the kids running ahead keep running ahead, then the kids behind will never catch up, so there must be a sense that the kids ahead cannot be continually pushed—often through advantages gained outside of schools—to run ahead. But it is important to note that we should not think of this as a lowering of standards, but as an expansion of how we see and nurture strengths. Here, we must step back to think about what we want to see in an education system. Across class lines, we have shared interests in a system that adequately prepares our nation’s kids—all of them—for the future. This is a future not just as economic digits, but as well-adjusted adults with varied talents, who care not just about their own individual successes but also about how they are leading meaningful lives that includes how they are contributing as members of society.

We will all grow old in a society populated by other people’s children. Our wellbeing depends on the capabilities not just of our own kids but of other people’s kids. The kids I meet in the low-income neighborhoods are kids with just as much potential as the kids in my own social circles. They can learn just as well as my kid or my friends’ kids. They in fact have qualities I admire that are often missing in kids like my own—qualities of independence, of generosity, of grit. It is arbitrary to reward my child’s ability to read Harry Potter without rewarding these kids’ capacities. And it is unjust to have a school system that applauds kids who read and write early and discourages and demoralizes kids who do not do the same. Our system is not giving them sufficient time to learn, it is marking them as weak the minute they start, and in the process demoralizing them and their parents. It is unfair from the individual perspective, and irrational from the societal perspective.

We will all grow old in a society populated by other people’s children. We should care very much that every one of these future adults has the opportunity to learn properly rather than be labeled slow, be demoralized, be told they are not capable of more. We should also be tremendously troubled that a tiny subset of our nation’s children may emerge as adults who think they are smarter and more deserving than everyone else.

The consideration of education and inequalities illustrates two key points: first, whether we realize it or not, our wellbeing is connected to other people’s wellbeing. Because #societypopulatedbyotherpeople’schildren. Second, the problem at stake is an ethical-moral one. To address poverty and inequality, we cannot be fixated on changing the mindsets and practices of those with less class privilege. Education is an area where it is especially apparent that if those of us with more choices keep acting as individuals looking out for our own narrow interests, doing what’s best for only our children, doing nothing to advocate for systemic changes, we will perpetuate inequalities in our system. This will be something that ultimately hurts all of us—concretely, materially, morally.


October 17

October 17 is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, declared 25 years ago in December 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly:

“On the 17th of October each year, we come together to demonstrate the strong bonds of solidarity between people living in poverty and people from all walks of life, and our commitment to work together to overcome extreme poverty and abuse of human rights through our individual and shared commitments and action. An important commitment is to honour the human dignity of people living in poverty and to fight to end the discrimination, humiliation and social exclusion they suffer.”[1]

There are real persons living with real hardship in Singapore society. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a sharp and necessary reminder to all in our society to recognize and honor the human dignity of everyone. October 17 is a day we should take to consider our shared humanity and the importance of our connectedness to one another, and it is a time for us to pause to evaluate if those of us who live in comfort have built adequate solidarity with those who don’t. Because poverty is not just about poverty but also about inequality, this is not a problem about ‘them’ but a problem for ‘us.’ October 17 is a day that serves as an annual cue to review: there are values we aspire to, of justice and equality—how are we doing?

There remains much to be done. Let’s get to work.




About the Author

Teo You Yenn’s book of essays, This is what inequality looks like, is published by Ethos Books (forthcoming January 2018). She received her PhD in Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently Associate Professor and Head of Sociology at the Nanyang Technological University.  Her work centers on understanding inequality—how inequality is experienced; how it is reproduced; and the ways in which inequality is rationalized and naturalized. Her writings also address questions around governance, state-society dynamics, citizenship, welfare, and poverty. She has published journal articles, book chapters, and op-eds, and is the author of Neoliberal Morality in Singapore: How family policies make state and society (Routledge, 2011). In 2013, she received the Nanyang Education Award (School). In 2016, she was winner of the American Sociological Association Sex and Gender Section’s Feminist Scholar Activist Award.


"Why should we be anything but writers?" – What We Represent When We Talk About Representation April 06, 2017 19:00

by Jennifer Kwan

Meeting in the Middle: Asian Women in Focus discussion with Krishna Udayasankar, Noelle Q. de Jesus and Jinat Rehana Begum

(From left to right: Jennifer Kwan, Krishna Udayasankar, Noelle Q. de Jesus, Jinat Rehana Begum)

Our month of #intersections ended with a wonderfully honest and open dialogue last Friday, where authors Jinat Rehana Begum, Krishna Udayasankar, and Noelle Q. de Jesus sat down together to talk about 'Asian women writers'. The trio broke down the label, offered sharp and diverse opinions about what it implies, and made us think a bit more about what representation really means. Here are some highlights from the session:

Should bookstores categorise their books by region (e.g. 'Southeast Asian literature') or specifics (e.g. 'women's literature')?

KRISHNA: Sometimes when we walk into a bookstore and we say Southeast Asian literature, the literature is very, very specific to a kind of experience which is considered another experience – an alternative experience. At times when I want to destress, when I don't want a serious read, when I want a mindless adventure read, can I read something like that by a Southeast Asian author? If I walk in and I say I want to read something by someone in the region, do I have to necessarily soak into a unique cultural experience? It's not going to be a mindless entertainer on some level, but sometimes I just want to read a mindless entertainer.

JINAT: I think part of the problem is a problem of not reading, and when you do read, what are you reading? Self-help books, popular fiction – which is fine, I read lots of trashy fantasy novels when I feel like relaxing – but at the same time, you need a space somewhere for other kinds of literature and we don't. Our current literary diet is a bit 'fast food' I think.

KRISHNA: I think the problem is that we either see books as trashy and entertaining, or literary and high quality, and I strongly believe an entertaining book can be well-written. I agree with Jinat that it's not the norm, and it ought to be, but it isn't. I try to write books that are entertaining, I do not aspire to be high-brow literary but that doesn't mean they're badly written, I hope they're written reasonably well.

Now where I'm going with that is that I would much rather somebody find my books under the 'Fantasy' or 'Thriller' section because then I would have equal chance of getting picked up as Game of Thrones. I'm telling you it's as fascinating and there's as much blood and gore in it, there's some awesome battle scenes in there – for which I had to break my arm quite literally – but you will not pick it up unless you are there with Game of Thrones as your reference point and looking at what's next to it. I want to be next to it, I don't want to be on a shelf which says Southeast Asia, local literature, women's writing.

NOELLE: At least you're with Aaron Lee, O Thiam Chin on the local literature shelf. I'm not there – I'm somewhere with the Js or on the Ds on the Literature shelf – but that's still hard to find. It's just a big, big, big section. Maybe readers are looking for it – probably not, and I have to tell people exactly where it is… so I don't know what's better.


The authors called into question the idea of rigid categorisation of their texts on particular shelves on bookstores: is demarcated shelf space really 'representative' if all it does is limit and restrict who reads your book, or confine in to a particular sub-category when it in fact should be placed alongside the New York Times bestsellers? What kinds of titles are found on these shelves, and do they create a particular imagination of what 'Asian writing' should be, rather than what it actually is?

Despite this, Noelle's own experience having her book placed in the general literature section rather than on the Singapore shelf, also speaks of the difficulty it can be to get readers to discover your book and pick it up. Which books are more likely to come into our field of vision or get featured in bookstores? More often than not, they are books written by authors from the West (Asian or otherwise) who have received critical and international acclaim. Because of that, good books that are written by authors from Southeast Asia will never get the eyeballs, unless we actively promote and feature them in some way. However, it was broadly agreed that such books should be on the basis of the content of their story, and not simply because their authors are Asian.


What kind of baggage comes with the term 'Asian Women Writer'?

KRISHNA: I think one of the reasons I personally read is that sometimes it's another point of view but you can still relate to it. And sometimes what happens when I'm picking up a book that is very 'Asian' that is (a) Asian and (b) by a woman, it just seems too similar to what I already know. It feels like my mum's story, it feels like my aunt's story – I know this story, I know where it's going to go. Okay you have a beautiful way with words lady, but I'm sorry, I want something new and so maybe I'm going to end up reading a US/UK author because regardless of whether that story was written by a man or a woman, it's about murder and I want to know who did it.

NOELLE: Or sometimes, you don't know.

KRISHNA: Yeah, so there's much more than the uniqueness of context which is the book. There is something in the story which is a hook and that's why I read it, along with the uniqueness of context like Kite Runner, regardless of the gender of the writer. But when we talk about Asian writing in that sense there is nothing very new about that context. Unless you're going to read about a women from India, from a completely different region that people can't even name – then yes, it's a different context. And again, I'm reading it not because she's a woman, not because she's Asian, but because of that context.

JINAT: I think you're turning the 'Asian women writer' category into some kind of dirty word by saying these things, because you're assuming that Asian women only write genre fiction like the Asian memoir or the Amy Tan-type of book. There was a slew of that in the 90s. Yes, when it came out it was exciting and I read a whole bunch of things, including a search for a particular identity, growing up in that particular culture.

What you're saying Krishna is that I've been there, I've done that, I don't want to read the same thing. I think that's something people are beginning to realise that we don't see that much of genre fiction anymore – because people don't want to be pigeon holed – but at the same time we're Asian, and we're women, and we write, so you know. We're going to be called Asian women writers whether we like it or not.

KRISHNA: Why do we need to be called anything but writers?

JINAT: I guess because you need categories. Again, I'm sitting between categories – as a writer and teacher. I think there are people who only want to read certain types of things (such as books written by women), or that certain types of things appeal to them more.

NOELLE: There's also taste, both Krishna and Jinat are interesting in fantasy and science fiction, but for me, not so. Speculative fiction is a huge thing with the Philippines contemporary writers, everyone is rushing off to write about UFOs and magic and all that. But my taste tends to be more old school, literary blah-blah-blah, so there's also taste that dictates what you read.

I'm always scolded by good writer-type friends: "You're always reading men, you're always reading Western…". I understand that, it's just that it takes all kinds. You read what you like. I think that the story has to jump out and grab you.

The question why aren't we reading books by Asian writers is almost a construct because I don't read that way. I don't say I'm going to read Asian writers now. And also, what I find with Asian women writers is the tendency to exoticise and I know it because I'm writing and I feel myself go "Oh… let's throw a mango in there" and it's a real thing. Would you ordinarily eat a mango? I don't know how to describe that experience, you realise that you're writing as a writer, and it's fiction, and you realise that you're trying to appeal to this idea of Asia as you know in a certain way, a certain time.


If 'Asian women writing' has been assigned with negative implications, what then? There might be a need to reclaim the term back – we need to see it not as a restrictive, categorical label that refers to exoticised or stereotypical genre fiction. Instead, acknowledging that there are women who happen to be Asian, from Asia, who are amazing writers, is a reminder that good writers exist beyond the US and UK. It's about recognising that writers beyond the West are also doing exciting and interesting things, writing from unique contexts and perspectives that we've never come across before precisely because we've never bothered to read what authors in Southeast Asia have been writing. At the same time, everyone has their own preferences in what they read, and we should respect them.

But hey, we're glad that we shared diverse stories written by women from around Southeast Asia this month on our Facebook page in line with #intersections and #micronarratives. We hope that more can be done to close that gap between what we think Asian women's writing refers to, and what it actually represents.


What We (Really) Represent When We Talk About Representation

KRISHNA: Don't read me because you're trying to be representative, read me because it's a bloody good book! I’m a writer, I’m supposed to be able to write like a caterpillar if I wanted to. That’s my job. And if I can’t convince you of it, I’m not doing a good job. It’s got nothing to do with who I am.

JINAT: If I didn’t 'appropriate', I would be writing from very singular perspective which I didn’t find particularly interesting. I didn’t want to tell my story, but to tell a story which I felt needed to be told because we’re talking about a community which doesn’t usually get a voice.


The authors ultimately shared that writing shouldn't be restricted or defined by one's gender or ethnicity. A good story is a good story, regardless of the identity of the writer. Writers also have the ability to present untold stories from different perspectives, and that's what writing and telling a good story is about.

The session ended off with a great discussion on the validity and meaning of 'representation' in terms of who we ask to talk or 'represent' certain issues on panels and dialogues:

KRISHNA: There is a difference between representation in fiction writing and on a panel.

NOELLE: This is not the first women’s thing I’ve been to, you do it because you’re asked! It’s always an honour to be asked but you have to gear up for it because you know there are certain expectations that you don’t necessarily feel yourself.

KRISHNA: When we say “Do we have a reality where women as a category are underrepresented, are oppressed, they face issues unique to their gender?", the answer is a resounding 'Yes'. But putting me here is not really the solution to talking about this issue because what do I know about it? I have as much privilege and chances as anybody in this room regardless of gender. And I only have myself to blame if I didn’t take those chances or stood up for myself.

You are asking a privileged, empowered woman to speak on behalf of disenfranchised, disempowered women, and when I stand up to say look I’m the wrong person for the panel, I actually get shot and told I’m anti-feminist. Those with voices are being made to stand as role models for those without voices.


Who do we ask to speak about certain issues, and are they the right people to do so? We were reminded that we need to stop asking speakers onto dialogues for 'token representation', and instead really dig deeper and think about who would be the best person to speak about a certain subject matter, and our intentions behind organising such dialogues.

Ultimately, representation – at least for those who have not been given the chance to see or read about themselves in fiction – remains an important aspect for readers, especially younger readers.

JINAT: I'm thinking about what our younger generation should read. Right now our younger generation are reading more local literature and people want to read about themselves. The younger generation is more confident about this and they're saying 'I want to read about me!', 'I want to read about my experiences', 'I want to read a book and go, "I've been to that place"'.

And they're picking up these books and that's partly because we've had a chance to bring in local literature to the schools. Similar to Malaysia, I think we're beginning to see a confidence in local writing in our schools. I think in a much younger generation, the undergrads and secondary school students, they like their local authors and they look up to them.

*The excerpts used in this article have been re-arranged for clarity of points and opinions

About the speakers

Jinat Rehana Begum has taught Literature and English in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Singapore.  She began scribbling poetry on the back of used envelopes as a teenager and started to experiment with prose when she bought her first computer. First Fires is her first novel. Inspired by Neighbourhood, a single by British indie rock band Space, her next project is a collection of stories about the residents of a high-rise apartment in Singapore.

Krishna Udayasankar’s bestselling debut series of mytho-historical novels, The Aryavarta Chronicles (Govinda, Kaurava and Kurukshetra; Hachette 2012, 2013, 2014) have received critical acclaim. She is also the author of 3 (Ethos Books, 2015), a novel based on the myths and legends surrounding the founding of Singapore. Krishna holds an undergraduate degree in law and a PhD in strategic management. She lives in Singapore with her family, which includes three bookish canine-children, Boozo, Zana and Maya, who are sometimes to be found at her laptop, trying to make her writing better.

Noelle Q. de Jesus was born in the US, grew up in Manila, and spent most of her adult life as a writer, wife and mother in Singapore. Her first book of short fiction, Blood Collected Stories, was published by Ethos Books Singapore in 2015 and it won the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award for the Short Story. At the moment, she is working simultaneously on a second collection of short fiction and her first novel. 

Jennifer Kwan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2016 with a B.A. (Hons.) and is the resident feminist of Ethos Books. You've probably seen (or heard) her recommending books at some of their book sales. People ask her why she's passionate about the accessibility of halal food and she takes these as opportunities to talk. A lot.

Chinese New Year Break (27 Jan-31 Jan 2017) January 25, 2017 16:11

Dear friends,

We'll be away for the Lunar New Year holidays from 27 January to 31 January, and will be back to work on 1 February 2017!

All online purchases made during this period will only be sent out from 1 February onwards. Apologies for the inconvenience!

The Ethos team wishes everyone a blessed time of recreation, reunion, and rest.

ethos cny 2017
Here's us boomeranging to an orange beat



The Ethos Team

Work Retreat! (14th-16th January) January 13, 2016 10:34

Dear friends,

After a year of hard work, Ethos Books will be away from this Thursday (14th Jan) to Sunday (17th Jan) for a company retreat!

There is no wireless or cellphone access at the retreat location; we'll be completely off the grid. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused and will be back to office on 18 Jan 2016. :)

Best regards,

The Ethos Team

Update: For more photos of our work retreat, view our photo album on facebook!


Ethos Books Webstore Christmas Sale! December 16, 2015 11:08

Dear friends,

The festive season is here! Are you considering buying a book for your loved ones? Enjoy 30% off for all the Christmas sale titles from us! 

Just remember to use the discount code: HOHOHO when you make your payment!

The Ethos Team



Ethos Books Walk-In Christmas Sale! December 03, 2015 10:59

Dear friends,

The first, ever, Ethos Books Walk-In Christmas Sale is happening from 11-12 December!

Major discounts of up to 70% on ALL (all?!) our books will be on sale!
A lovely time to get Christmas prezzies for that bookworm, don't you think?

How to get there

Address: 28 Sin Ming Lane
#06-131 Midview City
Singapore 573972

Nearest MRT Station: Marymount/Bishan (circle line)

By bus/MRT: Take 410 from Marymount station and alight opposite Ai Tong Primary School. Midview City is just behind Ai Tong Primary School. Find us at Blk 28, #06-131.

View map

We hope to see you there!

The Ethos Team

Thank You March 23, 2015 10:36

Thank you for your support. It warms the heart to see so many Ethos titles making their way out of our warehouse to your homes during this opening sale period.

As we continue improving and refining the online experience for our readers, we appreciate any feedback that can help make getting an SG Lit book hassle-free.

More updates and even greater things to come!

The Ethos Team

Revamped! January 26, 2015 16:26

This revamp has been long overdue. Our online store which cost us almost 5 figures to build 15 years ago, had gone way past its shelf life. Fresh faces, fresh legs, fresh minds have come on-board, and Ethos Books will fly again.

A more user-friendly store with timely updates, courtesy of a robust content management system, is now in place. More importantly - fresh titles are here for the picking, along with old favourites which we will never put out of print.

To kick this off, and to thank our long-suffering online customers for their patience with our old online store, we will be giving a 30% discount across the board for all our titles for a limited period.

Come in. Enjoy the rich insights and writing in these books. There will be lots more to come in the new year.

We wish everyone a meaningful year ahead.

The Ethos Team