The Power Of Books

🌠Media Preview for Ethos Dreams🌠

Running a pre-loved bookstore like Dakota Dreams (DD) at a hawker centre has been both exhilarating and inspirational. The range of books that had been streaming in are rich, not just in the writing, but also the handwritten comments or loose notes which are slipped into some of the books by readers.

They reinforce the power of the book, the emotions which a writer can elicit from readers, the stories which resonate, the memories they arouse. All within a physical ‘artefact’ on which a reader is free to scribble their innermost thoughts in a safe space.

Some of the comments include: “This is so you … xxx”; “Keep this book forever”; “We will not meet again, but this is my last word to you. Live well”; “Pa says sorry"… the list goes on.

They leave me wondering about the lives of others. Not those of the rich and famous, but the ones whom we meet and interact with every day. The ones who remind me of what it is to be human with our emotions of love, faith and friendship on one hand; and hate, enmity and betrayal on the other.

They help me understand why small, independent publishers exist; why some people can devote years of their lives pursuing the publishing path in a world currently dominated by Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. It’s the emotional connectivity that a physical book can arouse when one reads without the constant distraction of different pressing issues and endless advertisements.

Ethos Dreams–an initiative by Ethos Books with DD–exemplifies the power of books and relevant programmes to build community through empathy and sensitive sharing about everyday matters which dive deep into the human psyche.

I marvel at the woman who suffered 40 years of an abusive spousal relationship, and yet gently helped her abuser through debilitating sickness and finally a peaceful death. “His last words were ‘forgive me’,” she told me, a single teardrop gathering at her right eye. I rage at a system which incarcerated a drug user because of an undiagnosed mental condition, which only surfaced years later when he committed a crime in another country. “They give me an injection every month,” he said as he shrugged his shoulders. I weep when elderly folks struggle to make digital payments in a 5G world when their language is one of cash. “Why cannot use money anymore?”

Not everyone or every circumstance is as described above. But I dream, with Dakota Dreams, with Ethos Dreams, that these vignettes will bring compassion and understanding into busy lives one day.

Fong Hoe Fang
Fonder, Ethos Books
Co-Founder, Dakota Dreams

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