For almost four years, Straits Times senior writer Wong Kim Hoh has documented inspiring stories of people who have overcome significant odds in their lives.
In his two series for The Sunday Times - Wong Kim Hoh Meets and It Changed My Life - Mr Wong interviewed nearly 200 people, from corporate high-fliers to reformed criminals.
Now, those stories have been compiled into a book, which was launched yesterday. It Changed My Life, by the Straits Times Press and sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, features 39 interviews.
Finance manager Judy Chong, 53, a regular reader, said she was elated to learn about the book.
"I would cut out the articles that I really like and share it with my church cell group," said Ms Chong, who was at the book launch at The Straits Wine Company at UE Square yesterday.
I find the series very inspiring. If these people can overcome their hardships, so can we.
MS JUDY CHONG, a finance manager, who plans to buy copies of the book as Christmas gifts
LESSONS FROM SUBJECTS
Humanity comes in different forms, shapes and sizes. I've learnt from them not to take things for granted, and not to sweat the small stuff in life.
MR WONG KIM HOH, senior writer, on how the people he wrote about influenced him
"I find the series very inspiring. If these people can overcome their hardships, so can we," she said.
Social worker Annie Siow, 49, who is featured in the book, said the book might be a way to reach more people who could be motivated by the stories. The former nightclub hostess was disfigured by a spurned suitor more than 20 years ago. He not only hacked off her ears and nose, but also poured boiling water on her face. Said Ms Siow: "I never thought that my story would one day be told. But if it can help others, why not?"
Former deputy editor of The Straits Times, Mr Alan John, who attended the launch, said the book reflected Mr Wong's own transformation.
The writer, 54, started primary school without knowing how to read, but later became a "wonderful storyteller".
Said Mr John: "The thought every time I read one of these stories is, 'If this happened to me, would I be able to pick myself up?' And that's the power of the series. It's about human beings and their resilience, being able to bounce back from the worst of what life offers them."
Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez paid tribute to Mr Wong for producing the series of moving interviews and accompanying videos. He noted that the videos won the Best Use of Online Video at the recent World Digital Media Awards.
The strong public response to the series had also prompted the decision to launch The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award, he said. The inaugural award will be presented in January.
"Kim Hoh's series helped us crystallise what this new award was about. Our aim is to honour someone whose life or actions are a source of inspiration to all in Singapore," he added.
As for Mr Wong, who continues to helm the series, the people he met also changed his outlook on life. He said: "Humanity comes in different forms, shapes and sizes. I've learnt from them not to take things for granted, and not to sweat the small stuff in life."
It Changed My Life is available for $29.96 at all leading bookstores.