I am embarrassingly uninformed about Chinese history and culture. I’ve worked with Chinese students for five years, and every year I determine to actively learn more about where they come from. I got this book third-hand from one of Gabe’s aunts, and it’s fascinating. Hong Kingston weaves myth and legend and lore with the complicated 20th century story of her Chinese-American life. I’m nearly halfway through, and I’m loving it.


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With that same spirit, I started listening to the China History Podcast by Laszlo Montgomery. I like it best while driving, but sometimes I’ll put it on in the house while I’m cooking (I get so easily distracted, though, and can’t always follow). I highly recommend this if you’re looking to broaden your understanding of Chinese history and current relations. I hop around to the parts I’m interested in at the moment. It’s dark, like The Woman Warrior, but that’s life.


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If you look at my 2019 reading list, you will see it heavily leans in the direction of Frederick Buechner. I’ve written before about the timeliness of certain books and how Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood entered my life at the perfect moment of emerging adulthood, or how Joan Didion walked me through the dark night of internal crisis and scary health issues. Now, in 2019, it was the words of a seminarian-turned-teacher-but-always-writer that I needed to hear. Gabe’s Mitza, a warm, thoughtful woman who encounters each new stage of life with grace and honesty, introduced me to Buechner. Every visit this year was accompanied with a used copy of one of his works, and I ate them up. It is rare that I find a living writer whose poetic prose leaves me underlining, re-reading, musing over. What I love about Buechner’s work is that he meets his readers where they are; he is a man of faith, but he does not require that of his readers. He understands. He comforts. He challenges. Overall, he allows himself to be known, and that is what connects his work to so many.

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So, I love this show. As with many series, the first few seasons are more engaging, but at this point, I’m invested. Ross Poldark is a complex, frustrating character, and Demelza is equally (if not more so) intriguing. I love period pieces that explore psychology and social issues of the day.


A shameless plug for my choral group, Lyricora. I’ve been singing with them since 2015, and every year, the group helps me hone my musical skills, connect with audiences, and learn new repertoire. Check out our website and our YouTube channel to hear some of our work!

READ IN 2020

On Beauty — Zadie Smith

The Girl with Seven Names — Hyenseo Lee

The Dutch House — Ann Patchett

The Rose Project — Graeme Simsion

READ IN 2019

Remarkable Ordinary — Frederick Buechner

The Honey Bus — Meredith May

For You, Mom, Finally — Ruth Reichl

Speak What We Feel — Frederick Buechner

Wishful Thinking — Frederick Buechner

Kitchen Yarns — Ann Hood

READ IN 2018

Living with a Wild God — Barbara Ehrenreich

Miller’s Valley — Anna Quindlen

Enon — Paul Harding

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking — Susan Cain

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman

When Breath Becomes Air — Paul Kalanithi

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos —  Jordan B. Peterson

READ IN 2017

[this is my most embarrassing year of reading since the age of 5 — I blame falling in love and getting married, but I’m still not so sure that’s a good enough excuse]

America’s Women — Gail Collins

My Name is Lucy Barton — Elizabeth Strout

Commonwealth — Ann Patchett

The Bean Treas — Barabara Kingsolver

Road to Little Dribbling — Bill Bryson

Upstream — Mary Oliver

READ IN 2016

Searching for Sunday — Rachel Held Evans

Captivating [sometimes I read for research…]

Yes Please — Amy Poehler

What Do Women Want? [again, research]

A Field Guide to Getting Lost — Rebecca Solnit

He — Robert A. Johnson

The Enlarged Heart — Cynthia Zarin

The Road to Character — David Brooks

Tips from the Top — Kreigh Knerr

The Giver — Lois Lowry

Pastrix — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Wise Blood — Flannery O’Connor

Ariel — Sylvia Plath

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn — Betty Smith

Far From the Madding Crowd — Thomas Hardy

The Colossus — Sylvia Plath

Gut Feelings — Gerd Gigerenzer