10 books that changed my life

I always have a hard time coming up with things like my favorite movie or book, because it’s really hard for me to come up with only a few. There are so many books outside this list that have changed my life in small and big ways, like the Bible. There are so many books that I’ve fallen in love with. There are so many books that I laughed, cringed, cried, smiled and traveled through. So, that’s my long way of stating that this is not a comprehensive list, but a starting point of 10 books that have changed my life in ways, that I actually remember reading them.

1. Matilda by Roald Dahl- I read every single Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on as a kid. I loved all of his books. Matilda was probably my favorite and then Charlie and the Chocolate Factory coming in at a close second. I loved Matilda as the protagonist.


2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis- I remember reading this series as a kid, and falling into the fantasy world as they traveled into the magical wardrobe to Narnia. I remember wondering what Turkish Delight would taste like. I’m glad the movies came out way after my childhood days.

chronicles of narnia

3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank- Last year, I was able to visit the actual house that Anne Frank stayed in and walk up the hidden staircase into the rooms that her family hid in. It was a surreal and unforgettable moment. I remember seeing pages of her actual diary in the museum. I’ll always remember reading this book as a teenager and just imagining what life must have been like for her. The words of this teenager during the Holocaust resonated in my soul.

diary of young girl

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery- This book, the French version, that my father gave me, or I might have just “taken” his copy, has special meaning for me. Not only is it a story that I can read over and over again, I love that it’s the book that my father read, when he was studying French. There aren’t many books that my father kept over time and aren’t in Korean.


5. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri- Not only is Jhumpa Lahiri a Barnard alum, she has become one of my favorite authors. This was the first book I read of hers, and I can’t help but enjoy all the books that she writes. Even though her characters are usually Indian Americans, I can always relate to her characters, their struggles, and their journey. She is an incredible writer and I will continue to be a huge fan.


6. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson- I remember after reading this book, I felt like I could change the world through education. I started to dream about building my own schools. Maybe I didn’t have to go all the way to Afghanistan to do it, but it stirred me deep within.


7. Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourt- I had to put at least 1 teacher book on this list. And, this would be the most appropriate one. I remember reading this while being a NYC public school teacher. If you are a teacher, read this book!


8. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick- I think reading books about North Korea are so incredibly fascinating and eye-opening. This book that follows the lives of a few different N.Korean refugees are heartbreaking and makes me pray, that change will come to N. Korea sooner than later.


9. Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist- I love her honest and raw collection of short stories/essays. She makes me laugh, she makes me reflect, and she challenges me. I could totally imagine writing a book in this style one day. I want to be her friend.


10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed- This is the most recent book that I’ve read that is on my list. I wasn’t necessarily blown away by the writing, but something about Cheryl deciding to hike the PCT  all by herself after going through a difficult times was pretty inspiring. It did make me want to go hiking, but more importantly it challenged me. It challenged me to continue to try the impossible and that failure, can only help you on your journey. So, if I decide to climb the Himalayans next year, don’t be surprised. Just kidding…I think I’ll start small with climbing Mt. Kinabalu.


I now tag Melody, Petrina, BrianDyanne, Sharon & Tammi to share with us their top 10 books because I know you all  love to read!

Bus vs. Subway

As I tried to decide whether to take the bus or subway back home after doing some Christmas shopping, the answer was easy.  The bus stop was right there in front of me and the subway station was a good 10 minute walk farther in the biting cold Seoul winter. Obviously, I would take the subway home. I could continue reading my book on the subway. I always got nauseous and dizzy when I tried to read on the bus.

One of the high school students in my school came up to me a month ago telling me I just had to read this really good book. I never heard of  the book before and told her to bring me a copy of it if she really wanted me to read it. The next day, she found me and brought me a copy of the book, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I saw it and thought immediately, I don’t have time to read it. It looks too long to read right now. I was in the middle of the book Swallow the Ocean  and I already had a few other books to read after that.

I would run into the student in the hallways afterwards and she would ask me if I read the book yet. I would tell her not yet, but I would read it soon. So finally, I am on vacation and I started the book on Friday. I just finished the book last night. It was one of those books I just couldn’t put down, even though the ending was predictable. It was a story about how powerful love can be. It was a story about an unconditional love that forgives, frees and redeems.

I’m looking forward to catching up on my reading during vacation. Only a few more days until my Kindle touch arrives from America! So on that note…

What books are you reading now? Do you have any good book recommendations? 

For more slice of life entries, go to two writing teachers!

Time to Celebrate!

It’s that time of the year, where we get overwhelmed with school work, the holidays and everything else we need to do! I don’t know about you, but my to do list keeps on increasing. I cross off one item, then I need to add five more. I’ve come to a point of not putting things on my to do list, because I think it will just stress me out more if I can’t cross it out immediately!

I think as teachers, we get so caught up in all that we need to do, we don’t stop and reflect enough on our accomplishments, how small or big they might be. I love that in reading and writing workshop, at the end of every unit, we have some sort of celebration, where we celebrate the hard work that my students have done as readers and writers. Sometimes it’s an all out publishing party with food and parents, other times, it’s a simple sharing with each other.

What if as teachers, we were required to reflect and celebrate after each quarter/semester the work that we do as teachers?

A small accomplishment that I felt proud of was when my students got really excited to read a particular book I recommended. The book I recommended to my students was Because of Mr. Terupt. I actually first heard about this book from a post from Two Writing Teachers! It has been a hit with my students. I have one copy that has been rotating around and another student just finished it this weekend. I love it when books in my class have a long waiting list and students can’t wait to read it next! My student came in and told me, “This book makes me write a lot of post-it notes.” I just smiled back. The other two students that read the book absolutely loved it as well!

My student had about 3 more pages full of post-its!

So today, stop and take a moment to reflect on the past few months and share with us one of your accomplishments! Let’s celebrate all the great work that you have been doing!

For more slice of life entries, go to two writing teachers!

my to read list…

There are so many books I hope to read. Here are my top ones. Hopefully I can finish them within the next month!

1. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers- Finally at the last one. I’m not happy about Bella wanting to turn into a vampire. Team JACOB!!  🙂

2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins- The sequel to The Hunger Games, which I finally read this summer. I loved it. This is a really good series, a bit violent for my kids, but some of the mature ones have read it. I borrowed this one from of my students! There’s also third book that just came out called Mockingjay. I hope to read that after.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- This is the book we’re reading for our teacher’s book club group at my school. It has actually been a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, so I’m excited to read it now.

4. How’s It Going? by Carl Anderson- I loved Carl Anderson’s presentations at the TC Writing Conference this summer and bought his first book.  It’s a practical guide about how to conference with student writers. I really need to take time to sit down and read through it.

half the sky & shanghai

It is so hard to read a lot of books for fun once school starts. I think the pile of books that I need and want to read for school is always getting bigger and bigger.  However, I’m starting to read Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof. I bought this book this summer and it has been gathering dust on my bed stand.It’s a bit of a heavy book about serious issues of oppression all over the world, but I know that this book will help bring awareness and change. I hope to blog more about the book later when I finish it!

Here’s a website about how to get involved: http://www.halftheskymovement.org/

I love travel guide books! Reading the Shanghai lonely planet guide book is getting me excited about my trip to Shanghai in 2 weeks! It will be my first time in China. Anyone have any good recommendations for things to do/see/eat in Shanghai? Let me know! 🙂