My first e-reader (sigh)

When I was asked if I wanted an e-reader for Christmas, my answer was a flat out, “no”.  I love the texture of paper pages, the smell of new books and the worn-out feel of second-hand books. I also love walking into bookstores and being surrounded by books of all sizes, shapes, and colours. But when the second book that I really wanted to…

Memorable characters 2

I love books where I feel connected with the main character, or when the character is someone whom I admire and want to root for. I recently saw Les Miserables again. Jean Valjean is an example of a character I both admire and feel tremendous sympathy for – a character almost impossible for me to forget. There are several books and online resources that…

Memorable characters

“It’s told from the point of view of a horse,” my daughter, Claire, told me when she started reading Black Beauty. “I don’t know if I want to read it.” She finished the book today, and concluded that it was a great read, and Black Beauty was a character she wouldn’t ever forget. When Claire asked me to name some memorable characters from books…

That time of year

One of the things I wanted to do during this holiday break was catch up on my reading. I have far more books than I could possibly get through in one calendar year. I keep buying them, intending to read them later. I also get a lot of books as gifts. Of the books I did get to this year, Lawrence Hill’s The Book…

Writers who passed away in 2012

“Don’t talk about it; write.” – Bradbury, 1976 I recently read a list of writers who passed away in 2012. Donald J. Sobol, writer of the Encyclopedia Brown series, passed away in July. Leroy, aka Encyclopedia Brown, is a boy detective who used his intelligence to solve neighbourhood mysteries. Some of my fondest childhood memories in Canada include going to the public library where I…

Overcoming stage fright

Years ago, as a way to gain greater confidence speaking in front of an audience, I signed up for a series of singing workshops. I recently found the notes I took during the workshops. The following was written after my first class. The lights were too bright, and right away my body tensed up sensing the reality of the situation. I was on stage! I had prepared…

Growing up Buddhist at Christmas time

My first memory of Christmas is back in South Korea. I must have been five or six when I found a green-beaded necklace under my pillow. I remember that the first thing I did was look at it under the blanket to see if it glowed. It didn’t. Still, it was the most precious gift I had ever received. When I asked my mother…

“Cool to be Korean”

My 13-year-old daughter had never expressed an interest in learning the Korean language until “Gangnam Style” by Psy, the Korean rapper, gained worldwide popularity. In her eyes, it was suddenly “cool to be Korean”. Her question to me: how come you never learned Korean? When we first came to Canada, my parents’ biggest obsession was for their children to learn English. We were even…

Koreans here and there

I was surprised to see so many books about North Korea in the Social Science section at Chapters, the bookstore. I picked up Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. Nothing to Envy chronicles the lives of six North Koreans – a teenage couple secretly in love, a female doctor, a homeless boy, a factory worker, and her rebellious daughter –…

We need more of this…

“Noranbang: The Yellow Room,” is written by M.J. Kang, a Korean-born playwright. I found her play in a collection of contemporary Asian-Canadian drama entitled, “Love + Relasianships.” “Noranbang” is about a Korean family living in Toronto, Canada, during the late 1970s. This is only the second play that I’ve read by a playwright of Korean heritage with a story set in Canada.  I especially…