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Lisa Bu recommends

Discover the magic of reading with the books mentioned in this talk. Says Bu, "They are great companions in times of quiet desperation, private struggles, personal milestones or small miracles."

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    Jane Eyre

    Charlotte Brontë
    Wilder Publications, 2009

    Jane Eyre was my role model of an independent woman when I was growing up. 'Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!'

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    Cheaper by the Dozen

    Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
    Martino Fine Books, 2013

    Since reading this book as a kid, I have been obsessed with efficiency. Read it at your own risk :)

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    The Good Earth

    Pearl S. Buck
    Washington Square Press, 2004

    Pearl S. Buck's house in Nanjing where she lived during the 1930s later became the office of the Chinese Department of Nanjing University, where I received my BA. But her books were banned in China when I was in college, so I finally read this book in the US. After Beijing lifted the ban on her books a few years ago, her house has been converted to a museum.

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    Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

    Walter Isaacson
    Simon & Schuster, 2004

    Read this and John Adams by David McCullough together. Both men were great yet very different. They had many disagreements but the American Revolution needed them both.

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    Personal History

    Katharine Graham
    Vintage, 1998

    Read this along with The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. The first one is the autobiography of Katharine Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post. She was an inspiration for me when I was struggling with insecurities. She and Warren Buffett are great friends and business partners. I really like Buffett's approach to life, business and wealth: 'Life is like a snowball — all you need is wet snow and a really long hill.'

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    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

    Christopher Moore
    William Morrow Paperbacks, 2004

    This book is both hilarious and profound. The teenage Jesus took a road trip with Biff to look for the three wise men and encountered Buddhism and Hinduism (and lattes) along the way. I'm amazed by the author's understanding of all three religions.

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    Jospeh Campbell and the Power of Myth

    Mystic Fire Video, 2001

    This six-hour conversation between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers changed my life. I re-watch it whenever I'm stuck in writing or life, and it never fails to inspire me. It's also one of my favorite gifts to give to friends.

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    The Way of Chuang Tzu

    Thomas Merton
    New Directions, 2010

    Read this and Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts together. Instead of loss in translation, I find there's much to gain from Thomas Merton's interpretation of Chuang Tzu's writing. Maybe because without cultural preconception, a Westerner can read Chuang Tzu's ancient text with fresh eyes, thus see its original meaning more readily. I'm also amazed by Alan Watts' understanding of Eastern philosophies. He has a talent to articulate complicated ideas in an easy to understand manner.