Monthly Archives: July 2012

Beijing, wo hui lai le!


In a few hours, I’ll be flying out with a group of seven high schoolers to Beijing! And with only my kindle, The Rainmaker, and a collection of essays from an Orthodox women’s conference. I’ll be posting sporadically if at all through August 4th.


You can all breathe easy.


My very own, brand new, just in time for me to go to China kindle has arrived!





<–It looks like that.






In other news, I have my reading list for my seventh grade English classes this fall. The four major books we’ll be reading are:

1) A Christmas Carol (play version- not sure which one)

2) The Endless Steppe, by Esther Rudomin Hautzig

3) The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare (who wrote The Witch of Blackbird Pond- one of my favorite tween books)

4) Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt

plus  a bunch of short stories and poems of the week. We’re going to do National Novel Writing Month. Perhaps I’ll even jump in.

Oh, and S prazdnikom to everyone celebrating Ss. Peter and Paul today! Cheeseburgers will ensue.

Seven on Saturday- Bookish Thoughts


1. I’m writing to you from Brooklyn, NY, where my lovely sister and her family reside.

2. I made it here WITHOUT my kindle (still broken, folks), or an electronic device of any kind. This is a warmup for next Saturday’s fourteen hour flight to Beijing. Although I plan on ordering a new one before I go, I want to be able to entertain myself without staring at a screen for the entire trip.

3. The main reason I was able to endure the four hour ride- heck, I even enjoyed it- was because of this:

Pretty, right?

Rhett and Scarlett got me through, no problem. Plus, that book is a beast. It may even tide me over till Tuesday, when I’ll get on the bus back. Nothing like a beloved classic. The racism is more apparent in this re-read, but the story is as absorbing as ever.

4. Oh, yeah, going to China next Saturday. Packing? What? My reading list currently includes Game of Thrones 1-3 and nothing else. Help? I would like to take the plays I’m going to direct and books I’m going to teach as well. Better decide on those soon.

5. Which reminds me, I may or may not have decided to direct 1984 for the high school this fall. I’m hoping to get a copy of the script while I’m here. SUGGESTIONS AND FEEDBACK WELCOME.

6. I’m also considering which Shakespearean comedy I want to hack into a forty minute festival piece. Probably Twelfth Night. Again, feedback!!

And finally…

7. I still haven’t written my piece about it, butSophie Scholl and the White Rose was one of the best books, if not the best book, I’ve read this year. Buy it, borrow it, but add it to your summer reading list.

Have a great weekend!

Of Thee I Sing


Happy 4th to all! We’re still free of the British, and the Chinese haven’t chosen to claim any of the fifty states we currently owe them. Let’s party.

As I struggled with a few ideas for my next post, Christopher suggested doing a post on the most patriotic books I’ve ever encountered. Why not? The only problem was that I couldn’t think of any books I’ve found patriotic. Rather, I found myself thinking of books that embodied America. Since I just finished rereading The Great Gatsby, that was at the top of my list.

Why Gatsby ? I would think that F. Scott Fitzgerald captured a particularly American spirit in that book. The sort of restlessness, the nostalgia and materialism, the glittering gaiety and desperate struggle to stay young all struck me as typically post-Civil War American. The characters Fitzgerald created are all, or have since become, American archetypes. Daisy- the popular girl, Tom- the athlete who has it all, Gatby- the outsider who can’t fit in no matter how he rises, Jordan- the athletic best friend, Myrtle- the tart with a heart… You can find them in any high school drama. They’ve just aged a bit. (Not to mention that we all had to read it in high school. The older you get, the fewer books we all have in common.)

Disagree? Well, you’re not alone. Here are a few other gut reactions to the question (paraphrased by me):

[Quick warning- apparently the 25-40 crowd is a wee bit cynical about our country. Shocking, I know]

Jesse (a seminarian at St. Tikhon’s)- On the Road because it shows how directionless the American way of living is. He has nothing to do with himself because he doesn’t understand the true purpose of life.

John (mid-thirties writer and one of my best friends since high school)- Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, any of those. That, or Fifty Shades of Grey.

Andrew and Janet* (a newly married couple living in Cambridge)- Anything in Oprah’s Book Club. The appropriation of classics into a personality cult is typical America.

Xenia(my niece and roommate)- Fahrenheit 451, because of the book burning. Or, you know, anything by an American.

So, friends, what’s the most American book you can think of? Gut reactions preferred, but f you want to give it some thought, go ahead. Don’t forget to watch some fireworks for me- some things you just can’t be cynical about.

*to be fair, Janet initially said Gatsby, too, so I almost won.

Things I’m Currently Reading- July Edition


Happy July, everyone! Wow, a “Things I’m Currently Reading” on time, for once! This was a pretty mixed month, reading wise. I read an incredible amount of trash, mixed with an almost equal amount of really high quality stuff.

In the personal realm, even with my boyfriend away in Moscow, June was a wonderful month overall-  full of friends, travel, and really yummy vegan food.  After being unemployed and underemployed for nearly two years, I got three offers for different things within a  few weeks.   My favorite offer that I’ll have to defer was my acceptance into the Master of Divinity program at Holy Cross Hellenic College.  Oh, to be a feminarian! Regrettably, it makes no financial sense to go at this point.  I plan to defer for a year and reevaluate next spring. However, I’m very much looking forward to teaching theater this year- though the reality of planning for three classes and three shows is starting to sink in.

In a few weeks I’m off to Beijing, so keep an eye out for my travel reading list. Here’s to another beautiful summer month!

Daily spiritual reading-

  1. Elder Barsanuphius of Optina, Victor Afanasiev (still taking a long time)
  2. The Bible. (now with actual book! Hooray for no internet at home!)
  3. The Hermitess Photini (when I’m too tired for Elder Barsanuphius)

Pleasure reading-

  1.  Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, the Countess of Carnarvon
  2. The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (pleasure being a strong word, here)
  3. Guitar Girl, Sarra Manning (reread)


  1. A BUNCH of plays

Books that have been on hold, but want to finish- (no, this list has not changed)

  1. With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, Elder Paisios
  2. The Private Life of Chairman Mao, Dr. Li Zhisui
  3. Miracles, C.S. Lewis
  4. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  5. Under the Dome, Stephen King (WHICH WAS ON MY KINDLE GRRR)

Just finished-

  1. Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCaffrey
  2. Second Helpings, Megan McCaffrey
  3. Charmed Thirds, Megan McCaffrey
  4. Fourth Comings, Megan McCaffrey (they’re kinda like popcorn- but smart popcorn!)
  5. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
  7. Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, Deborah Feldman
  8. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
  9. Can You Keep A Secret?, Sophie Kinsella (reread- don’t do that to yourself)
  10. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
  11. Say the Word, Jeannine Garsee

Stopped because I couldn’t take it anymore-

1. Where I Belong, Gwendolyn Heasley (not with Corrinne, that’s for sure)

Next up-

  1. A Shakespeare- I WILL read one this month. If only for work. Plus Twelfth Night again.
  2. Insurgent, Veronica Roth (ok- I actually started it- and didn’t like it. But I’ll give it another shot!)
  3. Adorkable, Sarra Manning (still love her!)
  4. The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss
  5. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Education Day = Book day!


I am so there. You should come too!

SAVE THE DATE! Orthodox Education Day 2012 Focuses on Writings of Tolkien and Lewis & The Hunger Games!


October 6, 2012

Save the date of Saturday, October 6, 2012, for our annual Open House, Orthodox Education Day (OED). This year’s theme will be “Inklings of Glory: Godward Journeys with Lewis and Tolkien,” and features of the day will include:
  • Lecture by Priest Andrew Cuneo (SVOTS alumnus ’10), the first Oxford University scholar ever to receive a doctoral degree on C.S. Lewis, and currently the founding priest of St. Katherine of Alexandria Orthodox Mission in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California
  • Book Study for your parish book clubs or personal interest! Father Andrew Cuneo, an expert on the writings and thought of C.S. Lewis will lead a discussion on the book The Abolition of Man; please bring your book and thinking caps!
  • Lecture by Dr. Christopher Mitchell, director of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, which houses a major research collection by and about seven British authors, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. View a lecture by Dr. Mitchell, “Lewis and Tolkien: Scholars and Friends,” here.
  • Young People’s Workshop by Dr. Kate Behr, professor of English at Concordia College, on the book and movie sensation: “The Hunger Games.”
  • Weeping Icon of St. Anna from St. Tikhon’s Monastery displayed for public veneration
  • Early morning Divine Liturgy and mid-day Akathist service
  • Seminary library display of icons from the British Isles
  • Sacred music choral performance
  • Traditional national dance—including a champion Irish step dancer!
  • Variety of ethnic foods


Click here for more information.