What’s Florence Kim Reading?

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Florence Kim

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We asked our newest board member and avid reader Florence Kim how she’s using her quarantine reading time. Like many of us, she’s catching up! (shhh…don’t tell her brother!)

The theme of my current reading list is Revisiting What I Started. This pandemic pause has been an opportunity to finish reading books that I started long ago, but then life/job/kids got in the way, and I never picked them back up until now.

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee
My older brother gave me this book when I was living on my own in NYC after college. But I’ve picked it up again and am reading it with my kids. We pick out a section and read it together, since trying to consume the entire tome is too formidable. It is both a fascinating source of information on food science as well as a wonderful inspiration for ideas for our next cooking adventures. This book is also a gift I like to give to recent grads (I pair it with a current or classic cookbook), albeit with my ulterior motive. This book is what I use to motivate girls to do science. I tell girls that if they can cook, then they can do chemistry, since that is really what cooking is—the art and chemistry of food. And on the flipside, it’s also how I motivate boys to cook. If boys can do science, then they should easily be able to cook dinner for their families!

With Winning in Mind by Lanny Bassham
Because I am trained as a psychiatrist, people assume that I understand sports psychology, when in fact I know very little about the subject. The other day, I asked my son how a video singing audition had gone for him, and he told me that he doesn’t really get nervous, because he just tells himself “not to care too much about the outcome, because if you care too much, it hurts your performance.” He learned this tip from his tennis pro Yani a few years ago.  I was first surprised that he even remembered this approach to winning a tennis match, but also that he was able to apply it to other parts of his life to be successful. Our kids’ generation has been raised on sports psychology and visualization of winning in a way that my generation never was. So I decided to go back and read some sports psychology that I was never privy to as a child. Maybe this book will help my golf game.

Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes us Who We Are by Sebastian Seung
This one is a little embarrassing. My older brother Sebastian wrote this several years ago, and I read the first 3 chapters in the form of proofs to give him feedback for rewrites. He handed me a signed copy when it was finally published, but then I never finished it!! Oops! Much of the content we discussed over the dinner table as a family when these were just ideas in his head. So it’s a pleasure to read his fully-articulated theories on the brain, how it is organized, and how it grows and modifies based on its environment, and ultimately shapes who we are.

North Korea in Pictures by Nicholas Bonner
I picked this book up at The Strand last time I was in NYC. We finally took our kids to South Korea for the first time last summer, and they loved everything about it—the food, the culture, the K-pop, the people, the technology, the gorgeous mountains. Sadly, we could not visit North Korea for obvious reasons.  My kids have heard many stories of life in North Korea from my father and mother, who fled the Communist regime when they were in their teens, and from my middle brother KJ, who still visits in order to provide medical and humanitarian aid through Eugene Bell Foundation. This book is a nice collection of propaganda, culture, and history about this closed-off country that is still an object of fascination in our house.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
Everyone knows the fun Korea is South Korea, so of course I’m going to read this book, gifted to me by my friend Gina Lawrence. It is all about the dynamics of four girlfriends trying to make it in Seoul, and the superficial social hierarchies and pressures of surviving in a man’s world, with K-beauty and K-pop references to keep us all glued. I am only a few pages in, but I think I will come away from this book resolutely happy that I am an American citizen, since I would never survive the social pressures of being a woman in Seoul!

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