Conversational journeys over cups of chai, at home and abroad.


Current Finds…

In Our Village: Kambi ya Simba Through the Eyes of Its Youth — Edited by Barbara Cervone

Alyssa brought this back from Tanzania for me, and I plowed right through it.  The subtitle says it’s “A Project of Awet Secondary School, Tanzania, East Africa and What Kids Can Do, Inc.”  It’s written by and for kids but is a great exploration for Westernized adults.  My eyes continue to be opened to the worlds within our world. — Patty


Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide — Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Be forewarned about this book:  Before you even finish it, you’re going to want to pack a suitcase and head off across the globe to help these women. The stories are all very eye-opening, and bring a whole new meaning to the term sex discrimination.  But don’t be afraid… there’s a huge thread of hope woven throughout each chapter. I’ve decided the world doesn’t need money — it needs education, and lots of it. — Patty


A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons — Robert M. Sapolsky

I can relate to this book on so many levels.  The author, who is a professor at Stanford, describes his time and travels in Kenya and writes:

“Things here worked utterly differently than anything I’d previously known.  It was a constant source of confusion to me.  People were generally far friendlier than any from my world, people with next to nothing were achingly generous with the little they had.  But it was all within this framework of someone constantly being up to something.  People with uniforms and weapons victimizing those without.  People running shops who tallied the bills constantly bilking the customers who couldn’t read or add numbers.  Jobs that were available only for certain tribes, that were available only for those who agreed to kick back parts of their salaries to the boss.  Health officials who stole the monies for vaccines, relief officials who pocketed the food monies, endless buildings or roads sitting uncompleted because some contractor or other had run off with the funds.”

Although I’m not in Kenya, the author could have easily been writing about Tanzania.  This is the world I live in.  A great read to help me put life out here in perspective, as well as laugh out loud funny. — Alyssa

Infidel — Ayan Hirsi Ali

“A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I finally caved in and bought the Infidel after getting desperate for reading material (I’m a big believer in saving all funds for travel, so rarely buy books and instead am an avid user of public libraries).   Can I just say, I love reading about and learning from kick butt women – including my butt kicking aunt.  This book is a personal account of one woman’s bravery, recounting her life experiences from the smuggling of family members across the border escaping the war in Somalia, to forced marriage, to eventually fleeing home and family and becoming an outspoken voice for women’s rights. — Alyssa

Intimate Memories Volume 4: Edge of Taos Desert, An Escape to Reality — Mabel Dodge Luhan

I found this First Edition, which was published in 1937, at my local library and sunk my teeth into it after returning from a road trip to Taos with my mom last month.  It’s fascinating to read about Mabel Dodge Luhan’s life there, long before Taos became famous.  She feels the same affinity with that part of the country as I do.  I’ve often threatened to move there over the years. This book is very old but has admirably withstood life in a public library, and I think the quality of the cover and paper are far superior to anything that’s being published today.  The inside jacket still houses the original library check-out sleeve with a typewritten Dewey Decimal code, library rules, the original price of the book at $2.50 and check-out dates listed until 1950.  It’s a tasty tidbit of Southwestern history.  I love this kind of stuff! — Patty

Past Favorites…


  • The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho
  • The Prophet — Kahlil Gibran
  • Three Cups of Tea — Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Belin
  • Tuesdays with Morrie — Mitch Albom
  • Cradle to Cradle — William McDonough and Michael Braungart.  Completely changed the way I think of the environmental challenges facing society.  Loved it.


  • The Power of Now — Eckhart Tolle
  • A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose — Eckhart Tolle
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns — Khaled Hosseini (every woman should read this book)
  • Three Cups of Tea — Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Belin
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull — Richard Bach
  • What Should I Do With My Life? — Po Bronson
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings — Maya Angelou
  • Be True To Your School — Bob Greene
  • Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. — Stephen Boates
  • Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance — Barack Obama
  • The Assault On Reason — Al Gore
  • Out On a Limb — Shirley MacLaine