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TED Talks: Lisa Bu Shares How Books Help Us Discover Identity

in Nonfiction by

What was your childhood dream? Growing up in China, Lisa Bu wanted to be a Chinese Opera Singer – but her parents didn’t approve. In her TED Talk from TED 2013, Bu describes how books helped her discover her identity and branch out within her own culture. She also discusses how books transformed her thinking and helped her adapt to life in the United States. Most profoundly, she speaks about how books taught her the true purpose of dreams and aspirations: “‘Coming True’ is not the only purpose of a dream – its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.”

Recommended Reading:

Two selections from Bu’s reading list:

jane-eyreJane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (Penguin Classics Reprint, 2006)

The classic novel that inspired Bu to think beyond the Confucian obligations for femininity and womanhood, she describes Jane as her role model of the “independent woman.”





The_Power_of_MythThe Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers (Anchor, 1991)

A modern classic Bu uses when reading culture comparatively. The book traces the influences ancient myth has had on modern religion, culture and life in general, in the form of an interview with scholar Joseph Campbell.


Katie Hires is a book lover, pop culture nerd, and graphic designer. When she's not researching Game of Thrones fan theories, she's either reading or at home making pasta.

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