Why I Support: Reading is Fundamental

For years now, my charity of choice has been Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a non-profit focused on generating awareness of children’s literacy. Through them, I learned that 25 million children in the US cannot read proficiently, and it breaks my heart. I truly believe that reading is life-changing, and in my own small way, I can help by supporting this charity.


Why I Support: Reading is Fundamental

Focus on children's literacy

I love the fact that RIF focuses on the urgent issue of children's literacy. Numerous studies (here and here) and conventional wisdom points to the life-long positive impact of fostering a child's love of reading. I try to be mindful of this with my own young kids.

Free literary resources

RIF also creates content-rich online resources for educators, parents, and readers. Tied to specific children's books, these free resources include lesson plans, reading passages, calendars, and videos.

Striving for local impact

RIF partners with local communities to distribute hundreds of millions of books into the hands of tens of millions of children across the country. Because oftentimes, it is simply a matter of access.

Engaging with individual volunteers, sites, community groups, and organizations that share our passion to ensure that impact is felt at the local level.
— Reading is Fundamental

So for this holiday season, consider giving a donation to RIF (I'm sure it's tax-deductible). And if you're looking for that perfect gift for the special people in your life, consider giving to RIF in their names--I would love a gift like this (hint, hint) :-)

Let's chat!

What charity is near and dear to your heart?

How else can we nurture a child's love of reading?

3 Things I'm Thankful For This Year

In honor of Thanksgiving coming up this month, I want to take this opportunity to publicize my gratitude for the life that I have. I have been trying to practice daily gratitude, but it’s challenging. So far, I'm happy if I can remember to give thanks once a week! But I remind myself that just because I don’t write them down every day does not make me any less grateful for the good things in my life.

I have many things on my gratitude list, and below are my top three things that I'm thankful for this year.

3 Things I'm Thankful For | Dany Chan

3 Things I’m Thankful For This Year

My People

I am thankful for my family and friends, who all make my life richer in different ways. I love them, and they love me. I am also grateful for the writing community at large. Though most are strangers, they share my passion for writing and truly understand the ups and downs of a writing life that I'm trying to cultivate.

My Creative Drive

I am grateful for having this need to create. During the past few months, my life has changed a lot, with a big move and leaving my job. My creative projects continue to keep me from falling into a serious depression over the big things that I can't control. I look forward to my creative writing sessions every day.

My Planning Obsession

And speaking of control, I am very thankful for my obsession to plan things.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
— Benjamin Franklin

I agree with Ben wholeheartedly! Especially during my current situation when my days are open and free of appointments: if I don't plan for writing, reading, child-care pickups, or housecleaning, for example, I could easily fritter away those hours in front of a screen and just feel horrible afterwards.


I will keep trying to cultivate a daily practice of gratitude, but regardless of when I can manage it—once a day, once a week, once a month, or even once a year—expressing gratitude helps me to look beyond my daily worries and struggles to recognize all the good that is in my life. I hope to inspire you to do the same.

Let’s chat!

What are the top three things that you’re thankful for this year?

How to Enjoy a More Intentional Holiday Season

October is here, and for my family, that means the beginning of the holiday season (Halloween is a big deal). In an effort to live more intentionally and make more family memories, I've begun putting together seasonal bucket lists. These are lists of experiences that are rather unique to that particular season.

How to Enjoy a More Intentional Holiday Season | Dany Chan

How to Enjoy a More Intentional Holiday Season

If you follow me on social media, you may have last seen my Summer Bucket List (it involved a lot of ice cream :-)

For this holiday season, I've combined both the fall experiences and the holidays experiences into one bucket list. I will add to the list as ideas come up. I know that we won't have every experience on our wishlist checked off, and that's ok.

The point of this bucket list is to be more intentional with our family time.

So, the following is my family's Holidays Bucket List:

  • visit a pumpkin patch

  • carve pumpkins

  • make and eat pies

  • go apple-picking

  • go Trick-or-Treating with the kids

  • drink hot apple cider

  • drink hot chocolate (with marshmallows)

  • wear a fun scarf or sweater

  • enjoy the fall colors

  • watch holiday movies

  • go ice skating

  • trim the Xmas tree

  • send holiday cards to friends and family

  • listen to Xmas songs 24/7

  • build a snowman (if possible)

Let’s chat!

Are there other holiday experiences that you'd recommend?

How do you and your family plan for the holiday season?

How To Do "Back-To-School" As An Adult

Ah, September.

As kids around the country, including my own, are returning to school, I sometimes wish that I can be part of that rush: the thrill of crisp, clean notebook pages or the possibilities of a box of new decorative pencils. It's been a long time since I was a student, but that doesn't stop me from partaking in the "back-to-school" excitement in my own adult ways.

How To Do "Back-To-School" As An Adult

How To Do "Back-To-School" As An Adult

Crack Open a New Notebook

I always carry a notebook (that's the writer in me), and regardless of how little I've filled the current one, come September 1st, I switch to a new notebook for the new season. Here's what I'm using: Moleskine Harry Potter Limited Edition Notebook - Marauder's Map.* The tea-stained coloring of the cover evokes the colors of fallen leaves and the reflective mood of autumn. And more importantly, Harry Potter and September 1st--enough said.

Switch to a Leather Bag

All Summer I've been toting around canvas totes :-) They're casual and washable (a must!) and oftentimes have fun designs. For the Fall, I want to feel more professional (I have a whole season of job searches coming up, after all). So, I will be switching to a simple and sleek leather tote. And voilà, instant sophistication!

Do Some Homework

I do love a good workbook. This Fall, I will be using this workbook -- The Write Brain Workbook*-- to sharpen my skills and flex my creative muscles with short writing exercises. Learning is a life-long endeavor, and you don't have to be in school to learn something new.

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.

Let's chat!

How do you feel about "back-to-school" season?

How else can I get in on the excitement of "back-to-school"?

What is a "Summer Read"?

Summertime is upon us, and summer reading lists are cropping up everywhere online and in your local bookstores. And to be honest, the selections tend to skew towards contemporary fiction or "chick-lit," like Crazy Rich Asians (a delightful read, btw). It got me thinking: what is a "summer read" anyway?

Why the Idea of a "Summer Read is BS | Dany Chan

What is a "Summer Read"?

What is a "Summer Read"?

When I think of a "summer read," the first image that comes to mind is of me lounging at the beach with a good book. This is why a "summer read" is often interchangeable with a "beach read," a marketing category that appeared in the 1990s. In either case, it is defined as a book that doesn't require a lot of the reader to enjoy it. Summer reads are usually described as "fun," "frothy," or "gripping." "Cerebral" is rarely descriptive of a "summer read."

Summer Learning Loss

Perhaps we need to look to the schools to find the origins of the "summer read." Since 1906, education researchers have identified a phenomenon referred to as the "summer learning loss," whereby many students return to school after the summer break dumber than when they began the break. Reading over the summer is a suggestion to combat this loss, and the activity more impactful if the student chooses books that interest them.

My Definition of a "Summer Read"

So, the two criteria for a "summer read" is now clear to me. It is: 

  1. a book that interests you, and
  2. a book that you read during the summer months

Simple, right? :-)

Let's chat!

What is your top suggestion for a "summer read"? Why?

3 Reasons Why Reading Fiction is Good For You

I love to read.

Although there are many benefits to reading nonfiction - history, memoirs, or the news, for example - reading fiction is my forte. On my own, I gravitate towards fantasy, science-fiction, and magical realistic fiction. I joined a book club specifically to read outside of my favorite genres, such as contemporary or literary fiction.

Yet, a story of fiction is, at its heart, make-believe or pretend. And it is this very nature of fiction being a well-told lie that actually benefits the reader in many ways. The following are three important reasons why reading fiction is good for you.

3 Reasons Why Reading Fiction is Good For You | Dany Chan

3 Reasons Why Reading Fiction is Good For You

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.

Reason #1: Exercises Your Imagination

In writing fiction, the author uses her imagination to creatively tell a good story. In reading fiction, the reader also exercises his imagination to “suspend disbelief,” an act of temporarily allowing himself to believe something that is not true.

Along the spectrum of fiction, there are several types of stories that demand little from the reader’s imagination, as well as some genres that put the imagination through the ringer.

  • A work of fiction such as Olive Kitteridge* that is grounded in contemporary life

VERDICT: not much stretching of the imagination is needed to believe the story

VERDICT: the fact that a story is imagined in the historical past takes some effort on the part of the reader to believe parts of the story

VERDICT: hands down, magic of any kind requires us to suspend our disbelief

VERDICT: reading and enjoying these two genres require an imagination boot camp

In short, the farther removed from your current reality the story is, the more you are asked to stretch your imagination to believe the story. When storytelling is done right, readers are easily able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the work of fiction.

And, the greatest fictional stories do become real for their passionate fans. An enchanting world or a lovable character can inspire such enduring memes as “Frodo lives!”

Reason #2: Helps Build Empathy

A recent study reported in Scientific American suggests that reading fiction, especially literary fiction, builds empathy and may improve social functioning.

“Literary fiction...focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships...This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters’ introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world,...They [the characters] support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.”

Empathy has long been believed to be an important soft skill to learn. And it may very well be an essential component for repairing human society.

Reason #3: Fills the Well

For a fiction-writer like myself, reading fiction is an activity that renews my spirit and fills my creative well. This concept of "filling the well" comes from Julia Cameron’s creativity guide, The Artist's Way.* Cameron insists that we need to maintain an inner reservoir from which to draw if we are going to continue to create.

I would add that we also need to maintain this inner well if we are going to continue to thrive. So, for many people around the world, reading fiction becomes an activity of rest, relaxation, and escape from the busyness of modern living.


Since the creation of the world's first novel - which by the way is arguably the Japanese Tale of Genji,* written in the 11th century - fiction continues to offer readers these three benefits along with many more.

I invite you to make time to read fiction, whether it be your favorite fantasy book or a compelling literary debut. For the sake of your well-being, it will be so worth it.

Let's chat!

Why do you read fiction?

What other benefits of reading fiction did I miss?

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.

Why You Should Read: The Fifth Season

So, many famous writers have said that to be a good writer, you must read good stories. Recently, I've lucked out with a few excellent books, in both the fantasy and sci-fi genres. This month, I would like to share with you a Hugo-Award winner, The Fifth Season,* by N.K. Jemisin.

Why You Should Read: The Fifth Season | Dany Chan

Why You Should Read: The Fifth Season

My Top 3 (Reasons to Read This Book):

  • unique world

    • The Stillness is a land rocked by catastrophic quakes and tremors with which a vengeful Father Earth punishes the inhabitants.
  • refreshing story

    • This is the way the world ends...for the last time. How cool is THAT premise?!
  • roguish characters

    • The heroine and her love interest are morally ambiguous, mischievous, don't like people much, and have great heart...I secretly wish that I can be like this in real life.

Let's chat!

What awesome book would you recommend?

What is your favorite genre(s)?

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.