For your leisure-time reading and viewing, Clarity Magazine recommends the following books and movies:


Mao’s Last Dancer

by Li Cunxin

In his best selling autobiography, Mao’ s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin, (pronounced “Lee Schwin Sing”) recounts the perseverance, vision, courage, hard work, and sacred family values he learned in poverty-stricken China, which drove him to become one of one of China’s greatest dancers. In 1979 his efforts won him an opportunity to study in America. He later defected to the United States and went on to become one of the world’s greatest dancers.

First published in 2003, this autobiography has won numerous literary awards. Now in its 50th printing, the book has been translated into several foreign languages and is sold in over 30 countries worldwide. (See below for a movie based on this book)

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden, first published in 1911, is an inspiring classic of children’s literature and a book to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Using the garden on a country English estate as the central motif, the book beautifully depicts the miraculous healing power inherent in Nature and in all loving, nurturing human relationships. (See below for a movie based on this book.)

My Stroke of Insight

by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD

In My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor, a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist, shares her unique experience of suffering a massive stroke that shut down the left hemisphere of her brain while opening her to the joy, wonder, and sense of oneness of her right brain. Offering her first hand experience and professional insight into how the brain functions, Bolte’s remarkable story of her own eight-year recovery is a deeply inspiring confirmation of the truth that deep peace and joy are accessible to everyone.

How God Changes Your Brain

by Andrew Newberg, MD and Mark Robert Waldman

This recently published easy-to-read book explores the relationship between spirituality and neuroscience. Stimulating and provocative, the authors conclude that meditation and other spiritual practices permanently strengthen specific parts of the brain that help lower anxiety and depression, enhance social awareness and empathy, improve cognitive function, and promote the development of the spiritual qualities such as love, compassion, and deep inner peace. (See interview of Dr. Peter Van Houten based on this book in Clarity Magazine, Spring 2011.)

The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

by Jane S. Smith

The Garden of Invention, published in 2009, is a lively and well-researched biography of Luther Burbank, the celebrated pioneer in plant cultivation, who initiated a revolution in agricultural science by developing over 800 new varieties of fruits, nuts, vegetables and flowers for home gardens and commercial farming. Colorful and engrossing in its depiction of Burbank’s long and productive life, this book is of special interest to anyone interested in gardening, science or the development of agriculture in the United States.


The Keys of the Kingdom, 1944

An American film based on the 1941 novel of the same name by A.J. Cronin. This is the inspiring story of a young Scottish priest, Father Chisholm, who is assigned to establish a Catholic mission in China. He encounters isolation, hostility, disease, poverty and a variety of set backs which both humble him and make him more determined than ever to succeed. Through his quiet determination, understanding, and patience, he gradually gains acceptance and a growing congregation among the Chinese. Available on DVD.

Rated PG (no gratuitous violence, sex, or profanity)

Winged Migration, 2001

This movie is a breathtakingly beautiful documentary that showcases the amazing yearly migration of several species of migratory birds including storks, pelicans, Canadian Geese and the Artic Tern. Using sweeping and often vast scenarios, the film offers a bird’s eye view of the migratory experience without resorting to “special effects.” Filmed over the course of four years on all seven continents. A birdwatchers delight!

Available on DVD & Blu-ray. Rated: G

Secretariat, 2010

Secretariat is the remarkable true story of Penny Chenery, housewife and mother, who became the unlikely owner of her ailing father’s thoroughbred racing stable. Despite her relative lack of horse-racing knowledge, Chenery manages to learn this male-dominated business and rises to prominence as the owner of Secretariat, the first Triple Crown winner in twenty-five years.  Available on DVD. Rated: PG (No sex, violence, or profanity)

The Secret Garden, 1993

This movie is an evocative adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved children’s novel.  (See book description above) Available: DVD; Rated G

Mao’s Last Dancer, 2009

This movie is based on the best-selling autobiography of Li Cunxin. (See book description above)  Available: DVD and Blu-ray

Rated PG (No gratuitous violence, sex or profanity)

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