Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jaime Kucinskas

Jaime Kucinskas is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College, and is also a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland – College Park from 2018-2019. Broadly speaking, her teaching and research interests center on the intersections of: the sociology of religion/spirituality, social movements, cultural and organizational change, elites, and inequality. In particular, she is fascinated by how people, even those with various privileges, can impact and yet be constrained by different institutions.

Her book The Mindful Elite: Mobilizing from the Inside Out, investigates how Buddhist modernist meditators transformed meditation in America into a mainstream practice embraced by esteemed secular organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, Ivy League schools, hospitals, the U.S. military, and K-12 schools.

Recently I asked Kucinskas about what she was reading. Her reply:
Around the holidays, one of my favorite things to do is to wander around a local bookstore and pick up a few books to get lost in over the break. This year, I have been enjoying reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming. She is an excellent writer, who reveals a process of self-growth familiar to so many women, people of color, and others, who slowly gain confidence and self-awareness over the years with the help of countless others supporting them along the way.

Another bookstore gem I devoured was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, which was a captivating multi-generational fictional account of a Korean family that lived in Japan during the Second World War. While Lee’s book opens with beautiful descriptive prose, she leaves you with a sense of awe for how dramatically Korean and Japanese history changed during the 20th century and how those living through it adapted to survive. The book also opened my eyes to how ethnic prejudice and discrimination pervaded the lives of Koreans in Japan during that time period.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was another gripping, dark novel which kept me up at night, but I could not put down. The book tracks the downward spiral of a young boy’s life after a traumatic bombing at an art museum, where he loses his mother and spontaneously steals a priceless painting.

Lastly I’ll mention another bookstore find: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan. I’m not much of a mystery reader typically, but as a lover of bookstores and high quality writing, I really enjoyed this book and its surprising twists.
Visit Jaime Kucinskas's website.

--Marshal Zeringue