A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Summer Book Bingo: What Nicole Tsong’s Reading

We love getting a window into what our friends and community members are reading—and Summer Book Bingo, our free summer reading program with The Seattle Public Library, is our favorite way to spark those conversations. Download your card here. Engage with other bingo players and find out their own reading adventures by using the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media.

Below, our friend Nicole Tsong—fitness expert, author, and former Seattle Times columnist—tells us about her goal to read BIPOC authors this year, and one book in particular that’s made a lasting impression. (Bonus: this read is the perfect fit for your “Indigenous Author,” “Nature,” or “SAL Speaker” categories!)

By Nicole Tsong

My goal in 2020 was to read books written by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. It’s led me to incredible, insightful books and also has come in handy when trying to fill out my Book Bingo squares. I’m currently reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which I am putting into the “Nature” square, though it could easily be in the “Indigenous Author” category.

Braiding Sweetgrass has been on my list for some time, and right now feels like the perfect moment to delve deeply into an education from an Indigenous writer about plants, history, and Kimmerer’s own personal story.

The book, which starts with an Indigenous creation story about Skywoman, is a poetic intersection of nature, history, and culture as it has survived today. I am reading every chapter slowly, digesting the beauty of gathering strawberries, or mourning the choices by the government to put Indigenous kids in boarding schools, which cut them off from family, culture, language. I love Kimmerer’s poetic language, comparing home-tapped maple syrup to pouring summer sunshine on winter pancakes. That image will stay with me for many future breakfasts.

I am dedicated to moving my body in nature as much as possible, and Kimmerer’s writing reminded me the point is not to bust as fast as possible up a mountain trail, but that being outdoors is the time to slow down, to investigate plants, to consider what is growing alongside the trail and the potential symbiotic relationship between us. Rather than subscribe to the idea that people solely take advantage of nature, she encourages you to see how nature and humans contribute to each other.

I love her message, and know I will carry many elements of her teachings with me every time I am outside, whether it is hiking, working in my garden, or meandering through a city park.

Nicole Tsong, a fitness expert and former Fit for Life columnist for the Seattle Times, is the author of the forthcoming book, 24 Ways to Move More, from Mountaineers Books. She also is a work/life balance coach, supporting high-achieving women of color to find their calling. Find out more at

Posted in Summer Book Bingo2020/21 Season