Sonya Davidson may be the busiest person we know. She’s an active mom who attends as many as ten events a week as a culture writer for various publications.
Of course, “busy” isn’t the word she’d use. As a curious reader of the Dalai Lama’s books, she’s come to understand the importance of continually doing the things we love—no matter how hectic life can get—to help us grow and appreciate what’s around us.
We spent a day with Sonya (aka The Culture Pearl) at one her favourite places, the Art Gallery of Ontario, followed by an incredible meal in nearby Chinatown, to find out more about how reading has influenced her life.
10 am: The gallery isn’t open to the public for another hour, but I’ve come early—on invitation from the AGO’s publicity team—to check out the current Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard exhibition as well as some other great collections for a few stories I’m researching.
When I need a change of scenery, I actually can spend a day at the Art Gallery of Ontario or Royal Ontario Museum when my kids are at school. It’s so peaceful! I may find an interesting exhibit that inspires more reading. Over the past couple of years, I’ve looked up books on Basquiat, Ai Weiwei, and J.M.W. Turner. Today though, I’m reading the book that made Anthony Bourdain famous, Kitchen Confidential, on a recommendation from my husband.
If I have a bit of time, I’ll often take a break at a café, restaurant, or café.
11:00 am: After hitting a few excellent exhibitions, it’s time for a quick coffee break. I love the natural light in this spacious hall and can spend hours just being here.
11:30 am: With a bit of caffeine in my system, I head to another nearby gallery filled with fierce and fantastic modern pieces. A little secret about me… I also paint so I’m constantly in awe of the creativity of artists.
12:30 pm: The art is enthralling, but lunch is calling. The AGO just a five-minute walk from the heart of Chinatown (where I spent my childhood years!) so I’ll head to one of my favourite dim sum joints in the area.
If you’ve never walked around old Chinatown during the day, I highly recommend it! Playing tourist in your own city is always fun!
On the way to the restaurant, I pass by the place my father used to work. He retired 25 years ago, but the sign for his accounting business (the blue and white INCOME TAX sign) is still up!
1:00 pm: We’re here! My family is originally from the Southern parts of China and Hong Kong so Dim Sum has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember.
2:00 pm: Today was so inspiring and relaxing, but now it’s back to the real world. I’ll jump on the streetcar and head back home to pick up my kids from school. Then it’s off to another big event later tonight.
Sonya Davidson's Reading List:
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
- China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
- Daydreams of Angels by Heather O'Neill
- Lullabies for Criminals by Heather O'Neill
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- My Spiritual Journey by Dalai Lama