My father is visiting me this week and that has made relook at China as a traveller. It is very easy to get sidetracked by life, to do lists, and my job and forget that I live someplace special. In that spirit I have made a reading list for China.
by Ha Jin
"I didn’t respond, knowing that some foreigners had their doubts about the Chinese, especially the elite and the educated among us. Most of those people were gone."
Why: I am interested in what happened in Nanjing during WWII but really don't know much about it. This one promises to be an emotional read.
by Zachary Mexico
"There’s a click, and the would-be handyman hangs up. The driver looks back at me quizzically. The garlic quotient of his breath has increased exponentially, and it’s somewhat alarming that he’s not looking at the road. A queasy, acidic feeling, born of halitosis and fear, begins to take hold in my gut."
Why: Because I have to jump through 100,00 hoops to get anything done on the internet and sometimes it just doesn't work.
China: Land of Dragons and Emperors
by Adeline Yen Mah
"Let’s start before recorded history in the mythical times when dragons were supposed to exist. They were said to have the eyes of a demon and the claws of an eagle."
Why: This is a children's history of China. Which means that I might just be able to handle it. Because OMG complicated.
Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage
by Kay Bratt
"Or the Chinese method, the outside of a high-rise building. They wrapped their legs around a rope while sitting on the paint bucket attached...”
Why: I am a sucker for an adoption/orphanage story.
When A Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind Or Destroy It
by Jonathan Watts
“There are few sharper contrasts in China between the desire to find harmony and the instinct to impose order.”
Why: One of the boys in my book club read this book last year and talked it up enough to where I have had it on my list ever since. Middle Schooler recs FTW. Also, the title is not a lie.
The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed
by Michael Meyer
"It is a typical morning in a typical Beijing hutong. The only thing exceptional is the weather, which is neither sweltering nor frigid, and the air unpolluted."
Why: I have been here for three years and even I have been able to witness the dramatic destruction of the old traditional neighborhoods. It is heartbreaking. On the one hand, indoor plumbing and heat are awesome. On the other a way of life is being lost.
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices
“Everybody says women are like water. I think it's because water is the source of life, and it adapts itself to its environment. Like women, water also gives of itself wherever it goes to nurture life....”
Why: I have already read this one. The Cultural Revolution has had a profound and lasting impact on China. Through anecdotes about women trying to live their lives through it, we start to see it's human face as well as the misogynistic attitudes that presented it. It is both fascinating and disturbing.