Daily Archives: August 20, 2010

Books Read in China


My husband is usually the avid reader out of the two of us; I prefer to pour over anthropological theory and ethnographies and then just rest my brain in my spare time. But in China this summer, I’ve already accomplished more free reading than I do in an entire school year, and I’m eager to share some of the books I’ve been enjoying:

1. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See: My mother-in-law gave me this book for Christmas, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it all year! I actually read this book before I left for China, but it was an exhilarating read about two sisters who come of age during the Japanese occupation in Shanghai, and then relocate to the United States and spend the rest of their lives in Chinatown in San Francisco. It wasn’t the most beautifully written, but it was a page turner. Early on in our trip to Nanjing this summer, Evan and I traveled with an eighty-six year-old woman who was born on the island of Hainan and had to evacuate Shanghai, which was bombed by the Japanese, just like in the book.

2. Peony in Love by Lisa See: This novel was a fantasy-like take on another one of the cities we traveled to this summer, Hangzhou, and it dabbled in the history of women who pined after their lovers, starving themselves to death, and hoping they would return to haunt the earth as hungry ghosts. I found the story captivating, beautiful, and mysterious, also a healthy history lesson on the Hangzhou area; Lisa See seems to put a great amount of research into each of her books.

3. Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost: I actually gave this one to Evan for Christmas, and then stole it from him when I was out of books and in between chapters as we were traveling from Hangzhou to Nanning! This is an average guy’s experience of traveling through China, but I found it a really, funny quick read, and would be great for anyone coming to visit. Would also make for a good book on cd to listen to I think.

4. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar: I swapped the Lost on Planet China book for this one at the Western store in Nanning, and I think it was an excellent trade. Umrigar’s novel is about two women of completely different classes and lives whose stories get thread together in compelling, yet tragic ways. I think she has a real gift in creating honest, flawed, and believeable characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

5. Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God by J. David Muyskens: This is my current devotional that leads a newbie through the practice of Centering Prayer. It was given to me by a dear friend, with whom I have practiced Centering Prayer, and it is approachable, insightful, and simple. I look forward to reading it each day.

Now, I’m going have to head over to the Western store to make another exchange soon, or resort to stealing my husband’s books again.