Road Trip Reading List

Many of you have written asking for a list of the 11 books I mentioned in the last post, that the four of us knocked off on our road trip. Here it is. I will leave it to you to figure out who read what!

A Man Called Ove: A Novel, by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove: A Novel

A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow: Book 3 Part 1 of a Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow: Book 3 Part 1 of a Song of Ice and Fire

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, by Michael Meyer

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China

Myself a Mandarin (Oxford in Asia Paperbacks), by Austin Coates

Myself a Mandarin (Oxford in Asia Paperbacks)

Of Earth and Sea: Laughter and Tears, by Roy Dwyer

Laugh_Tears_grande

OLD HARBOURS: A Fisherman’s Legacy, by Roy Dwyer

OLD HARBOURS: A Fisherman's Legacy

Old Harbors: The Turn of the Tide, by Roy Dwyer

Turn_Tide_grande

The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments, by Andy Bannister

The Atheist Who Didn't Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: A Novel, by Wayne Johnston

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: A Novel

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale

Orphan Train, by Kristina Baker Kline

Orphan Train

Happy Reading!

Farewell to a Great Story-teller

One of my favorite American authors, Pat Conroy, passed away on Friday. Here’s how NPR reported it:

Pat Conroy, the beloved author of The Great SantiniThe Lords of Discipline and The Prince of Tides, has died. Conroy — who announced last month that he had pancreatic cancer — died Friday night at his home among his family in Beaufort, S.C. He was 70 years old.

Pat Conroy was a master storyteller, blending the raw material of his difficult family life with the landscape of coastal South Carolina. In 1986, Conroy told me that the reason he wrote was to explain his own life to himself.

If you haven’t read his books, yet, I highly recommend them. These are my favorites:

The Prince of Tides: A Novel

The Prince of Tides: A Novel

The Water Is Wide: A Memoir

The Water Is Wide: A Memoir

Beach Music: A Novel

Beach Music: A Novel

Related Posts:

Four Days, Four Books

My Favorite China History Books

Shanghai Books

A Book for Today

A Book for St. Patrick’s Day

Farewell to a China Hand

Reading Up on South Africa

Books: The Last Five and the Next Five

In a slight variation of the “books I read this year” type post, here are 2 lists: the last five books I read in 2015, and the first five books I intend to read in 2016.

The Last Five (starting from most recent)

Looming Transitions: Starting and finishing well in cross-cultural service, by Amy Young

Looming Transitions: Starting and finishing well in cross-cultural service

This one was written by my good friend and former teammate in China. Three years ago we were sitting in a Starbucks in Beijing talking about books that were bouncing around in our head, and I commented that I’d have to kill myself is she published hers before I published mine. Don’t worry; that’s not a promise I intend to keep. If you have, are, or will be making a transition, then this book is for you!

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia–and How It Died, by Philip Jenkins

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died

I love all things Middle East and Central Asia and Church History, and here they all are in one book!

The Little Book of the Icelanders: 50 miniature essays on the quirks and foibles of the Icelandic people, by Alda Sigmundsdottir

The Little Book of the Icelanders: 50 miniature essays on the quirks and foibles of the Icelandic people

I read this on my flight to Reykjavik earlier this month, which means I chuckled all the way. If you’re headed to Iceland for any reason, this is a fun little primer.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

What can I say? It’s a bittersweet novel set in Seattle as the Japanese were being rounded up and sent to internment camps.

China’s Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden (Series: Studies in Chinese Christianity), by Brent Fulton

China's Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden (Series: Studies in Chinese Christianity)

This was written by my colleague at ChinaSource. If you want to have your perceived notions of the church in China challenged, read this!

The Next Five

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

This one just sounds so interesting!

The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels, by Janet Soskice

The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels

This one is in keeping with my interest in all things middle east and Central Asia! It also comes highly recommended by my brother-in-law and niece.

Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers, by Simon Winchester

Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers

With a subtitle like that, how can it be anything but a great book? Also, as a general rule, anything written by Simon Winchester is worth reading.

The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance, by David Herlihy

The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance

In 1880, a cyclist set out to ride around the world and disappeared somewhere in Turkey. Sounds like a fantastic story!

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, by Michael Meyer

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China

I lived in Manchuria (northeast China) for 8 years, so there’s no way I cannot read this book. Besides, the author is a fellow Minnesotan!

What are you reading these days?

Related Posts:

Four Days, Four Books

Books to Read in 2014

My Favorite China History Books

Shanghai Books

Three More Books

Road Trip Reading

Reading Up on South Africa

Iceland Reading

When I travel, especially to new places, I like to read up on the places I am visiting. Since I’m headed to Iceland today for a short visit (IcelandAir had a package deal that was too good to pass up), here’s whats on my kindle for the trip:

Iceland, Defrosted, by Edward Hancox

Iceland, Defrosted

The Little Book of the Icelanders: 50 miniature essays on the quirks and foibles of the Icelandic people, by Alda Sigmundsdottir

The Little Book of the Icelanders: 50 miniature essays on the quirks and foibles of the Icelandic people

A Girl’s Ride in Iceland, by Mrs. (Ethel) Alec-Tweedie

A Girl's Ride in Iceland

Watch this space for my own stories and photos.

Related Posts: 

Four Days, Four Books

Road Trip Reading

A Book for Today

In light of today’s date (June 4), allow me to recommend a book: The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, by Louisa Lim.

The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited

From the Amazon description:

On June 4, 1989, People’s Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people. A quarter-century later, this defining event remains buried in China’s modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People’s Republic of Amnesia, Louisa Lim charts how the events of June 4th changed China, and how China changed the events of June 4th by rewriting its own history.

It’s one of the best books I’ve read, not just about the events of that day, but of the subsequent campaign to make sure it is forgotten. Having lived in China for most of the 26 years since then, I have to say the campaign has largely been successful.

Five Women Explorers in Tibet

On Top of the World: Five Women Explorers in Tibet

I’m a sucker for a good travel book, and I’m loving this book my friend and fellow traveller Noel gave me for my birthday. Here’s an excerpt from the flap:

In the late 1800’s, when women were laced into layer upon layer of cumbersome clothing and bound by strict Victorian morals, a small band of astonishing women explorers and travelers burst forth to claim for themselves the adventurous life. Among them were the five dauntless women who are the subject of this book: three British — Nina Mazuchelli, Annie Taylor and Isabella Bird Bishop; one American — Fanny Bullock Workman; and one French — Alexandra David-Neel. Some other some were drawn to Arabia, Africa and the Gobi Desert; but the magnet that drew these five women from the comfort and safety of home was Tibet. Tibet was the final impenetrable mystery, the ultimate in exploration.

 

A Book for St. Patrick’s Day

If you haven’t done so already, today would be a great day to start reading How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, by Thomas Cahill.

How the Irish Saved Civilization Publisher: Anchor; Anchor Books ed edition

 Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

The perfect St. Patrick’s Day gift, and a book in the best tradition of popular history — the untold story of Ireland’s role in maintaining Western culture while the Dark Ages settled on Europe.

Every year millions of Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but they may not be aware of how great an influence St. Patrick was on the subsequent history of civilization. Not only did he bring Christianity to Ireland, he instilled a sense of literacy and learning that would create the conditions that allowed Ireland to become “the isle of saints and scholars” — and thus preserve Western culture while Europe was being overrun by barbarians.

In this entertaining and compelling narrative, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. Without Ireland, the transition could not have taken place. Not only did Irish monks and scribes maintain the very record of Western civilization — copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost — they brought their uniquely Irish world-view to the task.

As Cahill delightfully illustrates, so much of the liveliness we associate with medieval culture has its roots in Ireland. When the seeds of culture were replanted on the European continent, it was from Ireland that they were germinated.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Four Days, Four Books

I’m safely ensconced in a warm condo along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The fire place is on (switch-operated) and outside the temperature is 2 (!), with a howling wind. It’s a perfect reading getaway!

I may not succeed at knocking all four of these books off in the next four days, but I’m going to try:

China 1921: The Travel Guide, by Carl Crow and Paul French

China 1921: The Travel Guide

From Amazon:

“Set the time machine for China, the year 1921. Experience first-hand the Middle Kingdom’s Golden Age of Travel, a time when steamships and railways had opened up new possibilities for the adventurous sojourner, yet the country had “lost none of its unique charm” and remained “as interesting and strange as it was to Europeans who more than five hundred years ago read Marco Polo’s amazing account of the land of the Great Khan.”

This Camphor Press book is a specially abridged version of the original The Travelers’ Handbook for China by Shanghai-based American newsman Carl Crow. It comes with maps, illustrations, and has a new introduction from Paul French (Carl Crow biographer and author of the true crime bestseller Midnight in Peking).”

Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa, by Michael Totten

Tower of the Sun: Stories From the Middle East and North Africa

From Amazon:

Prize-winning author Michael J. Totten’s gripping first-person narratives from the war zones, police states, and revolutionary capitals of the Middle East and North Africa paint a vivid picture of peoples and nations at war with themselves, each other, and—sometimes—with the rest of the world.

His journeys take him from Libya under the gruesome rule of Muammar Qaddafi to Egypt before, during and after the Arab Spring; from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights in Syria on the eve of that country’s apocalyptic civil war to a camp on the Iran-Iraq border where armed revolutionaries threaten to topple the Islamic Republic regime in Tehran; from the contested streets of conflict-ridden Jerusalem to dusty outposts in the Sahara where a surreal conflict few have even heard of simmers long after it should have expired; and from war-torn Beirut and Baghdad to a lonely town in central Tunisia that seeded a storm of revolution and war that spread for thousands of miles in every direction.

Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia, by David Greene

Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia

From Amazon:

Far away from the trendy cafés, designer boutiques, and political protests and crackdowns in Moscow, the real Russia exists.

Midnight in Siberia chronicles David Greene’s journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a 6,000-mile cross-country trip from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. In quadruple-bunked cabins and stopover towns sprinkled across the country’s snowy landscape, Greene speaks with ordinary Russians about how their lives have changed in the post-Soviet years.

Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church, by Michael A.G. Haykin

Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church

From Amazon:

While the church today looks quite different than it did two thousand years ago, Christians share the same faith with the church fathers. Although separated by time and culture, we have much to learn from their lives and teaching.

What are you reading this Thanksgiving weekend?