It’s a new year, and after a break I’m firing this blog back up. One of the things I’ve been working on in the hiatus is this:
Watch for details next week!
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 Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow: Book 3 Part 1 of a Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
Myself a Mandarin (Oxford in Asia Paperbacks), by Austin Coates
Of Earth and Sea: Laughter and Tears, by Roy Dwyer
OLD HARBOURS: A Fisherman’s Legacy, by Roy Dwyer
Old Harbors: The Turn of the Tide, by Roy Dwyer
The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments, by Andy Bannister
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: A Novel, by Wayne Johnston
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
Orphan Train, by Kristina Baker Kline
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 Santini, The 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:
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)
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!
I love all things Middle East and Central Asia and Church History, and here they all are in one book!
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
What can I say? It’s a bittersweet novel set in Seattle as the Japanese were being rounded up and sent to internment camps.
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
This one just sounds so interesting!
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.
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.
In 1880, a cyclist set out to ride around the world and disappeared somewhere in Turkey. Sounds like a fantastic story!
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?
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
A Girl’s Ride in Iceland, by Mrs. (Ethel) Alec-Tweedie
Watch this space for my own stories and photos.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!