Books I’m Reading

Two great books lately, one fiction, one nonfiction.

Is anyone else reading this blog fascinated by China, or it just my peculiarity? This book is mesmerizing as both a glimpse of China during World War II and as a biography of the eccentric Cambridge scholar Joseph Needham. This man almost single-handedly revived the reputation of China’s huge accomplishments in science and technology in the eyes of the West. The book raises fascinating questions about China’s resistance to industrialization early on and the path it might take now that technology will be guiding its future course. Simon Winchester has a great gift for framing a nonfiction story. You must buy this book.

Fox Woman, by Kij Johnson. I’d always meant to read this book, and now I have. It is, simply put, amazing. She took a story of a fox who fell in love with a man and turned it into a dark and delightful journey into the psyches of three yearning individuals. This story will sweep you away or you have no heart. Add to that, she writes so well it makes lesser scribblers consider giving up. I thought I had a way with figurative language, but honestly, I must stop pretending! We really must all run out and start reading Kij Johnson.

5 Responses

  1. princejvstin says:

    Is anyone else reading this blog fascinated by China, or it just my peculiarity?

    I’ve read a couple of books on China by China Scholar Jonathan Spence. Does that count?

  2. Kay says:

    China books

    OK, OK, it counts. Recommend one?

  3. princejvstin says:

    Re: China books

    He has a number of good ones. I’ll choose three:

    The Search for Modern China is a one volume history of China from the Ming Dynasty(16th Century) to 1989. If you are looking for a general history of China for the last few centuries, this is the way to go.

    The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci tells the story of the Jesuit missionary who traveled to 16th century China and was transformed by the experience. Its a little more about him than China in general, but it weaves things together very well. This is the first Spence book I read.

    God’s Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan tells the story of the man who started the Taiping Rebellion in the 19th century. A strange and unusual man. (Spence seems to like to tell stories of China through characters such as Hong)

  4. Kay says:

    Re: China books

    Thank you! I’ve been hearing his name, and now will have to pick these up.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m absolutely fascinated by China – so much so that I lived there for a couple of years in the past. I have some wonderful memories (and some *decidedly* unpleasant ones) of those times. So, yeah, the place means a lot to me. Of course, the reality of life in China and the “romantic”, oriental allure of Chinese history are very different beasts.

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