Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer Reading Review

Summer is now over, and I read about what I expected to read. I made myself take in a few tougher reads and then I read a bunch about China and some other Asian counties in lieu of my trip over the ocean in July.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
I started off with Lisa See's famous novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It was an easy read and a fun novel about two girls in China who are linked in a cultural arrangement to be to be lifelong friends. Lisa See has done her research and discovered that in a certain area of China, a sort of code of symbols was been developed for communication between Chinese women and was unknown to men. The book shows the life of women in this period of Chinese history - the foot binding, isolation, complete submission to your mother-in-law, etc. It was fascinating. I was a little frustrated with a sexual encounter between the two little friends - I feel like that's reading what our society things would happen in an intimate friendship into a culture where there is no evidence of such things.

Shanghai Girls: A Novel by Lisa See
I also just finished Shanghai Girls, also by Lisa See. I liked this book better, actually, though I don't believe it's as popular as Snow Flower. It follows the sisters Pearl and May from a wealthy life in modernizing Shanghai through the invasion of the Japanese, their escape from China, detention in an immigration facility in California, arranged marriages in LA, and into the family dynamics of Chinese immigrants in an America that is unfriendly as the Communist threat rises.

The Children of Huang Shi

It just so happened that while reading Shanghai Girls, the movie The Children of Huang Shi came in on our blockbuster.com video rental list, which begins in the same setting, in the foreign section of Shanghai as the Japanese invade. It was a good movie (although I may or may not have fallen asleep in the middle - I swear that's just me and has nothing to do with how good or bad a movie is) that is based on the true story of a Western journalist who let a group of orphans away from the Japanese threat. Reminded me again just how great (and sobering) the documentary Nanking was.

Anyways, back to books. I also read East of the Sun by Julie Gregson. Yet another book focusing on the lives of a few women - this one followed three British girls on their way to India just as India begins pushing for independence. I tend to like books about non-Western culture better, but this book was interesting because it addressed the lives of expatriates who adjust and immerse themselves in the local culture in varying levels. I really identified with one girl who was raised in India and returned to Britain for boarding school. Most of the book was pretty light and somewhat shallow, but the author really wrote the emotions and struggles of a third culture kid well, and I sympathized with her deeply at times.

On the American side of things, I read

I'm missing one book that I left in China, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Oh well!

On my other blog I reviewed the two heavier books I tackled:
Amusing Ourselves to Death
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

and ... I finally finished
The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative by Christopher Wright.
You can click on the links to read my thoughts on those two.

I'm currently stuck on Beth Moore's book about insecurity. I thought I'd like it and it would hit home but yet again... I really struggle to connect personally with her writing and so I keep putting off reading it!

1 comment:

mamaayanna said...

Thanks for all these book afvices/ movie link! great!

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