Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and I don’t discriminate at all when it comes to books. I love to read all the genres. I love the classics (Jane Eyre is one of the best). In high school and college, I went through legal thriller years with John Grisham novels, and a vampire/gothic obsession phase with Anne Rice novels (I still think Interview with the Vampire is one of the best novels of all time). Later on, I went on to read great love stories from Nicholas Sparks and laugh out loud at Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic. I also have a constant love for non-fiction and biographies of famous historical figures.

Since I’ve been in China, I now find myself gravitating towards memoirs or novels with a little piece of Chinese history in them. It just adds to the atmosphere of being in China and helps me learn certain intricate details from this enormous country’s 5,000 year history and culture. 

Here’s what’s been in my library lately:

LOST ON PLANET CHINA by J. Maarten Troost

This funny travelogue on globe trotter, J. Maarten Troost’s three-month expedition and hilarious adventures around China in 2007 captures the true meaning of “culture shock”, the feeling of extreme confusion and wonder that almost any Westerner entering China for the first time abruptly faces when encountering a culture so opposite theirs in every imaginable way. Troost travels through China’s famous cities and historical sites, including an expedition through the mountainous region of Western China. At times scathing and perhaps a wee bit exaggerated in his observations of modern China, his stories and experiences are still sprinkled with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. 


From bestselling author Lisa See, this novel is a tale of two beautiful and modern sisters, Pearl and May, in 1937 pre-war Shanghai whose lives take a sudden twist of fate which eventually lead them to leave Shanghai for 1930s Los Angeles. There, they encounter life’s hardships, old rivalries, tough choices and many uncovered secrets which test their friendship and sisterly bond through an incredible journey for the next 20 years. 

Of course, being in China, I have to have continuous back up in learning the language. Here are some life savers!


This handy guide to basic Mandarin phrases is so easy to read and understand. The phrases are extremely useful and can be used everyday. I love this book so much; I even bought the bigger one (with more detailed aspects of learning Mandarin).

My favorite phrase when trying to save people
from my awful voice at a karaoke (a constant pastime here):
"Wo buyao chang ge!" Never works though.
Karaoke in China is inescapable.
MANDARIN by Lonely Planet Phrasebooks

This tiny pocket book has helped me in so many countless situations. It has almost everything you need to know on learning basic Mandarin. 

The best part? The 3,500 word dictionary at the back

Happy reading!!