Joining the China Challenge

I’ve decided that I do not currently participate in enough challenges (note the sarcasm) and so I am joining the China Challenge, hosted by Jennie of Biblio File. I came across this challenge through Eva’s blog A Striped Armchair and when I thought about it I noticed that I actually have four books on China on my bookshelves, waiting to be read. Thus, it wasn’t all that hard to decide what books I want to read for this challenge. I am still looking for a good non-fiction book on China and I could do with some more fiction-recommendations as well. I am joining the Fast Train to Shanghai level, which has the following rules:

Read 5 books about China before september 2010
1 should be a translated work of fiction by a Chinese author (or not translated if you have the language skills.) I will make exceptions for Chinese authors that also write in English– their English works are fine.
1 should be nonfiction

I’m thinking that I’d like to participate on some of the activities mentioned for the Silk Road Trek (for example, reading a Chinese blog, watch a Chinese movie, eat Chinese food, etc), but I know I won’t be able to read 10 books on China this year. So I might just cheat and report on these activities anyway.

The books that I have selected for now are:

  • Red Dust by Ma Jian: A book about a journey through China by the author. I picked this book up a few years ago at a book sale. It’s part of the Vintage books “Take Your Imagination East” series. [Finished Reading 04/07/10: Read Review]
  • Miss Chopsticks by Xinran: Another booksale buy. Part of the blurb is the fascinating sentence: “Women, their father tells them, are like chopsticks: utilitarian and easily broken.” I think I could read this for the Women Unbound Challenge as well, but we’ll see. [Finished reading 03/24/10: Read Review]
  • Becoming Madam Mao by Anchee Min: This has been on my shelves for forever, I don’t even remember when or where I got it from. I’ve never read it, because the size of the book makes me hesitant to pick it up. I think this book will be the hardest to actually start reading for this challenge.
  • Wu. The Chinese Empress Who Schemed, Seduced and Murdered Her Way to Become a Living God by Jonathan Clements: This might be my non-fiction pick for this challenge, although I might want to read more non-fiction about China this year. It’s advertised as “the true story of the first and only woman in Chinese history to become ruling emperor’. Something about this line tells me that this might be a rather too-popular non-fiction read. Actually, I bought it thinking that it would be a fiction book. But there are some notes at the end of the book, so let’s just say I’m curious to see what I’ll think of it when I’ve read it.

I have a copy of Wild Swans by Jung Chang waiting to be reread on my shelves. I remember how I loved this book when I was a fourteen-year-old, but I’m thinking that I might want to add a book that I haven’t read already.

Do you have any recommendations on books I might like to read about or related to China?

10 responses to “Joining the China Challenge

  1. Oh, I have some nonfic recs for you! All of the nonfic books that I’ve read for the challenge have been awesome, so…

    if you want a book about China in general written by an American who lives there, try any of Peter Hessler’s books or The Last Days of Old Beijing by Michael Meyer. They’re both all about talking to everyday Chinese people and really giving the reader a feel for life in changing China.

    If you enjoy more foodie-type nonfiction, Serve the People by Jen Lin-Liu (a Chinese American living in China) was awesome.

    And if you want to read nonfiction by a Chinese authors, The Long March: The True History of Communist China’s Founding Myth by Sun Shuyun was really good. She has another book, a travelogue, that I want to read soon!

    Also, not to be awkward or anything, but my name is Eva not Amy. hehe

    • Oh, I knew it was Eva, but I was browsing another blog at the same time by someone called Amy and I must’ve mixed it up. Sorry about that. I feel awkward now.

      Thanks for all the suggestions. Those all sound really interesting. Maybe I should sign up for 10 books? No, I’ll never finish before september that way.

  2. sounds like a interesting challenge ,not ready many chinese books myself

  3. I second Eva’s recommendation for The Long March. I read it back in December and found it to be a very interesting read.

  4. A book I read recently is “Message From an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love”, Xinran, 2010. I found it very moving and although it’s a powerful book, it’s a fairly quick read, so if you’re pressed for time it may be one to consider.

  5. I love Chinese books so am tempted by this challenge. I’m planning to read some Xinran soon and The Vagrants which is also in my TBR pile sounds fantastic. It looks as though you have a great list there already – enjoy!

  6. Pingback: The Struggle of the Miss “Chopsticks” « Candles and a Cup of Tea

  7. Pingback: The Strength of the Miss "Chopsticks" « Iris on Books

  8. Pingback: Red Dust by Ma Jian « Iris on Books

  9. Pingback: April Wrap-Up & May Reading Plans « Iris on Books

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