Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Books to Read If You Love to Hear About China

       

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week's topic is
Books to Read If You Love/Loved X
(Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.)

I love so many different genres that I really had no idea where to start. So I thought I will begin at the beginning. My very first "adult" book was "Peony" by Pearl S. Buck. I have read many more books by her but it will always be one of my favourites. However, if you loved any of her books (and I only mention the most famous ones) or if you like to read about China, you will also love any of the other books on my list.

Buck, Pearl S. "Peony" - 1948
Nobel Prize 1938
Peony is a young servant (almost a slave) in a rich Chinese Jewish household. Her love to the son of the family cannot result in anything as traditional rules don't allow a marriage between them.

Buck, Pearl S. "East Wind: West Wind" - 1930
Pearl S. Buck explains the life in China during her lifetime like no one else, she explains the Chinese way almost in parables.
This work is about the divide between the East and the West, lots of explanations about the different kind of life in the two different continents.
The biggest subject of the novel is the custom of arranging marriages.

Buck, Pearl S. "The Good Earth" - 1931
The first volume in the "Good Earth Trilogy", the second one is "Sons", the third "A House Divided". The description of all sorts of people in pre-revolutionary China is really interesting.

Cao, Xueqin "Dream of the Red Chamber/The Story of the Stone" (CHN: 红楼梦/Hung lou meng) - 1717-63
Apparently, this novel is "one of the four pinnacles of classical Chinese literature".
Also known as "The Story of the Stone", it is said to be the first Chinese novel of this kind and has created an entire field of study "Redology".
The novel has semi-autobiographical sides, it is said that it shows not just the rise and fall of the author's family but also that of the Qing Dynasty.
The book is one of the "101 Best Selling Books of All Time".

Chang, Jung "Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China" - 1991
Apparently, this is the biggest grossing non-fiction paperback in publishing history. The real story of a grandmother (who was born at the beginning of the last century, when girls in China still had their feet bound), mother and daughter, it really is a story of her family, the story of her people. The author manages to show what a lot of other fiction and non-fiction writers have not achieved, a true story of how people lived in Communist China.


Dai, Sijie "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" (F: Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse Chinoise) - 2002
A great story about the Chinese Cultural Revolution in its later years. Two boys from an educated family are sent to a village for re-education. Through the stories of Balzac (whose books they find and steal), they get to know and fall in love with a village girl who is known as the Little Seamstress.

Gao, Xingjian "Soul Mountain" (CHN: 灵山, língshān) - 1989
A biography, a search for someone's soul in a world where the individual means nothing. The author challenges you to try to understand his ways, his culture's ways. And by accompanying him on his search for Soul Mountain at the source of the You River, you can find a lot about yourself, as well.

Mo, Yan "Red Sorghum" (CHN: 红高粱家族  Hóng gāoliang jiāzú) - 1987
Nobel Prize 2012

The story takes place during the second Sino-Japanese war between 1937 and 1945. The narrator tells the story of his ancestors, mainly that of his father, who was a teenager at the time, and his grandfather and grandmother. As in most war stories, there is a lot of brutality in the book, the author has a very picturesque way of describing the atrocities committed by both parties. But he doesn't just talk about the war, we also get to know the way people used to live in the eastern part of China at the time.

Orth, Stephan "Couchsurfing in China: Encounters and Escapades Beyond the Great Wall" aka "High Tech and Hot Pot: Revealing Encounters Inside the Real China" (Couchsurfing in China. Durch die Wohnzimmer der neuen Supermacht) - 2019
Through the author's travels, we can take a little glimpse into the life of normal people in China. Although, most hosts are probably not completely representative, after all, they are very social and offer total strangers a roof over their head and a bed to sleep in, guide them through their city and talk about their lives, the average citizen probably doesn't do that in any country.
But that way, we read about giant cities that are bigger than the largest European cities that you had never heard of before.

See, Lisa "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" - 2005
Lily and her friend Snow Flower are destined to be "laotong" (according to their horoscope), we would probably say BFFs (best friends forever) today. She tells us all about her life in her native family, her married family, her friendship with Snow Flower, her life during the Taiping Rebellion, her roles as daughter, wife, mother, friend.

Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Whispering Shadows" (The Rising Dragon #1) (GE: Das Flüstern der Schatten) - 2007
This novel by German journalist Jan-Philipp Sender is the first in "The Rising Dragon trilogy". It gives an insight into today's China of which we still know far too little. The author reports about the grief of a man who has lost his son. And he talks about the slow healing after a heavy blow.
The book is both philosophic and informative.

Can you add any other books that fit into this category?

36 comments:

  1. My mom recommended The Good Earth, and it's a book that has always stuck with me. I also loved Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. I shall look for Couchsurfing in China.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great, Deb. It is completely different from most of the other books but the author really has a great insight into a country we really know so little about.

      Delete
  2. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan has been on my TBR for a while so it's nice to see it on this list! I remember reading Wild Swans years ago and enjoying that too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you will also enjoy Snow Flower, Dini. I love reading about other cultures, even if I don*t always approve of their customs.

      Delete
  3. I haven't read any of these. I should branch out and give one a try. I've wanted to read Snow Flower for a while now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a great book, Deanna. It shows the way women were treated but also, how they held together.

      Delete
  4. Excellent list! Last year, I read a crime thriller set in northern China and was absolutely fascinated by it.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds interesting, Aymee. Would you tell us the title?

      Delete
    2. Of course! It was Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg and there is supposed to be a sequel soon.

      Delete
    3. I thought I'd heard the name and checked, it's also published under "City of Ice" and that's what I'd heard. Probably another book with the same title in whatever country.

      Any, thanks for letting us know, Aymee.

      Delete
  5. You have some amazing books. Pearl Black was always a favorite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa. Mine, as well. She was my first "adult" writer and probably has influenced my interest in foreign cultures more than I could ever imagine.

      Delete
  6. I haven’t read any of these, but they look very interesting.

    Happy TTT!
    Lori
    https://fiftytwo.blog/2021/11/15/ttt-if-you-like/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lori, I have always liked reading about other cultures and China belongs to those countries we know very little about.

      Delete
  7. Interesting list! I think I have a book of Chinese fairytales around here somewhere, but I haven't read many books set there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooh, Chinese fairytales are also lovely, Aj. I remember reading them when I was a lot younger.

      Delete
  8. This is an interesting list. The only books you've mentioned that I've heard of are the one by Pearl S. Buck, though I haven't read them. I really should branch out a little more.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!
    https://readbakecreate.com/bookish-gift-guide-stocking-stuffer-edition/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great that you're interested, Pam. It's always nice to read more different books, so I hope you will enjoy one or two of them.

      Delete
  9. Great list! I haven't read any of these yet, but I would love to read more about China.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a highly interesting subject, Lindsey. I'm sure you'll find some that you really like.

      Delete
  10. This was a great take on today's topic! I didn't think of a specific place, but that's fun. Here is my link: https://cindysbookcorner.blogspot.com/2021/11/top-ten-tuesday-new-authors.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cindy. I first thought of a specific genre but had done some in the near past, so wanted something different.

      Delete
  11. I'm always interested in learning more about China so these look nice. East Wind West Wind jumps out at me.

    Interesting too about Couchsurfing and the size of some of those cities. I feel like we in the West (generally, not everyone) know so LITTLE about China.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so true, Greg. And it has a huge influence on our lives, so we better start getting more information. ;)

      But, honestly, I have enjoyed all those books just because they are about another culture than the one I'm accustomed to.

      Delete
  12. What a great list! The only Pearl S. Buck book I ever read was the one she wrote about Korea...I really need to try some of her other books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Lark, she grew up in China, so knows a lot about it. Mind you, things have changed but it's still great to read her books.

      Delete
  13. I first read "The Good Earth" in high school. Still have my copy, tho it's a little dog-eared by now! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is always a good sign, Kristine. Did it inspire you to read other books by her and/or about China?

      Delete
  14. Can you believe I've never read anything by Pearl S. Buck? Sad, I know! I have enjoyed books by Lisa See. SNOWFLOWER is my favorite of the ones I've read.

    Happy TTT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course I can, Susan. There are so many authors, we can't possibly read a book by every single one of them. But she has written lots of books about China, so if you are interested in that subject, you can hardly avoid her.

      Delete
  15. Fabulous list Marianne! The only one I've read is Snowflower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looks like that is one of the most popular ones, Carol. That and a Pearl S. Buck book.

      Delete
  16. Replies
    1. If I didn't prepare the next post now, I'd forget it half the time, Sarah. And you can always re-use the theme another time.

      Delete
  17. Couchsurfing in China is an intriguing book title!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not just an intriguing title, it's also an intriguing book, Lisa. And he has couch-surfed in other countries, Russia, China, Saudi-Arabia. I've only read two of them, this one and the one about Russia but I will read them all.

      Delete