Tag Archives: book reviews

Kim’s Expat Reading List

Photo by moriza, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license.

Greetings from the island of Taiwan, which in the last few months, has gone from balmy in temperature to downright tropical!  What is there to do, then, when the days get exceedingly hot and more humid, but to go inside, crank up the A/C, and read a good book?  (Note: going to our local outdoor pool and taking a nice long swim also helps.)

As classes and events at Zheng Da have ended for the year, and my research has evolved– turning south to Silai (Siluo/Xiluo/西螺) and to interviewing important historians and figures in the history I’m writing about–my daily routine has changed drastically. Sometimes I spend the days interviewing people, traveling, reading research that I’ve gathered, or just writing. I’ve also spent more and more time reading– both for research, and for pleasure. And I’ve found some books that really resonate with the “expat experience,” and with my expat experience.

So here is the guide to Kim’s Expat Reading List from the last 10 months, with books grouped by category, or perhaps more accurately, “mood” to read in. Continue reading

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I Want to Dream in Chinese!

Image published in the New York Times with book review of "Dreaming in Chinese." Click here to read the review!

So I think I’m hitting a wall with my Chinese: I practice and practice and practice, and yet still, when given the option to speak English, I take it.  And I think that if I keep this up, in time, I will merely be speaking English-with-a-little-Chinese, and not a-lot-of-Chinese-with-some-English-every-now-and-then to keep me sane.

So then this NY Times book review came along (thanks, Kim!), of a book called “Dreaming in Chinese,” by Deborah Fallows.  When I read this book review over the weekend, I was struck by the cultural connotations and expectations implicit in each language.  Also, I definitely want to read the book!  And as I did my grammar homework last night, I began to realize that I was reaching the cliff of literal translation– at a certain point, trying to get a direct translation of this phrase, pattern, or grammatical structure is going to obscure and inhibit the sense that I was trying to make by learning the language at all.  Today, we went over the grammar structures, and they began to feel more natural and smooth in conveying a universal meaning, even if we would choose much different English phrases to say equivalent things.

So I think I’m going to take the language plunge and jump off the cliff: go for immersion and speak only Mandarin for 2 weeks! Continue reading

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