Title: 想北平 Thinking of Beiping
Author: 老舍 (Lao She)
Number of Pages: 2
Genre: Non-fiction; Short Story
Book Number/Goal: 8 of 16 for the year; 2 of 8 for the language requirement
My Rating: 4/5

Review: A couple notes: Lao She (老舍) is not the author's real name, it's a pen name. The Beiping in the title is another name for Beijing. It was called that name from 1928-1949, after which it became Beijing. Beiping (北平) means Peace of the North, or Northern Peace. Beijing (北京) means Northern Capital.

I really liked this short story, because it was told from the point of view of an "old Beijinger" (老北京), a native son of Beijing, so he didn't look at the city the way I look at it. I've lived in Beijing for over a year now, and while I think I appreciate it, I don't see it how somebody who has grown up in the city does. I see the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square as if they are foreign and yet familiar. He sees the smaller things, the small alleyways of his childhood, the wide empty places, the parks, the air one breathes. There's a really childlike feel to the prose, and it's really steeped in a sense of nostalgia and longing. I liked it a lot.
Title: Freakonomics: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
Author: Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams
Number of Pages: 319 pages
Genre: Non-fiction; Economics
Book Number/Goal: 7 of 16 for the year
My Rating: 3/5

Review: I liked the book because it talks about things like Wikipedia/Facebook etc. and how they are affecting corporations. It was interesting to see the changing face of doing business and the different opportunities available to people, as well as the loss of old, tried-and-once-true methods. Another layperson economics book.
Title: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Author: Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Number of Pages: 284 pages
Genre: Non-fiction; Economics
Book Number/Goal: 6 of 16 for the year
My Rating: 3/5

Review: An interesting look at changes in the world. I primarily consider this book layman economics cum behavioral studies. Really interesting because of how he talks about correlation and causality. Really easy read, and something I found quite interesting.
Title: 永远的家园&em;土楼漫游 (The Eternal Home&em;Wandering Through the Tulous)
Author: 何葆国 (He Baoguo)
Photographer: 曲利明 (Qu Liming)
Number of Pages: 200 pages
Genre: Non-fiction; Travel
Book Number/Goal: 5 of 16 for the year; 1 of 8 for the language requirement
My Rating: 3/5

Review: I won't lie. I bought this book primarily because the photography was amazing, and because I was really interested in the Tulou buildings of the Hakka people. Also, I needed to write a 3000 character paper, and I thought I would be writing about these buildings. (It ended up only being a short section of the paper, and I didn't even use the book, but oh well, at least it's pretty!)

The photography is amazing and is why I bought this book in the first place. I liked the introduction where it gave a pretty dramatically written (as is typical in Chinese fashion) of the history of the Tulous. I found the middle bits boring, because it was really just a list and description of all the Tulous of any significance in Fujian province. By the third such chapter, I was already bored. The last two chapters I found interesting because it was about the construction of the Tulou and the traditions of the Hakka people who live there still.
Title: After Dark
Author: Murakami Haruki
Translator: Jay Rubin
Number of Pages: 208 pages
Genre: Fiction
Book Number/Goal: 4 of 16 for the year
My Rating: 4/5

Review: This book was recommended to me by a friend. The chronicle of a night in Tokyo starring 19 year old Mari, her sleeping beauty sister, Eri, and an errant trombone player.

The first thing that I found captivating about this book was the language. It was beautiful. I don't know if it was that way in the Japanese, but the language used in the English translation was particularly beautiful. I liked the detached way the characters in the book were somehow related but not really. I liked how the night itself became one of the main characters of the book without doing anything. I liked that it was really different from anything I'd ever read.
Title: The Old Man and the Sea
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Number of Pages: 128 pages
Genre: Classic fiction
Book Number/Goal: 3 of 16 for the year
My Rating: 3/5

Review: A really simple tale that takes place over a short period of time. I read it because a friend of mine recommended it to me highly, but I really didn't think much of it. Hemingway spent a lot of time detailing the time spent over a few nights at sea, and I really just got bored with the story halfway through. Happy to have read it, but I doubt I'd ever pick it up again.
Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Number of Pages: 560 pages
Genre: Romance/Science Fiction
Book Number/Goal: 2 of 16 for the year
My Rating: 4.5/5

Review: I really liked this book. The plot was confusing at first with time jumps, but as you get deeper into the book, you start to realise that there really is a method to this madness. Not only that, this book has what I look for (conciously or not) in all my books: character development. Although the language was simple, there was real emotion in it, and I loved to watch the changing point of views and imagine the young couple together change as they interact and deal with Henry's Chrono-Displacement problem. I highly recommend it.
Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Number of Pages: 139
Genre: Satire/Allegory
Book Number/Goal: 1 of 16 for the year
My Rating: 3/5

Review: I picked it up because it was the book I was supposed to have read in Secondary 1 if my family hadn't moved. Also, because it was free via Google Books. I found it a really quick, fast read, which was nice. The story itself was relatively short and predictable, I thought, but I don't know if it's because I've known of the book and heard/read about the plot previously.

I did find the allegory in it to be rather heavy-handed (though I'm sure at 13, I wouldn't have recognised it for what it was), and I'm not usually a fan of allegories to begin with. I'm glad to have read it, but I'm pretty ambivalent about the book as a whole. Don't know if I'd pick it up again, but I do see why it is considered an important part of English literature.
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([personal profile] yueni May. 2nd, 2009 04:54 pm)
Name: [personal profile] yueni/[livejournal.com profile] yueni
Goal: 2 books per month until December 2009, or a total of 16 books by December 31 2009. The catch: half of these must be a Chinese book.
Definition of "book": Current textbooks don't count, fanfic doesn't count either. most everything else does.
Books read so far: 0

A little about my goal and my reading habits: I used to be an avid reader. I could devour 20 books a week easily. However, for the past few years, I've sort of lost the habit. This past year, I've been studying Chinese, and really the only way for me to improve my language skills is to start reading (in Chinese) and watching TV(!!). Thus the current goal to get me back into reading, particularly in Chinese. ^^;;


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