Summer is settling in, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere. I’m in Minnesota where the arrival of summer is always welcome after a long winter. Two months ago, it was still snowing. For many people summer is a time to catch up on reading as vacations offer more time to read, either on a beach or in a mountain cabin or, perhaps, in the back seat of a car while driving across the country.
In case you’re looking for ideas, here’s a list of books that are in the summer book bags of the ChinaSource team members. If you personally know individuals on the team, you might be able to figure out who’s reading what! All but one of the descriptions are excerpts from Amazon pages.
Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai, by James Carter
At the center of the International Settlement, the heart of Western colonization―but also of Chinese progressivism, art, commerce, cosmopolitanism, and celebrity―Champions Day unfolds, drawing tens of thousands of Chinese spectators and Europeans alike to bet on the horses.
Over Autumn Rooftops, by Hai Zi
In the six years prior to his death, Hai Zi wrote over 250 short poems, a number of poetic plays, long poems totaling over 400 pages, and several short stories. His verse illuminates the poverty and desperation of his peasant upbringing, reflects on China’s literary and cultural history, and touches down on the grasslands and wheat fields of western China, but he is not simply a cultural poet or a nature poet—his poetry transcends all of this.
Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World, by Michael Schuman
We in the West routinely ask: “What does China want?” The answer is quite simple: the superpower status it always had, but briefly lost. In this colorful, informative story filled with fascinating characters, epic battles, influential thinkers, and decisive moments, we come to understand how the Chinese view their own history and how its narrative is distinctly different from that of Western civilization.
The Hong Kong Letters: A Travel Memoir, by Gill Shaddick
In the late sixties when the Beatles are top of the charts and Twiggy is hitting the catwalk, Gill embarks on a life-changing journey to Hong Kong. Mao’s revolution is at its height. Vietnam has become America’s longest war with no end in sight. But it’s at an ad agency under insane direction where Gill finds her battles and learns to stand her ground.
《无问西东 因为有你—40位清华学子的信仰之旅》The Reason for You: 40 Testimonies of Tsinghua University Students Faith Journeys
(ReFrame Ministries. And yes, this one’s in Chinese. See “Stories of Faith from Chinese University Alumni” for more on this series of books.)
The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream, by Michael Wood
After a century and a half of foreign invasion, civil war, and revolution, China has once again returned to center stage as a global superpower and the world’s second largest economy. But how did it become so dominant? Wood argues that in order to comprehend the great significance of China today, we must begin with its history.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution.
Note: I am facilitating a three-segment book club on Wild Swans this summer for ERRChina. We have already met and discussed chapters 1–10 and would welcome others to join us for a discussion of chapters 11–20 on Wednesday, July 20 at 8PM US CDT. We will meet to discuss the final chapters sometime in August. If you are interested in joining this book club, select “join the online book club” on the ERRChina website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip, by Matthew Algeo
From Missouri to New York and back again, this recounting of an amazing journey chronicles the road trip of a former president and his wife and their amusing, failed attempts to keep a low profile. Diners, bellhops, and cabbies shouted out “Hiya, Harry!” whenever they recognized the former president, and, out for his daily constitutional on the streets of New York, Harry even stumbled into the sidewalk shot of the newly launched Today show.
Independent People, by Halldor Laxness
In an epic set in Iceland in the early twentieth century, Gudbjartur Jonsson buys his own croft after eighteen years of service to the local bailiff and brings his wife and his small flock of sheep there to build a new, independent life for himself.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Art of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat
Master the use of just four elements—Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food—and anything you cook will be delicious. By explaining the hows and whys of good cooking, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will teach and inspire a new generation of cooks how to confidently make better decisions in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients, anywhere, at any time.
The Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics, by Gordon D. Fee
This is not a collection of subjective, theoretical essays on the science of interpretation; rather, these essays target issues of practical–and sometimes critical–concern to Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and anyone interested in letting the Bible speak to today’s situation. Fee brings to the task what he himself advocates: common sense and dedication to Scripture.
The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals―and Other Forgotten Skills (Natural Navigation), by Tristan Gooley
To help you understand nature as he does, Gooley shares more than 850 tips for forecasting, tracking, and more, gathered from decades spent walking the landscape around his home and around the world. Whether you’re walking in the country or city, along a coastline, or by night, this is the ultimate resource on what the land, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and clouds can reveal—if you only know how to look!
The Prophetic Imagination: Preaching and Emancipating Word, by Walter Brueggemann
The necessary context of prophetic preaching, Walter Brueggemann argues, is “a contestation between narratives”: the dominant narrative of our time, which promoting self-sufficiency at the national level (through militarism) and the personal (through consumerism), and the countervailing narrative of a world claimed by a God who is gracious, uncompromising—and real. In previous work Brueggemann has pointed us again and again to the indispensability of imagination. Here he writes for those who bear responsibility for regular proclamation in communities of faith, describing the discipline of a prophetic imagination that is unflinchingly realistic and unwaveringly candid.
The Street, by Ann Petry
The Street follows the spirited Lutie Johnson, a newly single mother whose efforts to claim a share of the American Dream for herself and her young son meet frustration at every turn in 1940s Harlem. Opening a fresh perspective on the realities and challenges of black, female, working-class life, The Street became the first novel by an African American woman to sell more than a million copies.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve already added some of these books to my wish list!
Image credit: Kimberly Farmer, via Unsplash.
Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio
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