ARC, Books

Book 508: Chemistry – Weike Wang

I first heard of this book through a friend, who also happens to be friends with the author. After reading the blurb I reached out to the publisher for a copy and here I am.* It of course didn’t hurt that the book was set here in Boston at an unnamed University and I’ve started to see it everywhere around the city either!

Chemistry is the tale of an unnamed narrator and her exit from the academic world that has ruled her life and her various reactions to things going on in her world. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s what I boiled it down to. I’m still mulling over many parts of the book, particularly the “conclusion,” but in general I found this to be a wonderfully engaging read.

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Books

Book 462: The Courtesan – Alexandra Curry

curry-alexandra-the-courtesanWhen Dutton reached out to me about a copy* of this book for its new paperback release I jumped at it because of my trip to China this summer! What I didn’t realize was that it was predominantly set in two of the cities I visited: Suzhou and Beijing! It was really neat to read through the fictionalized life of Sai Jinhua and actually feel like I know what and where she was talking about for the post part!

This is a debut novel that I probably would not have read just because I don’t read too many, but with my trip to China, the cover and having someone reach out to me about it, I figured I would give it a chance and I’m glad I did. Add in that the book also featured a subplot line about the one non-English classic from Asia I chose for my Classics Club list: Dream of the Red Chamber and it was well worth the read.

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Updates

June Recap 2016

2016 06-29 Walking AgainI’d say where did June go, but it’s pretty obvious when you spend two weeks out of the country and then two weeks playing catch up!

We had a great time in China and then spent almost a week readjusting to being at work and back on Eastern Standard Time.

I’ve tried my best the last two weeks to keep up the walking that happened on vacation. We walked upwards of five miles every day, even when we were on the three-day river cruise! The first week I didn’t walk much, but this week I’ve managed to hit my step goal every day which is great for me as it’s been too long since I’ve done that!

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Random

你好蘇州和上海 | Nǐ hǎo sūzhōu hé shànghǎi | Hello Suzhou and Shanghai!

2016 06-03 Chinese YuanWhen this goes live, we will be in the Chinese city of Suzhou, but we’ll be leaving for Shanghai, by way of Wuzhen, a historical scenic town on the Yangtze River tomorrow!

I’m really looking forward to the Shanghai Museum tour and the free time we’ll have to shop on Nanjing Road! You know I already have bookstores in mind to visit! There’s at least one foreign language bookstore I’m aware of, but I’m also looking for copies of  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (哈利·波特与魔法石) and Wuthering Heights (呼啸山庄) in Mandarin/Cantonese (I’ll take either). Either way, I can’t wait to get back and share the amazing photos I’m sure I’ve already taken!

Random

北京歡迎你 | Běijīng huānyíng nǐ | Welcome to Beijing

2016 03-24 Freaking Out About ChinaI have no idea if the characters in the title will post or not, but I wanted to do a similar post to last year, Bienvenidos a Madrid! I failed miserably at learning any Mandarin, but what I did find out is that even if people speak different dialects they can still read the formal written characters. How interesting? I guess it shouldn’t be that weird, but that’s about as far as I got in the book.

By the time this posts, we will have been in Beijing for a few days after flying from Boston! I hope the 15 hour total flying time (with a short layover in Chicago) wasn’t as long as I thought! And I also hope we’ve adjusted to the 12 hour time difference by now!

I think I’m most looking forward to the three-day river cruise down the Yangtze later this week where we’ll get to relax a bit on the boat. There are some excursions planned where we’ll go ashore to see a few villages and get an up-close view of the Three Gorges (Wikipedia link). After that we’re off on the high-speed train (SAY WHAT!?) to Suzhou where we’ll spend a few days. I’ll have another post next week that tells you about Week two!

Updates

May Recap 2016

2016 05-10 Boston AFAnother month gone. I’ve been at my new job for about a month and a half and it feels like I’m still brand new, but also like I’ve been here forever. I’m, of course, still enjoying it and learning more each day about refugees and immigrants and about my own skills.

The other thing I’ve been trying to work on is exercising. I’ve been REALLY lazy over the last 12-18 months. I don’t know if it’s passing the two-year mark in my relationship (look at the pretty flowers at the end) or if it’s just me getting old and lazy, but I know I have to get better about it fast. So I’ve been trying to walk more in the mornings. That photo above was on a random street in South Boston and my friend Mal on Facebook summed it up perfectly: “Boston As F&ck.” (If you can’t tell it’s a Sam Adams tap.)

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ARC, Books

Book 332: Male Sex Work and Society – Victor Minichiello and John Scott (eds.)

Minichiello, Victor and John Scott - Male Sex Work and Society

This book simultaneously highlights what is good and what is bad about the white tower of academia. It explores a specific topic (Amazon Afiliate link) in depth, while establishing absolutely nothing, other than the need for more research. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and received no compensation for my honest opinion.

I’m going to start with my frustrations with the book (or academia/academics in a broader context) first and then move to what they did well. What frustrated me most about the entire collection were the isolationist tendencies of the authors. In a move to over-compensate for any sort of collective or global identity (and not Western-wash everything) every single paper started out within the first few paragraphs by using the almost exact phrase of, “due to cultural circumstances, male sex workers (MSWs) circumstances in this country cannot be compared to those in any other country.” The reason this was so infuriating is that there were clearly overarching themes, sexual identity (or lack thereof), technology and public health, to name a few, that Manichiello and Scott picked out and even acknowledged. However, rather than encouraging the authors to use them to tie everything together within the papers across borders and identities, they were used to bridge each of the papers between the papers in editorial asides. Seriously, if they would’ve just taken this as a given, at least 50 pages could’ve been cut out of the book due to repetitiveness.

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