Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I know you read this now! Now you know all my deepest darkest thoughts about... books. And we can talk about other things when you call, like the latest gossip involving my sister. (She called me today BTW.) Oh, and I'll see you Friday.

And now the rest of you are bored. Sorry. So, did y'all know that I spend a lot more time thinking about blogging than actually blogging? I swear it's true. I know all about what tomorrow's blog post will be. Heck, I've written most of it already. And I already knew what today was going to be. Today was going to be Professional Development Day. I have a few unblogged books that are really prof librarian type things. But, that was all dependant on my finishing my management book today and NOT watching all the M*A*S*H on my TiVo. Take a wild guess which actually happened. (I'll give you a hint...Through early morning fog I see/ Visions of the things to be/ The pains that are withheld for me/ I realize and I can see/ That That suicide is painless/ It brings on many changes/ And I could take or leave it if I please...)

I would like to note that I typed out the lyrics and then looked them up. I do NOT know the words to that song apparently.

Anywho... so now I have to think about what book to talk about today. Too many choices.

Some housekeeping first then, last Friday I posted over at Geek Buffet about how everyone says no one's reading but I don't buy it. I thought I had another item of housekeeping... I wonder what it was...

Anyway, what to review today? Hmmmm... so many options. Let's go with the book I finished on Friday, while eating cake. (Mmmmmmmm..... cake)

Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China by Rachel DeWoskin.

So... after college Rachel, the daughter of a Chinese prof at UMich (which as an amazing Chinese program) went off to China to work in a PR firm. Shortly thereafter she's asked to be in a soap opera mini-series called Foreign Babes in Beijing. All at the same time dealing with the post-college what-am-I-doing-with-my-life angst and the whole fish-out-of-water-expat angst thing.

Engaging and funny, this is less a look at a changing China (though it is that, but more if you have some background) and more a look at DeWoskin's life and friends and trying to find herself in a place where sometimes it's hard to tell which end is up. I laughed hysterically at some of her interactions, but I can't tell if that's just because I've had those same conversations.

I feel a lot of her explanations of China fall flat and seem forced, because that's not the main thrust of the book, so it throws the rhythm. She does a much better job at *showing* instead of telling us about changing Chinese life. But, I think this only works if you know what to look for and can provide your own analysis.

I liked this book a lot but I'm not sure what impact it would have on others who aren't China-nerds like me.

My favorite part was that she considerably upped my knowledge of swearing in Chinese. This will come in handy when I have to tell off pushy cab drivers next fall.

Speaking of a changing China... I was holding off on reviewing this one because I have something else checked out by the same author, so hey, let's review both together but... ah... screw that. We'll talk about it now. IT'S FLY BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS DAY HERE AT BIBLIO FILE.

The People's Republic of Desire by Annie Wang.

I rather enjoyed this. It's not deep, but it doesn't pretend to be. I hate how everything these days is either compared to Harry Potter or Sex and the City but I'm going to do it anyway. This would be more along the lines of SATC. I'm not entirely sure there's a plot besides the fact our narrator, Niu Niu, just returned from the US after living there for some time and getting her heart stomped on and is back living in China. A new, rich China with lots of girl friends with fun jobs and big cars and fancy restaurants. Very episodic but rather illuminating on how the young, hip, upper crust live in Beijing. Wang used to write a column in the South China Post and this book reads like several of the columns were just reprinted. Not a bad thing. It means short snappy chapters a la Tales of the City. It also means that the same characters get introduced to us several times, often in the same ways, which got a little annoying.

I really enjoyed all the vocabulary (once more, improving my saucy Chinese) but she didn't include tones or characters, which was disappointing, but possibly only for me, because I'm a dork like that. Overall, I liked it.

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