Just a warning: this post will have nothing to do with weight loss.
You’ve all been duly warned.
I love to read. Love it. I will honestly read anything that is given to me, with the exception of self-help books (I think they can be lame and most of the advice is common sense stuff anyway) and fantasy. For some reason, I could never get into fantasy and I honestly believe it’s because there are always way too many characters with way too complicated names.
Other than that though, I simply read everything. Some of my favourite books are written about activities I would never attempt. For example: No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Veisturs is a fascinating look at one man’s attempt to climb the fourteen highest peaks in the world. I love to read non-fiction of all descriptions. Some of my favourites include: Stiff by Mary Roach (a look at how our bodies can be of further use after we die, it was surprisingly funny), In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (a travel adventure set in Australia and narrated by one of the funniest writers on the planet, you can’t really go wrong with one of his books) and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (an examination of past and modern fundamentalist Mormonism). I love them. I would recommend any of them to you in a heartbeat.
But as I said, I’ll read anything and everything. Fiction is something I enjoy immensely and I devour it constantly. I’ve read most of what I consider the “classics”. I’ve read Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. I’m not going to talk about them today. Today I’m going to talk about one of the best MODERN writers of fiction I have ever had the privilege of reading.
Her name is Lisa See and I beg any of you reading this to run out and buy at least one of her books.
I saw her do a reading and discussion at a local bookstore on Friday night and was once again blown away by how wonderful she is in person. I had the opportunity to meet her a few years ago when she was promoting her book Peony in Love and I was working full time as a bookseller. I got invited to an evening with Lisa See by her publisher and was thrilled. I had read her first book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, in one evening – I opened it up, having purchased it on a whim and the next thing I knew it was three in the morning and my face was wet with tears from her beautiful story. Upon getting invited, I started to think about what I would ask her if she took questions. I came up with about six things I was dying to ask and anticipated the event.
It was the absolute best author event I have ever attended. She was wonderfully gracious and spent over two hours discussing her books and her research with the group of twelve that had been invited.
Lisa See writes books mostly about China. She is Chinese-American and grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her childhood playing in the Chinatown antiques store that her family has owned for over 100 years. She wrote a biography of her family (On Gold Mountain) and then branched out into fiction. She’s written three mysteries (which I haven’t read yet, shame on me) and has just released her third novel about historical China.
Lisa writes so vividly about China, that the reader can’t help but be transported there. In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, a young girl endures painful foot binding to raise her station in life. She uses the secret written language of women – Nu Shu – to communicate with her best friend through a fan that they both share, passing it back and forth between them. It was wonderful. I still considerate to be one of my favourite books of all time. Peony in Love, Lisa’s second historical novel, is about a love-sick maiden who, upon reading the greatest love story of her people, dies and enters the after world. She watches over the women who marry the man she loves and tries to find peace as a “hungry ghost”. This book is so rich with ancient Chinese traditions and customs! I could not put it down.
Her latest book is called Shanghai Girls and it chronicles the lives of two sisters, May and Pearl, who are living the lives of modern Chinese women in Shanghai prior to the outbreak of World War 2. Their father loses everything to gambling and arranges marriages for the two of them to Gold Mountain Men (American-born Chinese). They leave Shanghai just as the Japanese invade and try to make lives for themselves an ocean away from everything they know and love. It was wonderful. I finished it over a weekend and was immediately wishing for a sequel (the ending is a bit of a cliff hanger). On Friday night, I was able to ask Lisa if she is writing another book featuring May and Pearl and she confirmed that that is her next project. I’m so glad!
I know that normally people come here to read about weight loss, but I hope you’ll forgive me for straying from the topic at hand to share information on some books that I consider very special. What I especially hope is that you’ll file this away and pick one of them up the next time you’re in the bookstore!