Reading Recommendations / What are you reading?


Dear learners of Chinese,

@Ledu suggested a new "What are you reading?" thread for the forums, so I'll make a start.

My current choices are:
  • The Chinese translation of Walter Isaacson's «Steve Jobs» biography. I had read the English original before. I like Steve Jobs’ view of the world and his clear, conscious thinking and original approaches. It may not be the best book to learn about Steve Jobs’ thinking ("Becoming Steve Jobs" or "The Bite in the Apple" are better for that), but it appears to be the only Steve Jobs book that has been translated into Chinese so far.
  • The Chinese translation of Richard Phillips Feynman’s «Surely You're Joking», a highly entertaining book, as it gives a very personal account of his life as a physicist and person with a broad range of interests. He describes some of his struggles and solutions to his struggles, so it is definitely interesting not only for (aspiring) physicists.
  • The Chinese Communist party's Wang Huning's «美国反对美国» or «USA vs. USA». It's great to see the American economic success story of the late 1980's through a very Chinese lens, written by a discerning, introverted party member. I heard that this book still is recommended reading for party members today. The language is of course more Chinese than that of the two translated books above. I think there's a lot to learn about both Chinese thinking and the U.S. from reading this book.
To revive my Old Chinese skills, I'd love to read the Shuihu Zhuan / «The Water Margin» later on, with the help of an English translation (it's written in the vernacular of the time). I liked its style of narration a lot, it feels very modern despite its age. Considering China's immense history, one would miss out if one were to read modern texts only.

Two principles I try to follow:
  • Read as relaxedly and quickly as possible, as long as you understand the basic message. This will create more of a flow and sustain your interest in the text more.
  • Don't look up any words while reading something for the first time. Let intuition fill in any gaps of meaning created by unknown words. Look over the text again a day later to find words you think you should study at the present time.

I know reading Chinese works differently for everyone, and everyone's favorite topics differ, but I'd estimate that at least 20% of all recommendations of others should later turn out to be useful.


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