Wish Lanterns review

This book combines the stories of six Chinese, born across China in between 1985 to 1990, and follows them in their lives until 2015. At times, Ash’s writing is incredibly sharp, but his style alternates as if the blend of six into one isn’t a seamless one. The book tells through inner personas, and provides context […]

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Wild Swans review

Wild Swans tells the story of three generations in China, starting when the country was still an empire, then being occupied by Russians and Japanese, and the battle between the communists and the Kuomintang, and ultimately the communist era and the chaos caused by Mao. The pace slows down massively as the book progresses, to […]

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The Geography of Thought Review

This book is a true gem, and I’m surprised it’s not more known. Written in clear language, it compares the dominant thinking structures of Westerners (e.g. US & Europe) with that of East Asians (e.g. China & Japan). It goes back to Aristoteles and Confucius, but also using ecology, economy and culture to rationalise it, […]

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Politics and the English Language review

Orwell comes across as frustrated and angry, and rightly so. He outlines how clear writing can be achieved: “Let the meaning choose the word, not the other way around”, and “Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can.” Orwell also makes clear […]

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The Art of Racing in the Rain review

The reader experiences this story through the eyes of furry-four-legged Enzo, who has his dog-perspective on everything. It’s easy to feel joyed or saddened by the book, often both at the same time. The book isn’t ‘high’ or ‘deep’ on literature or meaning, but don’t let that stop you. It’s a fun and light book […]

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Dune review

Dune is a colossal book, not just by its influence on science fiction as a genre, but also its rich detail and underlying themes of survival, evolution, ecology, religion, politics, and power. For this it deserves credit, but as a story itself it failed to grip me. A minor obstacle was its pacing, often slow […]

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Moby Dick review

I was hesitant whether to rate it or not, since it’s such a tough read, 19th century English, which is not my mother-tongue to begin with. But that’s not a flaw of the book, but only a hallmark of the time in which it’s written. But Moby Dick is a gruelling, complex, metaphorical and symbolical […]

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Twilight in the Forbidden City review

A highly personal (and therefore subjective) telling of Chinese history, spanning 1898 to 1934, and also a rare first-hand experience from inside the Forbidden City. Johnston is an intellectual tutor who grows into a surrogate father to Puyi, and talks in rich detail about China’s transition from a monarchy in chaos, to that of a […]

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The Great Gatsby review

It’s the 1922 version of today’s Rich Kids on Instagram. It’s a short book, but each sentence is so dense that it carries much weight. It’s a joy to read the sharp pen of Fitzgerald, and mystifying to witness the many symbols of the book, such as the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg, the parties, the […]

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Bits and Pieces review

“The road was clear and beautiful in front of me. I felt within me that urge, the sensation of speed, the feeling of tearing up the fine cool morning air as I got up to speed. I was out of sight of the pits and was making for the village of Gueux. As I changed […]

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