Library Loot (13 October 2012)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

On Saturday, wee reader and his dad hit the children’s section while I headed off to grab some books on hold and more off the shelves. Woohoo! Unfortunately, the library (which was pretty packed with kids) might have been where the little one caught his cold!

The Color of Water – Kim Dong Hwa, translated from the Korean by Lauren Na
This is the second book in the wonderful Color Trilogy. The final book, The Color of Heaven, is in transit. Hurrah!

When Ehwa goes to the town festival, she meets a handsome young wrestler named Duksam who’s eager to catch her eye. After he wins the festival wrestling championship, he and Ehwa begin to meet, sneaking spare moments to be together. But a shadow falls on their romance when Master Cho sends Duksam away and asks for Ehwa’s hand in marriage himself It is then that Ehwa discovers the pain of heartbreak – and that love is always complicated.

Persuasion – Jane Austen

After reading William Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education, I wanted to reread Persuasion, as it has been a long time and I really couldn’t quite remember the story…

Superb novel, autumnal and mellow in tone, concerns the lives and loves of the Elliot family and their friends and relatives, in particular the thwarted romance between Anne Elliot (Austen’s sweetest, most appealing heroine) and Captain Frederick Wentworth. Finely drawn characters, gentle satire and wonderful recreation of genteel life in the English countryside.

In the Shadow of the Banyan – Vaddey Ratner

JoV of Bibliojunkie first told me of this book when I asked for recommendations about SE Asian reads.

You are about to read an extraordinary story. It will take you to the very depths of despair and show you unspeakable horrors. It will reveal a gorgeously rich culture struggling to survive through a furtive bow, a hidden ankle bracelet, fragments of remembered poetry. It will ensure that the world never forgets the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, when an estimated two million people lost their lives. It will give you hope, and it will confirm the power of storytelling to lift us up and help us not only survive but transcend suffering, cruelty, and loss.
For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours, bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as the Khmer Rouge attempts to strip the population of every shred of individual identity, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of her childhood— the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. Displaying the author’s extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.

The Teahouse Fire – Ellis Avery

I can’t remember why I put this on my TBR list (quite a while ago) but I spotted it when I was looking for the Jane Austen book.

‘When I was nine, in the city now called Kyoto, I changed my fate…What I asked for? Any life but this one.’ When Aurelia flees the fire that kills her missionary uncle and leaves her orphaned and alone in nineteenth-century Japan, she has no idea how quickly her wish will be answered. Knowing only a few words of Japanese she hides in a tea house and is adopted by the family who own it: gradually falling in love with both the tea ceremony and with her young mistress, Yukako. As Aurelia grows up she devotes herself to the family and its failing fortunes in the face of civil war and western intervention, and to Yukako’s love affairs and subsequent marriage. But her feelings for her mistress are never reciprocated and as tensions mount in the household Aurelia begins to realise that to the world around her she will never be anything but an outsider. A lushly detailed, spellbinding story, “The Teahouse Fire” is an unforgettable debut.

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales – Ying Chang Compestine, Coleman Polhemus (illustrator)

An Inter-library Loan. 

I’m beginning a personal project, reading more about Chinese mythology and related material. This sounded like a good place to start. Plus it’s right up RIP alley!

According to Chinese tradition, those who die hungry or unjustly come back to haunt the living. Some are appeased with food. But not all ghosts are successfully mollified. In this chilling collection of stories,Ying Chang Compestine takes readers on a journey through time and across different parts of China. From the building of the GreatWall in 200 BCE to themodern day of iPods, hungry ghosts continue to torment those who wronged them.
At once a window into the history and culture of China and an ode to Chinese cuisine, this assortment of frightening tales—complete with historical notes and delectable recipes—will both scare and satiate!

Handbook of Chinese Mythology – Yang Lihui

Every year, at the Wa Huang Gong temple in Hebei Province, China, people gather to worship the great mother, Nuwa, the oldest deity in Chinese myth, praising her for bringing them a happy life. It is a vivid demonstration of both the ancient reach and the continuing relevance of mythology in the lives of the Chinese people.
Compiled from ancient and scattered texts and based on groundbreaking new research, Handbook of Chinese Mythology is the most comprehensive English-language work on the subject ever written from an exclusively Chinese perspective. This work focuses on the Han Chinese people but ranges across the full spectrum of ancient and modern China, showing how key myths endured and evolved over time. A quick reference section covers all major deities, spirits, and demigods, as well as important places (Kunlun Mountain), mythical animals and plants (the crow with three feet; Fusang tree), and related items (Xirang-a kind of mythical soil; Bu Si Yao-mythical medicine for long life). No other work captures so well what Chinese mythology means to the people who lived and continue to live their lives by it.
With more than 40 illustrations and photographs, fresh translations of primary sources, and insight based on the authors’ own field research, Handbook of Chinese Mythology offers an illuminating account of a fascinating corner of the world of myth.

The Eleventh Draft: Craft and the Writing Life from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop – Frank Conroy (ed)

One of the oldest and most distinguished writing programs in the nation, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop has produced some of the greatest American writers of this century. Now for the first time, director Frank Conroy gathers together essays on writing from 25 of the workshop’s celebrated faculty and students. Contributors include Charles D’Ambrosio, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ethan Canin, Justin Cronin, Stuart Dybek, Deborah Eisenberg, Tom Grimes, Doris Grumbach, Barry Hannah, James Hynes, William Lashner, Margot Livesey, Elizabeth McCracken, Chris Offut, Jayne Anne Phillips, Susan Power, Francine Prose, James Salter, Scott Spencer, Marilynne Robinson, Abraham Verghese, and Geoffrey Wolff. An eclectic mix of essays on both craft and living the writing life, The Eleventh Draft is essential reading on writing from the best in the business.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
What did you get from the library this week?

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11 thoughts on “Library Loot (13 October 2012)

  1. I read The Teahouse Fire a couple of years ago. I enjoyed it. Hope you do too. I have the first in the Color Trilogy on hold at the library.

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  2. Thanks for the mention. I am however slightly irate when I see blurb that tells me: “You are about to read an extraordinary story. It will take you to the very depths of despair and show you unspeakable horrors.” Why does blurb has to tell me that? Let me decide if the story is really “extraordinary”! 🙂

    I finished reading The Phantom of the Opera yesterday. Now that’s extraordinary!

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  3. I don’t know about your library, but mine is always so stuffy, I wouldn’t be surprised if more people catch a cold there than outside 😦 Hope wee reader gets better soon!

    Your choice of book is delightful, I love the lean towards Asian novels (and a comic?), would love to hear more about A Banquet of Hungry Ghosts! You can never go wrong with Jane Austen 😉

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    1. Actually my library is quite pleasant. The upstairs can be a bit stuffier but the first floor is pretty decently ventilated and sunny (plus the reading area has a view of the back of the park). But on Saturdays when the children’s area gets packed…. that’s a different story!

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