Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Story #313: About books

I know that I have been complaining a lot about how busy I am lately. But I guess I really am not that busy if I can still make time to read books (for leisure purpose, not for school). I must admit that reading for the sole purpose of entertainment hasn't really been my forte. I get distracted way too easily and I get bored really really fast.

I was an avid Chinese love novel reader though. When I was 12, I picked up my first Chinese novel (you know, those ones about a guy and a girl falling in love and live happily ever after kind). I fell in love with those kinds of novels. It seemed as if everybody I knew was reading novels like that too. My sister, my best friend, my classmates, and my mom. Like most Chinese students in Malaysia, I did not pick up any English story books until I was about 17 (did I mortify anybody?). From then on, I never picked up any Chinese novels anymore. As a result, my English writing and reading skills are better than my Chinese reading and writing skills. Isn't that weird? When people ask me what my native language is, I usually say it's Mandarin. But what if I can't even write and read as well in my native language as my third language? Ok, that's not really what I wanted to talk about when I started this post. I was trying to talk about some of the books I read recently. I always go off on a tangent. Sorry.

Anyways, I read 3 books in the last 3 weeks. The first book was called "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See. It's a story about a Chinese lady in ancient China and her best friend. I have always been interested in books like these. I love to read about women in China in the ancient days. I felt that if I can know about their lives in general, then I can probably understand my grandmother a little bit more. Their lives fascinates me. I like to imagine my grandma as a young girl, about my age or younger than me, and the choices she made that shaped her whole life. I am always on the look out for books written about Chinese people in different places, but I definitely love stories about Chinese people in ancient China the best. This book is very well-written. I loved it and I learned a lot from it. It's cool that Lisa See write about "Nu Shu" in this book because it was something so foreign to me and it's like discovering some ancient ways of living. "Nu Shu" is a kind of handwriting that women used back in the days when they weren't allowed to go to school. After reading this book, I did a research and found out that the last person who knew "Nu Shu" had died. Anyway, this book was a good read.

The second book I read was "Message In a Bottle." I talked about it in one of my past posts so I won't talk about it anymore. However, it is a GREAT story. I love it so much.

The last book I finished was "A Thousand Splendid Suns." This is my second time reading it. I love love love it! It has a good ending, so it's good. But that's not the only reason why this is a good book. The book is about women in Afghanistan in the present days (1950s to 2000). It was a story about 2 women of different generations and how their path crossed because of the war, religion, and political issues in their country. The first time I read the book I couldn't understand why the book was named so. But this time I finally figured out why. A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of the lines in a poem by an old Afghan poet. However, this line in the poem doesn't mean the same thing as the title of the book, it was just used as the title. In their language, Noor means Sun, and Noor is usually the name of a girl (in Malay too! That's how I made the connection). And since the book is about the lives of the women in Afghanistan, I came to the conclusion that the title sun in the title means women. Hence, A Thousand Splendid Suns (Noor [women]). Ok, I know some of you might be rolling your eyes now, but when I finally realized that it was a big moment for me. It's like I've been enlightened! My point is this book is fantastic. I love it and I think I will read it again someday. It's just that good. It opened my eyes to so many things that I was ignorant about. It made me count my blessings for being born in a country where women are not being looked down or frown upon by law and by their parents and society. It made me want to help fight for women rights and understand why some people are so feministic (is that even a word?).

I am glad I am finally picking up books and reading them for fun, for insight, and for me.

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