Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jenny's Book 2: Oracle Bones


Ohmigod. I am the worst friend ever. I went to pick up Oracle Bones today, thinking maybe I'd select it next. Inside, there's a letter. In a sealed envelope. Partially addressed to you, with name and address, but not your city, state, or zip. Of course, I'm curious as to what I would have been intending to mail you back in late 2007 or thereabouts. I opened the envelope and here's what I found:

A picture that Darius colored for you, and he wrote your name in his crazy 4 year old hand-writing. It's so adorable...and yet, it's been lost in a book for the past 3 years. That's terrible! I can't believe I never mailed it. But now, thanks to the TBR pile challenge, you can see the adorable goodness.

You might be wondering how Oracle Bones came to be on my bookshelf. As you know, my favorite magazine is The New Yorker, but it's almost impossible to read every article. What a daunting prospect! I've learned to always take a copy with me when I know I'm going to be stuck somewhere for a while (this is before the advent of the smart phone, of course!). Then I'd find time to read the articles I only gave a cursory glance when I first flipped through it to read the cartoons ;-) When we lived in Oakland, I always--always--brought a copy with my to the laundromat.

One day, waiting for the laundry to finish, I ended up reading an article about China by a guy named Peter Hessler. Believe it or not, I can't remember now the exact article that I read on that particular day. I think it might have been this one about a bridge between North Korea and China. I was so caught up with his writing that I bought his book River Town, about his experience with the Peace Corps in China. I loved this book (sadly, in one of many subsequent moves, I also lost this book. I constantly think about replacing it).

I continued to read his articles in The New Yorker, and bought his next book Oracle Bones when it came out in 2007. This is a common thread among many of my TBR books: I loved a first book by an author, but for some reason never finished a subsequent title.

I'm looking forward to Oracle Bones. I'm still teaching Asia, so I'm hoping the fact that it's immediately topical will help get me started.



  1. Perhaps this was your subconscious desire to actually *keep* something? (I know you like to throw everything away...) If you addressed it to me and tuck it into a book, then you weren't really "keeping" it, right?

    OR... it was your subconscious desire to help out your best friend -- you knew I would keep that thing FOR-EVER, so you didn't want to burden me with it?

    OR... it was the result of the fact that having a 4 year old makes your brain oatmeal? Could be that. ;)

    Meanwhile, now *my* brain wants to make a continuing art project out of this thing! If you asked Darius to color something similar today, what would the result be? Perhaps you could have him do it and tuck *both* drawings into *another* book that waits around until you repeat the project in another 3 years! Whee!

    Meanwhile, I have sidetracked the project at hand with thoughts of art projects. Have I mentioned lately how difficult reading a "real" book (v. e-book) has become? There is no reading in bed for me. No "Hey, I've got 3 minutes waiting for a meeting -- look! There's a book on my hip!" Reading a "real" book takes actual planning and forethought. What?! Where am I going to get THAT?!

    Thank goodness my first book is short. No idea how I'll get through some of the tomes I've selected for this year. To paraphrase Barbie: "Reading is hard!"

  2. I keep thinking about this. I guess downloading your TBR books to your Kindle isn't really in the Spirit of the thing? Or is it????

  3. When I complained about this issue, Robert said, "Just download it to your Kindle!" I immediately said, "That's cheating!"

    I don't know why, but it *feels* like cheating. This is a "challenge," right? It shouldn't be easy. :)

    Bill's vote is that it's fair to re-buy them, so that's one opinion.

    However, I'm about to post my review of a book that's all about saving money and growing wealth. And I will tell you one thing: it's not a budget-friendly move to buy these books twice.


  4. Kelly,

    One more funny Darius-related thing on this book. He's been fascinated with me reading this book. Today when he noticed I'd moved on to a new book, he said, "What happened to Oracle Bones? I liked that pretty Chinese lady on the front." Hah!