己亥年的书架 2019: A (Chinese) Year in Books

I’m a bit late getting this list posted this year. Chinese New Year found my family and I struggling to decide whether to remain in Chengdu as the coronavirus epidemic worsened. Ultimately, we chose to leave. The Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao jie 元宵节)–last night of the New Year celebrations and the usual time I write this post–found us in Japan, watching from over the waters as China took dramatic action to control the epidemic. When it became clear that situation was not going to improve quickly, we continued our journey, back to the U.S. and my family, with whom we are now living.

Continue reading

戊戌年的书架: 2018, a (Chinese) Year in Books

Today is the lantern festival (yuanxiao jie 元宵节), the traditional end for the Chinese New Year season. It’s also time to post my second annual reading journal. This year’s list is even longer than the last. In part, that’s because I included academic titles this time around. My academic and creative lives have grown closer to one another over the last year, so it no longer made sense to separate them.

Continue reading

Poems in Abomination of Winter

I get my news about the U.S. rather slowly. For example, I only just learned of the snowstorm in the Northeast. Much as I would like to gloat and taunt my NYC-dwelling friends about the fact that it never snows here in Chengdu, the reality of the situation is this: I am drinking my coffee hot, the down comforters are on the beds, I am currently wearing two wool sweaters, and although I have not yet put on any thermal underwear, that moment is approaching rapidly. All of this can mean but one thing–winter has arrived–and there is no emoji capable of accurately depicting my feelings on the subject. Continue reading

La Dolce Vita?

I have wanted to visit Italy for a very long time. Naturally, part of Italy’s attraction is its historical richness, but for me, an even larger part is the food, the scenery, and the culture. Thanks to an ongoing scholarly workshop I’m participating in, I finally got a chance to find out whether the Italian life really is la dolce vita. What I discovered was–as I suppose it always is when you travel–different from what I expected. Continue reading

Falling in Love with Dante’s Divine Comedy

In his essay, “Why Read the Classics?,” collected in the eponymous volume, Italo Calvino argues that “… it is no use reading the classics out of a sense of duty or respect, we should only read them for love,” because “It is only during unenforced reading that you will come across the book which will become ‘your’ book” (p. 6). I began reading Dante out of curiosity, but then I fell in love with an imaginative vision that dared what few have ever dared–and what no one today would even consider. Continue reading