Staying at Home? Roundup of Books, Movies Featured Here For Your Quarantine

If you’re one of the millions of people around the world forced to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, chances are you may have a lot more time on your hands than you bargained for this spring.

If you’re in need of something to entertain you or offer some much-needed relief from the overwhelming onslaught of often unwelcome news, books and movies do come in handy. And I’ve featured a ton of them right here on the blog.

Consider this your ultimate quarantine list of resources I’ve previously featured on the blog.

This post I put out in late 2018 contains the vast majority of the books already featured on my site.

Since then, I’ve also featured a few more books you can peruse: Hong Kong Noir, Recipes from the Garden of Contentment, Travel to China, Squeaky Wheels, Someday We Will Fly, Touching Home in China, and Spinster Kang.

Looking for movies? My list of critically acclaimed AMWF movies remains a perennial favorite on this site. But don’t miss my earlier list of movies with Chinese men/Western women in love as well as any posts I’ve tagged under movies. Some of my posts on movies over the past couple of years highlight Last Christmas, The Sun Is Also a Star, Tomb Raider and Crazy Rich Asians.

Enjoy! And wherever you are, wishing you good health and safety during this critical fight against the coronavirus.

(P.S.: Looking for more books, movies and other entertainment during a quarantine or stay-at-home order? The Boston Globe lists free streaming movies possibilities and USA Today offers links to free resources. NY Times has a weekly updated list of what to watch, listen to and read.)

Two Rachel DeWoskin Interviews on ‘Someday We Will Fly’ – Pub’d in China Daily

The paper version of China Daily recently published my interview with Rachel DeWoskin about her new book “Someday We Will Fly“.

Here’s an excerpt from that piece, titled Creating hope in a wartime city:

A photo of three teenage Jewish boys on a table tennis team, wearing matching T-shirts with their school logo, are among some images of children at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum that American author Rachel DeWoskin saw one summer, inspiring her new historical novel set in the 1940s in Shanghai’s Hongkou Jewish settlement.

“There was so much evidence of how devoted these kids’ community was to creating a sense of normalcy, giving the children a childhood, even though the context of an occupied city at war was excruciating,” says DeWoskin.

“Many of the refugees had no idea where their family members were or whether they were OK. Many had fled Nazi-occupied Europe and landed in Shanghai, destitute and disoriented. Yet they created schools for their kids, ran camps, music lessons and table tennis teams. And shirts. I found those small insignia so moving, and the combination the photos evoked-of danger and resilience to be worthy of literary exploration.”

DeWoskin imagines this world through her character Lillia, a 15-year-old aerial acrobat from a circus family in Poland who flees in 1939 with her father and 1-year-old sister to Shanghai, where they struggle to survive as she wonders if her mother is still alive.

“Lillia is suddenly on her own for the first time in her life, and in a certain sense responsible for her sister, which is intense and complicated, especially given that she’s in an unfamiliar city. But she finds her way, as kids so often do-with grit, grace and practical application of her skills, with warmth and by way of friendship. She figures out how to keep her hope alive even though she’s also full of dread.”

The title Someday We Will Fly, which echoes Lillia’s circus performances, emerged in response to what DeWoskin says is Lillia’s “desperate desire to have a view of her own life that offers some possible future escape from the constraints of war. She wants, as I think we all do, to transcend her circumstances”.

You can read the full piece here.

But that’s not all — China Daily website also published another interview on Rachel DeWoskin’s book: ‘Someday We Will Fly’: Novel spotlights Shanghai Jewish settlement. Here’s an excerpt:

The dedication at the beginning of American author Rachel DeWoskin’s new historical novel, Someday We Will Fly, includes the following: “And for Shanghai, a haven for so many refugees in the 1930s and ’40s”.

She honors the city – and in particular, its Hongkou Jewish settlement that offered wartime refuge to some 20,000 Jews – through her fictional story of a 15-year-old girl named Lillia, an aerial acrobat who flees to Shanghai from Poland with her circus family in 1939.

DeWoskin recently appeared in China to promote her novel. She was in Beijing at The Bookworm on June 6, as well as in Shanghai at M on the Bund on June 8 and through an Historic Shanghai tour on June 9. But to write Someday We Will Fly, she spent seven summers in Shanghai, immersed in the Hongkou Jewish neighborhood, whose landmarks helped give rise to and shape the narrative.

Read the full piece here online.

And if you like these two articles, share them!

Holiday Book Sale + Other Great Gifts for Readers

My friend author Antonella Moretti recently launched a special holiday sale for her expat novel “Parsley and Coriander“, which I featured on this blog last year. It’s just $2.99 for the Kindle version on Amazon!

For those of you new to “Parsley and Coriander“, it’s a delightful novel that captures the spirit of finding your own path in China, especially as an expat woman. Learn more through my interview with Antonella.

But it’s not the only book that could make a great holiday gift this season. I’ve featured many books over the years on this blog, and I’d like to give you a quick roundup of every title, listed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. (P.S.: These titles are linked to Amazon, where your purchases help support this blog.)

“There’s Something I Want to Tell You: True Stories of Mixed Dating in Japan” by Yuta Aoki

Yuta Aoki’s book shares the stories of 15 different people spanning 8 nationalities who dated Japanese locals, and explores the cultural dynamics. Learn more through my interview with Yuta.

“Good Chinese Wife” by Susan Blumberg-Kason

When it comes to the success of a cross-cultural relationship, does culture or personality matter more? Susan Blumberg-Kason’s gripping memoir “Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair With China Gone Wrong” offers a very personal answer to that question. Learn more through my interview with Susan.

“Tone Deaf in Bangkok” by Janet Brown

It’s never too late to follow your heart to Asia. Just ask writer Janet Brown, who went to Thailand at age 45 and fell in love with the people and places. Learn more through my interview with Janet.

 

Quincy Carroll“Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside” by Quincy Carroll

This novel explores the clash between two Americans (a deadbeat and an idealist) teaching English in China, and the student who comes between them. Learn more through my interview with Quincy.

“The Reluctant Brides of Lily Court Lane” by Susan Chan

“The Reluctant Brides of Lily Court Lane” is an easy breezy love story that reads like one of my favorite romantic comedies on the screen. Learn more through my interview with Susan.

“Tiger Tail Soup” by Nicki Chen

In “Tiger Tail Soup”, Nicki Chen transports us to a place you don’t often find in wartime China literature – Fujian Province’s Gulangyu Island. Learn more through my interview with Nicki.

 

“A Geek in China” by Matthew Christensen

“A Geek in China” by Matthew Christensen is the perfect book for anyone who wants to be culturally savvy about China, fast. Think of it as a fun, smart 150-page China 101 course. Learn more through my interview with Matthew.

“Little Soldiers” by Lenora Chu

This memoir offers a nuanced and balanced perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of the Chinese education system, and ought to be required reading for any Westerner wondering if children would benefit from Chinese schooling. Learn more through this post at WWAM BAM.

 

 

“A Bollywood Affair” by Sonali Dev

“A Bollywood Affair” is such a unique and enchanting book that, even if you’ve sworn off the romance genre, you must read it. Learn more through my interview with Sonali.

“Start, Love, Repeat: How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-up World” by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

For entrepreneurs in China and their spouses, Dorcas’ helpful guide has additional value thanks to her time in Shenzhen, where her husband opened offices to expand the business abroad. Learn more through my interview with Dorcas.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes“The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” by Kelli Estes

“The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” by Kelli Estes links two women across centuries to a silk embroidered sleeve in a story of love, courage and humanity. Learn more through my interview with Kelli.

“Love Me Anyway” by Tiffany Hawk

Tiffany Hawk offers an inside look into being a flight attendant — along with some AMWF romance — in her coming-of-age debut novel, “Love Me Anyway.” Learn more through my interview with Tiffany.

 

“Pearl River Drama: Dating in China” by Ray Hecht

Ray doesn’t shy away from letting you into his utterly imperfect love life, and ultimately he comes across as a genuinely nice foreign guy just looking for love in China. Learn more through my interview with Ray.

“South China Morning Blues” by Ray Hecht

Through 12 viewpoints, South China Morning Blues takes readers on a tour of the underside of the expat scene in China. It’s a fresh take on modern China. Learn more through my interview with Ray.

“Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China” by Leta Hong-Fincher

This book shows how women in China no longer hold up half the sky and women who don’t marry by twenty-six are suffering from this inequality. Learn more through this comparison review by Susan Blumberg-Kason.

The Porcelain Thief“The Porcelain Thief” by Huan Hsu

“The Porcelain Thief” deftly combines Huan Hsu’s personal experiences as a Chinese American in China, family stories, and his quest for buried porcelain. Learn more through my interview with Huan.

“The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap” by Gish Jen

If you’re as fascinated with culture as I am and happen to be in an intercultural relationship that spans China and America, “The Girl at the Baggage Claim” should be required reading. Learn more through my interview with Gish.

“Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower” by Roseann Lake

This book focuses on the women in China who are not marrying by twenty-six and are influential in China’s rapid rise. Learn more through this comparison review by Susan Blumberg-Kason.

“A Field Guide to Happiness” by Linda Leaming

Linda Leaming’s new book “A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up” reads like a love letter to Bhutan. Learn more through my interview with Linda.

 

“Expat Jimmy” by Travis Lee

“Expat Jimmy”, the new short story by Travis Lee, offers a vicarious look into the experience of a new foreign teacher arriving in China. Learn more through my interview with Travis.

 

Here Comes the Sun by Leza Lowitz“Here Comes the Sun: A Journey to Adoption in 8 Chakras” by Leza Lowitz

Leza Lowitz shares her emotional journey towards marriage and motherhood in Japan (as well as opening a yoga studio in Tokyo) in “Here Comes the Sun”. Learn more through my interview with Leza.

“My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy” & “My Japanese Husband (Still) Thinks I’m Crazy” by Grace Mineta

If you’re a fan of graphic novels and you’re curious about Japan, you don’t want to miss these charming comics by Grace Mineta. Learn more through my interviews (here and here) with Grace.

“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng

“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng is a dark, powerful tale of an AMWF family in America facing a tragedy. Learn more through my interview with Celeste.

 

“All Under Heaven” by Carolyn Phillips

“All Under Heaven” is over 500 pages of the greatest recipes from all over the Middle Kingdom. It’s so comprehensive that you might never need another Chinese cookbook again. Learn more through my interview with Carolyn.

“The Dim Sum Field Guide” by Carolyn Phillips

Framed as a “field guide” (not unlike a field guide to birds), this book demystifies one of China’s most beloved culinary traditions and makes it accessible – and fun – for the average diner. Learn more through my interview with Carolyn.

“The Empress of Bright Moon” by Weina Dai Randel

Weina Randel has crafted a beautifully written, engaging and suspenseful tale of how one of the greatest rulers in China came to rise. You can learn more about this second chapter of the duology by reading Weina’s guest post on sex education during Tang Dynasty China.

The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel“The Moon in the Palace” by Weina Dai Randel

“The Moon in the Palace” by Weina Dai Randel, about the rise of China’s young Empress Wu, truly reads like a Tang Dynasty-era Cinderella story. Learn more through my interview with Weina.

“The Secret of the Nightingale Palace” by Dana Sachs

The romance at the heart of this novel — which relates to its intriguing title — just stole my heart away. Plus, the book explores a side of World War II that we all too often forget — the US internment of Japanese Americans. Learn more through my interview with Dana.

The Good Shufu“The Good Shufu” by Tracy Slater

“The Good Shufu” by Tracy Slater is a heartfelt story about love & life abroad that proves sometimes those unexpected detours lead us to incredible joy. Learn more through my interview with Tracy.

 

“Empire of Glass” by Kaitlin Solimine

“Empire of Glass” is stunning for its lyrical prose and unique in that it’s presented as a “translation” of the story of Li-Ming and her husband Wang. Learn more through my interview with Kaitlin.

 

Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self“Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self” by Alex Tizon

Alex Tizon’s memoir “Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self” offers a personal view on Asian masculinity in the West — and is a book you must read. Learn more through my interview with Alex.

 

Atom Yang Red Envelope“Red Envelope” by Atom Yang

Thanks to Atom Yang’s exceptional writing and sense of humor, Red Envelope is a fun, romantic romp through the most wonderful time of the year for Chinese. Learn more through my interview with Atom.

“Ferry Tale: A Hong Kong Love Story” by Shannon Young

It’s as enchanting as any big-screen rom com – but better, thanks to the Hong Kong setting and charming AMWF couple. Learn more through this post on Ferry Tale.

“How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia” edited by Shannon Young

For me, this is the rarest of all anthologies. I actually devoured it from cover to cover in record time, and found something to love in all the essays — regardless of the story. You’ll also find my essay “Huangshan Honeymoon” featured in this collection. Learn more about my essay and 12 other essays you’ll want to read.

Year of Fire Dragons“Year of Fire Dragons” by Shannon Young

“Year of Fire Dragons” details the life-changing year Shannon Young spent in Hong Kong while in a long-distance relationship with her Eurasian boyfriend. Learn more through my interview with Shannon.

 

2016-17 Gift Recommendations for Books Featured on This Blog

Do you have a book lover on your holiday shopping list? Consider giving them one of these books I’ve featured on the blog in 2016 and 2017.

Why 2016 too? Because last year at this time I was busy with a big move and never got around to posting on the books for that year. But there were some great books on the blog in 2016 worth mentioning this time around.

I’ve listed these in alphabetical order based on the author’s last name. All titles are linked to Amazon, where your purchases help support this blog.

Quincy Carroll“Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside” by Quincy Carroll

This novel explores the clash between two Americans (a deadbeat and an idealist) teaching English in China, and the student who comes between them. Learn more through my interview with Quincy.

“Start, Love, Repeat: How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-up World” by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

For entrepreneurs in China and their spouses, Dorcas’ helpful guide has additional value thanks to her time in Shenzhen, where her husband opened offices to expand the business abroad. Learn more through my interview with Dorcas.

“A Geek in China” by Matthew Christensen

“A Geek in China” by Matthew Christensen is the perfect book for anyone who wants to be culturally savvy about China, fast. Think of it as a fun, smart 150-page China 101 course. Learn more through my interview with Matthew.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes“The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” by Kelli Estes

“The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” by Kelli Estes links two women across centuries to a silk embroidered sleeve in a story of love, courage and humanity. Learn more through my interview with Kelli.

“The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap” by Gish Jen

If you’re as fascinated with culture as I am and happen to be in an intercultural relationship that spans China and America, “The Girl at the Baggage Claim” should be required reading. Learn more through my interview with Gish.

“Expat Jimmy” by Travis Lee

“Expat Jimmy”, the new short story by Travis Lee, offers a vicarious look into the experience of a new foreign teacher arriving in China. Learn more through my interview with Travis.

 

“Parsley & Coriander” by Antonella Moretti

“Parsley & Coriander” is a delightful novel that captures the spirit of finding your own path in China, especially as an expat woman. Learn more through my interview with Antonella.

“All Under Heaven” by Carolyn Phillips

“All Under Heaven” is over 500 pages of the greatest recipes from all over the Middle Kingdom. It’s so comprehensive that you might never need another Chinese cookbook again. Learn more through my interview with Carolyn.

“The Dim Sum Field Guide” by Carolyn Phillips

Framed as a “field guide” (not unlike a field guide to birds), this book demystifies one of China’s most beloved culinary traditions and makes it accessible – and fun – for the average diner. Learn more through my interview with Carolyn.

“The Empress of Bright Moon” by Weina Dai Randel

Weina Randel has crafted a beautifully written, engaging and suspenseful tale of how one of the greatest rulers in China came to rise. You can learn more about this second chapter of the duology by reading Weina’s guest post on sex education during Tang Dynasty China.

The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel“The Moon in the Palace” by Weina Dai Randel

“The Moon in the Palace” by Weina Dai Randel, about the rise of China’s young Empress Wu, truly reads like a Tang Dynasty-era Cinderella story. Learn more through my interview with Weina.

“Empire of Glass” by Kaitlin Solimine

“Empire of Glass” is stunning for its lyrical prose and unique in that it’s presented as a “translation” of the story of Li-Ming and her husband Wang. Learn more through my interview with Kaitlin.

P.S.: In search of more great recommended reads? Check out my summer reading list from earlier this year and also this list of memoirs featuring Asian men and Western women in love. Plus, don’t forget my page devoted to a number of books I’ve enjoyed over the years.

Gift Recommendations For Books Featured On This Blog

Does your holiday shopping list include book lovers? Over the years, I’ve featured a lot of fantastic books on this blog (including AMWF titles); they could also make amazing gifts for that special someone in your life.

I’ve listed them in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name, along with a recommendation for who would love it and a link to my interview with the author and/or other post. Happy holidays! (Note: titles are linked to Amazon.com, where your purchase helps support this blog.)

For fans of love stories with lots of drama:

Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair With China Gone Wrong by Susan Blumberg-Kason (Read my interview with Susan)

For the armchair traveler fascinated by Asia:

Almost Home by Janet Brown

Almost Home: The Asian Search of a Geographic Trollop by Janet Brown

tonedeafinbangkok

Tone Deaf in Bangkok (And Other Places) by Janet Brown (Read my interview with Janet)

For fans of Pearl Buck’s wartime China stories:

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Tiger Tail Soup: A Novel of China at War by Nicki Chen (Read my interview with Nicki)

For anyone interested in interracial relationships:

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Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After by Diane Farr (Read my post about Kissing Outside the Lines)

For chick lit fans:

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Love Me Anyway by Tiffany Hawk (Read my interview with Tiffany)

For the person who wants to be happier, but hates self-help books:

A Field Guide to Happiness revised

A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up by Linda Leaming (Read my interview with Linda)

For anyone who loves comics and stories about the ups and downs of living abroad:

My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy

My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy by Grace Buchele Mineta (Read my interview with Grace)

For fans of mysteries and thrillers:

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Read my interview with Celeste)

For people who like reading about road trips and love stories:

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Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs (Read my interview with Dana)

For readers interested in the Asian American experience:

Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self

Big Little Man: In Search Of My Asian Self by Alex Tizon (Read my interview with Alex)

For readers who love coming-of-age stories:

Fire-Dragons_A

Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman’s Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong by Shannon Young (Read Shannon’s guest post here)

For fans of travel stories with a little heart and soul:

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How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia edited by Shannon Young (See my post on favorite essays from the anthology and a post about my own essay “Huangshan Honeymoon”)

What books do you think would make great Christmas gifts?

AMWF Books vs. AFWM Books: The “Good Reads” Question

(photo by Christine Tan)

A few months ago, Christine Tan — who writes the fabulous Shanghai Shiok — Facebooked me with this photo and a message:

Hey Jocelyn, quick look at my…bookshelf shows I have more explicitly WF/AM [White Female/Asian Male — also referred to as AMWF] books (yes, I include Anna and the King!) than the opposite, AF/WM [Asian Female/White Male]  (and yes, I include Amy Chua in that one). Wonder why I enjoy the former more even though I’m part of the latter. Maybe I just haven’t come across really good/insightful/not based on creepy stereotypes AF/WM writing. I mean, are there any AF/WM books you like and could recommend?

I chimed in with some suggestions of good AF/WM books, as did others, but her post lingered with me. Of course, there’s no “law” saying we MUST enjoy more those books that best reflect our own relationships and realities. Still, it was fascinating to me that Christine — who is in a AFWM marriage — still enjoyed more AMWF books over AFWM books.

And the thing is, I feel the same way. Continue reading “AMWF Books vs. AFWM Books: The “Good Reads” Question”