Old image alert – Kate @Books Are My Favourite & Best now hosts #6Degrees but this is a good refresh of the rules.
In 1996 I travelled to China for three weeks. It was a country I had wanted to visit ever since I was a teenager gazing in awe at the Terracotta Warriors exhibition on a school excursion to Canberra in 1983. As a result of this interest I have read quite a bit of Chinese literature and books based in China since then.
Jung Chang’s Wild Swans was one of those books.
But it was not my favourite book set in China.
The one I hold most dear, is the one I purchased in Hongkong on my way home from China, The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. Part of it’s appeal was it’s setting – in Guilin – which was one of the areas I had just explored.
The English language section in the Hongkong bookshop was light on in choice, but this was exactly the book I was looking for. It was Tan’s latest book, newly released & despite the ghastly cover, paper and font, I snapped it up.
Thanks to this perfect timing, the images, smells and sounds of China within the book felt more real to me than any other book on China I’ve ever read.
It is now firmly a part of my China experience.
I had a similar bookish experience in Bali.
In Periplus Books in Seminyak I found an English translation of the book I had been searching for before leaving home to read in Bali.
Vicki Baum’s Love and Death in Bali turned out to be the perfect thing to read whilst actually in the country and I’m thrilled that I found it in time.
It filled in so much of the history of the island and helped me to fall in love with Bali.
Another island that I fell in love with whilst holidaying nearby was Moloka’i by Alan Brennert.
We spent a couple of weeks exploring the beautiful islands of Hawai’i, Maui and O’ahu in 2010.
Thanks to this book, next time (fingers crossed), I plan to visit Moloka’i too.
I knew very little about the nature of leprosy or how the leprosy colony on Moloka’i worked before reading this book. Its scientific basis and historical record were fascinating and enlightening.
I could make this entire post about books I read about a country whilst holidaying there, but that might be showing off!
So instead, I will follow the thread of illness, science and pathology to Anne Manne’s The Life of I: The New Culture of Narcissism.
In her book, Manne explored the idea that narcissism actually sits on a spectrum – with high functioning at one end and extreme pathological narcissism at the other.
Her example for this end was the Norwegian serial killer Anders Behring Breivik.
The only other book that I can think of that I have read with a Norwegian protagonist is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.
Fortunately Sophie is much nicer and her story far more philosophical than Breivik’s.
Until we realise (*****SPOILER ALERT*****) that she is in a story within a story.
Meta-fiction has sucked us again!
Meta-fiction is my next (and last) rather easy link in this month’s #6degrees, because it allows me to jump straight into one of those unforgettable books that totally weirded me out when I first read it – Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy.
There you have it! I’ve been to New York, Norway, Hawai’i, Bali and China via books this month.
As you read this post, I will actually be relaxing, cocktail in one hand, book in the other, in one of these amazing destinations.
Can you guess which one?
(although if you follow me on Insta, you will already know the answer to that question.)