Current Reads

Wild SwansJung Chang’s Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China is a saga of herself and her mother and grandmother: 3 women in China during the time of political turmoil in the last century. It’s really an engaging read. I never thought I would even get through the first half. I have only about a quarter left.

When I was in high school I learned about the upheavement of Manchuria, Japanese’s occupation of China, the Civil War between KMT and the Communist Party, the rise of Mao, the Red Guards and the Cultural Revolution, but nothing compared to personal stories and recollection of what’s really happening to the people. I am totally mesmerized by their intense stories. They are dramatic and sensational, but at the same time they are what they were experiencing, that’s what’s different than history lessons.

Compared to Chang’s last book Mao: The Unknown Story, which has gotten a lot of bad reviews, Wild Swans seem to be much more popular. I guess it’s the personal accounts that count. Can you still criticize her as being biased if she’s writing her own personal accounts? Perhaps she has the license to be biased?

The World Without Us

The Joy of Chemistry

In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman speculates the scenario of our Earth with all human vanished. It’s an alternative method to help us think about our impact on Earth, thus helping us to see our environment in a different way. I can’t wait to get started on it. I read his article in Scientific America last month and I wanted to read The World Without Us real badly. Now it’s sitting on my head table and I have been reading a few pages every night before bed.

At the same time, I am skimping through The Joy of Chemistry to remind myself of the Chemistry I learned in high school, while getting ideas of some kitchen experiments that I can play with at home. It turns out that I can make salicyclic acid (key ingredient in treating acne) from rubbing alcohol and asprin. Amazing.

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