Thursday, June 16, 2005

Reading is Fundamental

There's an electronic chain letter making the rounds of the blogosphere, and I've been tagged. Since this is quite harmless, and I already let people know what we're reading in the Chen household, I figure "Why not?" Thanks to Joshua from OneFreeKorea for thinking of me.

How many books have I owned?

My book buying heyday has long passed. Mostly non-fiction. If you include books purchased for college/grad school and frequent trips to garage sales for used books (at 25 cents a pop), I'd say the number is close to 1,000. I just checked my Amazon account, and in the last year I've bought just two books for myself (listed below). Today, virtually all of the books I buy are for the kids.

Last two books I bought

James Bradley's Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima - I bought this book because I was interested in what happened to Iwo Jima flag raiser Ira Hayes. He was a Pima Indian from Arizona who lived a tragically short life. James Bradley happens to be the son of one of the surviving flag raisers.

Voices of Vietnamese Boat People: Nineteen Narratives of Escape and Survival - I have always wondered why my Vietnamese-American friends (many of them ethnic Chinese) rarely spoke of their post-war escape from Vietnam, and so I bought this book. This is one of the few published books on the subject, one that is virtually ignored by the anti-war left. Did you know that more South Vietnamese perished either trying to escape from Vietnam or in "reeducation camps" than those killed during the war itself? The guy sitting next to me at work was 2 years old when his parents put him and his 8 brothers and sisters on a homemade boat and then sailed from Vietnam to Malaysia.

Three books that meant the most for me

A Man on the Moon (Andrew Chaikin) - The story of the Apollo astronauts, the only humans ever to visit another world. Besides the founding of the United States, this is man's single greatest achievement.

On Gold Mountain (Lisa See) - A woman who is only one-eighth Chinese traces her Chinese roots in a story that is part autobiographical, part narrative. The inspiration for my own trip back to China and family history project.

Common Sense on Mutual Funds (John Bogle) - This is the only guide to mutual funds that you will ever need. I sleep well at night, thanks to John Bogle.


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