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What are you reading?


skylee
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I am a big fan of 许三观卖血记,it's a bit easier than 活着 and the story is just as good. I agree HSK5 people should be able to read it. If it's your first book and you are around HSK5 level, it will be very slow at the beginning. But if you keep going you'll realize by the end of the book you can read way faster. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally finished the 300-page Lao She volume today (my 10th book overall). It contained both "Cat Country" and "Xiao Po's Birthday." My impressions:

 

  • The vocabulary was simple--I averaged maybe 1.5 unknown words per page.
  • The 1930s Beijing dialect was overwhelming. I could generally follow the storyline and get the gist of the dialogue, but every now and then, I had no idea what was going on. To intensify the problem, Xiao Po's birthday is utterly whimsical, and there's a part where...I think...a bunch of little kids (in a dream) transform themselves into cats in order to fight a wolf kingdom, and they rescue a hostage who is tied to a wooden stake. Since they can't untie the person, they...uhhh...fly him in the air like a kite. Yeah. I don't know. :)
  • The decision to combine these two particular stories into one volume is interesting. "Cat Country" has somewhat mature content, with depictions of war, death, drug addiction, prostitution, etc. "Xiao Po's Birthday" is definitely a children's story. What a transition from one story to the other!
  • "Cat Country" turned out, after all, to have almost nothing to do with science fiction whatsoever. It was almost completely political satire. That aspect of it turned out to be interesting, I think, even though the story is a bit uneven, and it isn't regarded as Lao She's finest work.
  • "Xiao Po's Birthday," on the other hand, is a silly, light-hearted romp with a few rather funny moments. It may have some deeper narrative, but if so, it probably went over my head. It's about the adventures of a group of Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese children who live in Singapore, and the games they play together.
  • I was going to continue with another work of pre-PRC literature (围城 by Qian Zhongshu), but now I'm not so sure. I'm tired of wrestling with old Chinese dialects, and I'm now in the mood for something much more popular-level and contemporary. I feel like that would better help my grasp on today's Chinese, even though I do plan to read more "classical" stuff as I get more advanced.

If all goes according to plan, I'm going to binge on listening practice in June, July, and August, and then return to reading in September. I always enjoy this thread!

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On 5/11/2021 at 10:27 PM, ZhuoMing said:

So I guess next up is 三体2, which I have just discovered, for better or for worse, is nearly 2/3 longer than the first book, making it by far the longest Chinese book I have ever taken on. I am sure that won't cause any issues, it just might take a while.... I will be starting that book tomorrow, hopefully I can keep this reading streak going!  

 

The second book in the series is, I would say, my favorite one. If you liked the pacing and the "movie scene" quality, the second book does it way better than the first. The author continually weaves together 3-4 storylines at once, switching rapidly between them all. And the central idea that drives the story (which I won't give away) is extremely imaginative and engrossing, I think.

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15 hours ago, Woodford said:

The second book in the series is, I would say, my favorite one.

Funny, I got stranded about two-thirds in. It was partly because of the rather atrocious translation, but good genre fiction (as opposed to capital L-Literature) should keep standing even in bad translation. I think for me there were just too many different things going on, at a certain point I started to forget who did what when and why. And I found Luo Ji a tiresome jerk. But perhaps I should finish it, that atrocious translation is still sitting at my desk partly read.

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3 hours ago, Lu said:

Funny, I got stranded about two-thirds in.

 

When I read a book in Chinese (as an amateur, non-native reader), my standards are probably a little low. Like, "Hey, I can mostly understand this story, and it's at least a little interesting! Great!" I'd say about half of the books have been distractingly hard for me to comprehend, so I enjoy the ones that I can comprehend. :)  

 

Truth be told, the one thing I thought was rather strange was the "imaginary girlfriend" subplot that took place at the beginning of the book. I was thinking, "What....? What on earth?" Once the story proceeded from there, I was really impressed by the concept of the "Wall-facer" project--it made things interesting.

 

Someday I want to be a confident, free, non-clumsy reader of Chinese literature. Then I also remember that even though it's felt like an eternity, I've only been reading native content for about 21 months.

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7 minutes ago, Woodford said:

Truth be told, the one thing I thought was rather strange was the "imaginary girlfriend" subplot that took place at the beginning of the book. I was thinking, "What....? What on earth?"

Yah don't get me started on that bit. I agree that the Wall-facer idea was interesting! Perhaps I should just finish it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Anybody whose read 三体, I have a question. I have both a traditional Chinese version and an English version. I started with the traditional Chinese version but decided that I wanted to take a look at the English version after a few pages just to double check my comprehension. I noticed right away that the English version has an entire first part, Madness Years, that is missing from my Chinese version which just begins with 科学边界. Anybody know what's going on here? Is my Chinese version missing some of the chapters, or would stuff added to the English version for Western readers?

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3 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

Is my Chinese version missing some of the chapters, or would stuff added to the English version for Western readers?

 

IIRC the opening chapters were serialized in one order, reordered for the Chinese print edition, and then restored to the original order in the English version. All the chapters should be there in both versions.

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I've recently been reading a book called 《我不是潘金莲》.  If you are a fan of 《许三观卖血记》 and the like, I highly recommend this book.  I have found it approachable, funny, and an enjoyable read.  As a brief overview, it's about a woman that went through a "fake" divorce with her husband in order to try to avoid the 1 child policy, but her husband decides to make the "fake" divorce real by remarrying someone else.  The book is essentially her trials and tribulations as she tries to get back at him, with a particular focus on the chinese court system. 

 

It was adapted into a movie that is rather weird and has a slightly different plot, but I've only watched the first few minutes of the movie.  I plan on revisiting the movie after I've finished the book.

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10 hours ago, jiaojiao87 said:

I've recently been reading a book called 《我不是潘金莲》.

I've read this book too and really liked it. I found the scene at the Two Meetings really funny, the entire book good, but what really made it great for me was the very last chapter. I couldn't quite put my finger on why that made it great, but then Liu Zhenyun said in an interview why: throughout the book, Li Xuelian tries to fight absurdity with sincerity, and loses. Only in the last chapter, Shi fights absurdity with absurdity and he wins.

 

The movie is different (as movies are) but also good. Some differences are due to censorship.

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Quote

Anybody whose read 三体, I have a question. I have both a traditional Chinese version and an English version. I started with the traditional Chinese version but decided that I wanted to take a look at the English version after a few pages just to double check my comprehension. I noticed right away that the English version has an entire first part, Madness Years, that is missing from my Chinese version which just begins with 科学边界. Anybody know what's going on here? Is my Chinese version missing some of the chapters, or would stuff added to the English version for Western readers?

 

In my simplified Chinese version Madness Years (疯狂年代) is chapter 7.

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On 6/5/2021 at 4:30 PM, PerpetualChange said:

Anybody know what's going on here? Is my Chinese version missing some of the chapters, or would stuff added to the English version for Western readers?

 

There's a bit of a backstory to that: https://www.quora.com/Is-the-Chinese-version-of-The-Three-Body-Problem-censored

 

Madizi is correct--the order of the chapters has been changed, but no chapters are missing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well I'm 1/3rd of the way through the first 三體 novel. I would say it's going okay. There are definitely the expected "encounters with Cthulhu" and I have an English version of the book which I have tried my best not to consult with at all except for these rare occasions when I was relieved to find that it was all a bunch of technology talk that I would have probably registered without really understanding where I reading that translation. 

 

In terms of readability it's definitely not as hard as my first encounter with 金庸, but I'm not as far as I would like to be given that I've been reading for a whole month now. However, I think the pace will pick up and I should be done in another month, unless there are any big shifts in vocabulary. The author really likes to describe natural light as 燦爛, I noticed! 


In terms of overall quality, I guess I would say it's okay. I like this sections inside of the game best. Otherwise the plot jumps around a lot and doesn't seem all that well paced to me though part of this could be due to the reshuffling of chapters that was mentioned above. The story is being told in a way that seems unnecessarily cryptic and implausible.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My focus this summer has been almost entirely on listening comprehension, but I've been itching to get back into reading. So these days, I'm very slowly chipping away at 袁腾飞讲美国历史。 袁腾飞 is an online celebrity and history teacher who has channels on Chinese platforms and YouTube. The book is definitely marketed as a "fun" book that falls more into the category of popular history than something that's academically serious. It features some nice cartoon illustrations, vivid storytelling, and occasional humor. There are some errors in the book, and sometimes he takes the legendary elements of American history and reports them as fact. 

Regardless of the book's flaws, it's been a good opportunity to keep sharpening my skills. It's not too hard and not too easy. I find myself enjoying his style (which is interesting, because I'm not really experienced enough in Chinese to be able to perceive "style" that easily--all I know is that something just feels pleasant about his writing). I also enjoy the cultural elements. It's just interesting to get a non-American's perspective on the history of my own country. Occasionally, he'll make some commentary about American culture, point out its differences from Chinese culture, and try to help his Chinese audience understand it. Those moments are golden.

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16 hours ago, Lu said:

魔道祖师

 

I love 魔道祖師! In fact it was the second native book ("book") I finished. (For anyone else: I don't necessarily advise diving in the deep end like this--it took me literally over a hundred hours. But I did enjoy myself.) Seconding the recommendation for the animation; found the live-action adaptation rather disappointing.

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24 minutes ago, pinion said:

I love 魔道祖師! In fact it was the second native book ("book") I finished. (I don't necessarily advise diving in the deep end like this--it took me literally over a hundred hours. But I did enjoy myself.) Seconding the recommendation for the animation; found the live-action adaptation rather disappointing.

魔道祖师 as second book ever, that is ambitious! I don't think I'd recommend that, but looks like it worked for you. I'm not going to count how many hours I spent on it, but I, too, enjoyed myself. I'm hesitating about watching the live action series. I kind of want to continue to consume this thing, but mainstream Chinese tv drama aesthetics are different from what I like to see. Many people love the series, but I guess the people who find it disappointing just stop watching and don't plaster their opinion all over the internet.

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Today I finished 巴金’s 1932 novel 《雨》. It is the second book in his Love Trilogy. I liked it. It’s deeper, longer, and more psychologically interesting than the first book of the trilogy, 《雾》. Feels like more is at stake. The ending really caught me by surprise — the last ten pages of the book are ridiculous (I mean that in a good way).

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On 7/30/2021 at 6:18 PM, Lu said:

Heard about a series called 魔道祖师,

I love The Untamed so much but I haven’t read 魔道祖師 I’m saving this one for when I feel my reading pain would be reasonably low as I want to enjoy it instead of using it as a study tool 😅

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