book reviews

Here are some books I have purchased to use in my research.  I will write about their usefulness to me in case anyone in the universe is considering buying them.  They are listed in alphabetical order.  Star ratings (★) are based on a scale of 1-5.

100 Pearls of Chinese Wisdom (ISBN 7-80052-709-3) - Got this from Half Price Books; it has Chinese idioms that will supposedly help you relate to the culture once you understand them.  It is cool because it has the sayings written in characters as well as English.  Research-wise this hasn't been very helpful yet but I do enjoy looking at the book, kind of like a piece of art.

Culture Shock! China (ISBN 0-7614-5403-9) - This book doesn't focus on dealing with culture shock as much as trying to prevent it...which would be absolutely ideal.  A cursory history of China, the Chinese (as people...if you can generalize) as well as the Chinese Language is given.  Socializing, eating, enjoying the culture and settling in are some of the main topics of the chapters in this book.  A guide of what to expect and how to react will hopefully serve to minimize stress in the journey to a new culture.  A section on working will mostly be useful for professional business people (not those wanting to teach), and has information about business associations and dealing with government and Chinese employees.  Overall, Culture Shock! China was informal and fun to read, worth buying if you can find it for under $10. 

Fodor's Exploring China
(ISBN 0679004467) - Found this at an estate sale for $1.  It is primarily a travel guide with a few brief sections (China Is, China Was) about Chinese culture and history.  Lots of cool pictures that will make you want to go to China.  I'm glad I only paid $1; this book would be for my dad or a hardcore sightseer who wants to find the oldest temple to take their picture in front of.  I should've bargained to pay a quarter but I was just excited that the book was about China.  

Getting Along With the Chinese (For Fun and Profit) (ISBN 9627160199) - This book is mostly business-oriented and has frequent references about how to seat guests at banquets.  There were a number of useful explanations concerning mianzi and guanxi (face and relationship).  The writer's style seemed quite boastful for a portion of the book but by the end I had found the book useful enough overall to ignore stylistic qualms and just parse the information.  

Integrated Chinese Level 1 Part 1 (ISBN 0887275338) - This was the first textbook used in my intensive Mandarin course at UTA (University of Texas at Arlington).  The book focuses on listening, reading, writing and speaking; it had some accompanying workbooks and audio files to supplement the textbook.  Not useful for self-study--really needs to be used along with an instructor.
Let's Go: China (ISBN 0312246706) -

Live & Work In China (ISBN 1854583085) -

Moon:  Living Abroad In China (ISBN 1566919940) - I saw it at Borders but it was $20 so I wrote down the name and ordered it online for less than $4.  So far this has been the most helpful book and it is well-written; the authors have a great attitude and their sarcastic senses of humor show through occasionally.  As well, this is the one book that I wouldn't have been totally pissed if I'd paid full price for it.  

Teach Yourself Beginner's Mandarin Chinese (ISBN 9780340870211) - Available at Half Price Books for $4.98, this book is fun so far.  I have only gone through the first chapter and a half so far but it is very easy to understand.  Focuses only on oral communication by "spelling Chinese" via pīnyīn (Romanized alphabet system) so they are readable without knowing characters.

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