dreamingI read Deborah Fallows’ book, Dreaming in Chinese, on my first plane ride to China. Fallows writes about China almost as though she is writing a sort of love letter to China. She obviously enjoyed her time in China and really came to appreciate the people and the culture in her three years here. Each of the chapters is titled using a different Chinese word/character, which serves as a theme throughout the chapter. Fallows, who studied other languages before struggling with learning Mandarin, found that as she learned the language, she also learned new things about the culture.

I really enjoyed this book because it taught me a lot of things I did not know about modern China. It also introduced me to the difficulties I would face in trying to learn Chinese, especially with the anecdote about the stone eating lion. I did not know one word of Chinese when I got on that first plane to China, so this book was a good introduction and taught me some of my first Chinese words. It really gave me an appreciation for the Chinese language and motivated me to try to learn it myself. There were also some good tips in there for expats. Many of her observations are similar to those many other expats make, but I think she is able to convey some of the frustrations expats face here without coming off as negative or mean-hearted. This was an interesting book to read on my way here, although some of the words and concepts were confusing to me because I had never been to China before and did not know what pinyin was, nor could I imagine what it meant to learn a tonal language. Now that I have been living here I am sure I would read this book again without any troubles and would probably laugh at all of the similarities between her experiences and my own.

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