Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Read 'Round The World: Lost On Planet China

Hello, Reader Friends!  I participated in a blog even hosted by Carin at A Little Bookish called Book Read 'Round The World.  Carin is an amazing blogger and set up an unusual book tour - she chose two travel books and arranged for other book bloggers across the world to read the books and mail them to a blogger in another country along with some items that represent where we live.  My post about the experience is up on her blog today, so you can see the awesome things I got from Judith at Leeswammes. After I finished the book, I sent it on to Sabrina from Thinking About Loud.  I won't reveal what I got her on here, but I'll be sure to link to Carin's blog when it's posted.
The tour I participated in was Lost On Planet China by J. Maarten Troost.  Troost is a travel writer who is considering moving his wife and young children to China.  Before making the decision, he decides to spend some time travelling in China to get a feel for the country.  The book records his experiences - both the good and bad.

As I mentioned in the post on Carin's blog, I feel like I have a connection to China through my parents.  I grew up an MK (missionary kid for all of you who aren't southern baptist) and we didn't live in China, but my dad spent several months in China throughout my childhood, smuggling Bibles and meeting with Chinese Christians.  Yeah, my dad's basically the James Bond of Bible smuggling - he's a rock star.  Anyway, I really wanted to post some of his pictures on here, especially those of Xi'an, which is where Troost spends a chapter or so in the book.  No luck though, my parents are on a cruise (what?  missionaries get breaks too) and I don't want to drive out to their house and dig through all their stuff to find the pictures. 

So I'll just stick to my opinions of the book.  Troost is a great travel writer and I recommend him to those anyone who is either new to travel writing or enjoys humorous travelogues.  I'm going to include my criticims, but I have to say that neither bothered me enough to keep me from recommending the book to almost anyone.  Troost is hilarious and I learned a LOT about China and its history in a very entertaining (and not at all dry) format.  I'm looking forward to reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which is another travel book I own.  Ok now for my two criticisms:

1) I got tired of hearing how stupid and ignorant and idiotic and ridiculous you have to be to be a political conservative.  In a political book, this would have been fine.  But it's a book about China, and at times I wanted the author to stop telling me what a moron I am (yep, Republican, right here!) for disagreeing with him politically and just tell me about China.  Again, it didn't bother me enough to stop reading or to not recommend, and if you're not one of the idiots he's talking about, you might not even notice.

2)  I also felt like there were times in the book that the author really toed the line on treating the Chinese with respect.  Pointing out discrepancies between a Western and Eastern culture is fine, but there were a few moments in the book where I really felt like the author was judging an entire culture based on a Euro/American-centric point of view. 


  1. I don't remember his political commentary in this book (not nearly as bad as the Julia Child's blogger)! I really love J. Maarten Troost and his writing. It definitely inspires me to travel! I keep checking to see when he's going to write something new but nothing yet.

  2. I do recall some of his comments on political things. I guess I didn't think much about them because the whole book was pretty tongue in cheek to me.

    I enjoyed the book a lot. I cringed a few times, but then realized how much he had changed from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. I think that he initially started out somewhat disdainful of China and its culture, but by the end, I think his journeys had changed him greatly. I think he had a profound respect for the country and its people by the end of the book. I enjoyed the honesty of being the Western fish out of water. I would likely be the same way if not way worse I think!

    Thanks so much for participating in the tour. It's been a really fun thing to organize, and hopefully I can do something similar in the future (probably something more basic like the grocery bag exchange I hosted. It went faster and seemed to work a little better than this has turned out with travel times and what not). It's definitely been a learning experience for me so I am so glad that all the bloggers that have participated have been so enthusiastic and so understanding! :)