Selfies…with Books! 2016 Retrospective Look

The raucous year that was 2016 is almost over. I graduated college and now find myself in China. Unable to escape domestic news, I helplessly watched the upsetting political upset of Trump, the unrest in American society—I’m struck by what appears a general loss of direction. We’re moving forward, but it’s as if all of us are being bulldozed together with no one driving the damn thing. That should be a feeling confined to individuals, fresh college graduates or young people in general who are making it up as they go along; but now, an entire society can’t work together to decide the best path forward, and so the bulldozer continues its steady trampling. The only cries heard debate the best way to be trampled comfortably!

But I digress.

2016 is almost over, and for the first time, I will conduct a Selfies…with Books! retrospective look, not just for this year, but to the beginning of my campaign. My first post is dated February 8, 2015 and it recommends The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. I have made 35 other posts, showing 40 books, since then bearing the #selfieswithbooks insignia, with Gary Jennings’ Aztec being the last of this year, the year of Our Lord two thousand and sixteen, to borrow the writing style of one of the characters in the book. I have gone through three phones in the past two years, the great HTC One, the marvelous Sony Xperia Z3, and the too-oftentimes awful LG G4, the phone I’m currently tolerating.

Introspection: Engage. Continue reading Selfies…with Books! 2016 Retrospective Look

Minority Report

Three months down. It’s time to take stock.

There are condoms everywhere. Unlike in the US, where you have to go through the 7/11 clerk to ask for a pack, or wave down a supermarket associate so that she (it’s usually a woman) can unlock the glass door and know more about you than you wanted to reveal, since she has to lock the glass again after you’ve made your selection, China has condoms next to the bathing products, and the snacks, and the wine, and the miscellaneous items, and on this corner, here, because you’ve walked too far without seeing a condom pack. Family planning, after all, is part of Chinese culture. Though the one-child policy has been relaxed to allow for two children, the Communist Party still caps the number of children a family can have to avoid its 1 billion+ population from becoming a John and Kate + 8 scenario. Chinese people have very strong knees, a colleague explained to me, because of the way toilets are, or rather, aren’t. Squat toilets reign supreme here, which to me feels like an urban camping experience, but you’ll often see people squatting in the street while on their phones, to rest—in the absence of benches, squatting provides a suitable substitute. Continue reading Minority Report