The Good Earth

Today we are shooting across the globe to China and reading about yet another culture I haven’t spent much time in. I’m so glad to be opening my world up beyond the normal White America that is so prevalent in publishing.

I’m thinking about doing an Around the World challenge–reading a book from every country. Does anyone know of any “Map My Books” apps or websites? I have what I want in my head but I’m not sure if they are out there. I’d really like a way to track the books I’ve read from outside of the US in certain places, and maybe look up books in countries I’ve not read yet. Not sure if anything like that exists.

Just brainstorming. May be a challenge I’ll put together for 2016–and that’s still a ways away. Hmmmmm…..

Aaaaannnyyyywayyyyy….Back to China.


The Good Earth takes place in the late 1800s-mid 1900s in mostly northern China. Wang Lung starts his adult life as a poverty-stricken farmer living with his old, grumpy father. He wants a wife, so he skimps a few coins to buy an ugly (but not pock-marked) slave from a rich family in town. She becomes his life-long friend and companion, not only giving him many children, but because of her help in the fields, they are able to grow the farm to success–with a few struggles along the way, of course.

I loved the first half of this book. It’s almost a Fiddler on the Roof kind of love story (OK, so I MAY have watched that episode of Gilmore Girls last night where Kirk is in an elementary play.). They don’t start by loving each other, but they work next to each other in the fields, hardly talking, gaining mutual respect, and it’s a marriage. It’s a hard life, but a seemingly happy one. O-lan supports his constant yearning for landownership and never pushes him towards material things. It’s a simple life that they both want.

But, something breaks in Wang Lung after the first famine, when they have to go south, I think. After they get back, he immediately starts gaining new land and capital, and is never the same. When he realizes how rich he is, and above the Old Lord, his ego overcomes him and his life just goes downhill from there. The more “successful” he is, the less fulfilled he becomes.

I did have to remind myself a few times that this is a different culture, and so things like concubines and sons getting education over working in the fields were normal. But I was so frustrated for O-lan. And I did not always understand the dynamic between Wang Lung and his uncle.

Really, I think my main takeaway is just that you don’t always need to be rich in order to have a full life. Oh, and Chinese farm wives are badass. That too. O-lan, you’re pretty much my hero right now. “Just bring me a sharp reed, and stay out.”

Ok, O-lan, whatever you say, O-lan.


Fulfills PopSugar #18:  A Pulitzer Prize-winning book


The Goldfinch

I have been absorbed this weekend, the last weekend before things really get moving. We leave for our three day Dallas trip on Tuesday…and I’ve been curled up on my couch, eyes glued to The Goldfinch. Oops. Such is my life. Hey, I did get the laundry through the wash, so I can pack this afternoon!


Donna Tartt’s novel is a meaty one. 771 pages, full of some serious themes. You wouldn’t think by looking at the fairly bland cover–just a simple pretty bird hiding in a torn white foreground–but this is a book full of drug addiction and depression. It is not an easy book to get through. The basis of the story is a bomb attack on a museum, and a boy caught in the crossfire. An important piece of art goes missing at the same time, and his world crumbles with the building.

Theo is the type of person you normally think of on the outskirts of a social circle, at least in my mind. The sketchy, scrawny one, that so often fades in the background. He’s always around but everyone tends to forget his tragedies until it’s too late. His best friends are always the popular kids, the rich kids, and often, the brawny protectors. Someone he can cling to. But eventually, there’s always a point where he drops off the cliff, and his rock bottom.

This is one of those stories.

If depression and addiction are triggers for you, don’t read this. There’s also some gun violence towards the end.

This book consumed me. Tartt draws you in from the beginning and doesn’t let go. The relationships are perfect, although I was convinced at one point that Theo was homosexual–so intense was his connection with Boris. I loved their friendship, rocky as it was at the end. And Hobie. Hobie was such a beautiful “dad” to Theo. I wanted to kiss him at several points of the story for being so wonderful.

Read this. Read this. Read this.