I haven’t been to China yet but I went on a little voyage through space and time to take my mind off of the hurricane and its aftermath.
I had read a few good reviews of Yu Hua’s China in Ten Words and its bright yellow cover had been sitting on my desk for a few months.
As I prepared for Hurricane Sandy, I set aside a few different books to read. I wasn’t sure what kind of reading mood I’d be in so my selection included:
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, John Steinbeck’s America and Americans and Yu Hua’s China in Ten Words
Yu Hua explores his relationship with 10 words (such as “People” and “Writing”) and through this exploration tells a history of China interweaved with his own personal stories.
I was delighted to find that one of the words he writes about is ‘reading’.
One passage in particular stood out to me:
“Every time I read one of the great books, I feel myself transported to another place, and like a timid child I hug them close and mimic their steps, slowly tracing the long river of time in a journey where warmth and emotion fuse. They carry me off with them, then let me make my own way back, and it’s only on my return that I realize that they will always be part of me.”
Sitting in my cold, dark house (I was without electricity and heating for almost two weeks), his words reminded me why I had included books in my hurricane emergency kit.