Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Friday, December 19, 2008

Strange Intersections

Another blogger, I can't recall who, posted recently that she seems to unintentionally be reading books that intersect in some way (similar topics, similar time periods, etc.). The same thing just happened to me! I'm listening to THE MAN WHO LOVED CHINA by Simon Winchester and reading OUTWITTING HISTORY by Aaron Lansky. Both books have to do with preserving books in a foreign language - odd, right?

The CHINA book is a biography of Joseph Needham, a Brit who spend many years studying and writing about China. One of his goals while travelling in that country was to find and preserve ancient Chinese texts. The HISTORY book is Lansky's memoir of how he (and others) rescued one million Yiddish books from attics and dumpsters and preserved them for future readers.

In both non-fiction books the main characters learn a language that is not their native one, fall in love with the culture represented by that language, and work tirelessly to preserve it's history. It is a strange but fascinating intersection of topics and one that I definitely was not expecting to find!

1 comment:

Dave said...

Heather, I've been wanting to read the Yiddish book; I'll look for your review. If you're not burned out from language books, you might add My Father's Paradise. Ariel Sabar, a former reporter for The Baltimore Sun, writes about his father, Yona, who grew up living in a mud hut in Kurdish Iraq and speaking Aramaic, the language of Christ. The book follows Yona's difficult emigration to Israel and then to the U.S., where he winds up as a professor of Aramaic at UCLA -- quite a journey. A subplot is Ariel's stained relationship with his father.

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