My Top 5 Books for 2014: Introduction



I work with a lot of books, in both English and Chinese. As the year nears its end, I find it necessary to make a note on what readings I have accomplished or yet to complete. It is a surprisingly hard task, partly because of the guilt I feel for those titles that I have started yet never managed to finish. These include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes.

There are also titles I went through some trouble to purchase, and then, knowing that they are now within my reach, never got to actually read them. Examples include Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes and Geoffrey Abbott’s The Book of Execution. For them I feel equally apologetic.

But for now, I just want to write something about those books that have “touched” me the most, either because their plots and/or characters are unique or because of the stories behind them. The story of the storyteller always fascinates me, in the same way that a clown’s smiles always conceal his unique sorrow. A story’s values derive not only from the personal associations those reading it have made, but also from the exceptional experiences and memories of the one who tells it.

Three of the books I intend to introduce here are written in English, the fourth in Simplified Chinese and the fifth in Traditional Chinese. All three English books are by Australian authors. As for the two Chinese books, their authors reside in China and Taiwan and more or less have captured the essence of the past and present of their respective Chinese societies.

I feel privileged to have been “touched” by the personal and written stories of these authors.


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