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Three Books for the Month of December

Politics, education, and a dystopian society?


Little Soldiers

In 2010 author Lenora Chu, her husband, and young child came to Shanghai. In what some families might consider an unorthodox move, the journalist parents made the decision to forego an international school education, instead enrolling their son in a local prestigious public primary school. This decision gave Chu’s family a seldom-seen behind-the-curtains viewpoint of the often mired-in-controversy Chinese education system.

Though her son became more polite and obedient, Chu found herself aghast at some of the methods used to get results.  Her son was force fed, deprived of water, and scolded for not sitting still enough. By combining personal experiences and investigative reporting, Chu blows the door open on the complex system of Chinese education and the methodology that have earned Chinese students a reputation as some of the highest-achieving in the world, while also shedding a light on processes that may no longer serve the student or the system. Little Soldiers by Lenora Chu is available at Garden Books for RMB225.


We Were 8 Years in Power

Compiled primarily of nine essays written for The Atlantic from 2008-2017, this latest collection by Ta Nehisi Coates provides commentary and perspective on the political and social landscape of the years during the Obama administration and the time immediately afterwards. Though previously published, each essay comes with a prologue of sorts where Coates gives insight into his feelings and journey as a writer and black man during those eight years. With the benefit of hindsight, Coates is able to examine the origins of his ideas, question faulty thought processes, and infuse the narrative with a healthy dose of memoir about his own life struggles in those times. We Were 8 Years in Power by Ta Nehisi Coates is available at Amazon.com for RMB92.


An Excess Male

In this dystopian futuristic China, residual effects from the one child policy and favoritism for male offspring has led to a society where men outnumber women by 40 million. Unmarried men are shunned by society, while women are allowed to take up to three husbands for family planning purposes. Lee Wei-Guo is one of these men and he hopes to remedy his situation by joining a polyamorous family as the low-level third husband. He’s matched with May-ling, a woman in an unfulfilled marriage to two brothers. From these circumstances, the narrative bounces between the three central characters, offering insight into individual motivations. An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King is available at Garden Books for RMB73

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