March 14th, 2009
lzh and I went up to the book market at 甜水园/Tianshuiyuan this afternoon. Her boss suggested she should take some translator’s exam, so she was looking for books to study for that, and, well, book shopping is one of the very few forms of shopping I actually enjoy. We didn’t stay long, though. As soon as she found her books and I’d picked out a couple that looked interesting, we paid up, thereby emptying my wallet (not much point in staying any longer, then, was there?) and left. I guess that means we managed to set two records:
- lzh’s shortest ever shopping trip; and
- the shortest time I’ve ever spent in a bookstore.
That’s pretty impressive. It normally takes ages to drag me out of a bookstore, and her shopping trips are usually full day affairs.
So what did I get?
- 汉语外来词/史有为著。-北京：商务印书馆，2000 （汉语知识丛书）
Or, to translate just as quickly and roughly as I usually do: Foreign Words in Chinese, by Shi Youwei, published by the Commercial Press in Beijing in 2000 as part of the Chinese Knowledge Series, and Chinese Dialectology, (2nd edition) by Li Rulong, published in Beijing by the Higher Education Press in February 2007.
This raises, for the sake of keeping the motif of short lists running, two questions:
- Is my Chinese up to reading these books?
- Will I actually read them?
It’s too early to answer the first question. All I can say is that with both books I immediately understood the title and all that publication detail I just listed up there, and almost all of the contents pages (yeah, there were a few new characters, but that’s why you read foreign language books, to expand your command of that foreign language, right?). By the second question I mean (again- I mean, I can’t go abandoning short lists this late in the piece, now, can I?):
- One of the things I do not lack is Chinese-language books and Chinese language textbooks sitting on the bookshelf, window sills, and other flat surfaces, unread.
- The start of this semester has been so busy and tiring I’m surprised I still have energy to walk home at the end of the day, let alone read anything.
But I suspect the semester will settle down, especially once all our new teachers finally have all the documents they need. So it’s just a question- like my very slow progress through Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau- of, when I do have time and energy, turning the bloody computer off and reading real stuff.
Because much as I love my online life, sitting down with a good, old fashioned, dead tree book is far more satisfying. It’s the feel and smell of the paper and ink, you see, that the internet does not have, and the ease of distracting oneself that books so perfectly lack.