Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

American Chinatown

When I was a child, we would go into NYC to go to the museums, shop etc. Then with regularity we would eat at Wo Pings. It was a restaurant in the basement of a building in Chinatown. Downstairs restaurants were often cheaper and we would normally be the only non-Asian faces there. The owners like that my family ate family style and that we were adventurous eaters. We often tried new dishes with the only the vaguest idea of what we had chosen in the pantomime of ordering, but it was always good and the staff welcoming. So it was with delight that I saw Bonnie Tsui's history of American Chinatown: A people's history of five neighborhoods. I loved how she captured the essence of the communities and their histories. She looks at San Francisco, NYC, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Las Vegas. She looks at the racism that separated early Chinatowns. She talks to residents about the pluses and minuses of living in a neighborhood where things are familiar and convenient, but also stagnating. And so much more! An excellent book

Saturday, July 06, 2013

French by Heart

I think my love of memoirs that include travel is well established. Rebecca Ramsey leaves her home in the Carolinas with her husband, three kids and the cat to live in Clermont-Ferrand. The city south of Paris is the corporate home of Michelin for whom her husband works. Ramsey works hard to learn the language, to fit in and make a French friend. I enjoyed her stories of their time in France and her finger waggling neighbor Madame Mallet. Very enjoyable.