Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately– this week will feature adventures from the past two weeks and I’ll do my best not to do or see anything noteworthy in the next couple days to get back on track ;). I had the chance to explore Shenzhen’s largest bookstore in Citizen Square two weeks ago (after Wenbo kindly recommended it in a comment) and enjoyed an afternoon with the company of coffee and modern Chinese poetry (or with the few comprehensible phrases I managed to extract from stanzas of indecipherable characters). Our office had the day off that Wednesday due to typhoon threats, though the brunt of the storm missed our location completely (southern China fared much better than Beijing, which suffered from deadly 100-year floods).
China’s bookstores are quite a riot for the same reason China’s IKEAs are able to steal headlines year after year–namely, they’re “occupied”. When I say occupied, I mean it’s difficult to maneuver between the hundreds of people sitting against bookshelves, heads buried in the latest mystery novel or SAT prep book. Within moments I had collected a handful of books that interested me and rejoiced at the fact that they sold for almost half the price of those in the U.S. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a sting of self-consciousness as I stepped over countless rows of delirious book-lovers on my way to the checkout line. It was suddenly an oddity to be purchasing books when I could just join the masses and surrender my afternoon to the fresh scent of newly turned pages.
The book featured in the photo above caught my eye for the sole reason that it translates “Bad Democracy”. The text contains reflections from an author who spent time in the United States and apparently decided it wasn’t his cup of tea. I had a brief urge to buy “坏民主” for the same reason I almost bought Bush’s “Decision Points”– to understand exactly how the “other side” uses evidence to string together what they consider a logical argument . Still, I imagine this book’s far from mainstream even by Chinese standards, given the comparatively liberal political stances of many Chinese I’ve chatted with and the fact that “坏民主” was sold next to titles like “In Defense of China” and “God Knows China: Let’s Talk About Politics”.
Stay tuned for later posts this week and learn the background story behind many of China’s Olympic athletes…