Tag Archives: reading

Kindle, Body Swap et al


Hooray! I have finally finished work that required all my attention (and all my time) and can now get back to reading, enjoying life and writing posts for my blog. My French editor had asked me to proof-read my latest manuscript before the book is put together, and I also had to write a final scene for my latest full-length play. I am still reading “Hong Kong Murders” and my pile of books has grown higher… Argh! Watch this space!

I’ve also been interviewed by David Wisehart (author of Devil’s Lair) about Body Swap, my latest young adult novel, and publishing on Kindle. The interview has been posted in his blog and can be read here.

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Filed under Books, Ranting, Reading, writing

Taipei: the city that reads


Last weekend I hopped over to Taipei for a short visit. Taiwan’s capital city is a large metropolis spreading over kilometres and kilometres. It drizzled on the first day, which gave the buildings in the older part of the city a rather gloomy look. However it was sunny the next day, and things looked much more interesting. You can’t miss the 101 Tower, the second tallest building in the world (for how long, though?). It’s a beautiful structure from which you have an amazing three hundred and sixty degree view over the sprawling city. Food, of course, is delicious, as it always is in Taiwan, with a strong influence from Japan. In fact, I can’t help notice every time I go to Taiwan, that it sits half-way between Japan and China and that it has been influenced by both cultures. People are very friendly, and many speak English in Taipei, unlike in the rest of the country. There are even national radio stations mixing English and Mandarin! What amazed me though was to find a city with hundreds of bookstores. When you come from Hong Kong, which is a real books’ no-man’s-land, seeing all those beautiful bookstores is a feast for the eyes. There is even an underground street (a shopping mall, really) which is only occupied by bookstores. It’s a shame that Taiwan uses traditional characters, so I wasn’t able to buy Chinese books, but I did enjoy spending time looking at the shelves, touching and smelling the books… At the moment there is a temporary exhibition called “Finding India” at  the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Arts of Taipei), which exhibits works by Indian artists. It’s a bit “out there” for my liking, but very interesting nonetheless. I especially liked the hundreds of cockroaches glued to the walls in one of the exhibition rooms!

And here are the photos…

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Filed under Books, Exhibitions, Reading, Travel

Reference material for learning Chinese


I’m very disappointed. The SUPER TYPHOON MEGI, which was heading towards Hong Kong two days ago changed its course and is now about to hit the North Guangdong province. Xiamen is going to get a lot of rain… and today is sunny in Hong Kong! I love typhoons and I was planning to spend a full day revising my Chinese while stuck at home. So here I am instead, planning to go swimming… Tough!

I thought I would post a few words about the material I find very useful to learn to speak and read Mandarin (not an easy task, as many of you would know!).

For learning to write and read characters, I find the following books most useful:

250 Essential Chinese Characters for everyday use (Vol 1 and 2) by Philip Yungkin Lee (from UNSW, SYDNEY!), Tuttle Publishing. These two books are excellent to learn to write the characters and understand their meaning and how they were created. The books present both the simplified version used in Mainland China, and the complex version used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

To remember as many characters as possible, I use flashcards. Chinese in a Flash (Vol 1, 2, 3 and 4) by Philip Yungkin Lee,Tuttle Publishing, is perfect. I highly recommend them. They allow for quick self testing.

I also use Reading and Writing Chinese (simplified character edition), by William McNaughton, Tuttle Publishing, which presents over 2000 essential characters for reading everyday Chinese. The layout is beautiful, the blue ink for characters works well, the order of strokes is clearly presented and the different meanings and pronunciations are explained. This one complements nicely the material above.

For grammar, I use Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide, by Claudia  Ross and Jing-heng Sheng Ma, Routledge, Bilingual Edition.

For Vocabulary building, I like the visual Chinese English Bilingual Dictionary (Dorling Kindersley). It displays photos and pictures, with arrows pointing to the different elements, the Chinese and English words, and the PinYin correspondence.

I also use Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Vocabulary, by Yanping Xie and Duan-Duan Li, McGraw-Hill Publishers.

It’s hardly enough and it does not replace face to face conversation, but it’s a good start. I’d better get going though, so I’m going to sign off now. Enjoy your weekend!

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Filed under Books, Hong Kong, Language, Travel, Uncategorized

Who says nobody is reading any more?


I take the bus to work every morning – like so many others. Not a long trip, twenty minutes or so, but I usually get a seat and I can read. That’s a bonus. As I sat down this morning and took a glance around, I couldn’t help notice how many people were actually reading. Books. Not magazines or newspapers. I did a quick calculation and came up with 30% of people in the bus being engrossed in their reading. How fantastic! This cheered me up. Of course I was the only one reading an e-book; here in Australia it hasn’t reached the level of the US yet, although I’m sure it will at some stage. I would have loved to further my enquiry a little and find out what kind of books people were actually reading, but that was impossible to do from where I was seated. Maybe next time. In any case, I am pleased to report that people are still reading books – at least in my bus going to work every morning…

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