January Miscellany 2016

As I wished in my December Miscellany 2015, January has been peaceful and quiet. A bit too much maybe – it’s the most boring month of the year. It rained and stayed grey for two weeks. And wind started to blow. There was an orange weather warning for 90mph wind yesterday. But at least the sky is blue today. So retreating from the weather, I spent most of my January reading, as every year.

I was really pleased that I have finally finished reading Every Good Endeavour and was able to write up a review – which means I wasn’t falling asleep while reading. I also learnt how to read. It sounds odd. But the reason is this: ever since I was in primary school, I was instructed to jot down notes on the margins and between lines of pages. I loved the idea of leaving marks on bound pages. But I never fully understood what I was supposed to write (I know how to underline things). Recently, I found myself getting distracted by my own thoughts while reading quite often. I was quite pleased with some of them, so much so that I was a bit annoyed when I tried to talk about it or write them down later on and couldn’t trace my thoughts. That was the moment I understood why and what I needed to write on the margins of the pages. This might be a very obvious thing to you and I was told plainly about it, but I didn’t understand. I have a book on the shelf called How to Read A Book. Maybe I should prioritise it. If you have any tips, please let me know. I would love to improve on my reading and learning.

IMG_5007-2I started reading D.A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation, a book about Paul’s prayers in the New Testament – a review to come.

Most excitingly, I started a Chinese Sci-fi novel called, Three Bodies trilogy. I don’t think I ever told big chunks of stories to another person as I read it day by day before, but this was so exciting I had to tell people about it. I wasn’t a fan of anything Sci-fi – I didn’t even watch any Star Wars (not one). But this is seriously good science and good fiction. For one thing, it’s not about people shooting at each other. It’s grand and detailed, simple and complicated, covering subjects of the universe, society, human hearts, physics, literature, history and more, all at the same time. It’s full of imagination and it feels real and believable at the same time. It’s mind blowing. I have finished it – all three books in one month. I won’t start another book just yet – to keep the memory and excitement fresh. Definitely more of this to come.

IMG_5006-2I’m also studying a book called Designing the Editorial Experience – just in case one day I will be involved in a magazine project. I love reading magazines and I have to confess that I’m the type that judges a book by its cover (I postponed reading A Call to Spiritual Reformation for quite a long time because I didn’t like the look of the previous book cover…). If a magazine is well designed and is pleasing to my eyes, I would want to hold it in my hand even if its subject is uninteresting to me. And vice versa. The reason that I want to make magazines it that we all know that media is influential. So let’s influence people with media. And this is my preferred form of communication.

The fourth book I’m reading is called Extreme Sleeps, which is my Christmas present. Have to try wild camping this year!

I actually managed to fill the pages of a new photo album I bought for 2015. It was such a long time ago since I held a physical album and printed photos. I’m happy with the result and will try to keep filling it in 2016. I hope it will prompt me to take photos more purposefully.

I only watched one film, called Chinese Odyssey 2002. No need to watch it really. Unless you’re a big fan of the actors or the director.

A new TV drama I picked up is one called Nirvana in Fire. A Chinese one, which is very popular at the moment. It’s another made-up historical one – you can’t avoid seeing people flying about and waving swords etc. But the storyline is a bit different to traditional ones. Very good scripts too.

A finished scarf (a rare object).

A big meal I did for 15 people was a Mary Berry Bangers and Mash. It was tasty. The problem was I had to wash all my clothes (including underwear), air my bag for days, and even two weeks later my fridge still smelled of raw onion. I’ll remember the lesson!

Daytime grew longer surprisingly fast. I was able to cycle to work on 13th January. (I can’t cycle to work when it’s too dark in the morning.) Beautiful evening sky wakes up my itchy feet and traveling mind. I’ve started to plan for trips outdoors already.

Just when I thought January was going to past without any major event, I heard the news that EZ Morning Feiyuxiu, a Chinese radio show that has accompanied me for almost 12 years was coming to an end. It made me very sad. It felt like an end of an era. A lot of things happened in the past 12 years: moving country, finishing uni, getting married. In a small circle of friends where most of the people are international students who come and go every year, I’m pretty used to saying goodbye. But the end of this radio show however made me feel that I’m leaving something important behind, and realise that it has really been a long time. There is an end to most things in life. But before it happens, I thought it was going to last forever.

All the best to Xiaofei and Yu Zhou.

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2 Comments

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  1. Interesting post, thank you for the reading hints! I understand well what you say about holding a magazine just before it looks nice, I do the same with empty notebooks! As for your radio show coming to an end, I understand your feeling and I guess it probably means that it’s time for you to move on to different things and a new step forward in life! Like you, my past 12 years have also been about finishing uni, getting married, moving back to my country and saying goodbye to the expat life in China…! That last one was a tough one (still is), and sometimes some things are harder than others to let go. But we have to, this is what life is all about, moving onward!

    • Oh dear no need to thank me for the reading hints, I’m quite ashamed of myself that I’m so slow to get this! Thanks so much for the comforting and encouraging words. I will try to keep my mind open and keep learning new things!

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