Su Tong's allure

Rice by Su Tong

Some people consider Su Tong China's best writer in the 21st (and 20th) century, and they're right. Well, I consider him that. I got to know about Su Tong after watching the immortal Zhang Yimou movie Raise the Red Lantern. Then I found his book, Rice, and was enthralled. In the book, you get to see the disintegration of a family. I seem to remember with great clarity that one of the characters is really disturbing. She has a feline quality to her character, and an undercurrent of vengeance in her spirit, expertly masked by her drowsy mannerisms.

Su Tong, in my opinion, just captures the spirit of the Chinese excellently. The tragedy, the sadness inherent in our millenia-history, the blight of our flawed human nature ... he makes it all so beautiful and poetic for some reason.

But he isn't what I call an easy author to read because sadness just permeates every page of his books ... and I'm the sort that likes to be happy when I read! Hah.

The most gorgeous thing about my work, and my sister's, is that we both get free books. Can you imagine what amazing luck it was that my sister brought home Su Tong's latest translated novel, My Life as Emperor, home? Now, if only I could set aside some time to read it (I still have a few "assigned" novels to read and review).

Meanwhile, if you want to try reading Su Tong, do start out with the novella Raise the Red Lantern. It's one of his finest.

Review of Get up! by James A. Levine

Get up! by James A Levine

James A Levine has always been obsessed with movement - measuring, studying, performing experiments around it ... when he was a child he used to collect snails so that he could let them loose in his bedroom to study how they moved. (The conversation he must've had with his horrified mother...)


He makes this bold claim: Sitting too much not only makes you fat - it could kill you.

From 2012-2015, I had a job that demanded that I be on my feet at least 6 hours a day. When Once, I measured my steps using a pedometer I discovered, to my amazement, that I walk at least 6km to 10km a day at that job! On top of that I was lifting heavy things such as equipment, and sometimes - people.

Well, fast forward to 2016 and I am now a desk jockey. I have piled on the pounds eventhough I have not changed my diet that much. Not surprising since I've stopped walking 6km daily!

Levine calls this activity "non-exercise activity thermogenesis" (NEAT). He believes that modern-day conveniences had drastically cut down on our NEAT hours. We no longer walk to work or toil in the fields for our food.  Instead we sit for hours in traffic jams and eat at restaurants. It's tragic that activity, something so natural for our ancestors, is so enforced during our time. We run in gyms and wear smartwatches to track our steps. Our ancestors must think we're a tad mad.


Get up! is certainly a thought provoking book, but I still give it 3 stars only because Levine, while offering ideas and solutions for corporations and schools, do not offer concrete steps or programmes to the individual on how to decrease their sitting time - especially if they are at workinng a desk job at a company that is resistant to the change he proposes. Still, you can get some ideas on how to change your life from the book.

Since reading it, I've made it a point to walk or stand as much as I can, and at work, to get up and walk every hour for 5-10 minutes. Just a few days in, and I'm already feeling better. As writers who spend hours at the computer coming up with imaginary worlds, this is so important. Perhaps we should start writing while standing?