IST Parent Book Club pick — “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang

IST Parents, join us on Friday, September 23rd at 9:15 to discuss this month’s book club choice, The Vegetarian by Han Kang. If you would like the library to order a copy for you from Book Depository, email before Wednesday, August 24th.

2016 Man Booker Prize Winner

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Originally written in Korean and recently translated into English, The Vegetarian was awarded the 2016 Man Booker Prize—one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards. Here is the announcement from Man Booker chair of the judging panel, Boyd Tonkin:
The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith, is an unforgettably powerful and original novel that richly deserves to win the Man Booker International Prize 2016. After our selection of a diverse and distinguished longlist, and a shortlist of six truly outstanding novels in first-rate translations, the judges unanimously chose The Vegetarian as our winner. Told in three voices, from three different perspectives, this concise, unsettling and beautifully composed story traces an ordinary woman’s rejection of all the conventions and assumptions that bind her to her home, family and society. In a style both lyrical and lacerating, it reveals the impact of this great refusal both on the heroine herself and on those around her. This compact, exquisite and disturbing book will linger long in the minds, and maybe the dreams, of its readers. Deborah Smith’s perfectly judged translation matches its uncanny blend of beauty and horror at every turn.’

Welcome Back to School!

A warm welcome back to school from the IST Library staff! We are excited to welcome students, parents, and staff back to the library.

You will see some new faces in the library this year!

Lisa Fang, Linnea Simon, Eleanor Surridge, and Lisa Lee

Lisa Fang, Linnea Simon, Eleanor Surridge, and Lisa Lee

Ms. Fang is the Library Officer. She has been working in the IST library for seven years. She looks forward to seeing you and helping you in the library.

Ms. Simon is the Elementary Teacher-Librarian. She has been teaching at IST for the past four years, and is excited to join the library team this year. She is looking forward to a fantastic year of reading!

Ms. Surridge, the Secondary Teacher-Librarian, is returning to IST after a three-year absence. She’s thrilled to be back and looking forward to working closely with a wide range of IST community members.

Ms. Lee is the Library TA. This is her second year at IST, and first year working in the library. If you need anything in the library, she is happy to help you any way she can.

Parent Book Club: Friday, August 19 at 9:15 am

The Parent Book Club, open to parents of all nationalities, is having the first meeting of the year on Friday, 19 August at 9:15 to discuss The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. At 384 pages, this will still be a manageable read in a week’s time! Please join us.

ghost bride

“With its gripping tangles of plot and engaging characters, this truly compelling read is sure to garner much well-deserved attention.” Julie Trevelyan for Booklist

Volunteers Welcome

We are very lucky to have several volunteers who assist us with everything from ordering to shelving, but we are always happy to have more community members coming in to assist.

Library Hours

Remember, the library is always open virtually. Go to and log in for database access. Check homework logs for login details.

Regular library hours are Monday to Thursday from 7:30 to 4:30 and Friday from 7:30 to 3:30.

Remember to return your summer reading books!

Another Year of Reading

We had a great last session this morning, discussing the book, Before I Go to Sleep, a thriller by S.J. Watson. There was so much to say with that book! We talked about the unexpected plot twists and how identity and memory are intertwined. We are eager to read more from this debut writer.

IST Book Club May 2014

Thanks, ladies, for all the wonderful reading this year.

This morning’s meeting was bittersweet for me as it was my last. I’ll be leaving Tianjin at the end of this school year to start at a new school in Egypt, and I’ll take with me the memory of two fabulous years with the library-parent book club. I’ll also be taking a stunning Indian bead necklace and a gorgeous cloth wallet that was a gift from the current members. Thanks!

We’ve read lots and lots of books and had great discussions every time this year. Here’s a list of what we’ve read:

August 2013Bad Karma, by David Safier

September 2013 – The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

October 2013 – Thirteen Hours, by Deon Meyer

November 2013 – Lost on Planet China, by J. Maarten Troost

January 2014 – Inferno, by Dan Brown

February 2014 – Me Before You, by Jojo Moyles

March 2014 – Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

April 2014 – Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

May 2014 – Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson

Book club will start up again in August, to discuss the book, The Luminaries, by Ellen Catton. This novel, set in the late 1800s in New Zealand, was the winner of the 2014 Man Booker prize and promises to provide lots of great discussion. As is our summer custom, book club members will purchase their own copies back in their own home countries. However, the book is available for checkout from the IST library. We only have one copy so first come, first served.

The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton

F CAT – Available at the IST library.

The IST Library Parent Book Club is open to all book loving expats in Tianjin. The club meets once a month to share our reactions to a book chosen by consensus by the whole club. If you would like to join us for the August meeting, register online by clicking here or via the left sidebar widget. Ms. Morgan, our secondary librarian, will be taking over the organization of the book club meetings.

Parent-Library Book Club in Library

We had been planning to make our final book club session of the year an evening session, but unfortunately, we’ve had to change the time back to our regular time on Friday morning after assembly. Things got a bit complicated with other social commitments among our members and the children of our members.

Regardless of where we hold the meeting, I know we’re going to enjoy coming together again to discuss what is turning out to be a fascinating book, Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson. I’m only just starting and I’ completely mesmerized. Can’t wait to talk about it with the book club members!

Cover for Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J.Watson

Parent Library Book Club March 2014

The IST Parent Library Book Club met this morning to discuss, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple. 

Cover for Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

We all enjoyed this book with its clever arrangement of found objects: report cards, emails, police reports, newspaper articles. We found we could relate to the issues featured in the book: over-ambitious parents and the loss of creativity due to a traumatic experience. We were amused by the antics of the characters and at the same time, we found them sympathetic and very real. We’re going to be looking forward to more work from Ms. Semple.

The selection for May is Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson, a thriller about a woman who suffers from amnesia. Every morning she must remember her life anew. It promises to be a great read.

Since the May book club will be my last book club session at IST, we will be meeting at the Astor Hotel Bar, on 23 May, at 7 p.m. The ambience at the bar is very cozy and welcoming, and is one of my favorite places in Tianjin. If you would like to join us, please email me, josianne_fitzgerald at istianjin dot net, or register for the book club on the sidebar widget.

IST Library Parent Book Selection for March

The IST Library Parent Book Club met last Friday to discuss the book Me Before You, by Jojo Moyles. This novel is the story of an unlikely couple: Lou, adrift without ambition, and Will, a young man recently quadriplegic. Our discussion of the book touched upon a range of topics, from the experience of quadriplegics to international perceptions of assisted suicide and the appeal of the emotional tear-jerker as a genre. We all agreed that the book was sad, but no less enjoyable because of it.

Cover for Gone Girl, by Gillian FlynnThe book selection for March is Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl is a psychological thriller about a young wife who disappears. Her husband is framed for her murder when her diary is found. Full of twists and thrills, Gone Girl is one of those books you can’t put down. It will be made into a movie with Ben Affleck and Rosemund Pike as the husband and wife.

The IST Library Parent book club is open to all Tianjin expats who love to read. Please register online for each meeting via the blog’s book club registration widget on the left sidebar.

New Year Resolutions Part 3: Join a Book Club!

Another resolution which you can start to make true this Friday:  Join a book club. Ours!

The IST Library Parent Book Club meets once a month to discuss a book we have all agreed to read during the preceding month. Our discussions are very informal. We sometimes help ourselves with questions from a published guide, but most often we simply talk about what we liked and how the book resonated with us. We also often talk about other things as well: being parents, living as expats in China, our favorite movies and TV shows, and all sorts of topics. It is a lovely hour that we spend building community and fostering a love of reading.

Inferno, by Dan Brown - January 2014 IST Parent Book Club selectionOur January meeting will be on Friday, 17 January, at 9:15, after the elementary assembly. We will be discussing Dan Brown’s Inferno, his newest book. This novel follows Robert Langdon, the protagonist of The Da Vinci Code, as he races to prevent a madman’s catastrophic plans.

Join us for a lively discussion and cement your commitment to read this year.

November Library Parent Book Club

Cover for Lost on Planet China, November 2013 Book Club selectionWe had another great book club meeting on Friday, 22 November, discussing the book Lost on Planet China: One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation, by J. Maarten Troost, who traveled around China for a month. He managed to visit many different cities and get a glimpse of the enormous diversity of China. Mr. Troost was very funny at times, and we identified with many of the situations he described. In the end, however, we agreed that Mr. Troost cannot get a true sense of China without really living here, and that he exaggerated negative aspects of China, like the pollution, for comedic effect rather than in an attempt to truly understand.

If you enjoyed Lost on Planet China (or even if you didn’t,) here are some other travel books or memoirs on China that you might like from our collection.

Home is a Roof over a Pig, by Aminta Arrington. This is the memoir of an American mother and teacher, who moves her family to Ta’ian, a city near Qufu where Confucius was born, to teach English at a Chinese university. One of her children was adopted from China, and Ms. Arrington wanted to give her a sense of her heritage. Ms. Arrington has always been enamoured of the Chinese language and the book is organized in chapters focused on Chinese characters and the history behind each. Find it in the library with the call number, 951 ARR.

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler. The author is now a journalist in Beijing, but he first came to China with the US Peace Corps to teach in the river town of Fuling. River Town is a memoir of his two years as an English professor in the university. He also loves the Chinese language and he worked hard at learning to speak, read and write it. An enjoyable read, this book can be found with the call number 951.1 HES.

Riding the Iron Roosterby Paul Theroux.  The author took a year to travel around China on the Chinese railroad system, and in doing so he discovered many different aspects of China. Our paperback copy can be found with the call number 915.1. Although this book is 25 years old, it has a soft spot in my heart because it was one of the first travel books I read and it hooked me onto travelogues.

Inferno, by Dan Brown - January 2014 IST Parent Book Club selectionOur next meeting will not be until 17 January 2014. The book we will be discussing then will be Inferno, by Dan Brown. I personally enjoyed The Da Vinci Code very much, and am looking forward to losing myself to the hunt in this new book.

The IST Library Parent Book Club is open to all expats in Tianjin who love reading. Please register via the sidebar widget.

November 2013 Parent Book Club

Our next IST Library-Parent Book Club meeting will be this Friday, 22 November, from 9:15 to 10:15 in the library. We will be discussing the book, Lost on Planet China, by Maarten J. Troost.

Cover for Lost on Planet China, November 2013 Book Club selection

Lost on Planet China is a humorous, self-deprecating travel book by Maarten J. Troost, the author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals. I’m looking forward to discussing the book with the rest of the book club, because I think he sees China with very different eyes from the expats living in Tianjin.

The IST Library Parent Book Club is open to all Tianjin expats who love to read. We meet once a month at the IST library to discuss a book that the whole group has read. We choose our books based on recommendations by the book club members. The titles cover a range of genre and authors, and often reflect the country of the recommending member.

To join us, please register via the sidebar widget. Hope to see you this Friday! Even if you have not read the book, come to enjoy the company and the specialty teas, and come ready to recommend a book or two.