In the past I’ve been relatively uninterested in politics. I have very liberal social views and pretty middle of the road economic views, but I haven’t felt the need to be very politically active. This probably has something to do with the fact that I’m an Italian citizen living in the U.S. I can’t vote in America, and the Italian political system is quite honestly so messed up that it feels that no level of political action is going to truly change it.
This election has roused me from my torpor however, due to a single extremely controversial candidate – Donald Trump. I can’t stand by and avoid expressing my opinion when someone who is actually being considered as a potential leader of the country I live in is spewing bigoted, hateful, and just plain uninformed vitriol.
I realized that I didn’t know many details of Donald Trump’s life and rise to ‘business success’, aside from generalities like the fact that he owned hotels and what I gleaned from watching The Apprentice for a few seasons. I wasn’t looking for a book to change my already very negative opinion of him – I’ve heard enough of his ideas from him in first person that the damage is done. I just wanted further details of his business and personal practices throughout his life, and I have to be honest that I expected to find more confirmation of his lack of integrity and character.
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I consider myself a life long learner and in the last few years I’ve tried to focus my reading and other educational activities around topics that I felt I didn’t know enough about.
China is one of the topics to which I’ve dedicated myself, in part due to how important the future of this country is to the future of the U.S. and the rest of the world. Even after having read several books on China’s past and present, I realize that there’s always more to learn because China is such a huge and complex country. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity of reading Street Of Eternal Happiness, to continue expanding my knowledge.
Street Of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz
Published: June 2016
Amazon Audible Audiobook
The author, Rob Schmitz is an award-winning journalist who has lived many years of his life in China as both a teacher for the Peace Corps and currently in Shanghai as China’s correspondent for Marketplace.
For this book, Schmitz focuses on a single street in Shanghai on which he lives, whose Chinese name roughly translates to Street Of Eternal Happiness.
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Let me preface this review by saying that I rarely read lighter thriller novels like these of my own volition. I’m part of a wonderful book club here in Los Angeles that often brings me to expand my reading into titles that I would normally not seek out on my own.
This was the case for The Expats by Chris Pavone, which was my book club’s August 2016 pick. I have to say I really enjoyed reading the book and it perfectly lent itself to the kind of unburdened reading that is ideal for the London to LA intercontinental flight on which I ended up finishing it cover to cover.
That’s definitely another advantage of this kind of novel, you can finish it in a day and have that sense of living the entire story all at once. If you’re looking for an easy-to-read but still gripping story with an enigmatic female lead, The Expats will the fit the bill.
Published: March 2012
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“Part of being human is having secrets. Dirty fetishes and debilitating fascinations and shameful defeats and ill-begotten triumphs, humiliating selfishness and repulsive inhumanity. The horrible things that people have thought and done, the lowest points in their lives.”
Kate seems a woman just like any other – with two kids, a husband that wavers from attentive to inattentive, and endless laundry to do. When her family moves to Luxembourg to follow her husband Dexter’s career aspirations, Kate decides to throw herself full-time into motherhood, quitting her apparently innocuous state department job. Once in Europe and trying to adapt to her new life, Kate’s natural aptitude for suspicion is awakened by her husband’s unwillingness to reveal details about his new employer, and by two new Americans – Julia and Bill – that suddenly appear in Luxembourg and insistently insert themselves into Kate and Dexter’s lives. In a crescendo of secrets, the reader will wonder alongside Kate whether her past life is about to be revealed, or whether it’s in fact someone she never suspected who has even more to hide.
Other novels by Chris Pavone
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