13 Good Reads That Inspired My 2013

Dear friends,

It’s that time of the year again! In 2009, I started a mini tradition for myself of summing up the year, with a list: “9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009.” Then, it was “10 Best Things from 2010.” 2011 saw “11 Unexpected Things in 2011.” Things got a little crazy in 2012, so instead of my #newyearslists you got, “12 Months in the Air in 2012” as part of my annual holiday greeting.

This year, before I hop on a plane to celebrate Weinachts in Deutschland, I’d like to share “13 Good Reads that Inspired My 2013” with you. I’d love for you to share your favorite reads and news from 2013 with me too. Happy holidays and early happy 2014 to all!

13 Good Reads That Inspired My 2013

1. “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosch

Part comic, part rant, part quiet self-reflection, this blog and eponymous book of illustrations can cheer you up when you’re having a crappy day, or inspire some reflections on your own Self when you’re in a contemplative mood.

2. “Philomena” by Martin Sixsmith

Yes, there’s a film coming out, but read the book! I learned a bit about 1950s Ireland’s church and state relations, about the Republican National Convention, about struggles of the gay community in the US as recently as the 1980s, about how a person’s childhood experiences shapes their life and Work. It was a fast read and a real tearjerker (the guy who sat next to me on that flight must’ve thought I was strange).

3. “Yoga Sequencing” by Mark Stephens

This year I tried to approach my yoga teaching and practice more scientifically. Mark Stephens’ book is my new bible for understanding the mechanics of anatomy and vinyasa.

4. “Bhagavad Gita”

I started with “Bhagavad Gita For Beginners” but a package from Mumbai containing a behemoth “as it is” version (thanks JP!) arrived in time for Christmas. This reading project will continue into 2014.

5. “This Is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz

Wow! Not since Mrs. Valles’ IB English class have I enjoyed the madness of reading pure fiction (although the short stories of Diaz are somewhat autobiographical). I felt ludicrously indulgent getting to know different cultures, times, and socio-economic segments through reading, without a thought of what functional use I would get out of it. I may have to stalk Junot Diaz a little during his teaching semesters at MIT next year.

6. “The Human Game” lecture by Alan Watts

I owe my introduction to Alan Watts’ philosophy lectures to VQ. This particular one made me think about Life and Living. “Say when dancing, you don’t aim at a particular spot in the room – that’s the where you should arrive; the whole point of the dancing is the dance.”

7. “Theory U” by Otto Scharmer

LXB brought this mega tome onto my reading list. I’m not done with it yet (it’s about a thousand pages long), but so far I’m enjoying the way Dr. Scharmer blends waxing poetic, management theory, and “transcendental” teachings into one book. More stalking of authors to be done at MIT in 2014…

8. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

Fast, fun read. And if you read too much into it, it could freak you out about the psychology of women, men, and marriage. Interested?

9. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

If you love nature, hiking, Bill Bryson’s travel adventure books, or if you’re a woman in her 30s / 40s / 50s going through major life changes, you’ll enjoy this. It’s funny, it’s painful, it’s perfect for a vacation read. Thanks TW for the recommendation!

10. “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain

A fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway and first wife Hadley Richardson’s life together in 1920s Paris. Need I say more? Oh, lesson learned from this book – brilliant people are often crazy!

11. 《孩子你慢慢来》by 龙应台

It’s been a while since I read for fun, and not for research, in Chinese. I didn’t think there would be a book that combines English, Chinese, Swiss French, Swiss German, and child psychology into one perfect read…but ZRK found it for me (thank you!). Primary reading language for this book is Chinese.

12. “Oh, wie schoen ist Panama!” by Janosch

I fell in love (with a dirty old German artist-writer, it turns out) after reading this. Then I devoured the Metzler Family’s entire attic collection of Janosch children’s books. Thanks, FM, for bringing these stories that inspire dreaming into my life. The primary reading language for this book is German, but you can just bring a healthy imagination as you flip through the pictures. (There are also many translations available – Google / Baidu it).

13. “Bounce” by Matthew Syed

Written by a two-time Olympian and sportscaster, “Bounce” explores the “talent vs. practice” debate with plenty of case studies (or, if you’re a real scientist you may dismiss then, in which case they’re just inspiring stories of highly motivated individuals).

Happy reading, happy holidays, and happy new year my friends!

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And from previous years…

In 2009, I made a list of the “9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009” and sent it to friends around the world, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years. I was surprised with the number of responses that came back to my unconventional “holiday email.” Since then, the “annual list” has become a habit. Here’s a look back at my lists from previous years…

 

9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009

  1. I quit my job in a recession
  2. I fasted and mediated for seven days
  3. I lived in Paris just for fun
  4. I started a blog (http://QriousLife.com)
  5. I took in a stray puppy
  6. I free-lanced
  7. I found out what getting paid “peanuts” really means
  8. I taught six-year-olds
  9. I wrote a column (Fridays on www.ChinaDaily.com.cn)

Dear friends,

2009 was a year of new experiences. As I plot my adventures for 2010, I hope to hear what you’re up to. I wish you a happy holiday season as this year comes to a close, good health and many laughs in the coming year.

——————–

Friends,

This year, I tried to live by “something new everyday.” To continue the thread I started with 9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009, this year I bring you my 10 Best Things From 2010. (If I keep up this tradition, I’ll have to write up “68 Awesome Things in 2068” I’m 87 years old…).

Happy holidays! I wish you health, happiness and great adventure in 2011!

10 Best Things From 2010

1.     I became certified as a yoga instructor…

2.     …which means I did 48 90-minute hot yoga classes at 42˚C over 28 days

3.     I hosted a live broadcast talkshow

4.     I crossed ~1000 km of Xinjiang territory in a bus

5.     I found a permanent home for my stray puppy (#5 in 2009)

6.     I turned down a “dream” financial journalism job…

7.     …to work at a humbler publication (brand new design coming in January!)…

8.     …which also means I’ve joined a danwei

9.     I tried vegetarianism for a month (but I cheated, so it was more of a pescetarian month)

10.   I made 33 sweat-and-tears sisters & 1 brother (see photo) at Absolute boot camp

——————–

Dear friends,

It’s that time of year when I can be unabashedly cheesy and say “Thank you. For inspiring me, for supporting me, and – in some cases – for putting up with me this year.”

11 Unexpected Things in 2011

To continue the personal tradition I started with “9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009,” I now present “11 Things I Didn’t Expect in 2011.” As ever, I wish you health and happiness for the coming year. Drop me a line, I would love to hear about your latest adventures. Have a wonderful holiday season!

1. I stopped writing QriousLife.com

No, my blog didn’t get hacked. I was just too technologically inept to hold onto my domain name and independent server hosting. I haven’t stopped writing, but I’m writing once again from behind The Great (Censorship) Firewall of China. Gorey details of how an analog dog just can’t seem to learn digital tricks here. (If you’re still subscribed to RSS feeds from QriousLife.com, I take no responsibility for the weird stuff that’s now coming out!)

2. I became a “Capital-ist”

To my very pleasant surprise, I found a job that pays me to do the things I love – meet interesting people, go to strange places, figure out how the world works, and write about it all.

3. I stopped caring…

…in a good way. As I continue to practice and teach yoga, I’m starting to understand the pithy wisdoms that I read. This year I learned to say, “I love all that I have now, but if it goes away one day, I will be ok.”

4. I started running

I even bought new running shoes. The last time I did that was a decade ago. To celebrate my baby-blue-with-pink-laces shoes, a 10K race may be in order in 2012.

5. I travelled alone

And I kind of liked it. Life is good, when you’re way up here (in the Cappadoccia region of Turkey).

Image

6. I learned how to fly…

That’s Parsva Bakasana for the yogis…

Image

7. …and how to turn my world upside down

AKA Shirshasana

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8. I drove for days in 40C heat around landlocked central China looking at 2000-year old baijiu cellars…

…and sampled 68% alcohol afterward. Occupational hazards, what can I say?

9. I was a vegetarian for two months (progress from #9 on last year’s list)…

…here’s hoping 2012 will be the year when I go all the way.

10. I kicked off a 21-day detox program right before Christmas

I’m still working out (on Day 5) whether this half fast over three weeks will be easier or harder than the full fast over seven days from 2009. Stay tuned.

11. I considered buying property and options for changing my citizenship

How very Chinese.

12 months in the air in 2012

Dear friends,

This was a busy year as I got on a plane to go somewhere every month. Within China, 2012 took me from Beijing to Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Jinan, Qingdao, Shenyang, Harbin, Changchun, Huludao, Guiyang, Yibin, Luzhou, Nanning, Hangzhou, and more for work. Away from China, I was in Hong Kong, New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Boston. In Germany, I spent the happiest days of the year in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Certainly more than 12 memorable things happened this year, but none of them beats finding the person who promises to take walks with me and hold my hand when I’m 87. It seems unfair to make a list of 12 things, like I usually do at year end, when one big thing changed everything. So, this year I bring you a story instead…

 In January, I met, at a party, a graduate student from MIT who was doing research in Beijing. It was late and it was loud, so we each left without remembering how to spell the other’s name. After much effort, he found me. We first traded emails on journalism and cultural biases, and Germany’s position in the Euro crisis. A few days, dates, and flight changes later, Florian flew back to school. As soon as he left, we both realized that something important was happening and we weren’t cool enough to just “see how it goes” across 7000 miles. So, we chased each other around the world for a few months. By summer, it was clear that the most important thing – someone who understands all the strange little pieces of us that we picked up in the decades we lived abroad – had been found. The rest were just details. 

Luckily, the details worked out. On June 15, I put on white lace, he wore his bow tie, and we married in front of our family as witnesses in the city of Illmensee, Germany. Florian finished his thesis in August and moved to Beijing where we have made our home. We spend our weekdays working and chasing down our pet bunny; on the weekends we indulge in Mama Qi’s home cooking.

As the year draws to a close, I want to thank you, my friends, for understanding our madness and supporting us as we followed our hearts in 2012. Here’s to finding greater happiness in 2013!

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Happy holidays,

Qi

Et voilà…11 Unexpected Things in 2011

Dear friends,

It’s that time of year when I can be unabashedly cheesy and say “Thank you. For inspiring me, for supporting me, and – in some cases – for putting up with me this year.”

To continue the personal tradition I started with “9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009,” I now present “11 Unexpected Things in 2011.” As ever, I wish you health and happiness for the coming year. Drop me a line, I would love to hear about your latest adventures. Have a wonderful holiday season!

1. I stopped writing QriousLife.com

No, my blog didn’t get hacked. I was just too technologically inept to hold onto my domain name and independent server hosting. I haven’t stopped writing, but I’m writing once again from behind The Great (Censorship) Firewall of China. Gorey details of how an analog dog just can’t seem to learn digital tricks here. (If you’re still subscribed to RSS feeds from QriousLife.com, I take no responsibility for the weird stuff that now comes out!)

2. I became a “Capital-ist”

To my very pleasant surprise, I found a job that pays me to do the things I love – meet interesting people, go to strange places, figure out how the world works, and write about it all.

3. I stopped caring…

…in a good way. As I continue to practice and teach yoga, I’m starting to understand the pithy wisdoms that I read. This year I learned to say, “I love all that I have now, but if it goes away one day, I will be ok.”

4. I started running

I even bought new running shoes. The last time I did that was a decade ago. To celebrate my baby-blue-with-pink-laces shoes, a 10K race may be in order in 2012.

5. I travelled alone

And I kind of liked it. Life is good, when you’re way up here (in the Cappadoccia region of Turkey).

6. I learned how to fly…

That’s Parsva Bakasana for the yogis…

7. …and to turn my world upside down

AKA Shirshasana

8. I drove for days in 40C heat around landlocked central China looking at 2000-year old baijiu cellars…

…and sampled 68% alcohol afterward. Occupational hazards, what can I say?

9. I was a vegetarian for two months (progress from #9 on last year’s list)…

…here’s hoping 2012 will be the year when I go all the way.

10. I kicked off a 21-day detox program right before Christmas

I’m still figuring out (on Day 5) whether this half fast over three weeks will be easier or harder than the full fast over seven days from 2009. Stay tuned.

11. I considered buying property and options for changing my citizenship

How very Chinese.

– Qi

One more piece of nostalgia…”10 Best Things from 2010″

Annnd, before my 2011 list is done, I’m reviewing my “10 Best Things From 2010” list…

1. I became a certified yoga instructor…

2. …which means I did 48 90-minute yoga classes at 42˚C over 28 days

3. I hosted a live broadcast talkshow

4. I crossed 5000 (?) km of Xinjiang territory in a bus

5. I found a permanent home for my stray puppy (see #5 in 2009)

6. I turned down a “dream” financial journalism job…

7. …to work at this humble little publication(brand new design coming in January)

8. I joined a *danwei*

9. I tried vegetarianism for a month (but cheated a few times, so it was
a pescatarian month)

10. I made 33 sweat-and-tears sisters and one honorary sister-man (photo
below)

It’s that time of year again…”9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009″

As I write my 2011 “annual list” I had a good bit of fun looking back at where this personal tradition started – with “9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009.”

9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009

1. I quit my job in a recession
2. I fasted and mediated for seven days
3. I lived in Paris just for fun
4. I started a blog (http://QriousLife.com )
5. I took in a stray puppy
6. I free-lanced
7. I found out what getting paid “peanuts” *really *means
8. I taught six-year-olds
9. I wrote a column (Fridays on http://www.ChinaDaily.com.cn

9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009

Dear friends and readers,

2009 was a crazy year and I’m sharing here the top of my adventure list. I’m on Hawaiian time now so I’m just getting to wish everybody a happy new year, or Mele Kalikimaka, as they say here.

Thank you for reading, for sharing, and for your continued support in 2010!

  1. I quit my job in a recession
  2. I fasted and mediated for seven days
  3. I lived in Paris just for fun
  4. I started a blog (http://QriousLife.com)
  5. I took in a stray puppy
  6. I free-lanced
  7. I found out what getting paid “peanuts” really means
  8. I taught six-year-olds
  9. I wrote a column (Fridays on www.ChinaDaily.com.cn)