Job, School, Family, Friends! Life is constantly buzzing, with few escapes for me books became that needed release. In the book China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua, a collection of essays written about china, essentially summed into ten words. Hua’s essay, “Reading” told of not only his love of books but also his struggle to acquire books during the Cultural Revolution in china. Like most children in America books have come to me in abundance as far back as I could remember were propelled down my throat by my parents and school systems alike.
I have always been a fairly strong reader so I have enjoyed reading in my spare time. When I think back to when I was learning to read I have comforting thoughts of my mom reading to me, and my beginning to read to her. Yu Hua has written a book of essays titled China in Ten Words, his book tells of his personal stories growing up during the Cultural Revolution. Hua states that reading a good book takes us to that place and everything else is meaning less and does not exist. This is how I feel at times when reading a very well written story, you become one of the characters and are a part of the book. When reading the essay “Reading” from Yu Hua’s book China in Ten Words, he breaks up his first reading experiences into four stages. These four stages consist of going to the library and reading approved books, getting his hands on some very used “poisonous weeds”, reading of big character posters, and getting his hands on previously banned books.
Hua first stage takes place during the seventh year of the Cultural Revolution when there were very few books due to them being banned and categorized as “poisonous weeds.” Hua had just finished elementary school and his father was able to get him and his brother a library card. There was very few books in the library though Hua enjoyed reading the books that were about children. Unfortunately most of the books were dull and carried no emotion or character. Hua recalls how the librarian would thoroughly inspect the books when he and his brother returned them. One instance Hua Xu, my older brother, and the librarian got into an argument over a stain on a book, Hua Xu hit the librarian and both boys went to the police station. Since there father was a friend of the police chief nothing much came of the incident other than scolding and the loss of our library card privileges. This was not too great of a disappointment since I had already read all the books in the library. Every house hold had the same four books they were the Selected Works of Mao Zedong but Hua was an ambitious young boy who went searching for books to read. Hua would ask everyone he passed if they had any books other than the Selected Works; he came up empty handed every time.
When Hua was in his high school years he was finally able to read some banned books, although they were typically in very bad condition usually missing some pages from the beginning and the end of the book. So Hua began to use his imagination to finish the end of a book. Hua credits his creativity to those abused books. One story that Hua recalls is when he and his friend got their hands on a book that had been hand written in a notebook. They only had the book for one day before having to return it so they decided to copy the book into one of their own notebooks. They spent all night copying that book, taking turns writing while the other slept. The next day when Hua went to read the book he and his friend had copied he found it near impossible to read towards the end, where the hand writing had become illegible. Hua finished the book with tears in his eyes and gave the book back to his friend. That night Hua’s friend came to his house very upset, because he too was not able to read Hua’s calligraphy.
The third stage of Hua reading consists of reading big-character posters on the streets. He describes how the posters were not able to be removed so more and more were just stuck on top of one another until the town walls looked like “an oversized padded jacket.” When Hua was young he was not able to read all the Chinese characters so he did not have much interest in the big-character posters until he was of middle school age. Hua tells us how by the year 1975 most people no longer were interested in reading the big-character posters, and that they were for the most part only wall paper. One day Hua noticed a poster that had a cartoon on it that caused his heart to jump with excitement. The poster had two people lying on a bed implying sexual intent; there were revolutionary sayings and the couples’ names and where they lived and worked advertised on the poster.
The final stage of Hua’s reading started in 1977. The Cultural Revolution had finished, and the books that had once been called “poisonous weeds” were now able to be printed again. Due to the fact that a limited number of books were shipped to Hua’s town the local book store required people to line up to get a coupon that was good for two books. Local people began lining up outside the book store the night before. As more and more people lined up people began to talk about how many coupons their possible were going to be. When the book store finally opened at seven a.m. everyone was told there were only fifty coupons. There were over three hundred people in line so many people left very unhappy and empty handed. Hua comments on how today we have an excess of books and when we go to the book store we don’t know which book to purchase. Hua recalls when books were sold in bundles on the street corners just like produce was. The vendors would try and outsell each other with prices as cheap as the cost of toilet paper. Hua describes reading a good book as an escape to another place, and when he returns his travel will always be a part of him.
Hua tells us how he so greatly loved books, specifically one’s with great characters. A specific story he tells is when a friend is loaned a book that is been hand written in a notebook and the two boys’ begin reading the book together. After a while they decide that the book isn’t very long and they should copy the book into their own notebook before having to return the book. So Hua gets an empty notebook that his father never used and the two boys begin copying. They spend all afternoon and all night copying the book, the two take turns sleeping and copying in the night. Just before morning they finally finish and go home to sleep. When Hua goes to read the book near the end he finds his friends hand written illegible and becomes quite frustrated. He finds his friend and he reads the parts that Hua cannot read for himself.
Reading is a way to relax and unwind from the craziness of day to day life. When the world may literally be falling apart and nothing is going right, we can escape in a good book and forget it all.
I can remember the book that got me hooked. When I was younger I hated reading but that changed when I got to the end of my grade school years. Reading is no longer something that is a requirement but something that is fun to do. Yu Hua expresses this in his chapter “reading” from his book China in Ten Words. In Yu Chapter “Reading” he writes about the stages of reading in his life. Reading is one of the best things in life.
Essay 1 Draft
April 18, 2014
Chapter 3 Reading Summary
Chapter 3 China In Ten Words by Yu Hua. This chapter explains how one boy
overcame many obsticals in his search of books and reading. Hua has four sequences
from elementary school, highschol, street readings and big character posters to book fairs
and bookstores. He has taken many steps in his life to get to the reading level he is at
The first sequence starts when Hua was in elementary school. He first started
reading when his father gave him and his brother their first readers cards until his brother
April 18th, 2014
The Ways of Writing
April 18, 2014
What is it about reading that people love so much? Yu Hua shows plenty of love for reading in chapter 3, “Reading” of his book China in Ten Words. Even growing up in the time Yu Hua did, he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of books, or difficulty in getting something new.
You get home from whatever your average day consists of and decide to open a book; suddenly you are a zombie hunter protecting your family from the masses, you are a mother caring for your sick child, you are a child living in China with a thirst for reading you can’t quite quench. In this way reading has the ability to allow us to experience things we would probably never have the ability to experience otherwise. It allows us to take a step back from the stresses of our everyday lives and be entered into a completely new one.
In the book China in Ten Words, Hua Yu writes a collection of essay about ten words and what they mean to him. In chapter three, “Reading,” Hua writes about his passion for reading and how hard it was for him to be able to read a fiction story when he was growing up. Reading is very important part of everyday life. Everyone has to read whether it is to read the street signs so you can figure out where you’re going, or to read the directions to a recipe so you know how to cook it, or to read a letter from a friend, or to read a book just for fun.