Nothin' a Pair of Sweatpants Can't Fix

When I was in college my dear friend, who was also my roomate, and I wore sweat pants most days.  I'm pretty sure we wore regular clothes to school (....) but for some reason the weekend and any time away from school was spent in sweatpants.  There were several pairs in rotation between us - one a cut off pair left over from High School Powder Puff with something like "Juniors Rock" written across the tush, a giant pair I think I stole from my little brother, a baggy construction orange number that my roommate contributed (and wore the most) and a black pair of wide leg pants, torn and dirty from dragging over the ground.  Which, come to think of it, must mean that this particular pair was worn many times outside of our apartment.  Whatever.  I fondly think of the 2003-2004 school year as "The Year of the Sweats".

I've have been feeling a bit under the weather lately, and what longing I've experience for the vast sweat pant collection of my college days!  Not to worry.  Today I woke up feeling just as cruddy as I had for the past few days and so I hopped on the internet and order a few new pairs of sweat pants.  Fancy ones.


But what does one do when wearing said sweatpants?  Read.  That's what.  I have read a few fantastic books lately so I thought I'd pass them along.
When I told Max I was reading a book about immigrant factory girls in China he groaned a little.  I have a penchant for sad books about world events.  It's just my bag.  HOWEVER, this book was anything but sad (ok, a little).  It is largely about the mass migration of young, rural, Chinese girls to the industrial factories of South East China.  But more than that, it's about the values of modern China that these girls represent - exchanging centuries of history and the idea of familial legacy for financial increase and fierce self-reliance.  The Author, Leslie T. Change, at once explores China's changing landscape from past to present, rural to urban, tradition to instability, and also her family's own history as they endured the cultural revolution.  It is one part biography, one part narrative, and two parts cultural analysis of Modern China - a place I knew next to nothing about.  It's a big 'un, but fabulous through and through.  Probably one of the best books I've read in the past 5 years or so.

  The subtitle of this book reads "a girlhood caught in revolutionary Iran".  And that's pretty much what it's about.  The daughter of a poet and poet herself,  Hakakian's book is a thoughtful and beautiful narrative of her experiences in Iran during a very tumultuous time.

And last the best of all the game.  If you don't know Nancy Pearl, you should.  She is a librarian and world class readers advisory guru.  (For all of you non-nerds out there - that is the action of advising readers, like at a library, what books they might enjoy reading based on their stated preferences).  She has several books that give wonderful suggestions about what books people with certain interests might like.  "Book Lust" and "Book Crush" are the title of some of her books.  She even has little action figure.    

On a most purposeful trip to Barnes and Nobles a few weeks ago to pick up a map, this book sneaked into my bag and I have since given it a place of honor on my nightstand.  Basically, she breaks down book recommendations by country or region of the world with a few chapters about mode of transportation and miscellaneous travel writing.  I can hardly wait to read all the books she has recommended!  Last week I said "hmmm, where do I want to travel?  What place do I want to learn more about?"  And turned to a section about Spain, but in the end I settled on a book about Afghanistan - a place I don't really want to travel, but would love to learn more about.  It's like a portkey!...Harry Potter fans? Anyone?   

Anyway, the full title is "Book Lust To Go: Recommended reading for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers."  If you like traveling, or would like to travel or even just care about the world - get it!

And on that last note, I will end this post on topic that is rather sad for me.  People read for all sorts of reasons, but certainly one of the largest reasons has to be to learn stuff, right?  To learn about history, the world, the human body, human relationships etc.  For date night this week Max and I had a quick bite and then went to Barnes and Noble where we were each going to pick out just one book.  What possibility!  I was feeling like learning something about the world, so I headed to the current event section. Much to my still present dismay, the "current event" section had been overcome by political hackery written by each and every political hack that ever learned to write.  I would say 80% of the books were about President Obama ruining the country, or Republicans ruining the country, or why the crap I think is better and more patriotic than the crap that that other guy says.  I was down right furious. 

And I hear you say "but it's Washington.  Duh."  But no!  Shouldn't this be the place where people want to actually learn stuff?  Where they want to be informed about the world and its history, not imbibe in some ninny's sis boom ba "My book might get me elected to something" extravaganza?

Anyway.  I found a lovely book after all my foot stomping and I've made my peace.


  1. I picked up Factory Girls at the HK airport in April. It's a great read! I'm not sure if you can get it in the US, but cbc.ca has a great 4-part documentary available online from 2007 called "China Rising" that follows different individuals in modern-day China(a gymnast, a student, an artist, a Communist) in the same vein as "Factory Girls." I also really liked the memoir "Red China Blues" by the Canadian journalist Jan Wong. Although it is a bit dated now, it has the very unique perspective of a Westerner who embraced Maoism until it personally failed her.


    And, since we're on the subject of book/travelogue recommendations anyway, I read this book 3-4 years ago, but "Tales of a Female Nomad" by Rita Golden Gelman really struck a cord with me as a more intelligent version of what "Eat Pray Love" tries to be. (The author actually gives up everything.)


    Plus Tony Horowitz's "Confederates in the Attic" for a little USA roadtrip.

  2. I'm pretty certain that the past ten years of my life could easily be called "The decade of sweatpants."

    (Sorry my comment wasn't as informative and useful as the first gal.)

    So sorry you're not feeling well.
    1)You know I love ya
    2)I miss ya.
    3)I can't wait to read some of these books
    4)I hope you wear sweats all week.
    5) Who needs showers because we have dry shampoo...

  3. I love that your 'date night' was at Barnes and Noble. Jack and I had a 'date' last week, and we did the exact same thing. It's one of our favorite types of dates.

  4. I, too, love the bookstore date nights! That is pretty much all we had. I had like two real fancy dates the whole time we dated. :)

    Love Nancy Pearl. I used to own that action figure. I must get this "to go" book!

    I understand the foot stomping. I stomp right with you.

  5. thanks for all the awesome book recs!

  6. Katie - I'll put those books on my list right now. Thanks!

  7. I could do with less political "sis boom ba" in general