I’ve had a copy of Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost on my shelf for a few years now. When I discovered Simon Vance (my new favorite narrator) did the audiobook, I borrowed it from my public library.

About the Book:

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost (audiobook cover)J. Maarten Troost and his wife are ready for a change of scenery. When Troost suggests moving with their two small boys to China, his skeptical wife suggests he make an exploratory trip and report back. Troost does so, with enthusiasm.

What follows is the story of Troost’s China experience. He travels from area to area, exploring the sights, the history, the culture, and — of course! — the cuisine. Whatever China throws his way, Troost accepts with equanimity, an open mind, and a sense of humor. I learned, I laughed, and I was glad to be taking this particular trip vicariously!

My Thoughts:

If Bill Bryson is just a wee bit harsh for you, give J. Maarten Troost a try. Troost is missing that slightly vicious edge with which Bryson occasionally oversteps a line for some readers when describing other people. The downside is that Troost isn’t quite as wickedly funny and a hair less skilled at blending personal stories with factual but entertaining tangents. Overall, Troost is like Bryson toned down just a bit. I liked him.

I’ve really never read a nonfiction book about China. It’s a country I don’t know that much about. So, Troost’s introduction was just my speed. I liked hearing about the diversity he encountered, in cultures, terrains, food, and even pollution levels. I admired his outgoing nature and cringed with him when he landed in uncomfortable situations. I was mildly appalled at the dishes he ended up consuming. Just…eww.

Simon Vance was, as always, fantastic. I wonder how much my love of his narrations affects my feelings toward the book I’m listening to. Really, if you haven’t listened to him read yet, do yourself a favor and track down one of his audiobooks!

I think anyone who likes travelogues with a sense of humor will enjoy this trip through China with J. Maarten Troost. I know I did!

Those are my thoughts. Check out Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost on Goodreads or LibraryThing, listen to an Audible sample, or read other bloggers’ reviews:

Did I miss your review? Let me know and I’ll add it!

Your Turn!

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  1. Glad you enjoyed this book too! I didn’t know much about China either and I liked it that I was taken by the hand and shown things that I’d never heard of.

    Troost is no Bryson, but, like you, I did like this book a lot.

  2. In the midst of reading this review, I popped on over to the library and ordered this one on audio for myself as well. I have heard some amazing things about Vance, and this does indeed sound like a story that I would love. I love getting to know strange and exotic locales, and this sounds like a great book to do that with! Thanks for the excellent review!

  3. I’ve never heard of Troost before…but I love Bryson, so I’ll have to check him out. Guess I shouldn’t be expecting him to exactly fill bryson’s shoes, but it will be nice to check out his books while I wait for Bryson’s next.

  4. I haven’t read many travel memoirs. But as to narrators, my favorite is Barbara Rosenblatt for fiction. She’s terrific. Right up there with Jim Dale.

  5. I’d love to read this book! I’ve been to China last December and would certainly have appreciated having that book with me! Have Troost and family decided to move to China finally ?

  6. So does this still count as a book shaken from your TBR shelves, even if you ended up doing it on audio instead?! I don’t read a lot of travel memoirs, but I really, really enjoyed Laurie Gough’s works. She’s so down-to-earth and personable on the page.

  7. This sounds like a great read (or listen). I’ve been in a mood lately for reading wildly different books from the one I just finished so this might be one to look for and squeeze in somewhere. Thanks!

  8. As a long time resident of Taiwan I am very interested in all things China (but probably for different reasons than most). I’ll have to pick this one up when it makes its way over here.

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