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:
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!
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!
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What’s your favorite travel memoir?