Bishopdale library was the first library to open after the quake and it has been a pulsating hive of activity ever since. Think overjoyed customers accompanied by recently uncaged children, attended to by chocolate-biscuit fuelled staff knee deep in a gazillion returns and you have just about got the stereophonic measure of it.
Today, however, in the midst of all this activity, there was a small oasis of calm in which Jane Carswell (winner of the Whitcoull’s Travel Book of the Year 2010) spoke to interested customers about her book Under the Huang Jiao Tree. There is something about hearing an author talk about their writing while surrounded by books that is very pleasing to the soul.
And this book is as much about Jane’s teaching and travels in China as it is about a spiritual awakening that forever changed who she is. It is no accident that the book is sub-titled Two Journeys in China.
So, if you have ever thought you might teach English in China, ever felt curious about Chinese libraries, ever yearned for Kiwi kids to be as seemingly obedient as Chinese students or wondered why our best epiphanies happen far from home when we are all alone, then read this book.
It brought peace and an escape from all the horrors of the recent weeks to a few of us at Bishopdale library today. And that, let me tell you, is quite some recommendation.