Book report: Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang

Watch the video at archive.org

On Sunday night's stream I accidentally opened the book report screen, still set up for Normal People from way back at the start of February. "Oh my," I exclaimed, "it's been some time since I did a book report! And you know I've read so many books since then! I can probably do three book reports this week. One book report for every stream. I will do that, and I will not fail." I meant it, and I truly believed at the time that come Tuesday night I would have two reports typed up and ready to go for the books I've already read, and one more on its way as I would nearly be finished reading the next book.

And now it's 5:20pm and I go live on the stream at 8pm and all I have to show for myself is what came before this sentence. A big part of doing these book reports on stream was to encourage me to reflect and take stock on the things I read. It had become all too common for me to read a book and then forget about it entirely, as I never talked to anyone about it or examined my thoughts about it in any way. Doing these reports was a way of making my reading real, of creating actual tangible instances of when I had engaged with a book, and whatever impression it had left on me.

Dragon Springs Road book cover 

I already touched on this in my Normal People report, but sometimes I read a book and I don't know what I think about it, or at least I don't know what I want to tell people I think about it. How can I show proof of a book's effect me if I don't know how it affected me? It's no coincidence, I'm sure, that immediately after running into this issue I just sort of stopped doing reports. I recognised while reading the very next book (which I promise I will do a report about on Thursday) that I had no idea how I wanted to frame my thoughts on it. I had no idea how to make anything out of the experience. So I just didn't.

Initially I borrowed Dragon Springs Road from Auckland Libraries as an ebook. Before I got around to reading it I decided I needed an audiobook to listen to while heading to Australia for work, so I returned the ebook copy and borrowed an audiobook copy. I figured I'd have lots of dead time in airports and airplanes and at my hotel, so an eleven hour recording should suit me nicely. I think I got through an hour and a half on that five day trip.

So I borrowed the ebook again and finished Dragon Springs Road with my eyes and not with my ears. Thanks to having the first few chapters read aloud to me I now had a solid idea of how to pronounce all of the character and place names.

These book reports are not reviews, and the fact that I've told you nothing about how I feel about Dragon Springs Road is not meant to be an indictment of this book at all. Sometimes I don't finish a book quickly or I don't have anything much to say about it for all kinds of reasons that aren't the book itself. If book reports are meant to be a record of my experience with books then the inconclusive and meandering book report I'm finishing up right now is as on topic as any literary analysis I might have done.

Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang is available at Auckland Libraries.

Book reports