High Society

China Rich Girlfriend

What’s it about?
Did you read Crazy Rich Asians? China Rich Girlfriend is its sequel. We met Nick’s family in the first book, and this time we meet Rachel’s. She discovers her birth father (she was raised by a single mother in Cupertino – just down the street!), and it turns out that he’s one of the new Chinese billionaires. Which allows our author to explore Shanghai society in this book like he explored Singapore society in the last one.

I should note that Rachel is not the China Rich Girlfriend. She discovers she has a half-brother; his girlfriend is the titular character.

Why should you read it?
You should read it because you read and enjoyed the first book. It’s not as good, but it is still fun. Kevin Kwan – the author – was raised in Singapore and clearly has first-hand experience of a lot of that city; he researched Shanghai.

But overall China Rich Girlfriend is a relaxing beach/vacation/holiday read. (I’m not saying much, but there’s not a huge amount to say – which isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes an entertaining fun read is all you want.)

A sci-fi classic (in my world, anyway)

the diamond age

What’s it about?
The Diamond Age is a classic from 1996 (that feels so wrong to type – I was in college, for chrissakes). It’s a story about the future and a special kind of book – an electronic book before there were kindles or nooks or iPads. This is a book that helps a child learn. It’s personalized to the child – figuring out what they know about both academics and the world around them. It teaches these children how to function in the world, and the goal is not just to make them book smart, but also to give them the drive and the ability to succeed as things change. And not just react to that change, but create the change. Three bespoke versions of the book are made: one for a wealthy man’s granddaughter, one for the inventor’s daughter, and one that gets lost and ends up in the hands of a street urchin named Nell. They change the world.

Why should you read it? 
Disclaimer: The Diamond Age has been my favorite Neal Stephenson book since I first read it. I may have read Snow Crash first, but I like this one more.

Why? There’s the obvious: I’m female and I love reading. I’m generally tech-optimistic, even if I have doubts about our current technology. A sci-fi book about education and reading with women in primary roles? Sign me up.

But I also love it because of the world it creates. The characterization of China was off – Stephenson missed China’s meteoric rise over the last 20 years – but the Vickys (the neo-Victorians) and the other various sects play well together. And I can see a neo-Victorian strain in Silicon Valley, with its insistence on perfectibility – if we could only do x or figure out y, then we could make everything perfect!

It is a classic. Read it if you haven’t.