Give me your tired (books) … yearning to be free

JISHOU, HUNAN — This post is an appeal to book lovers with too many books on their hands. I want those books.

Honestly, I don’t need them for myself. I want them for our college here at Jishou University and for the university library. Jishou U is not a rich school, and students in our college express their frustration at finding only worn and tattered English-language books on the library shelves.

As at most Chinese universities, the English language section leans heavily toward the classics: Shakespeare, Dickens, Poe, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Twain, and (in translation) Stendhal, Tolstoy, and Flaubert, among others. All great writers, but their English prose is difficult for ESL students and furthermore is somewhat out of style.

I’d love to show my students works by Saul Bellow, John Barth, Agatha Christie — really any author of the 20th century. Fiction and non-fiction books would be welcome, but books that touch on sensitive political matters (Tibet, Taiwan, the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest, etc.) or that are overtly anti-communist or anti-Chinese could get me in a world of trouble.

If you are so inclined to send any books my way, be forewarned that postage to China is outrageously high. So sending just a few books at a time is fine. Delivery is slow, too, so don’t be anxious if it takes weeks for me to acknowledge receipt.

I would be ever so grateful for any donations from my readers and the people they know. Please send them to:

John Wheaton
Jishou University
College of International Exchange
120 South Renmin Road
Jishou 416000 Hunan

Audiobooks and e-books are also welcome, but please observe copyright laws. Just send legal copies to john dot wheaton at gmail dot com.

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