Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Getting Learned With New Books
I did one post in May. One. Some would call it laziness (me) and some would just say that there's absolutely nothing going on at the moment (also me), but that will change soon. Basically what I'd like to think is that I spent that time really researching the crazy thing I'm about to do in two months, and that's somewhat true. Although what would be closer to the truth, is I have gotten a bit lazy as the weather has warmed up, and have been making good use of the little time I've got left in New York (concerts, a Rolling Stone Mag Birthday Party, summer movies, outside drinking, etc. etc.). Ya know, I complain, but this city has been home for almost three years, and in the grand scheme of things it has provided me with an insurmountable amount of entertainment, and that's really all I'm out for. Perhaps I'm becoming a bit more nostalgic as the weeks wind down, and am romanticizing everything as time ticks away, but I think that there is a strong chance I'll return to New York after my stint in Asia. With that being said, I'm really in no place to make any predictions as I want to keep a completely open mind.
Anyway.... .... I wasn't kidding about the research thing. I have managed to pick up two books recently that I think have really enhanced my understanding of Korea and will continue to be useful throughout my stay there.
The first being Lonely Planet's Guide to Korea. I bought the most recent edition (which is currently sold out in most places such as Barnes & Noble) online at Amazon's marketplace, used, for $9 and it was in perfect condition.
Now, I've been needing an excuse to buy a Lonely Planet book, b/c they're so damn good. They give you a brief history in the beginning, some paragraphs on the culture and daily life, and then they break up the rest of the book into different areas and suggest every place imaginable to visit. I broke out the highlighter for things to remember and also got a pretty great history of Korea as far as their place as China's little brother, and a better understanding into their dislike for Japan. It also suggested some places in North Korea, which piqued my interest so now THAT is in the back of my mind.
Also, it talked a bit about Hangul, Korea's written language, which I'm slowly but surely becoming fascinated with. Expect a separate post in the coming weeks as I get a better understanding of the written script which is said to be so easy 2 year old Korean babies understand it. Korea does have a 99% literacy rate, so maybe they're onto something.
The second book I have yet to really crack open (maybe I'm a bit premature in writing about it then) but it can't be anything BUT useful. I bought Korean, At a Glance for $8 at a local Barnes & Noble. This book is no bigger than my hand and about two inches thick, and even comes with a removable plastic cover so it will most likely become a staple in my purse/bag for the next year.
The cover boasts that it has over 1500 phrases and expressions for everyday use, and is as well a useful dictionary. What I liked about it was the fact that it has a food section specifically to help decode menus, because that's not something found in most and will be something I will need in order to find sustenance.
Just from reading the first few pages, it gives an introduction into Hangul and uses English to sound out a word. Once I get further into this, I hope to at least go to Korea with SOME kind of understanding of how to speak, and/or read.
Maybe next I'll find some sort of Korean Fiction, or maybe Korean Lore, or something. Although maybe the next thing I should try and find are some teaching books, THOSE might come in handy. Keep a look out in my new BOOKS label on the sidebar.