2016 FFOF Summer Reading List

You can browse the books one by one down below, or choose to download the entire list as a PDF file.


Elon Musk How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future Author: Ashlee Vance Category: Business, Biography Publishing Year: 2015 Length: 421 pages Difficulty:  Easy

Elon Musk
How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future

Author: Ashlee Vance
Category: Business, Biography
Publishing Year: 2015
Length: 421 pages
Difficulty:  Easy

A tour de force centering on the real-life Iron Man whose ambition is only matched by his imagination and organizational skills. As the founder of several highly successful enterprises, Elon not only has changed the way we live our daily lives, but also gives the promise how human species will survive (multi-planetarily) in the future. He is my hero. His real stories are more exciting than fiction. I hope you find as much inspirations from them as I do.
— Minhua Zhang ‘00

The Fault in our Stars Author: John Green Category: Fiction Publishing Year: 2012 Length: 324 pages Difficulty:  Easy

The Fault in our Stars

Author: John Green
Category: Fiction
Publishing Year: 2012
Length: 324 pages
Difficulty:  Easy

What is it like to be a 16-year old? We all have fond memories of those teenage years - memories of first love, memories of best friends and memories of failures and triumphs. But what is it like to be 16-year olds with terminal cancer? The Fault in our Stars explores the conflicts of young lives that are full of future and yet with the certainty of pre-mature deaths. How these terminally ill teenagers face their challenges and overcome the obstacles, how they still find humor, courage and above all, love, is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The story gives a lot of humanity and perspective to all of us who can enjoy good health with a long life to look forward to. How so fragile life is, how can we not live it to the fullest every day! Enjoy a teenage love story!
— Ling Liu ‘88

On China Author: Henry Kissinger Category: International Relations Publishing Year: 2012 Length:  624 pages Difficulty:  Hard

On China

Author: Henry Kissinger
Category: International Relations
Publishing Year: 2012
Length:  624 pages
Difficulty:  Hard

On China, a book by a renowned diplomat, Henry Kissinger, delineates the political origin of modern China. As argued in the book, Kissinger tries to understand China from a Confucius root which has been further embodied with the social class of scholar officials throughout history. Despite a semi-communist and semi-nationalist reform before the founding of the People’s Republic, China today still carries the tradition and looks back to history for governing legitimacy. With such an understanding, Kissinger plotted out the diplomatic history of the Republic from a US perspective and highlighted the changes after the Culture Revolution and the progression towards greater engagement with the global community.
— Hang Qian ‘06

The Glass Bead Game Author: Hermann Hesse Category: Literature, Classics Publishing Year: 2000 Length: 544 pages Difficulty:  Hard

The Glass Bead Game

Author: Hermann Hesse
Category: Literature, Classics
Publishing Year: 2000
Length: 544 pages
Difficulty:  Hard

In the book, a player feels unspeakable joy and serenity when completes one glass bead game. In real world, a knowledge worker has the same feeling after he discovers the enigmatic link between knowledge pieces. That is, when he finds apocalypticism under Russian communist revolution; When he finds probability theory, which was invented for gambling, is the foundation of quantum physics; and when he finds the concept of entropy in thermodynamics is also the foundation of information theory behind Internet. What a beautiful, harmonious yet mysterious world!
— Yilei Li '05

Country Driving A Chinese Road Trip Author: Peter Hessler Category: Travel Publishing Year: 2011 Length:  448 pages Difficulty: Moderate

Country Driving
A Chinese Road Trip

Author: Peter Hessler
Category: Travel
Publishing Year: 2011
Length:  448 pages
Difficulty: Moderate

This book was published in 2010. By the time China already achieved spectacular economic growth for more than three decades. Accompanied by its great economic transformation, China has observed rapid change of the society, unprecedented rural urban migration, and constant conflict between modernization and the traditional culture. How does the societal transition affect the daily life of grass roots? What do Chinese think of and how do they
cope with such a large-scale restructuring of the economy, society, community, and to some extent, polity? In this book, Peter Hessler offers a fascinating but subtle answer and raises more thought provoking questions.
— Liucun Deng ‘07

The Music of the Primes Author: Marcus du Sautoy Category: Mathematics Publishing Year: 2012 Length:  368 pages Difficulty:  moderate, Math terms involved

The Music of the Primes

Author: Marcus du Sautoy
Category: Mathematics
Publishing Year: 2012
Length:  368 pages
Difficulty:  moderate, Math terms involved

A book prize from the British math Olympiad when I was in high school myself, this easy-to-read book explains in a simple yet delightful tone some of the most intriguing problems mathematicians face in the field of number theory, pulling history, day-to-day examples and amusing anecdotes together to present a fascinating read. It is both inspiring and entertaining, and surely would change a mind or two on why it is a good idea to study mathematics in the future.
— Yingzhi Peng ‘06

Life of Pi Author: Yann Martel Category: Fiction Publishing Year: 2003 Length:  401 pages Difficulty:  Easy

Life of Pi

Author: Yann Martel
Category: Fiction
Publishing Year: 2003
Length:  401 pages
Difficulty:  Easy

Life of Pi tells a time when we are stripped down to nothing - naked, shelterless, with extreme scarcity of food, drinking water and supplies; and the story asks how we continue to remain human and live in peace with Richard Parker, literally and metaphorically our worst fear and torment, yet paradoxically also the only remaining source of hope and safeguard of sanity.
— Luyi Xu ‘09

Everything but the Coffee Learning about America from Starbucks Author: Simon Bryant Category: Sociology Publishing Year: 2011 Length:  320 pages Difficulty: Easy

Everything but the Coffee
Learning about America from Starbucks

Author: Simon Bryant
Category: Sociology
Publishing Year: 2011
Length:  320 pages
Difficulty: Easy

As a kid, I considered Starbucks coffee as a treat and the connection to the “Western world”. Yet now residing in New York City, I avoid Starbucks as much as I can and have very picky preference for a couple of independent coffee shops. I am more conscious of ethical consumerism (concerns over fair trade, environmental sustainability, global commodity chain and local business). Do I really become a more ethnical customer? Or is it just my craving for authenticity and identity become more sophisticated?
— Siqi Tu ‘08

The Stranger Author: Albert Camus Category: Fiction Publishing Year: 1993 Length: 152 pages Difficulty:  Moderate

The Stranger

Author: Albert Camus
Category: Fiction
Publishing Year: 1993
Length: 152 pages
Difficulty:  Moderate

“My mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday.” So begins “The Stranger,” a short novel by Nobel-Prize-winning author and acclaimed French philosopher Albert Camus. The book portrays how Meursault, an indifferent French Algerian, arbitrarily killed a man after attending his mother’s funeral. Camus himself explains the book more compellingly than anyone: “I summarized The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: ‘In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.’ I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game.”
— Tianyuan Deng ‘08

1984 Author: George Orwell Category: Novel, Science Fiction Publishing Year: 1949 Length: 328 pages Difficulty:  Moderate

1984

Author: George Orwell
Category: Novel, Science Fiction
Publishing Year: 1949
Length: 328 pages
Difficulty:  Moderate

As I read, a totalitarian state unfolded in front of my eyes, and I experienced it from the perspective of one individual who resides in it. It has a kind of surveillance, manipulation and fanaticism far too realistic to be taken lightly. I was shaken up, and as a result, I learned to question. I became alert, and critical.
It was not until later in college that I learned about dystopian literature and different forms of political systems, but this book planted a seed early on...
— Mingyan Ma ‘09

2015 Summer Reading Award Summary

This year, we have received 38 pieces from students and the selection process has been enjoyable. We were enlightened reading through the selections and are proud of the extremely well-written and thoughtful work from our students. We are delighted to see the outcome and really hoped the students have enjoyed the readings we recommended.

We appreciate the time everyone has put in to make this happen. As a conclusion to our first ever Summer Reading List project sponsored by the Foundation, we recognize the following as this year's award recipients:

Outstanding Award: First Prize winners

Second Prize winners:

  • 周润东 – “Of Disgrace” (Senior I)
  • 王明森 – “1984, an Impossible Invention or Possible Phenomenon” (Senior I)
  • 朱益清 – “1984: an Everlasting Alert” (Senior III)

Third Prize winners:

  • 范翀 – “Stricken Grief of 1984” (Senior I)
  • 胡诗宇 – “Fading of Daylight, Imperfections of Life” (Senior II)
  • 沈君涵 – “Review of 1984” (Senior II)
  • 戴思崴 – “Life in the Bubble” (Senior II)
  • 徐雯畅  – “1984”  (Senior II)
  • 俞玮婷 – “Tracing the Broadest Patterns of History” (Senior II)

Lastly, we want to give a special thanks to Mr. Geng Jun and the English Department at Fuzhong for the gracious support throughout the process, and most importantly, to everyone who participated. We hope to see your work again next year.

2015 FFOF Summer Reading List

You can browse the books one by one down below, or choose to download the entire list as a PDF file.


Taking the Stand My Life in the Law Author: Alan Dershowitz Category: Autobiography, Law Publishing Year: 2013 Length: 528 pages


Taking the Stand
My Life in the Law

Author: Alan Dershowitz
Category: Autobiography, Law
Publishing Year: 2013
Length: 528 pages

In this book, celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz tells his life story from a C-student to one of the most recognizable names in modern legal practice… This is a colorful, hands-on introduction to American and global legal frameworks and practices…
— Minhua Zhang (’00)

Wish You Happy Forever Author: Jenny Bowen Category: Ethnic Publishing Year: 2014 Length: 336 pages


Wish You Happy Forever

Author: Jenny Bowen
Category: Ethnic
Publishing Year: 2014
Length: 336 pages

I met Jenny Bowen as our honored speaker at FDFZ Overseas Foundation’s spring luncheon in 2008 and her mission touched me so much that I had been a fervent supporter of Half the Sky Foundation since then… Take the journey with Jenny, and you will not only be moved to tears but also be encouraged that there is nothing one cannot accomplish as long as you believe in it!
— Ling Liu (’88)

Chasing Daylight  How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life Author: Eugene O’Kelly Category: Memoir, Philosophy Publishing Year: 2007 Length:  160 pages


Chasing Daylight 
How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life

Author: Eugene O’Kelly
Category: Memoir, Philosophy
Publishing Year: 2007
Length:  160 pages

[The book] talks about how the CEO of KPMG US re-prioritized his life and became the “Chief Executive Officer” of his own death when he was diagnosed with last phase cancer. It is interesting as only a limited number of people is able to face death tranquilly not to mention well-managed the 100-days after the “death sentence”. However, it would not be inspiring if people in normal circumstances cannot learn from his experience.
— Hang Qian(’05)

Guns, Germs, and Steel Author: Jared Diamond Category: Anthropology Publishing Year: 1999 Length: 496 pages


Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond
Category: Anthropology
Publishing Year: 1999
Length: 496 pages

In 1521, the great Aztec Empire (with population of 15 million) was conquered by 500 Spanish soldiers. This conquest seems impossible, but it did happen. What was the weapon of those Spanish conquerors, which enabled them to vanquish opponents like sands of the sea? The answer is: guns, germs, and steel, which becomes the title of this book. Guns, Germs and Steel gives a brand new aspect to look into human history: how latitude, local tamable animals, immune system and technology (which are usually not discussed in history textbook) can substantially influence, or even determine the fate of one dynasty.
— Yilei Li (’05)

Outliers Author: Malcolm Gladwell Category: Social Psychology Publishing Year: 2009 Length:  384 pages


Outliers

Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Category: Social Psychology
Publishing Year: 2009
Length:  384 pages

In Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell examines the life paths of exceptionally successful people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. He challenges the conventional wisdom of success which focuses on intelligence and ambition. Instead, “It is not the brightest who succeed,” Gladwell writes. “Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”
— Hao Yan (’05)

Thinking, Fast and Slow Author: Daniel Kahneman Category: Social Psychology Publishing Year: 2012 Length:  512 pages


Thinking, Fast and Slow

Author: Daniel Kahneman
Category: Social Psychology
Publishing Year: 2012
Length:  512 pages

While we often take for granted how our brains work, the reality is a lot more complicated and even amusing at times: we tend to ignore, overemphasize or connect things we should not. “Thinking, fast and slow”, a 2011 instant classic by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, encourages us to rethink the way we think.
— Yingzhi Peng (’06)

Interpreter of Maladies Author: Jhumpa Lahiri Category: Novel Publishing Year: 1999 Length:  208 pages


Interpreter of Maladies

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Category: Novel
Publishing Year: 1999
Length:  208 pages

The Pulitzer Prize-winning book features nine short stories on Indians and Indian Americans whose lives are deeply marked by their traditional heritage. As one of the finest short story writers, Jhumpa Lahiri writes with elegance and nuanced depth. Her nine stories bring readers on an emotional journey through love and loss.
— Yinan Zhang (’07)

Strange Stones Dispatches from East and West Author: Peter Hessler Category: Social Science Publishing Year: 2013 Length:  368 pages


Strange Stones
Dispatches from East and West

Author: Peter Hessler
Category: Social Science
Publishing Year: 2013
Length:  368 pages

Strange Stones is a wonderful collection of Peter Hessler’s previous published pieces on China… Unlike many of other foreign writers, who sometimes entered China with lots of presumptions, Hessler experienced the country with empathy and curiosity and did a great job of understanding and explaining the seemingly irregularities he observed.
— Siqi Tu (’08)

The Kite Runner Author: Khaled Hosseini Category: Novel Publishing Year: 2013 Length: 416 pages


The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini
Category: Novel
Publishing Year: 2013
Length: 416 pages

I still remember the old days when I was in my dorm (Qiu Shi Lou) reading this book under dim light in my bed. A book featuring friendship, betrayal and redemption, it not only opens a remote world about Afghanistan to me, but also deeply touches my heart and reminds me of those who are of our age yet still suffering.
— Qizhao Wen (’08)

Disgrace Author: J. M. Coetzee Category: Novel Publishing Year: 1999 Length: 240 pages


Disgrace

Author: J. M. Coetzee
Category: Novel
Publishing Year: 1999
Length: 240 pages

Nobel Prize Laureate, South African author J.M.Coetzee, is one of the very few writers that win both the Nobel Literature Prize and the Booker Prize (the Nobel Prize equivalent in the field of literature). His works appeal to me because of the simplicity and clarity of language and sound logic. However, is a book that I am still trying to figure out after three reads.
— Tianyuan Deng (’08)

1984 Author: George Orwell Category: Novel, Science Fiction Publishing Year: 1949 Length: 328 pages


1984

Author: George Orwell
Category: Novel, Science Fiction
Publishing Year: 1949
Length: 328 pages

As I read, a totalitarian state unfolded in front of my eyes, and I experienced it from the perspective of one individual who resides in it. It has a kind of surveillance, manipulation and fanaticism far too realistic to be taken lightly. I was shaken up, and as a result, I learned to question. I became alert, and critical. It was not until later in college that I learned about dystopian literature and different forms of political systems, but this book planted a seed early on…
— Mingyan Ma (’09)

2014 Summer Reading Award Summary

This year, we have received 38 pieces from students and the selection process has been enjoyable. We were enlightened reading through the selections and are proud of the extremely well-written and thoughtful work from our students. We are delighted to see the outcome and really hoped the students have enjoyed the readings we recommended.

We appreciate the time everyone has put in to make this happen. As a conclusion to our first ever Summer Reading List project sponsored by the Foundation, we recognize the following as this year's award recipients:

Outstanding Award: First Prize winners

Second Prize winners:

  • 杨逸菲 - "All the Fantasy Reflects Cruel Reality - Life of Pi" (Senior II)
  • 廖梓含 - "Review of Life of Pi" (Senior II)
  • 腾凯欣 - "Review of Life of Pi" (Senior III)

Third Prize winners:

  • 于晟汇 - "Curiosity and Philosophy - Sophie's World" (Senior II)
  • 王源远 - "Why Freakonomics is a Must-Read? - Freakonomics" (Senior II)
  • 薛忆枫 - “Time and Life - Einstein's Dream" (Senior III)

For students who did not write their essay based on our book list, we would like to recognize the following:

  • 李锦程 - “Issues on Prejudice and Humanity - To Kill a Mocking Bird" (Senior II)
  • 陈伊纯 - “Arts and Politics - Les Miserables" (Senior I)
  • 秦政 - “The Failure of Lady Macbeth - Macbeth" (Senior II)
  • 胡星宇 - “Animal Farm - A Reflection of the Truth - Animal Farm" (Senior II)
  • 周陈成 - “The Prophetic World of 1984 - 1984" (Senior III)
  • 汤妮 - "The Fight Club - The Fight Club" (Senior III)
  • 王浩然 - “Something about Pride & Prejudice - Pride and Prejudice" (Senior II)

Lastly, we want to give a special thanks to Mr. Geng Jun and the English Department at Fuzhong for the gracious support throughout the process, and most importantly, to everyone who participated. We hope to see your work again next year.

2014 FFOF Summer Reading List

You can browse the books one by one down below, or choose to download the entire list as a PDF file.


Einstein's Dreams Author: Alan Lightman Category: Science Publishing Year: 2004 Length: 144 pages

Einstein's Dreams
Author: Alan Lightman
Category: Science
Publishing Year: 2004
Length: 144 pages

“Written by an acclaimed MIT astrophysicist, Einstein’s Dreams is a collection of imagined worlds where time flows differently. When I first read the stories, shortly after graduating with a science degree while busy working on Wall Street, I was struck by the book’s instant appeal to my inner curiosity. It also brought a rare sense of tranquility to my mind.”
— Minhua Zhang ('00)

The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order Author: Samuel Huntington Category: Political Science Publishing Year: 1996 Length: 368 pages

The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order
Author: Samuel Huntington
Category: Political Science
Publishing Year: 1996
Length: 368 pages

“[This book] gave me a new lens to see the world as many co-existing civilizations, each of which evolved out of its unique historical, geographical and cultural context. They have, and will continue to shape each other through both peaceful exchange and brutal warfare.”
— Mingyan Ma ('09)

How to Lie with Statistics Author: Darrell Huff Category: Statistics Publishing Year: 1954 Length: 128 pages

How to Lie with Statistics
Author: Darrell Huff
Category: Statistics
Publishing Year: 1954
Length: 128 pages

“This book is one of the bestselling statistics books, with over 500K copies sold in the English edition. The author provided humorous illustrations of proper and improper (and thus ‘lies’) ways of reading numbers and charts. Some of the interpretations might be intentional, but many others were made unintentionally.”
— Kelly Zou ('88)

Freakonomics Author: Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner Category: Economics Publishing Year: 2006 Length: 320 pages

Freakonomics
Author: Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
Category: Economics
Publishing Year: 2006
Length: 320 pages

“Have you ever imagined that your teacher might want to help you cheat on exams, or wondered whether a swimming pool is more dangerous than a gun? Freakonomics will bring you into the world of economics not through its methodology but through its subjects - the real life phenomenon and puzzles that we strive to understand with the study of economics.”
— Yuxiao Huang ('09)

Life of Pi Author: Yann Martel Category: Fiction Publishing Year: 2003 Length: 401 pages

Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Category: Fiction
Publishing Year: 2003
Length: 401 pages

“Life of Pi tells a time when we are stripped down to nothing - naked, shelterless, with extreme scarcity of food, drinking water and supplies; and the story asks how we continue to remain human and live in peace with Richard Parker, literally and metaphorically our worst fear and torment, yet paradoxically also the only remaining source of hope and safeguard of sanity.”
— Luyi Xu ('09)

Story of Art Author: E. H. Gombrich Category: Art History Publishing Year: 2006 Length: 1044 pages

Story of Art
Author: E. H. Gombrich
Category: Art History
Publishing Year: 2006
Length: 1044 pages

“This is the book that introduced me to art history and influenced me to choose this as a career. First published in 1950, it is revered as the a must-read for beginners and has been wildly popular even until today (it has been translated into thirty languages).”
— Tianyuan Deng ('08)

Sophie's World Author: Jostein Gaarder Category: Philosophy Publishing Year: 1996 Length: 436 pages

Sophie's World
Author: Jostein Gaarder
Category: Philosophy
Publishing Year: 1996
Length: 436 pages

“Where does the world come from? Who are you? These basic questions are nevertheless some of the hardest questions to answer. Gaarder’s book centered on a young girl’s adventure with her mysterious philosophy teacher, exploring the history of philosophy and its different schools since the Greeks in a light-hearted albeit philosophical way itself.”
— Yingzhi Peng ('06)

Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective Author: Peter Berger Category: Sociology Publishing Year: 1963 Length: 208 pages

Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective
Author: Peter Berger
Category: Sociology
Publishing Year: 1963
Length: 208 pages

“[This book] is not a standard introduction to sociology textbook, but successfully presents the discipline of sociology to general readers without too much jargon. The sociological imagination can provide people a way to look and think beyond what they have been told and to understand the mechanism of the society.”
— Siqi Tu ('08)