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Read Around the World: Taiwan


Map from this website

Welcome to January and our first round the world trip of 2020. This month we visited Taiwan so what have we learnt and what did we read?

Fun facts about Taiwan from this website:

  • Taiwan is bordered by the Luzon Strait on the south, East China Sea to the north and the Philippine Sea on the east. The main island is 240 miles long and comprises of twenty-one small islands.
    Its official name is Republic of China or ROC.
  • Taiwan is the third-largest holder of foreign exchange reserves. The new Taiwan dollar (TWD) is the official currency.
  • Taiwanese Hokkien is the language spoken by most of the people in Taiwan. Mandarin is the official language of the island.
  • Buddhism is the most popular religion in Taiwan and has a following of almost 4.9 million people. The other religious practices are Islam, Taoism, Bahaism, Catholicism and Protestantism.
  • Some of the major industries are petroleum refining, iron and steel, textiles, food processing, consumer products, vehicles and pharmaceuticals. The island is rich in natural resources such as natural gas, coal, marble, asbestos, small deposits of coal and limestone.
  • Baseball is the national sport of Taiwan and the other popular sports are basketball, football, cycling, golf and tennis. The martial art, Taekwondo, is also practiced widely in Taiwan.
  • The first woman to win a world Nobel Peace Prize was Lu Hsui-lein from Taiwan.
  • Jade Mountain or Mount Yu is the highest peak in Taiwan which is situated at 3950m above sea level.
  • Taiwan has the lowest poverty rate and the highest recycling rates in the world.

This month a big shout out goes to RachelO from Litsy who hooked me up with this list of Taiwanese writers. Sadly where I am in the UK it was not easy to get hold of a book by a Taiwanese writer at a reasonable price so I ended up reading a book that sound much heavier than the kind of story I was aiming for.

Masked Dolls by Chiung-Yu Shih 3 Stars. My favourite summary of the story is this “Masked Dolls is an unusual look at how the metaphorical shrinking of the world affects people at an individual level. It considers a number of consequences, particularly for women: the novel never fails to remind us that we live in a patriarchal society which will not tolerate interracial relationships. Masked Dolls is one of those rare books which after reading reveals itself to be greater than the sum of its parts. Brutal, intense, fascinating.”— The Writes of Woman” I agree with every word this is exactly what the book does. The origin of the title “Masked Dolls” is particularly shocking when it is finally revealed almost at the very end of the book and the sad thing is I can easily imagine this being a reality.

At the heart of the story is Jiaying a Taiwanese woman staying in Korea following the end of her relationship with an English man. This relationship has made her a virtual outcast amongst those who know her in Taiwan and one particularly vindictive young man goes out of his way to make sure Jiaying’s reputation is destroyed in her home country. Despite all this Jiaying loves her home country and comes to realise it is the place where she wants to be.

Some quotes that really struck home:

“‘It’s a good job I don’t live in China then,’ Judy said. ‘Western women would be labelled whores very easily over there’
‘Chinese men aren’t the only ones who think that way. When I was living in Europe, Western men from all over would mistake all the Asian women they saw for prostitutes.”

“You don’t think it’s those revolting perverts who should be taken to task? The rapists punished rather than the women just trying to keep themselves cool in hot weather?”

“After waiting nearly forty years, he could finally go and see his family again. Cross-Straits relations had improved by then, and Taiwanese residents were allowed to visit the mainland. He could finally return home.”

“The flag contained the blue of the sky, the white of the sun and the red of the earth.”


Overall I am glad I read this as it is definitely thought provoking, for anyone worried that this might be heavy reading I actually didn’t find it as heavy as I was expecting, that’s not to say it was light because it definitely wasn’t it was a well balanced read.

Did you join us in visiting Taiwan? If so what did you read and what did you think of it?

Next up is America what plans do you have for this? I am planning to find one of the “Great American” novels that I haven’t yet read.



3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gail #

    I am reading The Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan. She is not a Taiwanese author, but she did do over 14 years of research in preparation for writing the book and her mother was born in Taiwan after her family fled mainland China. I only just started the book.
    I would be interested in reading “an American classic” for February. There are many that I have never read including Look Homeward Angel, Grapes of Wrath, and Gone with the Wind.


    January 17, 2020
    • Book Worm #

      I will be reading Farenheit 451


      January 18, 2020
  2. Not everyone likes this flag in Taiwan especially to Taiwanese, but to those Chinese who were born in Taiwan may have meanings to them. This flag represents the old China and it’s similar to the flag of Chinese party. Though some of the people want to change the flag and become an independent country some day, not just de-facto independence, we still need to show the world this flag for now.


    June 5, 2020

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