Books

Colleen Hoover (above, right) dominated publishing in 2022 in the way Stieg Larsson and Stephenie Meyer once did. Brené Brown (above, left), the queen of self-help guides, ran her close. Photo: Colleen Hoover and Brené  Brown

Colleen Hoover’s year, and self-help queen Brené Brown’s: 2022 in books

American romance and young adult author Colleen Hoover was her fans’ best-kept secret a year ago. Not any more. Reader of human emotions Brené Brown had nearly as viral a year as Hoover.

18 Dec 2022 - 7:08PM
Chinese writer Qi Yimin has penned more than 40 books since getting the idea for his first from working in the “surreal” multinational office of a trading company in Montreal, Canada. Photo: Simon Song

Profile | Chinese humorist’s career sparked by surreal theatre of a Canadian office

The strangeness of being part of the multinational staff of a trading company in Montreal gave Qi Yimin the idea for his first book. The polyglot author and humorist explains why a writer needs such life experiences.

11 Dec 2022 - 5:15PM
Reading Margaret Lobenstine’s book The Renaissance Soul changed the life of Olivia Chan, founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based BeautyFact. Photo: Olivia Chan

‘I thought I was a loser’: how a career coach’s book changed CEO’s life

Olivia Chan had a variety of interests but no career path. Reading life coach Margaret Lobenstine’s book showed her how to balance different passions without losing focus.

1 Dec 2022 - 5:15PM
Reading The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz taught Katy Yung (above), managing partner of the Sustainable Finance Initiative, about impact investment.

What reading The Blue Sweater taught a banker about impact investment

Jacqueline Novogratz’s book approaches social investment with an entrepreneurial focus, and reading it inspired banker Katy Yung to set up a community of impact investors in Hong Kong.

24 Nov 2022 - 5:15PM
The Chater Collection Pictures relating to China Hong Kong Macao 1655-1860 by James Orange.



Then & Now | The China Coast artists like George Chinnery who found a ready market

Art depicting familiar southern Chinese scenes was popular among the merchants and officials of the China Trade, such as Hong Kong’s Sir Paul Chater.

13 Nov 2022 - 10:15AM
When Bowie Lam (above) read All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks, it changed the way she thought about love, and how she talked to teenagers. Photo: Teen’s Key

What reading bell hooks’ All About Love taught a Hong Kong NGO director

When Bowie Lam read All About Love: New Visions, the executive director of NGO Teen’s Key Hong Kong changed its programmes used to help teens.

8 Nov 2022 - 5:15PM
Princess Diana carries a Lady Dior handbag at a public engagement in Liverpool, in the UK. Photo: Getty Images

From Hermès Birkin to Lady Dior, stories of the most iconic It bags

From the Hermès Birkin and the Lady Dior, to the Chanel 2.55 and the Fendi Baguette, the designer handbag is a fashion icon linked to some of the world’s most prominent women.

27 Sep 2022 - 4:15AM
“Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear”, from editors Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever, is the catalogue from the current exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, and takes readers on a journey though the history of men’s fashion. Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum

Review | Behold the history of men’s fashion and see how splendid it used to be

‘Fashioning Masculinities’, the catalogue from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s current exhibition, takes a trip through the history of men’s fashion, from sumptuous dandies to sobering suits.

26 Sep 2022 - 4:15PM
Hani Aini women in Xishuangbanna, in Chian’s Yunnan province. Picture: Li Guiyun / Thames & Hudson

The rich clothing and adornment traditions of China’s ethnic minorities

‘China Adorned: Ritual and Custom of Ancient Cultures’ boasts almost 700 images that document and demystify the customs of more than 30 of China’s ethnic minorities.

23 Sep 2022 - 4:45PM
Like two ghosts, writer Leonard Woolf (above) and his wife, Virginia, haunt Sophie Cunningham’s novel This Devastating Fever. Photo: Getty Images

Personal, political, metafictional, novel This Devastating Fever has it all

Sophie Cunningham’s novel, ostensibly about a writer composing a Leonard Woolf novel, sees the Australian writer create space for topics not just close to her life, but to her fierce intellect and passionate heart.

18 Sep 2022 - 4:15PM
The tedium and terror of work in a humdrum Japanese company office is depicted in meticulous detail in Emi yagi’s debut novel Diary of a Void. Photo: Getty Images

Review | Water-cooler futility and the tragedy of dead-end jobs in Diary of a Void

A put-upon Japanese office worker pretends to be pregnant to get out of menial tasks – that’s the cue for Emi Yagi’s biting observations about male-dominated workplaces.

17 Sep 2022 - 7:15PM
This jade cabbage captured the Chinese public’s imagination when the treasures of the Forbidden City were revealed after the last emperor’s fall. That the collection avoided capture by the Japanese is a tale of daring and adventure, as told in Fragile Cargo by Adam Brookes.

The race against time to save Forbidden City’s treasures recounted

Adam Brookes uncovers some new heroes of the second Sino-Japanese war – the curators who catalogued the Forbidden City’s treasures, then packed them and ensured they were kept secure during years of conflict.

11 Sep 2022 - 11:15AM
Kyoto at dusk. The city is the setting for long-time Japan resident Steve Alpert’s short story collection Kyoto Stories. Photo: Shutterstock

Review | Traditional Japanese culture and 1970s hedonism collide in Kyoto Stories

The American student protagonist of Hayao Miyazaki collaborator Steve Alpert’s diverting short story collection flirts with geishas, is invited to join a swingers club and burns down a traditional teahouse.

28 Aug 2022 - 7:15PM
An education system that cannot produce poets as well as scientists is failing, Pope Francis writes in the foreword to a collection of essays on the future of education. Photo: AFP

Review | Scholars respond to Pope’s call for ‘global compact on education’

In a project initiated by Pope Francis, education scholars propose how the world’s most demanding challenges – climate breakdown and rising intolerance, among them – should be met in the classroom.

27 Aug 2022 - 5:33PM
Alice Wong, disabled activist, reveals glimpses of her life with humour and rage in Year of the Tiger - An Activist’s Life. Photo: Eddie Hernandez/Disability Visibility Project

Review | ‘Disabled oracle’ Alice Wong on living life to the fullest

Born to Hong Kong immigrants to the United States, Alice Wong wasn’t supposed to live to adulthood. But live she did, and has become a formidable activist for disabled communities.

21 Aug 2022 - 6:15PM
Best-selling author Tess Gerritsen in the backyard of her home in Camden, Massachusetts. Despite her success, as a Chinese-American she still doesn’t feel accepted. Photo: Getty Images

Crime writer Tess Gerritsen on her creative burst in Covid-19 lockdown

A new Rizzoli & Isles novel, Listen to Me, gothic ghost story Shape of Night, #MeToo thriller Choose Me and film production with her son Joshua – the Chinese-American writer put on a spurt while stuck at home.

20 Aug 2022 - 7:15PM
Steven Schwankert diving under ice in Lake Baikal, Siberia. Photo: Steven Schwankert

Profile | He fell in love with diving and China as a teen, and made a career of both

China-based American explorer and writer Steven Schwankert tells Kate Whitehead about growing up watching Jacques Cousteau, and how his interest in shipwrecks led him into documentary-making.

14 Aug 2022 - 4:15PM
Video surveillance cameras overlooking a street in Beijing, China. If people think they are being spied on wherever they go, even if that is not so, they will be cowed, the theory goes. Photo: Reuters

Inside the surveillance state: how China cows its people

China’s surveillance system may not be as advanced as the Communist Party claims, but the omnipresence of cameras has reaped rewards in controlling, coercing and cowing its vast and diverse public.

14 Aug 2022 - 8:15AM
South Broadway, Los Angeles, in midcentury. Maria, the main protagonist of Anthony Marra’s novel Mercury Pictures Presents, emigrates there with her mother from Mussolini’s Italy. Photo: Getty Images

Review | Historical context gets in the way in a story of Italian-American migration

Mercury Pictures Presents, Anthony Marra’s third novel, is a sprawling work containing multiple narratives. It might have been better to have kept its focus on Maria, who emigrates from Italy and ends up in Hollywood.

13 Aug 2022 - 7:15PM
A section of the Great Wall in Yinchuan, northwest China. The wall was built by the ancient Chinese to keep nomadic invaders out. Photo: Photo: Xinhua

Review | From Africa to the Caspian steppe, nomads who changed the world

Migrants fleeing climate change, walls erected to keep them out – events today have echoes in history, as Anthony Sattin sets out in Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World.

7 Aug 2022 - 7:15PM