The Trunk Library

A few months ago, a librarian friend of mine called to tell me his library was culling a ton of books from its collection. He asked if I wanted some of the books. I said sure. He said he’d keep an eye out for books he thought I would like.

Some time later, I met up with him in person at the library. He handed me this big trash bag full of books. I didn’t have a chance to peruse them right there as the library was about to close (I went to pick the books up before our weekly meeting). I threw the bag into the trunk of my car and promptly forgot about it.

At least once a week I would spot the bag in the trunk and remark, “What’s this… oh those books.” They stayed there for about two months like that.

One Saturday, my brother and I went to Hilliard, which is two towns away, for our weekly Trivia gathering at a restaurant up there. I usually bring a book to read while there but for whatever reason, I forgot to bring one that day.

That was when I remembered my Trunk Library. I finally looked through the bag. Most of the books are about Chinese history and were published in the 1960s and 1970s. There was a couple of Japanese travel guides mixed in as well.

I eventually came across a book called, “Sun Yat-Sen: His Life and Its Meaning” by Lyon Sharman.

I’d never heard of him before. My brother, who was a History Major in college at the time, said, “He was a Chinese revolutionary of the early 20th century.”

So there I was, reading a Chinese history/biography book in a restaurant during Trivia. Whenever we answered a question, I’d read a paragraph or two while waiting for the next question to be asked.

No one considered me cheating, in case you’re asking, because none of the questions were about Chinese history.

Anyway, by the end of that night, I had read the first fifty or so pages and became enamored with Sun Yat-Sen’s struggle for a “Republic of China” – he eventually achieved his goal and became the first President of China. Though, six years later, his successor named himself emperor. After that man’s death, China once again fell into a state of anarchy and ruin under warlord rule.

One thing I enjoyed, was the crossover with The Imperial Cruise, though the books were written over 70 years apart, a lot of the action of both takes place in 1895-1905. Sun Yat-Sen even uses the same ship the Taft/Roosevelt Party used in some of their voyages.

The book is about one man’s struggle for a reformed China, only to see that dream turn into chaos shortly afterward.

I have more books in the Trunk Library, as I’ve started to call it. Several of them about contemporary matters relating to Sun Yat-Sen.


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