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Double Happiness: One Man's Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China

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At twenty-two, Tony Brasunas had never left the United States, taught a class on anything, or spoken a word of Chinese. The journey that changed him forever, that broke open his heart and awakened his mind, began in a high school classroom in hot, coastal Guangzhou, China, and culminated on the plateaus of Tibet. A journey into the heart of a changing China and through the At twenty-two, Tony Brasunas had never left the United States, taught a class on anything, or spoken a word of Chinese. The journey that changed him forever, that broke open his heart and awakened his mind, began in a high school classroom in hot, coastal Guangzhou, China, and culminated on the plateaus of Tibet. A journey into the heart of a changing China and through the soul of a young American, Double Happiness is both travel writing at its very finest and a groundbreaking story of spiritual awakening in the era of globalization. This is a tale for armchair travelers, English teachers, China buffs, adventure backpackers, young people in their twenties and thirties seeking a place in this shrinking world, and readers of all ages curious about a young man's coming of age in a foreign land.


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At twenty-two, Tony Brasunas had never left the United States, taught a class on anything, or spoken a word of Chinese. The journey that changed him forever, that broke open his heart and awakened his mind, began in a high school classroom in hot, coastal Guangzhou, China, and culminated on the plateaus of Tibet. A journey into the heart of a changing China and through the At twenty-two, Tony Brasunas had never left the United States, taught a class on anything, or spoken a word of Chinese. The journey that changed him forever, that broke open his heart and awakened his mind, began in a high school classroom in hot, coastal Guangzhou, China, and culminated on the plateaus of Tibet. A journey into the heart of a changing China and through the soul of a young American, Double Happiness is both travel writing at its very finest and a groundbreaking story of spiritual awakening in the era of globalization. This is a tale for armchair travelers, English teachers, China buffs, adventure backpackers, young people in their twenties and thirties seeking a place in this shrinking world, and readers of all ages curious about a young man's coming of age in a foreign land.

30 review for Double Happiness: One Man's Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

    This isn't your usual account of overseas encounters. For one thing, author Tony Brasunas had never been overseas (nor taught any classes) before he journeyed to China as a teacher. What he did do was grow up on a commune in West Virginia: likely it was this flexibility and difference that contributed to his successful sojourn. His formative years evoked a 'dragon's fire' of passion for exploration and change: a passion that lasted even after the commune failed and he and his parents parted ways. This isn't your usual account of overseas encounters. For one thing, author Tony Brasunas had never been overseas (nor taught any classes) before he journeyed to China as a teacher. What he did do was grow up on a commune in West Virginia: likely it was this flexibility and difference that contributed to his successful sojourn. His formative years evoked a 'dragon's fire' of passion for exploration and change: a passion that lasted even after the commune failed and he and his parents parted ways. The wellspring of this passion is captured and presented from the very start: "…the dragon's fire that I fanned as a young boy was something that I had also lit deep inside me, and an interest in travel, a love of languages, and a curiosity about China that my father, through his secondary role as the school’s occasional geography teacher, smoldered in me—and these coals did not die. Math, computer science, and, finally, Chinese drew and held my attention. After my college graduation, I left the United States for the first time. I flew alone to the other side of the planet, and at twenty-two arrived in China with but a few bags and a handful of wild expectations." Double Happiness is a document of this journey and a delightful sharing of experiences that will appeal to a wide audience from educators to armchair travelers and wanna-be vagabonds. The first thing to note in Double Happiness is a sense of place, reinforced by imagery and description that effortlessly brings to life the sights, sounds, smells and feel of China: "The first promise of dawn paints a watercolor on Tiananmen Square. An old man dressed in navy blue flows quietly through the circular movements of tai chi; a woman on a bicycle tows a young girl in a red wagon. The canvas of this painting is the broad square stones beneath my feet, stones that murmur nothing about parades or riots, joy or mania, blood, the toes of leaping feet, tears. The moment holds only peace." While in China, Brasunas quickly discovers he's not just there to teach: he's there to 'uplift the nation'. What he doesn't expect is that the nation will uplift him in turn: teaching him, injecting him with its culture and uniqueness, and transporting an American youth to new vistas of discovery. Most accounts of China are infused with a tourist's perceptions, an outsider's insights, and too brief a journey to really capture the nuances and cadence of the country. Not so Double Happiness: its pages are steeped in the tea of Chinese life, with history and culture serving as guideposts to new encounters. Tony Brasunas finds himself continually lost and found in China, riding the dragon of new experience and capturing all his encounters in exquisite detail that never falters from a 'you are there' feel. Keep in mind: this is the China of 1997; while that time period doesn't seem all that far away, we're talking about a world without email, smartphones, online blogs or other facets of today's world-wide connections. As such, Tony Brasunas relies on approaches of his own devising more than a traveler to China today likely would, even bravely learning how to teach with no prior teaching background. Double Happiness is more than an adventure saga or a story of achieving educator status in a foreign country. It's a narrative of cultural encounters, of opening up to other worlds, and of being resourceful and flexible under unfamiliar circumstances. This flexibility, for Tony Brasunas, also includes an ability to appreciate and capture the moment, whether it be in front of a classroom of new students, alone in a region where few speak English, or finding his way on the back roads and rural regions of China. Self-examination is part of the process, as is fear, confusion, and ultimately, discoveries. Small line maps introduce chapters filled with new impressions, excitement, and insights; proverbs and sayings set the tone for each chapter's contents. The overall result is delightful: a series of close encounters with the Chinese and their nation and an odyssey of self-discovery that provide lessons from the classrooms and mountains of the country to shape the author's worldview and soul. Most of all, these words capture the essence of a striking journey that moves far beyond the usual travelogue or educator's perspective: "The lessons that I learned in the classrooms and mountains of China remain with me. They are the inspiration for how I create my life today—trusting and grateful, choosing love, curious about every fear, dying every necessary small death, open to the eternal growth around me and within me. I long for every one of us to discover what we truly want, and to create it, to live it, to be what we long for, to do what pleases us most deeply." Inspirational and striking, Double Happiness is travel writing at its best.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella Gricius

    Why Read: I was offered this book to read by Closed The Cover, a great company, who gave me the chance to read and review it. Probably I would have found my way to the book eventually because armchair travel book and all that, but I’m so glad I got the opportunity to give it a shot (because let me tell you, China has never seemed so interesting). Review: I normally don’t read so many books on Eastern Asia, it’s always been areas such as Eastern Europe or Southern Europe that have captured my inte Why Read: I was offered this book to read by Closed The Cover, a great company, who gave me the chance to read and review it. Probably I would have found my way to the book eventually because armchair travel book and all that, but I’m so glad I got the opportunity to give it a shot (because let me tell you, China has never seemed so interesting). Review: I normally don’t read so many books on Eastern Asia, it’s always been areas such as Eastern Europe or Southern Europe that have captured my interest. So it was lucky that Closed The Cover, a literary marketing agency, found me. Double Happiness was a great read for a number of reasons. Whether you are interested in China, travel in general or ‘coming of age’ novels, Double Happiness would hit all of those buttons. I absolutely adored the little bits of Chinese that were sparsely placed throughout the book, allowing the reader to connect more with the Chinese culture and Tony’s growth from nervous traveler to confident (to an extent) teacher. The combination between Tony’s personal life and the Chinese sentiment that surrounds the assimilation of Hong Kong and death of Deng Xiaoping is powerful. On one hand, it seems effortless to read, as we juggle his thoughts on the newest girl with the moments of quiet strength as he begins to realize that to understand China, one must accept much of what China is. His journeys, whether it be to the Great Wall or the Forbidden City, are exciting and will motivate even the most lazy (that being myself) to want to visit this amazing country. His teaching methods evolve from something that would be found in a general manual to a personalized style that brings out what makes each student enjoy English. Although sometimes I was a bit confused as to the timeline of the story, ultimately it ended up not mattering so much. As the plot moves up and down, I saw that maybe the mixture of personal teaching life, travel stories, and the larger picture was potent. The title Double Happiness could mean one of many things. But I believe it most accurately refers to the happiness of completing what he set out to do and the happiness of feeling aware in every sense of the world. That Tony finishes the novel feeling happiness on both planes is well deserved, and hopefully as a reader –you’ll feel the same.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    As a child of a military parent I am not a stranger to adventuring into the unknown. I have a great love for the ‘road less traveled’ and a great respect for neighboring cultures. Throughout my lifetime my entire family has held a strong bond with Asia; whether it be my father’s knowledge of the Far East, my Japanese aunt, or my Cambodian sister-in-law. I enjoy the traditional stories of these countries, but have never really taken a second look at China. This book is an interesting recollection As a child of a military parent I am not a stranger to adventuring into the unknown. I have a great love for the ‘road less traveled’ and a great respect for neighboring cultures. Throughout my lifetime my entire family has held a strong bond with Asia; whether it be my father’s knowledge of the Far East, my Japanese aunt, or my Cambodian sister-in-law. I enjoy the traditional stories of these countries, but have never really taken a second look at China. This book is an interesting recollection of one man’s experience in China as an English speaking teacher. It is a story that describes the daily lives of the average citizens in China and how their perception of America is misconstrued by mass media and propaganda. Chapter after chapter describes the author’s frustrations with adjusting to the lack of daily comforts that he has been accustomed to in The United States. The classroom experience is described as well as the lack of basic communication between teacher and student. Although there are countless difficulties in the author’s journey he continues to work through his issues and pursue a positive ending. He is a man that believes in the good of humanity and that most people can be reached with a little genuine effort. I truly enjoyed this book and found it very educational. It was interesting to see how the average Chinese citizen lived their life with very little, but still managed to feel fulfilled. It made me realize how blessed those of us are that live in this country. At the same time I read how brain washed the people of China are and felt sad for them. The children of China have no hope with their current communistic system and will never get a chance to thrive if their society persists. There were times in the book that I found it difficult to read due to the lack of education of the children and the gross prejudices they held toward the non-Chinese. I believe that this book would be useful in a high school setting for a report as a learning tool. I also feel it is just a good read in general. I must admit that I was given this book in a give away, but I am grateful that I was and I appreciate the opportunity in reading it. Thank you author and your story was fascinating.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    To many people, the concept of traveling to another country to work and live for a period of time is fascinating but unfathomable. Tony Brasunas actually embarked on such a journey, and brings his experiences into focus in all their poetic and, sometimes harsh, glory. Through his own words, we meet him as teacher, scholar, stranger and friend. We witness his struggles to acclimate and adapt in a foreign land. He gives us insight into his most poignant struggles and triumphs; even the most seemin To many people, the concept of traveling to another country to work and live for a period of time is fascinating but unfathomable. Tony Brasunas actually embarked on such a journey, and brings his experiences into focus in all their poetic and, sometimes harsh, glory. Through his own words, we meet him as teacher, scholar, stranger and friend. We witness his struggles to acclimate and adapt in a foreign land. He gives us insight into his most poignant struggles and triumphs; even the most seemingly mundane occurrences impart meaning. He doesn’t just show us when things go right; instead, he allows us to see how messy, embarrassing, beautiful and enigmatic life can be. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. When I had to put it down at times, returning to it felt like reuniting with an old friend. I found his style of writing to be lyrical and evocative without being pretentious – it was accessible and pleasurable to read. I was captivated by the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental challenges he encountered during this period of his life. I especially appreciated reading about his attempts to fully embrace the moment, to live in the present, to be in the now. That is something I strive for, but am rarely able to achieve. Which leads me to one of my favorite quotes from the book: “…Sometimes, in the middle of an evening, I simply observe the present – the now. Now is here. And now is also…here. Now is also my last day in Guangzhou. I know that 46 weeks of different nows will come, go, stop, fly by, ramble beside me, and then now will be time to leave. Now will be time to return to that other world” (60). Thank you, Mr. Brasunas, for sharing so many of your ‘nows’ with your audience. I have already flagged multiple sections and look forward to rereading this book many times in the future. * I received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James Anderton

    This was a very engaging read, one of the best books I've read in a while. I'm a fast reader and don't always slow down for descriptive passages, but the imagery is great and vivid -- I felt like I was right there with him in China, strumming a guitar in a classroom, walking and smelling the streets, climbing the mountains. The writing was often funny too -- I found myself laughing out loud at several passages. The writer is young and brings a young perspective to a lot of his interactions with p This was a very engaging read, one of the best books I've read in a while. I'm a fast reader and don't always slow down for descriptive passages, but the imagery is great and vivid -- I felt like I was right there with him in China, strumming a guitar in a classroom, walking and smelling the streets, climbing the mountains. The writing was often funny too -- I found myself laughing out loud at several passages. The writer is young and brings a young perspective to a lot of his interactions with people, and he steps wrong a few times in interacting with Chinese culture. But what do you expect? I loved the honesty and the adventurous, curious spirit Brasunas brings to his exploration of China and to his situations with the Chinese and with the other foreigners he meets. One other thing worth mentioning is the fanciful and beautiful small maps throughout the book -- a nice touch that you don't see in many books any more. I'd recommend this for anyone interested in China and for anyone interested in teaching English in a foreign country. I'm fascinated by China and this book made me want to drop everything, buy a ticket, and head out to Guangzhou, Xi'an, and Tibet! Great read, highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    J. A. Lewis

    Mr. Brasunas is a superb writer leaving nothing to the imagination. You will be transported to China and all the richness of color, smell and personalities he met along the way. Only complaint was length. I began to grow weary towards the end.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: This was a rough one, including some interesting stories that the author did his best to ruin with 'philosophical' musings. I was a little apprehensive when I grabbed this book off my to-read pile. I got it a long time ago and at this point, I wasn't sure I wanted to learn about China from the perspective of a 22 year old American who was travelling internationally for the first time. However, I'd just read Without You, There is No Us (review to come) and it seemed like a good time to pi Summary: This was a rough one, including some interesting stories that the author did his best to ruin with 'philosophical' musings. I was a little apprehensive when I grabbed this book off my to-read pile. I got it a long time ago and at this point, I wasn't sure I wanted to learn about China from the perspective of a 22 year old American who was travelling internationally for the first time. However, I'd just read Without You, There is No Us (review to come) and it seemed like a good time to pick up another memoir by an American English teacher abroad. This book interspersed his time teaching with a subsequent backpacking trip. I have to admit this was the first of many complaints I had with the book. The time jumps didn't add anything to the story for me and I'd have preferred a linear narrative. My main problem was not entirely unanticipated. The author just seemed so young. In particular, he tries to imbue every moment with far too much meaning. I've never liked this in travelogues and it's done extremely poorly here. What he probably thinks are philosophical points about 'the now' and opening up to others just sounded like he was high. The good parts of this story were strictly observational, interesting because they gave me a glimpse of people and places in China. He didn't add any thoughtful commentary; shared little about the history and politics of the region; and seemed ignorant of even global American history. I learned way more about his sex life and the objectifying ways he thought about women than I ever wanted to know. It felt like women were interchangeable to him. They solely featured in his story as impetus for his own internal transformations. He casually tosses around the word love with almost every beautiful woman he meets. His portrayals of his students were much better. They sparkle with personality. His affection for them was clear and I loved getting to know them. If this had been a novella about his time teaching, you'd be reading a much more glowing review. As is, I'm afraid this is another book that I mostly want to warn you away from.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    I received a copy of Double Happiness from the Closed the Cover book tour. I’ve always wanted to travel… but I don’t want to visit mainland China. I don’t actually want travel anywhere farther than the other side of the country – I’m what you’d call an armchair traveler. (Thank goodness I have books, right?) Double Happiness captures the essence of Chinese culture and China at the end of the 20th century through words that effectively stimulated all of my five senses. Tony’s descriptive prose sha I received a copy of Double Happiness from the Closed the Cover book tour. I’ve always wanted to travel… but I don’t want to visit mainland China. I don’t actually want travel anywhere farther than the other side of the country – I’m what you’d call an armchair traveler. (Thank goodness I have books, right?) Double Happiness captures the essence of Chinese culture and China at the end of the 20th century through words that effectively stimulated all of my five senses. Tony’s descriptive prose shapes a China that is constantly changing due to his increasing knowledge of the country and its people, and his vivid accounts of his adventures and romances reveal both his own inner turmoil as well as that of the country that captured his interest. Discussion Double Happiness features a captivating narrative that alternates between two time points: one that starts with Tony’s arrival in Guangzhou, China to teach English at Peizheng Middle School in 1996, and the other with him and his friend watching the official return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. His experiences in the city of Guangzhou as well as in the different parts of China show just how little the Chinese know about the Western world and, similarly, how little Americans like Tony understand China. And despite its title, Double Happiness is filled with conflicts. I think sometimes the idea of going into developing countries like China to work or just to travel is glorified or oversimplified, but as Tony describes it, it’s hard work. Things don’t go as planned, and sometimes you get food poisoning or you’re treated differently because you don’t look local or life is just unfair at times. The struggles that Tony faces range from the mundane (getting safe drinking water) to the extreme (running out of money) to the very personal (feeling attracted to women he might never see again). In terms of that last one, I was touched by Tony’s romantic journey but couldn’t really relate to parts of it – maybe because I’m a girl? And just a heads-up for the younger China buffs: there are a few short explicit scenes that come after the kissing (as they often do in relationships), so expect the expected. Tony also sheds light on the internal unrest in China – the joy of the countrymen in response to the Hong Kong handover clashes with the frustration of others. In addition, China is remodeling itself physically, which adds to the discord: Beyond the walls of campus, interminable ramshackle neighborhoods of the city unfold in a sea of crumbling brick walls and corrugated steel roofs. Jackhammers pounding in the distance give the impression that not just a city but an entire continent is under construction around us. There is happiness to be found, though; Tony has great luck finding transportation, friends, and romantic interests throughout his trips across the country, and near the end of the book, there’s a sense of liberation and contentment. His writing style is kind of like the written version of the music that accompanies a yoga session, and it provides a balance for the conflicts and struggles that are present along his journey. I also really enjoyed Estelle Kim’s illustrations, which map Tony’s routes across the country. One aspect of Double Happiness that I didn’t enjoy as much was Tony’s use of references from Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund, a book that he reads throughout this book. (A book within a book? INCEPTION.) Although the passages from Narcissus paralleled the real-life events, I felt that it was distracting, and I kept wanting to skip those parts and get back to the real action. Conclusion Overall, Double Happiness features a captivating journey, conflict and resolution, minor distractions, and a window to that land across the ocean. Fellow armchair travelers and China buffs, give this book a try! Paper Breathers (Book Reviews & Discussions)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Valeria

    I’m really happy that I decided to read this book. It surprised me in so many levels that the best thing to describe it is that it opened my mind. This book is not just entertaining, but educational, and most of all it makes you question things and go deep into yourself. My absolute favourite thing about it is that it allows you to learn so much about a culture that is very different from ours. I mean, I’m not American, but I’m still occidental, so you get the point. Sometimes it was hard for me I’m really happy that I decided to read this book. It surprised me in so many levels that the best thing to describe it is that it opened my mind. This book is not just entertaining, but educational, and most of all it makes you question things and go deep into yourself. My absolute favourite thing about it is that it allows you to learn so much about a culture that is very different from ours. I mean, I’m not American, but I’m still occidental, so you get the point. Sometimes it was hard for me to understand some of their customs, and I’m not here to judge, but at times they came out as a bit rude. For example, it appears that they feel it is ok to stare to foreigners and point at them, to let them know they are different. At least in my country it is very frowned upon to stare and point to others, especially to point out their differences. So I found them to be very fascinating. It is very amazing to realize that we live in the same world but not really, and it just emphasized the importance to learn from other cultures, because it can only enrich you. I even learned some words in Mandarin, though I’m not sure I can pronounce them right. So my first praise to the author is that he really got the culture, or at least his impression of the culture, and he managed to incorporate it in his book for our enjoyment and delight. Now I feel that when I go to China, I can understand them a bit, and hopefully don’t displease them. This book is so well written I could experience the things Tony was telling, and I could sense and relate to his confusion, anxiety, frustration, excitement and fear. I lived a semester abroad, In Colombia to be precise, and even though their culture is not much different from ours, still to be in a foreign country by yourself, maybe for the first time ever, trying to adapt, learn their ways, is both scary and exciting. I can only imagine how those feelings can intensify when your are immersed in a totally different culture, with a different language, and miles away from the people that loves you. So my second praise to the author is that he really got those feelings through. He had the fantastic ability to capture his experience in such a way, that you can feel you shared it in some way. I thought this book was very well written; and I enjoyed that it wasn’t written in a chronological order. It was told from two different moments during his journey. One was his teaching time at Peizheng High School, and the other his traveling time. It seemed that they were two different stories, but it actually was very clever, because it allowed the reader to see how his previous experience in influenced him during his traveling. It seems as it could’ve been confusing, but it wasn’t at all. You could always get from which time he was writing from. I also liked that sometimes he included parts straight from his travel journal, so you can really tell what was being experienced at the given moment. Finally, I felt that this book fully proves that reality can be better than fiction; and even though I love reading books, every now and then you just have to go out there and live your own adventure. You can always bring a book along of course, like Tony did, and I thought that was very cool, because I would’ve done the same. To sum up, this book has every element a great fiction book has, love, loss, adventure, excitement and growth. I would recommend it to people of all ages who are passionate about traveling, learning about other cultures, and good stories about growing up and discovering oneself. I give it 4.5 stars! *Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, but my opinion was not biased in any way by this fact.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Billy Buttons

    This book was entered in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Here's what the readers thought: Title: Double Happiness: One Man’s Tale of Love, Loss and Wonder on the Long Roads to China Author: Tony Brasunas Star Rating: 3.5 Stars Number of Readers: 16 Stats Editing: 7/10 Style: 6/10 Content: 9/10 Cover: 8/10 Of the 16 readers: 11 would read another book by this author. 12 thought the cover was excellent. 8 felt the writing style was excellent. 9 felt it was an insightful read. Readers’ Comments ‘Excellent story. Ve This book was entered in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Here's what the readers thought: Title: Double Happiness: One Man’s Tale of Love, Loss and Wonder on the Long Roads to China Author: Tony Brasunas Star Rating: 3.5 Stars Number of Readers: 16 Stats Editing: 7/10 Style: 6/10 Content: 9/10 Cover: 8/10 Of the 16 readers: 11 would read another book by this author. 12 thought the cover was excellent. 8 felt the writing style was excellent. 9 felt it was an insightful read. Readers’ Comments ‘Excellent story. Very enjoyable and often packs a punch. In a way, the writer’s writing ability is not quite there to reflect the power of what he experienced. But, still, I enjoyed it to the very last page.’ Male reader, aged 41 ‘The author’s very good at setting up a scene; in fact, his descriptive writing is not bad at all. He should have a go at fiction.’ Female reader, aged 54 ‘A little too long for my liking, and it tended to drag towards the end. But I did enjoy it. Good cover too.’ Male reader, aged 45 ‘This is written very much from the author’s POV and therefore lacks any depth in regards to politics or, indeed, any macro elements of Chinese life. However, that is also the books strength. It’s wonderful to see what it’s like in the classroom, and also experience street-life from this man’s POV. Writing style did the job; yes, I’d be happy to recommend it to other readers, particularly teachers.’ Female reader (teacher), aged 55 ‘A remarkably insightful read. Highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shani

    There are times where I like going out of my comfort zone for certain genres. For me, this was one of those I took a chance on as a way to perhaps learn something a bit more. I’m glad I did because I found the author's dedication to detail as well as devoting so much effort to making the reader feel like they were taking the journey with him. To travel in unfamiliar places can be difficult on its own, but as someone who is attempting to do something positive, it can be even more difficult. There There are times where I like going out of my comfort zone for certain genres. For me, this was one of those I took a chance on as a way to perhaps learn something a bit more. I’m glad I did because I found the author's dedication to detail as well as devoting so much effort to making the reader feel like they were taking the journey with him. To travel in unfamiliar places can be difficult on its own, but as someone who is attempting to do something positive, it can be even more difficult. There will always be challenges that have to be overcome. The author adds a mix of humor, motivational passages and education that works great in this genre. There were moments where it did stall out for me, but nothing major. I’d easily give this a 4.5-star rating! If you’re looking for a positive adventure to read, this is a great way. I suggest buddy reading it and discussing it. I personally love doing that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Bowles

    It's hard to believe but there are many people who have never been outside this country. Their only perception of the outside world is through books or images they see on the television. If you have traveled the world like me, than you know there is no greater beauty than experiencing these places first hand. For those who may never get the chance, when you read a book like Double Happiness, for many places that fill your dreams, you get the opportunity to live vicariously through the author. Nev It's hard to believe but there are many people who have never been outside this country. Their only perception of the outside world is through books or images they see on the television. If you have traveled the world like me, than you know there is no greater beauty than experiencing these places first hand. For those who may never get the chance, when you read a book like Double Happiness, for many places that fill your dreams, you get the opportunity to live vicariously through the author. Never having been out of the country and getting the opportunity to teach in China, author Tony Brasunas penned his experience in a narrative that's broad imagery and vivid passages brought China to life. He really made you feel as if you were there with him. From traveling the local markets, to his students, to experiencing some of the most exotic and dreamed about wonders of the country, you really fall in love with it through him. I was really impressed by the detail of not just the physical aspects of the places he traveled but the in depth comprehension of the culture, the people and the history considering this was his first experience abroad. His experience filled with adventure, exploration, introspective enlightening was a story for those who love to travel could appreciate. Going into this experience as a teacher and leaving as the one who was taught leaves the reader with an appreciation if you have a chance to see any part of the world than it's worth exploring.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    ****I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway**** In Double Happiness, Tony Brasunas tells his story of growing up in America and deciding to explore the world. His first journey outside the US took him to China to teach English. With his lack of teaching experience he found it difficult to control the class and often received notes of advice from the students. He also tells of culture shock, worries about food, and experiencing extreme illness. At the end of the school year h ****I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway**** In Double Happiness, Tony Brasunas tells his story of growing up in America and deciding to explore the world. His first journey outside the US took him to China to teach English. With his lack of teaching experience he found it difficult to control the class and often received notes of advice from the students. He also tells of culture shock, worries about food, and experiencing extreme illness. At the end of the school year he took his meager savings and traveled around China. Along the way he finds several travel companions to share the journey with him. Overall, I enjoyed the book and learned more about China. The author was very open about himself and his experience, something I didn't encounter in previous China travel memoirs I have read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Calverton

    A wonderful journey through China here, evocative, inspiring, and even a bit magical. Personally I was already familiar with most of the cultural and historical elements of China and Chinese life that Brasunas discovers, and the story takes place over a decade ago, but there is a compelling freshness in the curiosity he brings to his encounters with everyone he meets that took me back to my first time abroad (in Japan). And his writing style is so vivid you feel like you're right in the classroo A wonderful journey through China here, evocative, inspiring, and even a bit magical. Personally I was already familiar with most of the cultural and historical elements of China and Chinese life that Brasunas discovers, and the story takes place over a decade ago, but there is a compelling freshness in the curiosity he brings to his encounters with everyone he meets that took me back to my first time abroad (in Japan). And his writing style is so vivid you feel like you're right in the classroom there with him and his students, and right there with him hitchhiking over the Himalayan mountains. Highly recommended if you're looking for an inspiring, open-hearted adventure through a foreign land.

  15. 4 out of 5

    April (The Steadfast Reader)

    Full review here: http://thesteadfastreader.blogspot.co... Since I love to travel and have long had a fascination with China I jumped at the chance to read Double Happiness. I'm glad that I did. This is a memoir and a travelogue but it's also more than that. Honestly, it reads more like a novel than it does a memoir, which is good. There is plenty of action and crazy things happening, but underneath it all is a sense of peace and understanding. Full review here: http://thesteadfastreader.blogspot.co... Since I love to travel and have long had a fascination with China I jumped at the chance to read Double Happiness. I'm glad that I did. This is a memoir and a travelogue but it's also more than that. Honestly, it reads more like a novel than it does a memoir, which is good. There is plenty of action and crazy things happening, but underneath it all is a sense of peace and understanding.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    This is an amazing book. His ability for self-reflection and contemplation are so rare this day. Even so, his characterization really hit the spot. For instance, every time one fellow traveler left his side, it was as though another person had fallen from the earth. It was quite depressing at times because you became so attached to each character. His descriptions make me hope -- and I intend -- that I can travel to the same places. Hopefully they present just as much mystery to me as they did t This is an amazing book. His ability for self-reflection and contemplation are so rare this day. Even so, his characterization really hit the spot. For instance, every time one fellow traveler left his side, it was as though another person had fallen from the earth. It was quite depressing at times because you became so attached to each character. His descriptions make me hope -- and I intend -- that I can travel to the same places. Hopefully they present just as much mystery to me as they did to him. Bravo.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    Artistically written memoir with amazing descriptions of the landscape, his emotions and experience. What I found disappointing was that he repeatedly mentioned his love for his camera and taking photos yet not a single shot was included, which I consider a must for memoirs and travelogues.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tweeny

    **** Received a copy of Double Happiness as a part of GoodReads Giveaway **** Fantastic read! Its one of the best memoirs i have read.The way the author describes his amazing discoveries about the people, things , culture and many more... in Chinese provinces is quite interesting .

  19. 4 out of 5

    Annemieke

    Poetic tale about a year in china Nice book about a boy teaching english in china, after which he travels extensively through china and Tibet. A poetic way of writing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anne Lawrence

    Overall I am glad I read this book. I was very impressed with some chapters and very disappointed with others.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Inspiring! Plus, it has beautifully-crafted writing. I would recommend it to anyone who needs a bit of cheering up, and anyone who loves to read travel books, as I do.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

  23. 4 out of 5

    T

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dlee1000

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leena

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Loya

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tom Carter

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Baumann

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