Moving with the Seasons : Portrait of a Mongolian Family – by Liza F. Carter
As a librarian I inspect many new books in the course of the average day. It’s not uncommon for one or two of them to pique my interest. I generally pause, take a closer look, perhaps even read the preface, table of contents, or back cover, but that’s as far as I go. Then there are those special books that I find so interesting that I end up reading them from cover to cover. Moving with the Seasons : Portrait of a Mongolian Family by Liza F. Carter was one of those books. After the first day of fixation with this beautifully illustrated work, I decided to let it sit on the corner of my desk for a while. For at least a week, every time I took a break or went to lunch I’d leave with Carter’s book in hand, hoping to make it through another chapter. Perhaps in traditional librarian style, I didn’t read the book front to back. I jumped randomly from chapter to chapter, in case my remaining time with the book was cut short. Each chapter was informative, well-written, visually beautiful, and touching. Since I handle at least 700 new Mongolian books a year I thought I already knew a good deal about the country, but this book taught me so much more. It gave the distant nation and little-known culture a face and heart. Even though many Americans would be hard pressed to find Mongolia on a map, the book’s universal, human appeal is undeniable.
The author found an ideal Mongolian family to write about; young, nuclear, self-sufficient, rural and nomadic yet welcoming to outsiders, and traditional without being ignorant of the modern world beyond the plains populated by their herds. Carter had clearly learned much about traditional Mongolian culture and nomadic life before starting her work on the book. It is also clear that each season she shared with the host family was a source of fascinating insights, beautiful surprises, and sometimes the kind of painful experiences we all share as humans. In the process she became part of their extended family, a life-changing event that ultimately helped her to communicate their story to us so effectively. Moving with the Seasons is not just a book with pretty pictures and factual passages about a far-away land. It manages to bring the reader into this Mongolian family’s world of work, relaxation, celebration, perseverance, and occasional human pain. It leaves the reader not only with a much greater understanding of this little-known culture, but also captures a year in the life of a nomadic family, the likes of whom is likely to become harder and harder to find in our modern world. It was an effortless read; uplifting even when through tears. If your library has no other book on Mongolia, this should be this one. For most I believe it would be the first of many.
Read the original review here