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My Several Worlds

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  243 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Autobiography of Pearl S Buck. A memoir of the life of the first female Nobel Laureate for Literature, who was also a world citizen and a major humanitarian, Pearl (Sydenstricker) Buck (1892-1973) three quarters of the way through her life. Published by the John Day Company to whose president, Richard John Walsh (1886-1960), she was then married, the book was successful an ...more
Paperback, 472 pages
Published November 1st 1954 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1954)
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Carrie Kellenberger
My grandmother Louise gave me a dog-eared and obviously much loved copy of My Several Worlds back in 2002 when she first learned about my plans for moving to China. That book is now one of my most prized possessions, not only because it's one my favorite all-time books, but also because my grandmother and I shared a common love of reading and it was one of the last things she passed on to me before her death.

Pearl S. Buck's autobiography of growing up with a missionary family in China during th
Kevin Kane
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book received the high honor of placement on my special shelf with other books I've designated in years gone by as my "Book of the Year."

My copy was discovered almost by accident on the dusty shelves in a church library a few years ago. It was there along with many other accounts of missionaries. This one caught my eye because it was autobiographical and written by a very formidable author. I'm not sure why I waited so long to finally get around to reading it.

Once I picked it up, I couldn'
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
10 stars to this woman, Pearl S Buck, whom I have grown this year to respect through her literature and now this, a sort of auto biography. If one could already feel the class this woman has and honor she deserves for her good heart and open mind, you will feel it a hundred fold through My Several Worlds. I could go on and on about this book as well as the others this literary journey has afforded me so far and the inspiration I feel from Pearl Buck. But alas, I will not. Great read, Again. And ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china
If you are interested in a more complete perspective on Pearl Buck's life, I suggest you read Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earthby Hillary Spurling. After reading Ms. Spurling's book, I realized how in this book, Ms. Buck purposely left out most of the more distressing and less attractive aspects of her life in China. Her missionary father's complete disregard for his family's well-being was shocking. She must have had incredible inner reserves as she had it pretty rough.....and then ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Raised in China by American parents, Pearl Buck grew up deeply third culture. Reading this book is equal parts enlightening, inspiring, thought-provoking, and sad. Although she cherished friendship and deep human connections, it's clear that once she came back to live as an adult in the States, she struggled to find people with whom she could truly commune. This isn't necessarily an indictment on her peers. Though clearly compassionate and astute, Buck didn't fit the mold during a time when Amer ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book because it's the first-person narrative of a third culture kid. Pearl Buck, born in West Virginia to parents of European ancestry, spent most of the the first 42 years of her life in China. It's not surprising, then, that she writes of her global worldview, her loyalty both to China and to the United States, her multi-sensory perception of her worlds, her pain at their involvement in World Wars, her appreciation of cultural differences, and her need to learn the ways of American ...more
Marylyn Bowman
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books
Parts of this were dry, but the majority I found fascinating. What a great humanitarian she was. She was so insightful and wrote beautifully on so many subjects. So glad I read it.
Derek Henderson
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Very well written if a little overlong. Interesting perspectives on life in China.
Sandy Anderson
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A wide-ranging book -- like having a long and pleasant conversation with a woman who has had a fascinating life. Also like going back into time twice over. The book was published in 1954 so when she's speaking of "modern America", it is over 60 years ago. And much of the book is stories and opinions about life long before that. Pearl Buck went to China at the age of 5 months with her missionary parents who had already lived there for 12 years. Pearl herself lived in China from then until 1935 ex ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pearl Buck had one of the most interesting lives especially in her childhood, spent in the then distant China steeped in another era, another culture.

The quiet missionary who was her father and motivated by ideals to live frugally in another land inculcated his children with his values of learning and living simply, frugally, in a land of poor, and have not only sympathy but understanding and empathy with them.

If my memory is right, this one has the journey they took as a family from China to
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Definitely would like to read some of Pearl's novels after reading her autobiography.

Quotes: p. 46 "I had a country of my own, and a big white house where my kinfolk lived, and there were generations of us there, all belonging together. So a child ought to feel, and if he so feels, he can wander to and fro upon the earth and never walk alone."

p. 169 "I don't believe there can come to a human being a more intoxicating revelation of beauty than that which fell upon me, straight from quiet, somber
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Having just read Pearl of China for book club, I thought what better time than now to get the whole story straight from the source. I enjoyed the story behind Min's quasi-fictionalized telling of Buck's life from a Chinese perspective, however this, Buck's own autobiography, was what I was looking for. Pearl Buck led an interesting life and is a spectacular author, here she didn't disappoint as she gives some of her life's highlights and the lessons she's learned on all sides of the globe. I mus ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Not her best book. She lost me about half way through. Definitely this is a dated perspective on world events of the era in which the book is written, and there are many socially unacceptable (not PC)observations of Americans since she was raised in China (even though American by birth) that are seemingly ignorant and perhaps too harsh in their criticism of a culture she was less familiar with. But she did get the idea across very well that the Chinese were (are) greatly misunderstood and stereo ...more
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating account of what China was like in the last years of its final dynasty, as well as a first-hand account of the changes precipitated by the Communist takeover. As the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries raised in a very Chinese manner, Pearl S. Buck witnessed these monumental changes and gives some insight as to why the Communists were able to take control.

I read a condensed version of this book, called My Several Worlds, and it has made me want to read the full version to learn e
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this memoir. Thick with history in her own telling of her personal life, I was glued to this book for three days. I found the last quarter of the book not as engrossing as the first half. Maybe because that portion was when PB had moved to the U.S. ....
I am now convinced Poisonwood Bible by BK was inspired by PB's actual life. (set in different setting of course.) I want to read all of PB's books. I am fascinated by her moral courage and trailblazing for helping orphans that need parents
Aug 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Actually, beautifully, wonderfully written. So much information on so many levels it could be overwhelming for me to be reading. I feel like so much slipped through the cracks that I want to reread it - but when? So much that I haven't read yet even for the first time.
My favorite passage of this book is when Pearl Buck lists all the location and time specific foods and dishes of China. I want to send this passage to so many people. It is gorgeous.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, autobiography
In My Several Worlds: A Personal Record, Pearl S. Buck contrasts her life growing up in China with life in the United States. The book is divided into four sections; each section has a heading that identifies Buck’s location in the United States as she is writing. She then presents prior experiences to compare with her adult life. She describes the situation of American missionaries and teachers in China during the early 1900’s and prior to her exodus in 1934
The first two thirds of this book were fascinating. It was really inter ed sting to read about what was going on in China in the early 1900s from someone who grew up as a third culture kid. Buck is a great writer as well and it kept me engaged. The last third of the book however got a little tedious and was not nearly as interesting. In fact it got to the point where it felt like it was just dragging on. So, read it for the cool China stuff and skim the end.
Joe Mossa
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it

this is a great autobiography of a great woman and great writer. she won the nobel prize for lit in 38 and the pulitzer prize for THE GOOD EARTH in 32. she knows asia, education theory, adoption theory, parenthood, people,government, places. this books ends in 53 and she had 20 more years to write after that.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, nonfiction, bio, mexico
The first 250 pages were a bore. I do not have any interest in what a child thinks or goes thru, no matter what great things they may do later in their lives. The rest of the book was ok, only ok. I do now understand why all of her books I have read so far based in the united states were terrible. I think she left her writing skills behind her when she left China.
Leland Bryant
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well worth the read, even though so much has changed in China and the world in general. It helps to have read her biographies of her parents, and to have a general sense of American attitudes towards China (especially Chinese Communism on the one hand and Chiang Kai-Shek on the other) to evaluate what Mrs. Buck tells us in this memoir.
John Steinbeck
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
I was reading this aloud with my college beau. Three quarters into it he petered out - said PB was boooooring. I loved this book, thought my dad would. He read it, then read all her books, then went on a trip to China.
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can't remember how I got my hands on this book but reading about her life in China and the US planted a seed for me to explore other cultures. I rated this book amazing because I think she is amazing.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Along with Homesick Puffin Modern Classics, this book gives a wealth of insight and understanding of what it was like to grow up as a white child in the middle of the Chinese.
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women
Fabulous to read her account of growing up in China and PA and the impact of the Chinese revolution. Interesting to read her ideas on all the marriages.
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think she was an exceptional person who certainly had the privilege of living at time when she found she could contribute so much to society. Truly she gave much to society.
Jun 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biog-and-memoir
Buck, born in the United States but raised in China, tells about her life abroad and at home.

(Working from a list of books I read years ago.)
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I read this when I was much younger, now I see a few flaws, but still very interesting and well-written.
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved visiting the Far East vicariously through this book.
Kasumi Kozina
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Pearl Buck has an amazing eloquence with words.
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Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was a bestselling and Nobel Prize–winning author. Her classic novel The Good Earth (1931) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and William Dean Howells Medal. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where many of her books are set. In 1934, civil unrest in China forced Buck back to the United St ...more
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“Fate is unalterable only in the sense that given a cause, a certain result must follow, but no cause is inevitable in itself, and man can shape his world if he does not resign himself to ignorance.” 7 likes
“I do not know when it is that the joy fades out of school for most children, so that they end not only by hating school but even worse, by hating books, and this is grave indeed, for in books alone is the accumulated wisdom of the whole human race, and to read no books is to deprive the self of ready access to wisdom.” 2 likes
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