countdown boutiques-francophones Learn more scflyout Home All-New Kindle Music Deals Store sports Tools

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$21.47+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on February 3, 2004
I'm learning Chinese as part of my major and wanted a good book on characters, specifically for things like stroke order, and picked this up expecting it to be a practical tutorial on how to write basic Chinese characters. What it actually is is more of a guidebook for calligraphy. Now, as that, it is very good. The author definitely conveys the mindset one needs to be a skilled calligrapher, and gives great step by step instructions on how to write well. For that, I don't regret picking this up. However, if you, like myself, are more concerned with learning how to write the 2000 or so most used characters towards the end of being functionally literate in Chinese, this is not the book to purchase. It would be something like teaching calligraphy to kindergarten students. Also, the stroke order illustrations for the characters towards the end of the book, while representing commonly used characters, are really small, and presume that you've gone through the prior half of the book as recommended, that is practicing each stroke for a half hour a day until mastered. If you're learning calligraphy for it's own sake, or just have lots of time, this is great. If however you need to develop a functional writing ability in Chinese relatively quickly, I would personally recommend buying another book first and coming back to this.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 25, 2002
I have just started learning to write Chinese characters and THIS is the holy grail of beiginners' books. I looked through many listmania and reviews on's site (thank you ALL!) and decided to start with this primer. As a hands-on learner, I know now why it has been recommended so highly by those who teach, speak, or are just learning the Chinese language.
I am reminded of the first days in school when we had to practice writing our ABCs on a tablet with pencil. We wrote those damned letters over and over again, didn't we? The teacher stood at the blackboard and showed us the best way to make the lines and the order of the "character's strokes."
This book is the Mrs. Hatfield of my first grade class in Chinese. Each stroke is shown carefully. Each stroke is also shown when it is not written correctly and gives the "name" of the error (eg. "fish hook, etc.)
Tao only knows how a Swedish author conceived of and wrote such a wonderful primer to the language. It makes sense, however, that a person whose first language is NOT Chinese would be so specific about the right and wrong way to hold the pen, use the correct posture and table angle, and keep "between the lines."
I don't get too hard on myself when I can't make a character look the way they does in the book. I look back at how I wrote my name in first grade and now understand the true meaning of "penmanship". The author urges the learner to practice each stroke at least one hundred times until you go on to the next stroke. Add them together and you get a beautiful character. Don't practice each stroke individually over the course of days and many sheets of paper, and the character resemble the rough letters I wrote in my first grade homeworlk.
DO NOT attempt to do this at home (learn to write Chinese characters) without this very important primer. It is invaluable, extraordinary, and shows a great deal of thought and study by the author and those who assisted him in compiling this material. I do my 100 + strokes a day. I don't jump ahead and do what I thought I could do -- "Oh that character looks easy, it's just an upside down Y."
I know this edition will get dog eared and I will probably buy another to replace this text. It has no equal. Aside from the friends in China who supported me and applaud me for learning their language, this small text tells me that I CAN learn a language and fulfill a longtime dream. Hurrah! and thank you, Mr. Bjorksten.
from Lodro Dawa, my Buddhist nickname.
(Someday I will learn to write it AND learn its lesson for wisdom in this lifetime.)
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 4, 2001
This book should be at the head of everyone's list, since it is devoted to a skill which almost all sinologists neglect, whether professional or amateur, and yet is one that is the source of enormous pleasure and gratification - the ability to form Chinese Characters (Jpn. kanji) well. It is a short manual of just 122 pages which, after a brief account of the history and structure of characters, some instruction on how to look them up in a dictionary, and a little about their aesthetics, goes on to teach the user all of the main strokes by using the radicals as models. The book ends with a short list of suggested readings, and a brief guide to Chinese pronunciation. Unlike most other manuals of Chinese Calligraphy, which teach the student how to write with the traditional brush, this teaches the art of writing with a pen, and the models Bjorksten provides for copying, unlike those in many other manuals written for Westerners, are excellent. A book perfect in its kind, and not to be missed.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 29, 2001
This book teaches the principles of sound and beautiful writing - the names of the strokes, the order in which they are written, aesthetic principles, and the common radicals. Then it provides a famous poem to practice with, and a list of a hundred common characters, sorted by frequency of usage. When the simplified character differs from the traditional, both are given. Transliterations are in pin-yin. This is far and away the best book I've found for learning to write the characters. I regretted the transition away from this book to other resources, principally because other resources usually use the printed form that ignores the aesthetic principles and turns beauty into ugliness. That sounds harsh, doesn't it? But it's true! If you're going to learn to write, start with this book, so you won't have to go back later to correct bad habits.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 31, 2000
I like _Learn to Write Chinese Characters_ a lot, though I think the title is deceptive--it isn't a textbook that will teach you stroke order and meaning of a full range of characters, it's a guide to writing Chinese elegantly. If you've never written characters before, this book is intimidating. Most students of Chinese want to write legibly without doing calligraphy. That said, I've still found the book very useful. It's difficult to write characters that look at all acceptable without paying attention to at least some of the principles set forth in it. Author and translator manage to give you a sense of what's distinctive about Chinese characters that tends to be lacking in textbooks. A fun book for learners, but I'd advise that one start writing with textbook aid and then look at the book for help.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 19, 2002
This book is wonderful! It contains useful beginning lessons on writing materials, stroke names with information of writing them (showing examples of common mistakes), and stroke order. It then gives advice on the best ways to practice, and it even has a poem to study at the end of the book. The catalog of characters is wonderful by showing the stroke order in both traditional and simplified forms, with pinyin (with a guide at the end on pronunciation).
This book is a "must have" for anyone beginning to learn to write Chinese characters.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I skimmed this book then had the good fortune to take a lesson in Chinese caligraphy from a native artist and caligrapher. This book followed exactly the master's method and guidelines. Mr. Bjorksten has written a very clear explanation about the construction of Chinese characters with easy to follow guidelines on how to do Chinese caligraphy.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 17, 2004
This book was quite helpful by helping one to gain a better understanding of the background and make-up of Chinese characters which helps one to better appreciate both their historical and aesthetic value. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to seriously learn about Chinese characters.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 17, 1999
This is an excellent book for anybody who didn't grow up writing characters to learn how to write them better. sit down with it conscientiously every day for a month, and your character writing (efficiency, speed, grace, memorization) will improve significantly.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 6, 1999
The book should have had more pictures.The author should have spent more time on the explination of writing. The authors seems to be narcissitic.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse