The past couple of weeks have been filled with sunshine and blue skies here in Western Washington. I’ve enjoyed it very much on my daily walks, but I’m also glad to see the return of rain this Saturday morning.

My plan for this sleepy morning is to finish Václav Havel’s Open Letters. It is one of the very best nonfiction books I’ve read (I know, I say that often, but truly…), spanning Soviet history, the nature of dissent, and political philosophy. I can’t wait to share a book review with you all. It will be a blog-post review—I’m far too tempted to quote lengthy excerpts on camera, thus wading into copyright infringement territory—so for the YouTube video, I’ll probably just film a short overview. It’s so good and relevant to the modern day.

QUESTION: Do you enjoy this blog for classic literature mainly, or book reviews in general? I’ve been debating whether I should separate out the nonfiction into its own blog, especially the books related to politics and current events, which can be rather sticky topics. (Examples: my reviews of CEO, China, AI Superpowers, and 12 Rules for Life.) I am torn because on the one hand, I don’t see a huge line between history, current events, and classic literature for that matter—they all involve ideas and society. On the other hand, I know many people read classic literature as escape from current events, and I want to be respectful of that. So do let me know your preference! 🙂

Classic literature wise: I am still reading The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham. I’m also planning to reread Dracula very soon. I have been watching The Phantom of the Opera on YouTube (free till tomorrow, 2PM PST!), so a reread of that book might work its way into the list.

Then on Goodreads I was invited to the Early New England Literature group, hosted by my reading friend Meg. I need to catch up with the current read, Tales of a Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It’s a lovely group of readers, so I highly recommend it for anyone interested in this genre!

Back in the realm of nonfiction, I just got some books on China and North Korea which look very interesting. It fits with my Asian history reading focus for this year, but truthfully current events have revived my interest in those topics as well.

So yes… a highly random assortment for spring reading, but that’s my mood. 🙂

On a more immediate note: quarantine life goes on. I wrote a little story about going to get pizza, on my personal blog. Things are getting pretty tense in the U.S., with ongoing divisions further exacerbated by the Current Situation. I’m trying to maintain a sense of empathy for both sides, even as I recoil from fully aligning with either one (as I have been since, oh, 2016 or so). I really do believe the truth of the situation, and its solution, is somewhere in the middle, but expediency always seems to win over a more strenuous but rational approach.

As Havel wrote (and I paraphrase): we all tend to withdraw into our personal lives and material interests when society is spiritually unhealthy and removed from individual agency. I have to do the same, for now, just to stay calm and focused on what I have control over.

16 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: April Showers Edition

  1. i actually feel a bit shy as i’m old and you’re young, so not much in common… but, just to say, i read classics, travel, mysteries from the golden age, golden age sci fi and some westerns (rarely). i eschew politics like the plague: too much craziness there… tx for asking!

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    1. Thanks for the input, Mudpuddle! I feel good books bridge a world of differences, and my favorite bloggers to follow are people from really diverse walks of life. 🙂

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  2. I have the same problem when I read children’s literature; it seems too simplistic to put a review on my blog so I created my children’s book blog but the reviews there are so time-consuming that I haven’t been keeping it active. So i’m not sure what the answer is. I think if you have mainly classic lit and insert some non-fiction here and there, it’s actually interesting to have something different but if it starts to become 50-50, you might want to start another blog. Why not have the reviews on this blog for now and see what happens?

    I’ve felt a little eclectic myself lately but I haven’t been reading much so it’s probably not that noticeable.

    U.S. politics gives me a headache. I have some U.S. friends and they are usually ranting about something. I don’t mind disagreement but from both sides there are mostly ad hominem attacks which I don’t find useful in moving towards a solution. If you only concentrate on how terrible everyone is, how do you get anywhere? I’m looking forward to reading Team of Rivals ….

    I was very frustrated to see that New York is now calling every respiratory death, COVID. That to me is completely senseless. How can one have accurate figures to make projections, etc. if you proceed in such a senseless manner? Not to mention, much of the statistics the news seems to focus on his not very helpful for putting things in perspective. The government here just released the figures for B.C. The mean age for COVID deaths in B.C. is 86 years old. I wish they’d give those figures for other areas of the world and always note underlying conditions. That way you wouldn’t have healthy younger people panicking.

    I love that last paragraph ….. do what you are able to do instead of getting stressed over what you can’t control. Words to live by! Take care!

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    1. Yes, in past years, I really didn’t read much nonfiction so it was easy to weave it in here and there on the blog. Recently the dial is turning more towards 50-50, and I think it’ll continue that way. What I might do is post on a separate blog, but link to it in the sidebar or something.

      Politics is really “headachious”! My family, with whom I’m quarantined ❤ , and I agree on many things but even we have our occasional heated debates (mostly venting). 😉 Don't even get me started on the news outlets, haha… I am all for patient privacy, but with this kind of situation, you would think they'd make an exception and put out anonymized information about the existing conditions and ages.

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  3. I hope you’ll continue to be “random” and diverse with your reviews. I am too and I think it’s a nice mix.

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  4. I think I would be following your reviews! the Vaclav Havel one sounds interesting! I want to get back into nonfiction soon, too. Here’s one for your Asia TBR: The Silk Roads, A New History of the World. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks great.

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  5. As a reader, I am attracted to blog reviews of the classics first, but I am always open to other literature bc I never know what may interest me in the future.

    I’m tempted to say it is a perfect idea to alter your blog. Think of your blog as your bookcase. Do you shelve your books according to genre? If so, your blog(s) would reflect that. Then again, even if you do not, if it makes sense to you to separate your posts accordingly, then it would still be easy enough for a reader to visit either blog and read what they interests them. Anyway, I think it’s a fun idea to consider.

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    1. P.S. I meant to add, we watched The Phantom, too. We love Ramin Karimloo. He is amazing. Did you ever see him w/ Alfie Boe in Les Miserables @ the O2 (concert)?

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    2. Oh, that’s a good point… See, I recently moved all the books I read to one bookcase and put everything chronologically, regardless of fiction vs nonfiction. I thought it was going to be off-putting but I’m really liking the arrangement. I could try to imitate that better on this blog. 🙂

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      1. That is my dream goal…to shelve all of my books chronologically, fic and nonfic. Have you done a YouTube video on that, yet?

        P.S. The Les Miz concert at the O2 (used to be on YouTube, but they removed it, so we bought the DVD), anyway, Ramin plays the French resistance leader, and I forget his name. Alfie Boe plays Valjean. It’s amazing! All that talent in one show. If you get a change to see it or purchase it, it is totally worth it.

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        1. An updated bookshelf tour is a good idea! I might be able to do that this weekend. 🙂 Also, it looks like Les Mis is rentable from Prime, so I’ll add it to my watch list!

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