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.