North Korea’s Hidden Revolution – Jieun Baek

This was a great book on North Korea, far more encompassing than I expected. It aggregates many personal accounts into a cohesive but careful picture of life in North Korea today, focused especially on how foreign media is smuggled into the country. The policy and psychological analysis were truly fascinating, and I felt the author tried to present a balanced viewpoint while maintaining her thesis, that new information empowers long-term change. One of my favorite reads of the year so far!

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Polar Exploration Books: Ernest Shackleton and Valerian Albanov

Taking a look at my small collection of polar exploration classics, mostly focused on Shackleton’s expeditions. Filming this, I realized I really need to read Amundsen and Nansen and then do a sequel.

Related:
Listen to Shackleton talk about his first trip to Antarctica and climbing Mt. Erebus: https://youtu.be/OUTHZ_9tacM?t=56
South by Ernest Shackleton – Book review: https://classicsconsidered.com/2012/0…

Analyzing The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham – Love, Death, and Christian Parallels

Maugham’s The Painted Veil is a sordid yet strangely beautiful 1920s novel about betrayal and loyalty during a cholera epidemic. It was so excellent, I wanted to share my thoughts before my reactions grew stale (hence the lofi / technical difficulties). In spite of its dated-ness, I do recommend this book overall – it’s definitely joined my top 10 novels of all time.

Nota bene: While I usually read up on an author before or during reading their books for the first time, I actually went into the novel (and my review) knowing nothing about Maugham, let alone his religious views. It turns out he was an agnostic and did not believe in God. Perhaps then the religious themes that stood out so strongly to me were, from his perspective, limited to this novel. Still, I feel the interpretation is a valid one, based on the quotes cited (and others).