Reader's Cafe

<p>Though I mentioned the power of this book months ago, I didn't realize it has yet to be published in the US.</p>

<p>Mao, The Unknown Story by Jung Chang (author of Wild Swans) and Jon Halliday (husband and an English historian).</p>

<p>The book will be published on October 18th in the US. If you get a chance to hear Chang and Halliday lecture, go for it. </p>

<p>She writes Mao's amazing, gut wrenching history with an unblinking overview. Talk about learning what you didn't know. This book is sure to make the 'ten best' non-fiction list of the NYT.</p>

<p>CC parents will enjoy it, especially those with an interest in China and Asia and Russia.</p>

<p>Chang did all the research in China (why the Chinese let her do it is a developing back story even she does not understand). Halliday speaks seven or eight languages. He combed through the released KGB files to piece together the Russian half of the story. The result is very powerful.</p>

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<p>Any other new books to recommend?</p>

<p>I really enjoyed BLINK and TIPPING POINT</p>

<p>I will look for that H LOVES history...</p>

<p>What a great thread. CITY - I enjoyed TIPPING POINT but haven't read BLINK yet. I loved THE KITE RUNNER.</p>

<p>"The Shadow of The Wind" was one I read recently I couldn't put down.</p>

<p>Woow…so it turns out the anti-communists were actually right, and not just about Stalin, but Mao too! </p>

<p>Holy-moolly, who’s next? </p>

<p>Please tell me Ho Chi Min was the benevolent grandfatherly liberating type—that Fidel is really a misunderstood intellectual or the whole decadent thing will just collapse like a deck of cards…or perhaps, more apropos, dominoes! And wherever happened to Charles Manson and his libertine ‘damn the torpedoes’ venture; Pol Pot and his far-sighted anti-optician campaign? </p>

<p>I mean, what will remain of the gilded mythology of our brave left [new] taboo and tradition bustin’ world: Vatican II; Hollywood; the Lawyer’s Guild—Oprah? Please! They’re nothing but Platonic shadows on a soot-stained wall compared to the real heat-packin’ liberating’ deal of the big-dogs.</p>

<p>Better cancel my over-due subscription to the ‘Daily Worker’...and maybe even the news-stand version of “OPRAH,” since it is now—apparently—NYT chic to do so ;)</p>

<p>Just started Middlesex for book club but haven't gotten too far yet. I did read Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons because so many people said it was good. It actually is a fun read and quite good but I will admit I hid the cover and title when reading it on the plane. You just need to get past the title.</p>

<p>Ugh FS.</p>

<p>Read the very scholarly book. Then come back and mock me.</p>

<p>FS- this was a very nice thread, if you have only deragatory things to say, move on...jeesh</p>

<p>Anyway, I am also reading Reformation, a tome to be sure, but actually pretty timely in a weird sort of way</p>

<p>But I do love Victorian Mysterys and the ones they televise on PBS</p>

<p>I read The Tipping Point too. I enjoyed it - except for the part about Baltimore and the syphillis epidemic. Because, now, I connote that with Johns Hopkins.</p>

<p>Good suggestions, folks: more items to put on the bedside table, I love it! I've got 3 new-ish niche books you might consider.</p>

<p>I recently finished "Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human" by Michael Chorost, an autobiographical story of an adult recipient of a cochlear implant and the effect it had on him, practically and metaphysically.</p>

<p>Followed that with "What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer" by John Markoff, which I found fascinating not just for the deep dive into this brief piece of the history of technology, but because I've met some of the people in the book. :)</p>

<p>I'm currently having a good -- and surprisingly unexpected! -- laugh over "The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World" by A. J. Jacobs, as he reads his way through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and struggles with life passages simultaneously.</p>

<p>Keep the suggestions coming!</p>

<p>Has anyone read the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami? It is on my bedside table but I am reading the Time Traveler's Wife first since a teacher gave it to me with limited time. I need to finish this weekend. This time of year I get boxes of new books that I ordered last December. It always feels like Christmas in September! I am trying to work with fiction is year. I am ususally a nonfiction junkie reading titles like Mootmom posted above.</p>

<p>In the spirit of ‘ugh’ and the poiniant ‘jeesh’, I will add that the three biographies I would recommend—one more than the others are. </p>

<p>Robert D. Richardson’s ‘Emerson—The Mind on Fire’, and Joakim Garff’s ‘Soren Kierkegaard—A Biography’ and Manfred Kuehn’s ‘Kant—A Biography’.</p>

<p>Garff’s ‘Kierkegaard’ was rather a bit more detail than I needed, but it was nonetheless a well written biography of one of the more fascinating characters of the last couple hundred years.</p>

<p>On the other hand, Richardson’s ‘Emerson’ was a breathtakingly well written biography of one of America’s best and wisest minds: I couldn’t put it down.</p>

<p>The book on Kant painted an extraordinarily banal portrait of an extraordinarily misguided thinker, yet somehow it all held together.</p>

<p>Another great book of the summer was Tracy Kidder’s ‘Mountains Upon Mountains’. It was required reading for entering freshmen at Dartmouth and I was both moved and inspired by it—it made me think about my own future and future choices.</p>

<p>As to the “Mao” book, I don’t doubt that it is a very good biography, my satire had more to do with the fact that Mao, unlike say Hitler, is one of the true monsters of history and yet you will see, in any major city (NYC in particular) or college campus, tee-shirts with Mao’s picture emblazoned across it—imagine the same shirt with Hitler or a Swastika instead of a Red Star. It is unthinkable and yet the phenomenon persists in all its cultural ignorance. </p>

<p>This tells me there is a real disconnect in the culture, media or institutions of higher learning when considering the atrocities of Mao and the Maoist—probably the greatest killers of the last century or so—and I suspect it has something to do with the ideologies of those involved.</p>

<p>Crayon - interesting to hear about The Tipping Point and the impresssion it gives of Baltimore...especially since it's one of the texts for my Intro to Business class at Hopkins (which reminds me.. I should get off CC and get some reading done!)</p>

<p>Arizonamom--stick with middlesex, it's great!</p>

<p>I've read all of Landvik, not deep but fun. But she's getting formulaic--Bonbons is okay, but Your Oasis on Flame Lake was better. I'm trying to finish her latest, Oh my Stars, but her characters are getting less and less realistic.</p>

<p>My favorite recent read was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell--kind of Harry Potter meets Dickens.</p>

<p>Anyone else experience long wait lists at their local library to get their hands on good books like these to read? Even when they have 10 copies of something, I'm usually #20-35 in the request queue for it!</p>

<p>"even when they have ten copies" We never have more than one. I read books months and months after they come out, unless I give in and buy them.</p>

<p>I've read Marukami's A Wild Sheep Chase but not the new one. His writing takes a bit of effort, moot. That one might be worth doing in a Cafe Book Club.....??</p>

<p>If Chang hopes for one thing from her book, seh hopes to dismantle the persistant myths that Mao himself established and perpetuated--not only in China but in the West as well. The Chinese simply do not know their own history. </p>

<p>If every other Beijing 2008 visitor asks their minders why the Chinese government continues to hang Mao's picture in Tiananmen square, Chang would be well pleased. </p>

<p>One would hope the Chinese are ready to discredit Mao, as Stalin was once discredited. This may be the reason why Chang is still allowed to travel to China. </p>

<p>On the other hand, discrediting Mao undermines the Communist Party's right to power. Having seen Cahng speak a few months back, I'd say the scholar herself is unsure which way the tide will turn in China.</p>

<p>In fact, she wasn't asked enough questions about her opinion of the current state of China. When asked, she revealed a fascinating point of view--I only wish she had the chance to expand that opinion.....<strong>hint hint to CC folks who go to see her.....</strong> ;)</p>

<p>Has anyone read "The Devil in the White City"? I have been trying to finish it forever. It is a book club assignment that everyone in the group is raving about. I can't get into it, let alone finish it!</p>

<p>Garland, glad to hear you say that you liked Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. No one I know has read it yet. I thought it was great and was sorry when it ended. But Clarke left the door wide open for a sequel. Hopefully, it won't take another 9 years to write. Middlesex also was a favorite. </p>

<p>I would also recommend The Historian and Zorro.</p>

<p>I'll look for those. Another favorite I just reread: Deep in the Shade of Paradise, by John Dufresne.</p>