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  What Book Are You Currently Reading? (search mode)
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Author Topic: What Book Are You Currently Reading?  (Read 349568 times)
anvi
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« on: June 27, 2011, 08:46:35 pm »

The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy. Richard A, Posner

Against a Hindu God:  Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India. Parimal G. Patil (reviewing it for a journal)
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anvi
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2011, 08:33:19 am »


Love this epic!
The 2009 discovery of "Cao Cao's tomb" rose quite a stir in China too.
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anvi
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2011, 09:13:08 am »

My gf has asked me to read Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs with her over the break.  One thing I can say so far is that Isaacson knows how to dramatize a point.

I just finished the chapter where Woz has just completed the first prototype of the Apple 1 and it's begun to sell.  Isaacson notes at the end of the chapter that Ron Wayne, who had originally bought in for 10% of the company and did its first legal paperwork, decided to cash out his shares when Jobs and Woz took out a loan to make more machines.  Wayne was skittish, in the end, about the new venture, because he had failed in a business before, and he says even to this day that he doesn't regret getting himself out when he did.  His shares amounted, when he pulled out, to $2,300.  Isaacson reports that, today, Wayne is living off Social Security checks in Nevada and playing slot machines.  If. Isaacson points out, Wayne had held on to his shares until the end of 2010, they would have been worth $2.6 billion.
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anvi
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2012, 08:25:39 pm »

The Nyāyasūtrabhāśya (Illumination of the Aphorisms on Logic), a 4th century commentary on the original treatise outlining ancient Hindu logic and epistemology.  Its authorship is attributed to Vātsyāyana, who is, according to legend, the same man who wrote the Kāmasūtra.
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anvi
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2012, 03:14:40 am »
« Edited: August 19, 2012, 04:32:00 pm by anvi »

The Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang, a memoir of a child growing up during China's Cultural Revolution between 1966-76.

EDIT:  I finished this book today.  I read it because I am going to teach a contemporary Chinese culture course soon, and am starting my coverage in the Cultural Revolution.  The book is mostly representative of the "scar literature" gene of the period.  But for those who have not read personal memoirs of the CR, I would highly recommend this book.  It is terribly depressing, especially because it comes from the perspective of someone who was a child at the time, but it has very, very valuable lessons.  It's not a hard read, but it's a difficult one; you will not want to find out what happens at the beginning of the next chapter as you make your way through it, but, if interested in 20th century China, please read it.  It puts a lot about China today, and our own blown-out-of-purportion political experience, very much in perspective.
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anvi
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2012, 07:33:18 pm »

"Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl" is pretty depressing but a good film to watch for that period, as is "The Blue Kite," which is perhaps even more unnerving.  (It's pretty hard to find anything remotely realistic about the Cultural Revolution that's not thoroughly depressing, though).  Another film worth checking out might be Zhang Yimou's "To Live" (Huo Zhe, which follows a small family's fortunes and misfortunes through a greater scope of 20th century China but has a lot of interesting depictions from the Cultural Revolution.  That ten years in Chinese history has to have been one of the most tragic decades in their entire forty-five hundred some years of civilization, entirely self-inflicted, entirely unnecessary and unbelievably redolent of the perils of both political society and human nature.  It all grew out of internal party power struggles between Mao and his perceived (often not even actual) enemies, and resulting in a coercion of the population to completely turn on one another over and over again, and shows what an almost indescribably inept, aimless and cruel leader Mao became after the mid '50's.  Living in China in the late '60's compared to what it's like to live there now was almost like being entirely on another world--the current one is far from perfect, surely, but the former one was so much more horrible.
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anvi
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2012, 09:24:54 pm »

I haven't read that one yet, Beet, but the authors are fine scholars and critics, as far as I understand it, praise it even though they find the authors' conclusions a little elusive.  I will read it when I get the chance.  Have you?
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anvi
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 01:10:09 am »

I'll definitely check it out, Beet, thanks!  I have lots of friends who were Cultural Revolution survivors, and my ex-wife was one as well, who was briefly "sent-down" for not being from a "red-enough" background and so on...and they say to a person that, while Mao was certainly at fault, the citizenry was too, for falling so easily for it all.  But, yeah, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping both knew very well what the "Great Leap Forward" policies were doing to the countryside even in the early '60's, and Deng wasted no time completely reversing everything when he finally came to power in the late '70's.  When I visited Tiananmen Square in Beijing for the first time, the words of one of my above-mentioned friends rang in my ear: "If it were up to me, we'd take Mao's picture down from that square and put Deng's picture in his place, because he is the reason people can have hope in a 'new China.'"  My friend said this, mind you, having also been an eye-witness to the events in Tiananmen in 1989, so even considering that, he was prepared to pay much greater reverence to Deng in view of what Mao did to China for two decades.  How anyone could possibly think that the way to build up his country was to have its entire citizenry brutally torment one another just so he could target his perceived enemies is, even when all the political pieces are found on their proper squares, still dumbfounding to me, really.  Anyway, thanks for the recommendation!
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anvi
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 03:32:38 pm »

A Good Fall, a collection of fictional short stories about the Chinese immigrant experience in Flushing, New York.  Actually read it before, but have assigned it for a class so I'm going back through it.

I'm also finishing writing my own book, my second.  About 20 more pages or so and it will be done.  Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2013, 03:00:40 pm »

Die Interkulturalitätsdebatte: Leit-und-Streitbegriffe edited by Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach et. al.  I agreed to review this collection of German and English essays for a friend last year, but, now than I'm reading it, am finding it the most mind-numbingly boring book in the history of the universe.  A phone book would make for far superior reading.
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2013, 07:30:58 pm »

(Re)reading Arthur Schopenhauer's 1836 essay On the Will in Nature,, as I'm teaching it over the next two weeks in a graduate seminar.
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« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2013, 04:22:34 pm »

Just started reading The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources by Michael T. Klare.  It's the kind of book that gives me the not-so-indistinct urge to commit suicide.
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anvi
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2013, 11:18:20 pm »

I'm reading a book, I will give you the opening paragraph and see if you can guess it.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Tale of Moderate Heroism?

On an old episode of Cheers, Cliff Claven said after hearing this passage: "Boy, this Dickens guy really likes to keep his butt covered, doesn't he?"

Anyway, Ernest, if you're looking for some decent intro to Daoism, here are a couple of things that you might find useful:

--The chapters on "Lao Tzu" and "Chuang Tzu" from A.C. Graham's book Disputers of the Tao.
--Hans Georg Meoller's book The Philosophy of the Daodejing.

There are way over one hundred translations of the Dao De Jing in English.  For relative fidelity to the Chinese as well as lucidity of translation, though I'd still have some quibbles, I'd recommend the one by P.J. Ivanhoe.  But, whichever one you pick, just don't read Steven Mitchell's; he so completely distorts the meaning of the text that it makes me doubt his claims to understand classical Chinese at all.
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2014, 08:45:17 am »

Finally getting around to reading Team of Rivals by Kearns-Goodwin in its entirety.  Partly for the interest it holds and partly because I'm going to be chair of a fairly rancorous department that is also disliked by the school administration next year, so I need some pointers.  Smiley  I might well be looking in the wrong place in the latter regard.  But I'm really enjoying the book so far anyway.
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anvi
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2014, 08:10:34 pm »

Not sure if it's become obvious from my inactivity, but I've decided to stop posting on the forum.  Not my thing anymore.  I thought, however, that my last post was quite unpleasant in the way it concluded and so wanted to end on a little better note.  So, I'm making that hopefully better note a few impressions from Kearns-Goodwin's book Team of Rivals that I just finished reading--all 760 pages of it.  I read it partly to learn more about the time and partly for some guidance in my own future.  Anyway, here are a few things I enjoyed learning about Lincoln.

From when he was young, Lincoln loved to tell raucous jokes.  One of his favorites in early life seems to have been about a man who loved Revolutionary War souvenirs.  He would travel far and wide not just to purchase them, but even just to see and touch them.  On one occasion, the man heard of a elderly woman who lived far away from him, but who owned a rare aristocratic dress from the period.  He went to visit her and begged to see the item.  She was puzzled about why he marveled at it so much, especially when he started to gently kiss the dress.  Finally, she said to him: "if you like kissing old things so much, you should kiss my behind; it's sixteen years older than the dress."

Lincoln never wore a beard before the 1860 general election campaign. He decided to grow his at the suggestion of an 11-year old girl from New Jersey, who wrote him a note saying that girls like men with beards.  Women couldn't vote at the time of course, but Lincoln was still intrigued.  Skeptical about whether it would help, Lincoln wrote the little girl back and wondered aloud in his reply if people would be suspicious of him growing a beard only now, when running for office, addressing her almost like a campaign consultant.  But he did it anyway.  After winning, during his trip from Springfield to Washington, someone pointed out the little girl in a crowd at one of the train stops, and Lincoln went up to her and gave her a fatherly kiss on the forehead.

One of Lincoln's greatest sources of pleasure during the war was giving pardons to Union soldiers who had been deserters.  He sat frequently with his Secretary of War, Stanton, to go through pardon requests.  Stanton preferred to be consistently strict with deserters and upheld many orders for them to be executed, but Lincoln frequently overrode him, looking for even the slightest excuse to let the deserter off the hook.  He told a few stories that accompanied his pardons that I found funny and touching.  One of his first, about a deserter who was to be beheaded, went roughly like this: "I thought about it for a time.  I came to the conclusion that one head was not a matter of great weight to the country.  It was quite a weighty matter to the soldier though, for it was the only head he had."  Later in the war, when signing another pardon of a deserter, Lincoln said: "I once heard of a fellow who, about to be executed for desertion, was asked by his commander why he always ran away from his post.  'Well, Captain,' the soldier replied, 'it's not my fault.  I have a heart as brave as Julius Caesar's, but when the guns start firing, these legs of mine just carry me away.'"

I guess one of the things that impressed me the most about Lincoln, what I personally have to learn the most from, is how easily he was able to win the loyalty of those around him by being in incredible control of his own feelings, so that he could be generous and magnanimous with even those who had either once competed against him or had clearly wronged him in some way.  Lincoln almost invariably waived off past rivalries and injuries by telling those involved things like: "I'm sure what you did was not done out of any malice toward me, and so I bear none toward you;" and: "whatever happened before, I don't even remember it."

Anyway, that's it for me, folks.  It's been a fun five-and-a-half years or so posting on the forum.  I'd like to kindly thank those who were generous enough to befriend and defend me occasionally here, and also would like to say sorry to those I sometimes responded very poorly to.  Cheers to all and enjoy.

Signing off,
anvi
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anvi
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« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2014, 03:06:46 pm »

Among modern Chinese philosophers, Li Zhehou is certainly one of the most fascinating.  Interesting stuff on aesthetics, fairly provocative arguments about political theory.  Enjoy the read.
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anvi
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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2014, 09:25:03 am »
« Edited: September 19, 2014, 09:27:46 am by anvi »

Gully, are you looking for books on Chinese history or contemporary China?  

I'm working my way through Bill Bryson's A Brief History of Nearly Everything.  It's ten years old in terms of science, but still a nicely-written book.
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anvi
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« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2014, 09:41:05 am »

Well, Gully, for starters, broad overviews of classical China are available from Patricia Buckley Ebrey, either in her Cambridge Illustrated History of China, her China: A Social, Cultural and Political History or her Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. John Kaey has also recently written a broad-ranging history of China which is pretty accessible. 

There are really nice historical treatments of individual dynasties in Chinese history as part of a Harvard University Press series.
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/collection.php?cpk=1338   

For modern Chinese history, a standard work is Jonathan Spence's Search for Modern China, though it will only take you up to the early '90's. 

For more specific topics and areas, I'd have to know what you were most interested in.  I'm more conversant with Chinese philosophical history given my own research, but am familiar with more general historical and cultural areas in several fields.  Recommendations here would just depend on your specific interests.
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anvi
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2014, 11:23:21 am »


I loved this book too.  Hilarious and revealing.  I didn't like the follow-up 'Tis very much, but, especially given what I do for a living, really appreciated Teacher Man that came next.
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anvi
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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2015, 09:24:01 pm »

At the moment I'm reading through Seven Elements that Changed the World by John Browne.  With the exception of a few parts so far that are a little hoaky, it's an interesting read.  Unexpected to find a book by a former BP exec who believes in anthropogenic climate change and thinks multiple things should be done to address its challenges.

In coming months I'd like to get to two other books, Becoming Richard Pryor by Scott Saul, a bio of the early years of one of my favorite comedians, and Circling Around the Midnight Sun by James Raffan, which is about the peoples who live around the Arctic Circle.
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« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2015, 07:58:29 am »

Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) by Hayashi Fumiko, translated by Lane Dunlap.
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anvi
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« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2015, 01:27:47 pm »

Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) by Hayashi Fumiko, translated by Lane Dunlap.

!!!!!!!

What do you think?


It's beautifully written and interesting so far (I'm about a third of the way through it).  I assigned it for a class I'm teaching.  I was inclined to do so because of a book written by a friend of mine that talked about this novel in the context of the roles women played in Japan's mid-century occupations and post-war circumstances.  I can see why Hayashi's works were so popular, they're both expressive and quite realistic at the same time.
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anvi
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« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2015, 02:45:10 pm »

Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) by Hayashi Fumiko, translated by Lane Dunlap.

!!!!!!!

What do you think?

I finally finished Floating Clouds.  A lot in there, including people's differing roles in Japanese presence in French Indochina, the despair and meaningless people felt after the war (so moving, having lived in Tokyo, to imagine all those neighborhoods I'd spent a lot of time in destroyed), and sharp critique both of "New Religions" in Japan as well as people's own aimlessness and permanent uncertainty.  Despite her flaws, one pities Yukiko at the end of the story, and absolutely despises Tomioka and his carelessness about destroying everyone around him.  Will be interesting to discuss this book in class.  But it leaves me with feelings that I myself left Japan with after moving back to the Sates, wistfulness, ambivalence, sympathy and sadness.  A superficially simple book that is actually dense with important themes.  Hayashi was truly a great author. 
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« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2016, 11:14:01 am »

Most Wanted Particle, which is about the search for the Higgs boson, by Jon Butterworth.

I've taken to reading about astrophysics, physics and evolutionary biology this summer again.  Astronomy was my first love as a kid.  Actually, I probably would find being a scientist more intellectually satisfying than being a philosopher.  Until college though, my math skills were very poor.  Plus, what happens when half-blind high school kids try to do biology experiments usually doesn't work out.
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