Books I've been reading

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:58 am

Just back from the library. I checked out a new bestseller, The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory. About one of the Queens during The War of the Roses.

Did a web search for "recommended books" and ordered six from a list of Amazon 4 1/2-5 star rated books. So we'll see what Im getting.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:48 am

Curling up with an old favourite:


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:41 pm

^

Enjoyed re-reading this so much that I've started the next in the series:


Post Captain- Patrick O'Brian.

A dangerous move. There are 21 books in the Aubrey/Maturin series, and I've got my own writing to do. Classic displacement tactics, I fear.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  pinhedz on Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:46 pm

Lee Van Queef wrote:
Nah Ville Sky Chick wrote:
I didn't mind Crime & Punishment, but wasn't as enthralled as Andy. I think maybe a lot is lost in translation?? I will be extremely interested to know what you think Neutral

I picked up a copy for 2 quid from a second hand bookshop. It was printed in 1933 affraid

Will keep you informed. Neutral


Neutral




Neutral Neutral
Did you see Woody Allen's "Match Point?"


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:53 pm

A few days ago I finished The Private Life of Chairman Mao.



Written by his physician of 22 years, Li Zhisui, the book is a true open door to the most intimate details of Mao's reign. Mao kept the doctor close, using his as a sounding board many nights till dawn. We get an insider's view of all the macabre political intrigue and a frightening view of Mao's private life.

As one of the book jacket remarks, Probably the best book on a tyrant ever.


Last edited by Constance on Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:09 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:56 pm

...hello Constance. Is that the book written by his private physician?

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:07 am

blue moon wrote:...hello Constance. Is that the book written by his private physician?

Yes, see above. Jiang Chaing, Mao's wife had Li serve on and off as her physician, too, and Li's descriptions of their encounters are nightmares. Certain colors gave her migrains. People had to take their shoes off when around her so as to avoid the noise bothering her. She couldn't stand direct sunlight. She would go hysterical and see a murder conspiracy if she thought a nurse had made her bath too hot. She had official tasters because she thought her food was poisoned.

Li was charged by Jiang Chaing and others of being a counter-revolutionary and a spy and Mao sent him down to live with the peasants twice, doing hard labor. But Mao would catch a cold and send for Li. Nearly everyone in Mao's inner circle was purged and was a miracle that Li survived. He emigrated to the US in 1988.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:10 am



Mao with Li.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:24 am

Bio of Li in The Independent--

Li Zhisui, the late Chairman Mao's personal physician, must take an honoured place in the annals of China. Dr Li's book The Private Life of Chairman Mao painted an extraordinary full-length portrait of the tragically flawed revolutionary leader, complete with warts and feet of clay.
Li's book was published last year, almost two decades after the Great Helmsman's death. Over the intervening years, Mao's heroic reputation as a great, modernising revolutionary and a national saviour had become untenable, but it was not until the appearance of Li's scrupulously honest account that the world could view the old tyrant whole.

It was not a pretty picture. The young Zhisui Li, scion of a long line of doctors in China who wanted to be a surgeon, offered his services to the emergent People's Republic and was overcome with joy when allocated to Mao. His account of the next 22 years was a horror story, ending with the relief he felt as Mao breathed his last, a relief tortured by the fear that in the intrigue-ridden atmosphere of palace intrigue, some of those jockeying for power could accuse him of causing Mao's death.

In Mao's service, Li had been affronted by Mao's morals and his personal habits: Mao believed he could gain youthful longevity by bedding as many young women as possible, preferring unsophisticated peasant girls recruited to his entourage. He swam frequently in the swimming pool attached to his Zhongnanhai pavilion but refused to take baths - "I wash myself in the bodies of my women," he said - and infected many of them with venereal disease, for which he refused treatment. He cleaned his teeth by swilling down Chinese tea and chewing up the leaves with his greenish, plaque-covered teeth. He suffered from insomnia during periods of inactivity, but slept well when engaged in plotting the downfall of colleagues.

In his book, Li rarely moralised about his patient, recording how Mao's unrealistic belief that man's "spirit" could overcome all physical and economic impossibilities led to millions of deaths. He did record his own unease at the feasting in the Zhongnanhai during the famine in which millions died in the "bitter years" that followed the collapse of the Great Leap Forward, the creation of the Communes and the massive waste of metal and fuel in the thousands of backyard furnaces which Mao had ordained.

Li stood at Mao's elbow as he voiced neurotic suspicions of any colleague who was less than enthusiastic about his schemes or who hinted that Mao bore some responsibility for their failure. He tended Mao's ills as Mao plotted the downfall of men such as the Defence Minister Peng Dehuai or President Liu Shaoqi, who died on the floor of a miserable cell, the chief victim among millions who suffered during the destructive orgies of Mao's Cultural Revolution.

Li was horrified that China's great moderniser turned out to be as superstitious and scientifically ignorant as the Dowager Empress whose reign had also ensured that China failed to meet the challenges posed by the impact of the West.

Rarely stirring from his huge bed, immersed in novels of ancient court intrigues and biographies of the ruthless emperors in China's history he was determined to emulate, Mao became increasingly isolated from the world. Increasingly Mao saw himself as a genius thwarted by lesser men and traitors and the resulting depressions could be cured only by decisions to take action which, given his lack of reliable information and the distortions of neurosis, plunged China into crisis after crisis.

Nevertheless, and often against his conscience, Li served this monster faithfully, but at some cost. He jettisoned ambition to be a surgeon, ruined his family life and broke his wife's heart. In 1988 he managed to get to the United States where he recalled the events he had once recorded in a stack of diaries that he had been forced to burn. With the help of American scholars, he wrote them out again in a carefully unemotional, scientific style. In doing so, he dissected the heart of his tormentor and enabled posterity to judge the man who had inspired such idealistic patriotism, only to betray it.

Li Zhisui, physician: born 1920: married (two sons); died Chicago 13 February 1995.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Lee Van Queef on Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:02 am

Constance wrote:A few days ago I finished The Private Life of Chairman Mao.



Written by his physician of 22 years, Li Zhisui, the book is a true open door to the most intimate details of Mao's reign. Mao kept the doctor close, using his as a sounding board many nights till dawn. We get an insider's view of all the macabre political intrigue and a frightening view of Mao's private life.

As one of the book jacket remarks, Probably the best book on a tyrant ever.

I've been trying to decide what books I should buy my mum for Christmas this year. The above sounds pretty interesting, so have decided to get it for her. Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Lee Van Queef on Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:04 am

pinhedz wrote:
Did you see Woody Allen's "Match Point?"


Yes, and thought it was pretty terrible. Have finished 'Crime and Punishment' and enjoyed it very much. Am now reading 'A week in december' by Sebastian Faulks.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  pinhedz on Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:12 am

Woody Allen sort of turns it on it's head--instead of redemption (as a result of getting caught), we see not getting caught as a worse punishment, because there is no redemption.

Dostoyevsky actually intended to write a sequel to tell the story of Raskolnikov's redemption, but as a placeholder he outlined the redemption in the last 2 pages of Crime and Punishment. Then he neglected to write the sequel because he'd moved on to other stuff.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:23 am

Just reread Heather King's Parched, a harrowing account of the author's twenty years as a very serious alcoholic (she would reach for the warm flat beer from the night before before she got out of bed). She started drinking when she was 13 years old!

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:35 am

Snapped up the new Jo Nesbo today when I visited Canary Wharf in search of the Time Out 2012 diary (see Off Topic thread), like a ferret up a drainpipe:



Picked up the Complete Sherlock Holmes at a bargain price while I was there, with the original Strand Magazine illustrations. cheers

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:48 am

Yesterday I started Mad, Bad, and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors by Lisa Appignanesi. The first chapter is about Mary Lamb. Then the author talks about reformers in the field of mental health in the late 18th century. A few enlightened souls among a lot of wicked jailers.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:52 am

Constance wrote:Yesterday I started Mad, Bad, and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors by Lisa Appignanesi. The first chapter is about Mary Lamb. Then the author talks about reformers in the field of mental health in the late 18th century. A few enlightened souls among a lot of wicked jailers.

Seen this?:


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:57 am

Yes, good catch. The author only mentions King George. She wants to keep the discussion on women.

I'm going to resume reading my book while Julia plays Club Penguin on the computer. She did over an hour of Chinese school homework and now she's rewarded. Madeleine is working in the library till 4:30, so we'll wait for her and then go home.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:05 pm


THe Complete Sherlock Holmes- Arthur Conan Doyle.

Picked this up for a song at Waterstone's last week and I'd been looking forward to some under-the-duvet-on-a-winter's-night Xmassy nostalgia, but to my surprise and disappointment the first two long-ish Holmes stories (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four) seemed dreadfully clunky by modern standards: holes in the plot you could drive a coach and horses through; clumsy exposition; artificial denouement. The only positive features were the character of Holmes himself and the atmosphere of Victorian London. No wonder ACD considered the Holmes stories unworthy of his best work and tried unsuccessfully to kill off the character.

I turned in relief to the much shorter Holmes stories, which were a great improvement. ACD seems to have got into his stride with these brief tales of scientific detection and discovered the most suitable format for the character.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:52 am

Before Judy Collins' book I read ""Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstoncraft" by the prolific scholarly writer Lyndall Gordon. I read her book on T.S. Eliot years ago.


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:30 am

Finished Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz.

Summary: Dogs need to sniff.

Yesterday I took Ginseng for a long walk and I let her sniff to her heart's content. The walk took twice as long as usual but I want my canine sweetheart to be happy. I love you

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:31 am


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:35 am

My dog looks just like this:



Yesterday we met a young Siberian Husky named Maya, two huge Bernese Mountain dogs, an Australian Shepherd and a Golden Retriever.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:39 am

Now reading Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massey. Just finished reading about her betrothal. Her husband used to make his servants dress up in military garb and perform fake military maneuvers.


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:58 am

I am finally reading "Platero and I". I think I read it when I was a child (or at least parts of it). But Juan Ramón Jiménez said he didn't write the book for children. It is a book about a donkey and his "owner" but more than owning a donkey, the donkey is his companion. In case you're thinking that's corny let me make you know it's not. It doesn't even tell a story to follow all through the book but it is compelling.


Here's a line I just read:

It is a familiar spot, but the moment transforms it, and makes of it something strange, decadent and monumental. One would think that at any moment we were going to discover an abandoned palace...


Here I started this thread some time ago: http://acrosstheuniverse.forummotion.com/t1249-platero-and-i

(I read that Eloïse Roach's translation is good... if anybody is interested in reading it)

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:50 pm

I'm interested. I liked what you posted before about the book--it was charming. I'll order it from the library (if my library system owns a copy, I hope so).

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Re: Books I've been reading

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