6.23.2010

Summer reading

The best part of summer is that I finally have time to read--although this year I've got plenty of academic reading that can be done. At the bookstore a few weeks ago I found two books.

I've kept my eyes open for a book on North Korea and I finally found a decent looking one: Under the Watchful Gaze of the Fatherly Leader. I'm about a third into it which is up to the mid-70's.

North Korea is interesting. It's the last of the hard-communist countries. In pictures and videos it looks like an entirely bizarre place. It's like someone actually tried to implement 1984. On top of that it's run by a truly ruthless family and their heir apparent is only about five years older than I.

Things worth repeating so far: the North was ahead of the South until the end of the 60's then by the end of the 70's the South had surpassed the North. Originally, the North had the industry and the South was farming. About the time of the Korean War some high official in our government said that Stalin was to Kim Il-sung like Walt Disney was to Mickey Mouse--I thought that was kind of funny. Speaking of whom, growing up Kim Il-sung was a church organist.

On deck is Zinn's People's History of the United States. I don't know much about either the author or the book but it's good to read something with what I presume will be a different opinion.

Once I get through those, I'm midway through Ulysses and I should finish that. It seems like that'll need at least a second reading to get an understanding. I try to only have one or two books open at once.

I want to be well read, but fiction is doesn't go down as easily as non-fiction or academic work. It's all the characters that get me. For example this spring I blew through books on the French Revolution and Dennett on consciousness, but Crime and Punishment seemed to drag out even though I was into it.

Also on open books, I'm most the way through Herman Melville's second novel of seven after a year--I'm trying to get to Moby Dick which is his sixth--a bookstore had a tome of his novels on clearance. Even further back, I started on Nostromo having enjoyed the Heart of Darkness in high school, but that just wasn't connecting at all so I put it aside for the time.

That's where I am. How are y'all on reading? Anybody read any good books lately?