Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: china

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Just as the sun started to light the sky this morning, I finished reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. 357 pages in 9 hours/5 minutes. Mmm…sexy stats. It’s December and I’m already excited to sit all day on New Year’s, calculating all my reading time, pages, and piling up books that I’ve read this past year. It will be the 5th year in a row!

The Good Earth

Wait a minute. Am I starting to get back in the swing of daily writing? This is the second day of posting in a row, so it is looking good. Yes, I’m excited about two days writing streak. Baby steps! Celebrate the small victories!

Side note: I’ve gone back to using my notebook to track reading instead of the Bookly app. While I enjoy the graphs and awesome stats that the app provides, I found myself not taking notes and then missing out at the end of the read. I need a better system and I’ve been contemplating that for weeks now.

Back to the book!

Why did I choose this book right now? I found it in a used bookstore in Big Bear recently and recognized the title, so I grabbed it up. It’s written in 1931. I love old books. It’s about China, which I know very little about. And when my step-mom expressed an interest in reading it together, going so far as to watch the movie and buy the book, I shoved aside the long suffering books on my TBR shelf and started reading it right away.

And I was not disappointed. It’s not an exciting or action-packed story, just one man’s life in pre-revolutionary China, how he grew up, married, had children, and founded a great and rich family. A rags to riches story that comes full circle. I can’t imagine anyone not being able to see themselves in it. We all strive to make more of ourselves than our ancestors. We all want to leave a better life for our children.

I didn’t find any great quotes that stood out to me to share as I read this time. It’s a quiet, understated story. But I loved every page and groaned out loud when I saw the direction he was going, or when I wanted him to avoid problems. I commiserated with him when all he wanted was peace in his house. And I cried for him when he wondered what he would do next.

I’m glad I stumbled across The Good Earth, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. The problem is that now I want more about China. Any fiction or non-fiction recommendations?

Mao – The Unknown Story: New Read

Mao – The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. Six hundred and sixteen pages. I’m going to be here a while!

Mao book cover on a desert background.

I found two very different reviews of this book, at The Socialist and at The Guardian.

I’ve wanted to know more about Mao for a couple years now, mostly because I’m so fascinated by the communist revolutions in both Russia and China. It’s interesting to me that now we can read books by and about these leaders like Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao when for so many years so much was hidden away. I wrote a few posts about The People’s Tragedy last year.

But I wonder how much of it is true, how much is glossed over by one group (like The Socialist in the link above) or demonized (like The Guardian’s review). Reading some of Trotsky’s work and Stalin’s, as well as Marx himself, makes it even harder to believe anyone can think these men’s tactics were a good idea. “Cringe-worthy” is the newfangled term I’d give much of it.

I’m only thirty pages in this morning and I can tell this is going to be the version that vilifies Mao as and evil straight from the bowels of hell from birth. I’m reading it thinking, “This makes it seem that you could known he’d be a mass-murderer right from his early school days.” I’m sure that wasn’t the case.

It’s always curious to me that leaders like this, the ones that say they are here to protect and support the “workers,” that they never seem to BE workers themselves. They always seem to be university professors and young students.

And what about the people that follow and support them? Do they have any responsibility? I mean, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, didn’t come out of nowhere. They were set upon this earth with power over humanity that none other possessed, a supernatural gift so to speak. How do these things get rolling and keep rolling?

Which makes me think of the show I’m watching on Netflix right now. Have you seen Colony? I’m only at the end of season two, so don’t ruin it, but like The Walking Dead, it’s an interesting take on society and how we get into these messes.

Like I said, I’ll be reading this book for a while. I’m not fast reader, but at least it reads nicely. If you’ve read it, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Read my final thoughts on this book at “DNF: “Did Not Finish” does Not Equal Failure”

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