What I’ve been reading

1. Owen Hatherley, Landscapes of Communism: A History through Buildings.  A consistently interesting take on communist architecture, not entirely unsympathetic as indeed corresponds to my own attitude.  Sheila Fitzpatrick wrote a nice LRB review of the book, suggesting that the author must have visited those developments in summer rather than wintertime.

2. Han Kang, The Vegetarian: A Novel.  A novelistic equivalent of those weird “Asia extreme” Korean movies, compelling and easy to read, recommended.

3. Elena Ferrante, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.  Volume three of the Neapolitan quadrology, these novels are getting better and better and stand as one of the major literary achievements of the last decade.

4. George Yeo on Bonsai, Banyan, and the Tao.  Speeches and writings by a Singaporean politician about the vision behind the country and why it has worked out relatively well.

5. Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot, by Mark Vanhoenacker.  The idea and method behind this book basically work — imagine an analytic version of “pilot tells all” — so I am surprised this genre has not been explored in more detail before.

Also of interest to some of you may be Helen Vendler, The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar, essays on poets and poetry.

Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, is a very good general history of the country.


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