I really like lists. They’re just so SATISFYING. I had a little time on my hands each evening for the past few weeks, so I’ve been gradually going through our books and cataloging them in a Google Sheet. (Yes, I know there are apps for that, but for reasons of my own, this worked better.) It’s incredibly therapeutic. We have over 1300 books, not counting comic books (which I’ve been afraid to touch–that shelf is…daunting). Listing them has been really useful for discovering books we have waaay too many duplicates of (*cough* The Wizard of Oz *cough*) or books we really should get rid of. A pilgrimage to Ed McKay’s will shortly be in order, methinks.

I leave Tuesday for Virginia Beach to run another conference, which should be far more fun than usual since the Hubs is on fall break from teaching and gets to come with me! While I’m gone, check out these cool links:

I stayed up till the wee hours last night (this morning), finishing Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck. I expected to love it because Buck’s skill is matchless, and this book was no exception. The book is a fictionalized account of the life of Tzu Hsi, the last empress of China, a formidably intelligent and manipulative woman. She ruled for 47 years until 1908. Having just read Under Heaven, which takes place in the 8th century, I was struck by how similar Imperial life was in the 1800s. And that was Tzu Hsi’s main struggle: change was coming to a country that had seen little change in over a thousand years. Buck does an excellent job of humanizing a figure who could otherwise be seen as a power-mongering villain; the reader ends up rooting for Tzu Hsi throughout her lengthy and impressive life. This portion of Buck’s introduction sets an apt tone for the book:

Her people loved her–not all her people, for the revolutionary, the impatient, hated her heartily and she hated them. But the peasants and small-town people revered her. Decades after she was dead I came upon villages in the inlands of China where the people thought she still lived and were frightened when they heard she was dead. “Who will care for us now?” they cried?

This, perhaps, is the final judgment of a ruler.

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