What books are you reading?


Mahar Mangahas

Pollster, Social Weather Stations; Op-Ed columnist (“Social Climate”)

MAHAR Mangahas

I just finished a few days ago “The Mystery of Olga Chekhova,” by Antony Beevor (biography/history).

Half-done: “Nausea,” by Jean-Paul Sartre (novel).

Newly started: “The Orange Girl,” by Jostein Gaarder (novel)

Next in line: “Berlin: The Downfall 1945,” by Antony Beevor (history).

One book leads to another.  Some weeks ago I came across “Berlin Diary,” by Anonymous, about how a German woman coped with the Russian invasion in 1945; its foreword by military historian Antony Beevor, whom I much admire from having read his books on Stalingrad and the Spanish Civil War years ago, assures us that the diary is genuine.

It’s about how she (a journalist who could speak Russian) had to act like a comfort woman in order to survive.  Her diary was suppressed for many, many years.

So I picked up and read “Paris in the Liberation,” by Beevor, i.e. WW2 up to 1944-1949, which includes accounts of De Beauvoir, Sartre, among many other fascinating people.

Since I prefer to learn people’s ideas from their fiction rather than nonfiction, I then read De Beauvoir’s “She Came to Stay” (an ancient copy was lying around) and am now midway in “Nausea” by Sartre.

Meantime, I found more Beevors in a bookstore, and read his “Mystery of Olga Chekhova” (German-blooded niece of Anton Chekhov; she left the USSR to become a film star in Nazi Germany, and secretly provided services for the NKVD) and will next read his Berlin, and afterward his D-Day.

The Gaarder book is a bargain book I found in Hong Kong and couldn’t resist.  His books, like “Sophie’s Choice,” are deceptively “for children.”  I go back and forth across more than one book at a time.  My son calls it “double-dipping.”

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