Books I read in 2020

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Books I read in 2020

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Books I read in 2020

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01/01/2021

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Aaron Sakulich

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In 2020 I didn't go out much. I spent a lot more time than usual reading, and as far as I can tell, these are the books that I read during the pandemic period. From left to right, there's a stack of miscellaneous; history; and cookbooks. For whatever reason, I ended up reading a couple of very long books about the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1970s. (In a sentence, it was a 10 year period where every person in the country turned on each other.) The Cultural Revolution is always treated as, or described as, some sort of great mystery by most historians. Even the books I read: "Here's what happened, no one knows why". A completely incomprehensible outpouring of rage and hate and suffering, the likes of which the world had never seen before.

For what it's worth, I feel as though I understand the Cultural Revolution a lot better after having lived through this year of Pandemic. On the one hand my friend, a waitress, tells me that it's pretty common for diners to tell her she's not getting a tip unless she takes her mask off. It happens at least once a shift. I've personally seen random guys try to fist fight cashiers in convenience stores over mask policies. On the other hand, nationally, a militia got pretty close to kidnapping Michigan's governor because they're upset about her extremely mildly strict pandemic restrictions, and of course a bunch of armed yahoos took over the capitol building for a few hours last week because a handful of irresponsible dingdongs tweeted at them.

So, yeah. If there's one positive thing about the pandemic, I guess, it's that how the Cultural Revolution happened, and why it was so awful, is no longer some sort of incomprehensible mystery to me. Seems to me like there are differences in scale, style, and context - I'm absolutely not saying that the Cultural Revolution and our Pandemic response are in any way equivalent - only that between how people acted then and how people are acting now, but the major themes are real, real similar! I could pretty easily see the dopes demanding waitresses take off their masks leading a struggle session.

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Aaron Sakulich

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Books I read in 2020