In The Six-Point Inspection, Zócalo takes a quick look at new books that are changing the way we see our world.
The nutshell: Chinese writer and dissident Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009, 20 years after he was first imprisoned for his involvement in Tiananmen Square. These broad-minded writings, including poems (written to his wife) and essays, paint a portrait of an unassuming intellectual in steady opposition to an unjust regime.
Literary lovechild of: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Li Bai.
You’ll find it on your bookshelf if: You have suspicions about the “New China.”
Cocktail party fodder: After Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in absentia-and his family members forbidden from accepting on his behalf-the Chinese government blocked Internet searches with the phrase “empty chair.”
For optimal benefit: Visit Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Project at LACMA after reading.
Snap judgment: Liu’s intellectual ferocity, preternatural calm, and lack of righteousness (yes, you sense all this on the page) are both moving and reverence-inspiring.
The nutshell: Longtime war correspondent di Giovanni opens her memoir in Sarajevo in 1993, when she falls in adrenaline-fueled love with a French reporter. But the story’s real subject are the ghosts that haunt them both when, a decade later, they leave the frontlines to make a life in Paris together.
Literary lovechild of: Philip Caputo and Elizabeth Gilbert.
You’ll find it on your bookshelf if: You don’t typically read love-and-loss memoirs-but want to make an exception.
Cocktail party fodder: The busiest times of year for war reporters are holidays and springtime.
For optimal benefit: Play this video of Radovan Karadžic after reading. The hair is worth it.
Snap judgment: A bittersweet, honest story about what happens when war comes home.
The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth by Joseph Turow
The nutshell: University of Pennsylvania media researcher Turow reveals that advertisers are collecting information from us with every click of the mouse-and using it in ways we don’t know exist.
Literary lovechild of: Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail and George Orwell’s 1984.
You’ll find it on your bookshelf if: You’ve been wondering how Facebook knew you’d like that ad for the Ketzel the Cat Menorah.
Cocktail party fodder: Cookies were invented in 1994 by Netscape in order to make “shopping carts” for websites that couldn’t recognize one person purchasing multiple items.
For optimal benefit: Turn off your browser’s cookies before reading, and try to count how many websites you’ve registered for this week alone. Or just give up and send your DNA to Google for their convenience.
Snap judgment: The terror is in the details in this comprehensive study of the advertising world circa 2012-though the details seem subject to change with the technology.