Arts venues across the Bay Area are pausing plays, concerts, ballets and exhibits in an effort to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, so now is a great time to cozy down at home with a book. With venues shut down, I am a critic without a cause. However, in addition to reviewing the arts, I get paid to lead book discussion groups, or what I call book seminars. I’ll take this opportunity to share some of my favorite books. And who knows, maybe I’ll add book reviews to my repertoire even after the arts schedule resumes. Right now I am in the middle of books on the Silk Road, “The Silk Roads: A New History of the World” by Peter Frankopan, on the Opium Wars, “Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age” by Stephen R. Platt and Amitav Ghosh’s “River of Smoke.”
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