Sunday, September 30, 2007

Non-Fiction Five Challenge Completed

I finished my 5th and last book for the challenge yesterday. With only a day to spare it was just in time! Whew! I ended up reading 4 from my original list and one of my alternates. And I feel like a got in a pretty good variety: memoir, religion, travel, language, biography.

Books read:
(clicking on the title will take you to my review)
The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
Buddhism: Plain & Simple - Steve Hagen
Hitching Rides with Buddha - Will Ferguson
The Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson
Princess Masako - Ben Hills

The best book(s) I read for the challenge?
The Diary of a Young Girl and Hitching Rides with Buddha. I'm so glad I finally read Anne's Diary and I really enjoyed Will's sense of humour and could relate to many of his experiences in Japan.

A book I could've done without?
Buddhism: Plain & Simple. Instead of teaching me about Buddhism it just annoyed the heck out of me!

Any new authors in the bunch? Will I read them again?
All 5 were new-to-me. I've already read the short book of Anne's other writings, so I don't believe there is anything else of hers available. I'll certainly be reading more by Will Ferguson, and I have a couple more books by Bill Bryson so I'll read him again too at some point. Ben Hills wrote another book about Japan that I may try someday.

Best thing about the challenge?
I tend not to pick up Non-Fiction very often, the lure of a good fiction story is too strong. But I do enjoy reading NF when I do finally get around to it and it's a topic I'm interested in. So a big thank you to Joy for hosting this challenge as it was a great incentive for me to finally read some of the books I've had here for awhile and to break out of my usual diet of fiction.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

'Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne'

by Ben Hills

Non-Fiction/Biography/Japan/Imperial Family, 2006
Tarcher/Penguin Hardback, 291 p.
(#42 for 2007, Non-Fiction Five Challenge - #5)
It’s the fantasy of many young women—marry a handsome prince, move into a luxurious palace, and live happily ever after. But that’s not how it turned out for Masako Owada. A thoroughly modern woman in collision with an ancient system, Masako is the brilliant Harvard- and Oxford-educated woman who, in 1993, sacrificed her career as a diplomat to marry Crown Prince Naruhito. Stealing a fascinating look behind the “Chrysanthemum Curtain” into the arcane world of the Japanese royal family, Princess Masako details how the princess is subjected to the endless superstitious rites of the Royal Household Agency in the hope that she will produce a male heir and prevent the world’s oldest royal dynasty from dying out. Some thought the princess would be a breath of fresh air in the musty corridors of this twenty-six-hundred-year-old monarchy, but thirteen years later, now at age forty-two, the princess is a tragic figure whose struggles with depression have made international headlines. This is a story about a love affair that went tragically wrong.
Many of the reviews on Amazon claim that Hills hasn’t said anything new in this book, and given the fact that it’s impossible to speak with the Princess herself or even to confirm many of the rumours, I guess that’s to be expected. I’ve never really paid much attention to the Japanese Imperial family so for me it was interesting to read about the backgrounds of both Masako and the Crown Prince.
The reason I wanted to read it in the first place is because it has been quite controversial in Japan. (There’s nothing like a whiff of controversy to pique interest!) The Japanese government has supposedly denounced the book as insulting to the Imperial family and while not exactly banned, since the English version is readily available, it looked like it would never be translated. A Japanese language version was originally to be published earlier this year by Kodansha but they pulled out, allegedly because of pressure from the Establishment. A smaller publisher decided to step in though and it was finally published in Japan in August. Apparently both the author and this publisher have received death threats and the national newspapers refuse to run ads for the book. All this when supposedly the book doesn’t tell us anything new! Nothing new outside of Japan that is, where the foreign news hasn’t had any of the restraints placed on it by the Imperial Household Agency that the Japanese media obeys. All in all it’s not a perfect book, and a bit repetitive at times as he kept getting ahead of events and going back, but it was worth the read. It also leaves me thinking (again) about the role of women in Japan, the rigidity of the bureaucracy, and the power of propaganda.

My Rating: 3/5

Article "Why I am Banned in Japan" HERE.
Interviews and articles available from his website HERE.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Look who's here!

Poppets are making their ways around the world. [This week] I sent Poppets off to Japan, Australia, the UK and Portugal. Each goes out with its own tiny magic, and the message inherent in Poppets; to open our eyes and look with broader vision, to see that we are more alike than different and that we're all in this together. - Lisa Snellings-Clark
After seeing them around on various blogs, I finally succumbed and got not one, but two of my very own poppets!
So please meet.... Violette and Kiara.

Plus I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with a certain doctor over the weekend as this arrived this week as well!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Friendship

Suggested by Marsha:

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

My most common, spontaneous book purchases, that are not for myself (!), are baby books. A couple of friends have new babies so I'll sometimes pick up books for them when I'm book shopping. Those board books and learning to read books are so cute!

Unfortunately, most of the people in my life aren't big readers and the ones that do read, I usually don't know for sure what they've read or not. So I'll usually only buy them books if there is something specific they are wanting.

As for Buy a Friend a Book Week, I had a draw on my blog during the last one in July and I'm planning to do it again next week. The book I intend to give away this time is Strangers by Taichi Yamada. Why? Because it's a ghost story and it's Fall and the perfect time to read spooky stories. If it sounds interesting, make sure to come back on Monday when I'll put up a post where you can enter your name in the draw.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2nds Challenge

Yes. Another challenge! But this one should fit in well with the other reading I hope to do from now to the end of this year. And it's the last one I plan to join this year, I promise! (Absolutely no promises about challenges for 2008 though!)
It runs from October to December, straight after the Non-Fiction Five Challenge, and the premise is pretty straightforward:
Read 3 books by authors that you have only read one other.
(As usual click on the button for more info or to sign up).

I'm going to keep it flexible and not post 3 specific books that I'd like to read, but instead list some of the authors that I have only read once but would like to read a 2nd book by them sooner rather than later. This list is hardly all of them but probably the ones I'm most interested in at the moment.

My possible '2nds' include:

Ian Rankin - I read Knots & Crosses this summer and want to continue with the series.
Clare Morrall - I really enjoyed Astonishing Splashes of Colour when I read it a few years ago.
Junichiro Tanizaki - I loved The Makioka Sisters!
Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was a great read! I'd like to read The Ladies of Grace Adieu soon.
Alice Munro - I've only read Runaway and really should read more by this famous Canadian.
Timothy Findley - another famous Canadian writer that I want to read more by.
Anne Tyler - I've only read The Amateur Marriage but have a couple more here that I'd like to try.
Ryu Murakami - In the Miso Soup was pretty violent and unnerving, but I'm curious to read something else by him.
Stephenie Meyer - I loved Twilight and want to read the next 2 books in the series soon.
Will Ferguson - Hitching Rides with Buddha was such fun, I'd love to read more.
...and anyone else I remember between now and December!

Monday, September 24, 2007

'The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way'

by Bill Bryson

Non-Fiction/Language, 1990
Harper Perennial paperback, 236 p.
(#41 for 2007, Non-Fiction Five Challenge- #4)
With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, bestselling author Bill Bryson brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience, and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can’t) to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world’s largest growth industries.
I’ve long been interested in languages (even though I’m not very adept at picking up new ones), and I’m often compelled to pick up these types of books. (Whether I get around to reading them is another story completely!) This was my first book by Bryson and I can understand why people enjoy his travel books so much. His humour showed itself here in places and made me chuckle a few times while reading.
As for the historical information, some of it I’d learned back when I studied Linguistics so it wasn’t new but it was nice to be reminded and there was plenty of language trivia that was both amusing and interesting to read. I did wonder about some of the ‘facts’ and apparently the book does contain many factual errors, some of which can be found HERE. Published 17 years ago, it’s now also slightly dated in the chapters dealing with modern English. I’d be interested to hear his thoughts on texting, for example.
I do find it interesting that this book isn’t listed in the books section on the websites of either his US publisher or his UK publisher.
Overall it was a sometimes amusing overview of how English became what it is today, but there are probably much better, more accurate books out there on the subject. I have a couple more of Bryson’s books in the TBR mountain range and I do look forward to getting to them at some point.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall Into Reading Challenge

There has been a whole slew of reading challenges lately that I've resisted joining, but I've decided to do this one hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. I love the button (click on it for more info) but mainly I love how flexible it is. It runs from September 23rd to December 21st and I've decided to list 5 books that I'd like to read during that time. They all cross-over with other challenges (some may call this cheating but it's not against "the rules") and hopefully that extra incentive to cross them off more than one list will help get them read by the end of the year. Besides I really have been wanting to read them for ages.

They are:
number9dream - David Mitchell
Them - Joyce Carol Oates
Unless - Carol Shields
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Snow Country - Yasunari Kawabata

If I could also get through these, that would be fabulous:
Mercy Among the Children - David Richards Adams
Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
The Silent Cry - Kenzaburo Oe
The Love of a Good Woman - Alice Munro
The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber

Now if only we'd get some proper Autumn-like weather, I'd be content! Actually that's not 100% true since today it was considerably cooler. I can only hope it lasts.

Friday, September 21, 2007

PhotoHunt: Paper



Friday Fill-in #4


1. I think ... I need to move somewhere with a cooler climate.
2. I desire ... someday to have my own home library.
3. What if ... I had never come to Japan? Where would I be now?
4. The best thing about ... Autumn is the changing of the leaves, the cool air, the good food... (I can't stop at one!)
5. When will ... this darned hot weather ever end?
6. The best thing that happened to me so far this week ... I have today off and since Monday was a holiday it was a 3-day week!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to ... maybe watching a movie, tomorrow my plans include ... something as yet undecided and Sunday, I want to ... continue reading 'Dracula' or if the weather cools off a bit like it's supposed to, get out to take some pictures -- finally!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #5: Japanese snacks

13 Japanese snacks

(click photo to enlarge)

Back (L-R):
gobo (burdock) crackers
senbei (rice crackers)
nori (seaweed) flavoured potato chips

Middle (L-R):
green tea chocolate dipped sticks
umeboshi (pickled plum/apricot) pretzels
espresso chocolate dipped Fran
marron (chestnut) flavoured Pocky
wasabi flavoured Pretz

Front (L-R):
kakinotane (spicy rice crackers and peanuts)
tuna and mayonnaise flavour Jyagariko potato sticks
Crunky chocolate
green tea KitKat

and my favourite:

Häagen-Dazs Green Tea and Kuromitsu ('black sugar' aka molasses) ice cream sandwich



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

a pile of books

(click to enlarge)

Do you remember that list of 13 books I'd bought or ordered about a month ago? Well the remaining 6 of them finally arrived on the weekend. So here they all are! I'm really really running out of shelf space so let's not talk about how I managed to squeeze them in. There is literally no. space. left! I'm not joking!
I've only read one of them so far, but I do hope to read a couple more soon. Of course I'd actually like to read all of them right now! You know how it is.
There's one addition to the previous list, right there on the bottom. Kwaidan: Ghost Stories and Strange Tales of Old Japan. It's perfect for the R.I.P Challenge and I couldn't resist it when I was at the book store last week. I'm a hopeless case!

Monday, September 17, 2007

lazy day

Today was a national holiday here,'Respect for the Aged Day'. And let's see...we got up really late (around noon), then in the afternoon I had a nap! (was reading but I got sleepy), and this evening we watched a movie. What a lazy day!
In cat-related news, lately Bailey's been a bit bored and grumpy and demanding so we finally got a laser pointer this weekend to play with them. OH MY! What fun!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

PhotoHunt: Plastic

I don't work on Saturdays as a rule but I filled in for another teacher today at the last minute. Then afterwards I met H for some shopping (I got my own tripod so now I'm all set!) and dinner. Anyway, that's why this is up late. As you can see I've been playing with the macro lens on my new toy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Friday Fill-in #3


1. Chips or chocolate? Chocolate, unless I'm in a salty mood.
2. Pickles on your hamburger? Absolutely!
3. Baked potato: with everything or sour cream.
4. The perfect meal is good food and good company.
5. Martinis, wine, beer or sparkling water. I rarely drink alcohol these days.
6. Your favorite pirate is (technically not food, but still yummy) Captain Jack Sparrow, of course!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to visiting my friend and seeing her new condo, tomorrow my plans include something with H and Sunday, I want to enjoy the day knowing Monday's a holiday!

'Twilight'

by Stephenie Meyer
Fiction/Fantasy/YA, 2005
Megan Tingley (Little, Brown)
paperback, 498 p.
Twilight series - Book 1
(#40 for 2007, R.I.P II Challenge- #1)
Bella Swan’s move to Forks could have been the most boring move she ever made. But when she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella.
First I have to admit that I’d never read a vampire novel before and had never really had any desire to. But, much like Bella, I was dazzled! What an addictive read! The last time I read a book so compulsively was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now I understand what all the fuss was about!
Even though it’s unfortunately still very summery here, I was in the mood for something a little dark, a little romance, so this fit my mood perfectly! Of course now I want to devour the other 2 books in the series, but I’m tempted by the set that’ll be available in November. What’s a girl to do?

My Rating: 4.5/5

Also reviewed at:
A Striped Armchair
Melody's Reading Corner
The Written Word
Paperspine

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

headache blues

Have a splitting headache. Can't concentrate. Going to bed early. Tomorrow's a busy day. No time to blog. Be back soon.

UPDATE: Thanks you guys! My headache has faded considerably so I'm tired but not ready to poke my eyes out anymore. But what is it about Wednesdays?? I got drenched ... again...on my way to class this morning. This weather sucks. (I promise I'll stop moaning if Fall ever arrives!)

Monday, September 10, 2007

'Tears of the Giraffe'

by Alexander McCall Smith

Fiction/Mystery, 2000
Anchor Books (Random House) paperback, 226 p.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series - Book 2
(#39 for 2007)
Precious Ramotswe is the eminently sensible and cunning proprietor of the only ladies’ detective agency in Botswana. In Tears of the Giraffe she tracks a wayward wife, uncovers an unscrupulous maid, and searches for an American man who disappeared into the plains many years ago. In the midst of resolving uncertainties, pondering her impending marriage to a good, kind man, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, and promoting her talented secretary (a graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College, with a mark of 97 percent), she also finds her family suddenly and unexpectedly increased by two.
Since a friend lent me this along with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, I decided to get it read sooner rather than later. And, I did like it a bit better than the first book in the series. The mysteries weren’t very mysterious but I was expecting that this time and it was interesting to see the characters fleshed out a little bit more. I can understand how these books are comfort reads for some and I’m glad to have ‘met’ Mma Ramotswe so I know what people are talking about. However, I personally don’t think I’ll bother with further books in the series. There are simply too many other books and series I’d like to try.

My Rating: 3/5

Saturday, September 08, 2007

See It Sunday: Stairs

202 steps at Shiogama Shrine, Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture
August 2006

Friday, September 07, 2007

PhotoHunt: Music

Taken at the Miyako Odori in Gion, Kyoto
April 2006

'The River' by Tricia Wastvedt

Fiction, 2004
Penguin paperback, 340 p.
Longlisted for the Orange Prize, 2005
When two children drown (Not a spoiler- this is the opening scene) on an idyllic summer afternoon in 1958, the community of Cameldip is left haunted by the tragic loss. And parents Isabel and Robert suffer a grief that is as devastating as it is unrelenting.
Thirty years later, Anna arrives in Cameldip, fleeing city life and her own disappointments. She does not tell anyone that she is pregnant. Anna goes to live with Isabel and unwittingly begins to unravel ties of guilt and betrayal held close for many years. When the baby arrives, powerful feelings of loss and heartbreak begin to surface and Anna is forced to ask whether Isabel’s feelings towards the baby are entirely benign.
At the beginning I had to flip back a few times to remind myself of who was who but once I was familiar with all the characters I really enjoyed how the story slowly unravelled and the different strands came together. I think Wastvedt did a good job at setting the atmosphere. Throughout I couldn’t shake the eerie feeling that something bad might happen at any time yet I was never quite expecting the things that did happen. I think the quote from The Times on the back sums it up nicely: ‘Full of brooding sadness, right up to the unexpected horror of the ending’. For a debut novel I think she’s done well and I look forward to her next book.

My Rating: 3.5/5
(#38 for 2007)

Interview with the author HERE.
Discussion of the book begins today at Reading Matters.

Friday Fill-in #2

1. I admire ... creativity.
2. I crave ... cool weather.
3. I dislike ... wind.
4. I enjoy ... taking pictures.
5. I wonder ... what my life would be like if I'd made different choices.
6. I want ... to play with my new toy but it's still too hot to be outdoors much.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to ... sleeping on clean sheets, tomorrow my plans include ... hiding from the heat** and Sunday, I want to ...read!

**Now that the typhoon has passed (what a wet and wild day it was yesterday!) tomorrow looks like it'll be sunny and hot again. :(

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Goldilocks


Okay, so the other day, a friend was commenting on my monthly reading list and asked when I found the time to read. In the ensuing discussion, she described herself as a “goldilocks” when it comes to reading–she needs to have everything juuuuuust right to be able to focus. This caught my attention because, first, I thought that was a charming way of describing the condition, but, two, while we’ve talked about our reading habits, this is an interesting wrinkle. I’d never really thought about it that way.

So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?

Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

I can usually read almost anywhere. On a hard chair, a soft sofa, lying in bed, standing up in the train, on a plane. Unfortunately I can't read in cars or buses though. Something about the motion and that car-smell makes me nauseous. The amount of light doesn't matter. I've been known to read in very dim light so as not to bother H. Noise though is my main distraction downfall. I have a hard time reading if there's any kind of loud noise, music playing or if the TV is on. It's ok if it's background noise like when commuting on the train but ideally silence is better. Of course reading with a tall glass of something cold in summer and a big mug of tea in the winter, curled up somewhere comfy, is best!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #4: TV shows

13 TV shows I currently watch

Note that living in Japan I'm usually at least a season behind.
* indicates shows that we're willing to pay for, by buying or renting the DVDs. Either because it's not available on TV here or they're so behind we can't wait.
The rest I probably wouldn't suffer too much if I couldn't see them any more for some reason but they provide an enjoyable diversion. Generally meal time is TV time for me since H often works late, and as much as I love reading I find 2 hands are preferable for most meals and movies too long. A 45 min. episode of something usually fills the time nicely.

1. Prison Break* - My latest obsession! We finished watching Season 2 last weekend. Not only is Wentworth Miller OH. SO. PRETTY! But I love the love-story between Michael and Sara. Sigh.

2. House* - Gotta love snarky, sexy Dr. House! I'm so looking forward to watching Season 3 on DVD soon now that it's out. It is playing in Japan but I'm impatient.

3. Grey's Anatomy* - Dr. McDreamy! Ditto on looking forward to the Season 3 DVDs.

4. Lost - Currently just over half-way into Season 3.

5. Dexter - This just started on TV here a few weeks ago.

6. 24* - We've watched Seasons 1-5 and we'll get to 6 eventually. We saw the first episode, as a teaser on the Prison Break DVD, and it just seemed like more of the same.

7. Spooks* - British spy drama, I believe it's called MI5 in the US. Love how they don't shy away from current controversial topics. We've watched Seasons 1-4 and will watch 5 once the DVD's out.

8. CSI
9. CSI: Miami - H likes Horatio, but I generally prefer Grissom and the Vegas cast. We've seen most of the episodes on air here already but if we're home when they're on we'll watch. Someday they'll catch up..

10. Numb3rs - I only recently started watching this and it's Season 2 that's playing here now. It's the kind of show that you can watch out of order pretty easily though.

11. The O.C. - I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this one. I'd never pay for it but I'm usually having dinner when it's on so I get my cheesy soap opera fix. Currently showing Season 2 here.

12. Gilmore Girls - This only started recently in Japan, we're half-way through Season 1 I think. It's quite cute. Another good dinner-time companion.

13. Hmm. I don't have a 13th at the moment. I am/was?? a long-time fan of ER but I haven't seen the last couple of seasons since what's showing here is years behind. I did go through an Alias phase but the series is done. It looks like Heroes is starting up here this fall so I'll have to check it out.

What shows do you watch?

typhoon

Tokyo doesn't usually get affected much by the typhoons that hit the islands further south but man we got some heavy duty rain today. Of course just as I was leaving to go to my first class a deluge started. It's a 10 min. walk from our apartment to the nearest station and by the time I got there I was completely and absolutely soaked, and that's with an umbrella! Thanks a lot Typhoon #9 (aka Typhoon Fitow*)! 4 hours and 3 lessons later I was almost dry! Luckily it wasn't raining too badly on my way home and I managed to get in before the next deluge!
I knew the few cooler days we had last week couldn't last. Nasty nasty weather today. And let's not talk about how disgustingly humid it is! The silver lining in all those clouds is that while it's supposed to continue raining tomorrow as the typhoon heads closer this way, I've somehow managed to have the day off. You can bet I'll be staying indoors. I need to go curl up on the sofa again with my book. Regular blogging will resume tomorrow. Hope you're all staying dry.

Japanese Meterological Website HERE.

*FITOW {pronounced: fee~tow}, meaning: Yapese (a Micronesian language) name for a beautiful fragrant flower.

Monday, September 03, 2007

feline frenzy

Scene of the crime:

Although there were no witnesses, matching pawprints were found at the scene. The motive remains unclear but when taken into custody, they entered a plea of "temporary insanity". With their long list of priors and no visible sign of remorse, it didn't look good.

However, after an initial show of outrage at the violence of the crime, the judge seemed predisposed to leniency. Bribery, perhaps in the form of cuddles and leg-rubbing, is suspected. Released with only a warning, the duo are already back to their usual nightly rampages. It remains to be seen if or when they will strike again...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

new toy

Up till now I've been using a fixed lens digital camera (Panasonic Lumix FZ20), but recently H and I have been talking about me upgrading to a Digital SLR. And here it is - my new toy! We're calling it my early birthday present even though my birthday is still a couple of months away! I've got a lot to learn but I'm looking forward to trying it out once the cooler weather sets in. H has the E-410 so we should be able to share lenses a bit, although he did also get me my own macro lens. Woot! One of the main reasons I'm glad I waited for this version- the Image Stabilizer built in to the body. I don't always have the steadiest hands so that was a great feature on my old camera. Anyway, just had to share and I hope to have some pictures to show soon.

See the Olympus website HERE and read a review of the Olympus E-510 HERE.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Reading Update: August

Books Completed:
(clicking on the title will take you to my review)
32. Forty Words for Sorrow - Giles Blunt
33. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
34. Hitching Rides with Buddha - Will Ferguson
35. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
36. The Interpreter - Suki Kim
37. Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings - D.T. Suzuki

Not a bad month for me. It was a lot of fun reading the mysteries while the heat sapped my will to live. Sometimes fun and easy-to-read are just what's needed!

Favourite of the month: A tie between Forty Words for Sorrow (lots of suspense, it was a true page-turner!) and Hitching Rides with Buddha (a fantastic Japan travel memoir).

Least favourite: Zen Buddhism (unfortunate since I'd really hoped to gain a better grasp on it).

Reading Challenges- Progress Report:
Summer Mystery Challenge - COMPLETED!
Non-Fiction Five Challenge - 3 done, 2 to go (by Sept. 30th)
TBR Challenge - 5 done, 7 to go (by Dec. 31st) -- No Change
Japan Challenge - 4 done, 8 to go (by Dec. 31st)
O'Canada Challenge - 3 done, 9 to go (by Dec. 31st)
Book Awards Challenge - 0 done, 12 to go (by June 30th, 2008) -- No Change

Plus a new Challenge:
R.I.P. II Challenge - 4 to go (by Oct. 31st)

Reading Goals for September:
I need to get to my last 2 NF reads since the challenge finishes at the end of September. Otherwise I'm looking forward to reading my choices for the R.I.P II Challenge. I've come to the realisation that I most likely won't complete 12 each for the Japan or Canada Challenge by the end of the year but I'll still try to read a few more for each in the next few months.