Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday Salon: May in Review (Book Binge)

Well I missed joining the salon last week so let's see what I've read in the meantime.. oh yes, two weeks ago I'd just finished How I Live Now and was debating what to start next. I was leaning that way and I did end up choosing Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami and what a fun, compelling read that was. The first couple times I read Murakami I just didn't get it and his open endings left me frustrated but I must say he has really grown on me. I still don't necessarily understand the deeper meaning of his books but I sure enjoy the ride. He really is quite the storyteller.
After my Murakami fix, I picked up The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. What a cute story! I finished it Saturday but haven't read anything yet today (and it's past midnight already) except for a few articles in a month-old issue of TIME magazine. (I'm so behind on my magazine reading, it's really quite sad.)

As for new book acquisitions, 4 more have showed up in my mailbox in the last couple of weeks. Dingo by Charles de Lint that I won at the beginning of the Once Upon a Time Challenge (Thanks Carl!), Beauty and Sadness by Yasunari Kawabata and Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch by Dai Sijie, both from Madeleine (Thank you!!) and earlier today, I was thrilled to receive my first review copy sent to me by an author! I don't get offered review copies very often - a problem of geography - so I was thrilled to get Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese in today's post. I look forward to starting it when I head to bed in a little bit but I have so many books I'd like to be reading right now it's quite overwhelming.

It's hard to believe another month has passed already (I say the same thing every month!) but since it has, here is my monthly recap for May.
Books completed:
(click on the title to read my review)
18. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - T.S. Eliot
19. Other Voices, Other Rooms - Truman Capote
20. Every Secret Thing - Laura Lippman
21. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes - Eleanor Coerr
22. How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
23. Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami
24. The Tale of Despereaux - Kate DiCamillo

A pretty good month for me, 7 books completed. Granted 4 of these were quite short children's books but I think that's what I needed this month. I finished Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats before the 5th so for the purposes of Book Binge, which started on May 5th, I suppose it's technically 6 for that.

Favourite of the month: Kafka on the Shore - definitely!
And even though I was a bit disappointed with a couple of the other books, I don't regret reading any of them. I still took away something from all of them.

Books in: 8 (5 of which I either won or were given by the generosity of other bloggers, and of the other 3 that I bought myself, I read 2 of them! That's got to be a record turnaround. Other than the later Harry Potter books, new books around here tend to end up getting shelved and there they may remain unread for months or years!)
Books out: 0

Reading Challenges- Progress Report:
(see sidebar for all current challenges and reading projects)
Once Upon a Time II Challenge - 5 down, 0 to go (by June 20th)
Book Awards Challenge - 10 down, 2 to go (by June 30th)
Non-Fiction Five Challenge - 0 down, 5 to go (by September 30th)
tl;dr (Herding Cats) Challenge - 1 down, 2 to go (by November 30th)
Orbis Terrarum Challenge - 0 down, 9 to go (by December 20th)
My Year of Reading Dangerously- 5 down, 7 to go (by December 31st)
What's in a Name Challenge - 3 down, 3 to go (by December 31st)
Austen Mini-Challenge - 1 down, 1 to go (by December 31st)

Plus I joined one new challenge in May.
1% Well-Read Challenge - 1 down, 9 to go (by Feb. 28, 2009)

Long-term Reading Projects:
Reading Japan Project - 2 books read in May which makes 7 read so far this year. My list of Japan-related books read (by Japanese and non-Japanese authors) here.
The Orange Prize Project - 1 book read in May which is the first this year, my list of previously read titles here.

Reading Plans for June:
I read 4 Book Award Winners in May so I'm now within reach of completing the challenge at the end of June. And I'm already planning to sign up for the 2nd Book Awards challenge that starts in August! I'm also finished the required 5 books for the Once Upon a Time II Challenge but I may squeeze in one more before the Summer Solstice so I won't post a wrap-up until then.
But I really need to start reading more international literature for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge. I've read some Japanese authors but not the one on my list. I know we can change our lists but I'd still like to read it so I won't count Japan until then. But that's it. All the authors I've read so far this year (except for one book by Henning Mankell (Swedish) in January before the OT challenge started) have been American, English, Canadian or Japanese. Must do better. Plus I'd like to start reading some of my non-fiction choices. The stack of books that I'd like to read soon, by my desk, is dangerously tall. But it's true that too many books is always better than not enough!
Here's hoping for another good reading month in June.


  1. "(N)ew books around here tend to end up getting shelved and there they may remain unread for months or years."

    I am SO glad it isn't just my house where that happens :-)!

    Looks like you did have a good reading month. I hope to get more accomplished on that front it June than I did in May.

  2. That's how I feel about Murakami too sometimes, and maybe especially of Kafka on the Shore, which I read last year: "I still don't necessarily understand the deeper meaning of his books but I sure enjoy the ride." And it also was one of my favorites of last year.

  3. Konichiwa! I came across your blog via The Sunday Salon. I am also living in Japan, Okinawa to be exact, and blogging about books. My name is Karen and my site is Planet Books.
    My brother-in-law loves Murakami and has gifted me "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World". I haven't gotten around to reading it yet but I do enjoy Koji Suzuki and his "Ring" series.

  4. Florinda- I don't like to think about all the books that have been sitting here for years unread. I hope you have a good reading month in June.

    Just a Reading Fool- I'm pretty sure Kafka on the Shore will end up on my best of 2008 list. I'm looking forward to making my way through his other books that I haven't read yet.

    planetbooks- Thanks for stopping by. Always nice to 'meet' someone else living in Japan. Before I read Kafka.. it was my favourite of Murakami's books that I've read but now I think they're tied. Hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

  5. I do hope you like Down to a Sunless Sea. I've been considering reading Beauty and Sadness. You'll have to let me know what you think when you read it.

    It sounds like you have a good plan for your reading this month. Good luck!

  6. Literary Feline- I thought Down to a Sunless Sea sounded interesting from your review and it was only a couple days later that the author contacted me. Nice timing. I've only read one story so far but hope to read more in the next couple of days.

  7. I'm fascinated by all the reading challenges out there. I had no idea -- and now I want to try a few! Fun!

    You've interested me in "How I live now". Since I live immersed in teens, this could be one I share with the hordes!

  8. I have heard nothing but great things about Down to a Sunless Sea. That one is definitely on my must read list.

  9. MaryP- Beware- the reading challenges are very addicting! :)

    Kookie- We don't always have the same taste but from what I've read so far I think it's the kind of writing you would like.


Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I love hearing from you and I read every single one!

P.S. In an effort to eliminate spam, I moderate all comments, so there will most likely be a delay between when you submit the comment and when it appears on the post. Please let me know if you have any trouble leaving comments here, and you can also chat with me on Twitter, if you prefer. Happy Reading!