Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Updated schedule for the 'I Am a Cat' Read-along

I hope this won't inconvenience anyone but after some discussion, and in an attempt to let more people join in, I've decided to go with the more leisurely reading of I Am a Cat.  We all have enough deadlines and pressures in our everyday lives without adding the books we're supposedly reading for pleasure into the mix. I Am a Cat was originally published serially so I don't think our enjoyment of the story as a whole should be affected by reading it slowly, sections at a time. That said though, please feel free to read ahead if you prefer.

The updated schedule is as follows: 
Volume One - November 15th
Volume Two - December 15th
Volume Three - January 15th

And just to clarify, those dates are a guideline of when each section should be read by, but they are simply a guideline.  I'll post an update on those dates here where we can discuss our thoughts but it's entirely up to you whether you post about each volume on your own blogs or not.  And like I said above, don't feel obligated to stick to the schedule.  The main objective in setting up these group readings is to have fun reading and discovering Japanese literature together.  I'm always open to suggestions so don't hesitate to let me know if you'd like to see something done differently.  We're just starting out so it may take a little while to find our rhythm but I hope we'll be able to have some interesting discussions along the way.  Thanks for your support!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Introducing the Japanese Literature Book Group and Read-along

Thank you to those of you who expressed interest in joining a Japanese Literature Reading Group and/or Read-along when I asked last week, and for encouraging me to go ahead with this. After listening to your input, here are the book choices and the schedule for our first group reads.

Opinion was pretty equally divided between having the discussions on a fixed day of the week vs. a fixed date. I hope it won't be a logistical nightmare or too confusing but in an attempt to make everyone happy, I've decided to use both methods!


The bi-monthly book group will discuss the current selection every two months (January, March, May, July, September, and November) on the last Monday of the month.

Our first book for the book group is The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata.

The discussion for The Old Capital will begin on Monday, November 30th, 2009.  This gives you about two months in which to procure a copy, if necessary, and read it. Of course you're welcome to post your reviews and/or thoughts on your own blog any time. You can also join in the discussion any time after it has been posted. The comments will remain open and even if you couldn't read the book in the allotted time, we'd still love to hear your thoughts. I will try to post some questions or information about the book to kick start the conversation, but please feel free to discuss any aspect of the book you'd like, or to ask any questions you may have. Also, if you have any questions while you are reading, feel free to email me so I can bring them up in the discussion post.

The second book for the reading group will be The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.
The discussion for The Housekeeper and the Professor will begin on Monday, January 25th, 2010.

These two books were chosen somewhat arbitrarily from suggestions by those who responded, just to get us going. In November I'll ask you to nominate titles that you'd like to read with the group and then we'll have a poll to choose the next selections more democratically. Does that sound fair?


The Read-along is for those selected titles that are perhaps longer, for which we could all use some mutual cheer-leading, or that would benefit from a closer reading. The schedule will vary depending on the length of the books. The updates will typically be posted here on the 15th (and sometimes the 30th) of the months in which a read-along is scheduled, and will run concurrently with the book group. You can post about each section on your own blog according to the schedule or any time that is convenient. I'll include any links on the updates so we can compare thoughts.  

Our first read-along is I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki. Since it comprises three volumes, my original idea was to read it over 3 months. However, I then wondered if that would perhaps be too long causing our reading to lose momentum. It's a little thick but nowhere near as chunky as, say, The Tale of Genji! The whole book (I have the three volumes in one edition from Tuttle Publishing, as in the image to the right) is a little over 600 pages long so is it reasonable to read those 600 pages in 6 weeks?

My thought was to divide it up as follows:
Volume One (156 pages) for November 15th
Volume Two (196 pages) for November 29th (a day early because on the 30th I'll be posting the discussion for The Old Capital) December 15th
Volume Three (279 pages) for December 15th January 15th
For a total of 631 pages.

This schedule would have us finish by mid-December, and would work out well for those who prefer not to carry over a book from one year to the next. But I expect most of us will be reading other books at the same time so please let me know if you need more time. I'm happy to extend the read-along if needed.

Update: After some discussion and to hopefully allow more people to join in, the schedule for the first read-along has been extended to run from November to January. See the corrections to the schedule above.

The second read-along book is tentatively set as The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. If the above schedule stands, it would most likely start in January. However, like for the book group, later this autumn I'll ask for suggestions of other possible titles that we can vote on to choose our next book for a read-along.

I've added the buttons, and the current book choices with the relevant dates, to my sidebars.  I haven't decided on the best place for them yet so they may still move around a little, but they'll be there. You'll also be able to easily find the information about current (and past reads once we have some) for both groups by clicking on the "Book Group" or "Read-along" tabs in the linkbar above. I'll also label the posts either "JLit Book Group" or "JLit Read-along" so you'll always be able to search for the posts that way as well.

Feel free to grab the buttons for your own blog, if you'd like.  Please save them to your own server and let me know if you'd prefer a smaller version or need help resizing. Also, please do leave a comment if you're planning to join in the discussion for The Old Capital, or the read-along for I Am a Cat. I'd like to have an idea who's participating, so that I can watch out for any posts you do about the books, and so I can link to them in any updates. Equally, if you could let me know when you've posted about one of the books, so I don't miss any, that would be great. Please let me know if you have any questions. I'm looking forward to reading and discussing some great Japanese Literature with you. Let the reading begin!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading Retrospective (Sept. 2002)

It's hard to believe it's already the last Sunday of September! So I guess it's time for another look back at what I was reading in 2002, the year that I started keeping track of what I read.

Seven years ago this month my reading took me to "heaven", from where I watched over my family and the man who murdered me, Russia, first to a country estate at the turn of the century and then to St. Petersburg in the winter of 1941, and finally to a peculiar house with strange neighbours, a mysterious passageway, and where I had a rather scary adventure.

I'm not sure I'm terribly interested in seeing the recent film but I quite enjoyed reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I wrote in my book journal at the time that I thought the writing was sometimes choppy but that overall it was a compelling story. There was that one scene which I still don't think fits the tone of the rest of the book, and if you've read it you can probably guess which one I'm referring to, but otherwise it was a really good read. Have you seen the film? If so, is it any good?

Next up in September 2002, I read the play, Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, in preparation for watching Sam Mendes' direction of the play at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The play has some memorable characters as it is but seeing the play after reading it really brought the story to life. I was quite spoiled when we lived in London and saw some fantastic plays and musicals. I really miss it.

In my brief reading notes on The Siege by Helen Dunmore, I wrote that I found the characters somewhat flat but that it was interesting to read about the siege of Leningrad, a part of history that I know little about. This still holds true, as my knowledge of Russia is pretty pitiful. I've only read one other book by Dunmore, Mourning Ruby, but I've been meaning to read something else by her. Any recommendations?

Seven years ago was also when I read Coraline by Neil Gaiman for the first time. I wasn't completely wowed by it but Gaiman does have a wonderful imagination, and it's a great book for this time of year. I've since read it again, and enjoyed it a bit more the second time around. I'd love to see the film sometime as the stop-motion animation looks amazing! Have you seen it?

As for what I've been reading this past week in 2009, it was actually a bit of a slow start to the week in terms of reading but when I managed to find some time I spent it in Darfur with Halima Bashir and her family. I finished Tears of the Desert this morning and I'm so glad I read it. It was a very moving story and it left me feeling so sad about all the horrible things people are capable of doing to each other. As part of The Year of Readers, I've been reading for Book Wish Foundation, a charity that helps refugees of Darfur, and reading this book re-affirmed my desire to help even if it's in a very small way.

I'm not quite sure what I want to read next. I think tonight I'll go back to the book of Poe's stories, and go on from there. I have a few review books that I should get to soon but I also have some books I'd like to read for the R.I.P. Challenge. Why are there always so many books, and not enough time?

Earlier in the week I also asked if anyone would be interested in a Japanese Literature Reading Group and I'd like to say thank you again to those of you who said you would. I'll have a post up tomorrow announcing the first group reads. Everyone is welcome to participate so I hope you'll consider joining in when you can. Happy reading!

Friday, September 25, 2009

'Be With You'

Be With Youby Takuji Ichikawa
Translated from the Japanese by Terry Gallagher
Original Title: いま、会いにゆきます (ima ai ni yukimasu)
Fiction, 2003 (Japan), 2006 (English translation)
Viz Media, trade pb, 263 p.
When Mio suddenly returns home one rainy day, her husband and son can’t believe their eyes. For a year they’ve been mourning her sad and untimely death. Now here she is again. How could such a thing be possible? Did love bring her back from the grave? And most importantly, is she here to stay? Together, the reunited family start looking for answers to these questions. What they discover is a secret buried deep in the past … and the future.

Back in 2003, Takuji Ichikawa’s heartbreaking story of a couple’s second chance at first love captivated millions of Japanese readers. The novel was so popular it inspired a blockbuster movie, a top-rated TV series and a best-selling manga. Now published in the U.S., Be With You proves one thing: Love is a miracle that lasts a lifetime and beyond.                                                            [From the back cover]
I wrote in an earlier post while I was in the middle of reading Be With You, that I wasn’t sure if it was a touching love story or just plain cheesy. The author himself says in the Afterword: “This book uses the framework of a traditional ghost story to say something about time and memory. There is no evil or violence (in fact it is quite sentimental). For me, though, that is what makes this book so real.” Sentimental is an apt description and for me it was the kind of overly sweet story that simply left me feeling manipulated. You know what I mean, don’t you? The kind of story where it feels like the author has purposely written it in a way so as to elicit a certain emotion. I tend to resent that device and I do have a pretty low tolerance for overly saccharine stories and prose, so even though I found it a bit too much, I can understand why it was so popular. I felt the same sense of emotional manipulation in The Notebook, a book and movie that is also extremely popular, so that should tell you whether to listen to my review of this book or not.

I do like the sentiment behind the story, the idea of a second chance at falling in love, and I usually enjoy stories that deal with memory and the passage of time, but ultimately I was disappointed with the way this one was told. One of my main complaints is that the writing was really quite awkward and childish. I’d love to know how it reads in Japanese but not having read the original I can only guess that perhaps the author was, in fact, going for that effect. On the other hand it could be due to the translation. Either way it seemed almost a bit condescending, and kept me from really getting into the story. Added to that there were a couple of times that I was dragged right out of the story by a description that ran counter to every other assumption I had made about the characters. I imagine most people wouldn’t even notice but trying to figure out whether it was intentional, or not, was highly distracting. The eventual explanation for her mysterious return a year later also felt, to me at least, to be at odds with the tone of the rest of the story, and to be honest, didn’t fit in with my expectations of the book's billing as a  “modern Japanese ghost story”. Don’t let my cranky review put you off though; be sure to check out the two reviews below as they both liked the book much more than I did.

I’m a little curious about the film now and wouldn’t mind seeing how it compares to the book. You can read about the movie or watch a trailer at the TBS website. Interestingly, while googling for stuff about the book, I also found out that Jennifer Garner is apparently going to star in an American remake of the movie. Hmmm…

Buy this book at: | |

My Rating: 2.5/5
(#47 for 2009, Japanese Literature Challenge 3, Reading Japan Project, Lost in Translation Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
Save Ophelia: 'Be With You' features the perfect romance – one that doesn’t require explicit declarations of love or devotion. The love seems natural. What affected me about this book was its lack of any traditional climax or conflict. It relied entirely upon the love story and the story line. It ended up being just enough to hold your attention and create a perfectly enjoyable experience.
Chick with Books: A simple yet beautiful story...

If you've reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best mystery books read this year, and we have winners!

For the second of my BBAW giveaways last week, I asked entrants to answer the following as part of their entry to win one of two mystery titles: What is the best mystery you've read this year?

Since I thought some of you might be interested as well, here is a list of the titles that were mentioned in the comments on the giveaway post.  The first three were mentioned more than once so I've put them in bold, the others are simply in the order the comments were submitted.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Circle of Souls by Preetham Gandi
Hounding the Pavement by Judi McCoy
Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
Scar Night by Allen Campbell
Murder on the Eiffel Towel by Victor Legris
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Dial M for Murder (play) by Frederick Knott
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
The Likeness by Tana French
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
Tell No One by Harlan Coben
Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Testimony by Anita Shreve
How to Cope with Suburban Stress by David Gale
Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Quite a varied list including a few I hadn't heard of before. Just what I need - more books for my wish list - but I'll definitely be looking some of these up.  Are there any more that you'd add to the list?

But you want to know who won, don't you?  I gave all the entrants a number in the chronological order that the comments were submitted. Then with a little help of a couple of random numbers we had two names, and as luck would have it they both wanted the other book.
So, Best Intentions by Emily Listfield goes to nomadreader,
and Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman goes to PopinFresh.

I've emailed both of you but just in case you don't receive that for some reason, please send me your mailing address so that I can get your book sent out to you.  I hope you enjoy the books!

For everyone else, don't forget that Buy a Friend a Book Week is just around the corner!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More input needed, suggest a name, and win a book!

Thanks for the positive response to my last post about perhaps starting up a couple of Japan-related blog events here. If you missed the previous post and you're not sure what I'm talking about, go ahead now and read it. I'll wait....

Ok, so now that we're all on the same page... based on the initial response I've decided to try getting both the monthly Japan-related mini-challenge and the reading group/read along group running. I thought that since there is some interest for both, I might as well try and then I can always tweak things as we go along and find out what works and what doesn't. So I've thought a bit about the logistics and I'd love to know what you think. I'm completely open to ideas so do let me know if you think something might work better.

For the first group, the Japan-related mini-challenges, that will cover all variety of topics, I'm thinking to go ahead with a monthly topic that will be announced on the first of each month. Then whoever wants to join in will have a full month to do that month's task, post about it on their blog, and submit the link. At the end of the month I'll post a wrap-up post to highlight some of the blog posts submitted. The structure would be very much like Weekly Geeks except monthly instead of weekly.

The main problem is that I can't for the life of me think up a good name! So I'd like to ask your help. We need a name that would work for anything Japanese related, both literature and other things like film, traditional customs, etc.
The only thing I came up with was "Discovering Japan" which fits in with my "Reading Japan" label, but that's not a requirement, and it's not terribly exciting. Then jokingly I thought of "Let's Japan!" since there's so much incorrect English usage here but it's probably both condescending and not a good idea to propagate bad grammar. (No need to point out that my grammar isn't always perfect either!)  So please get your thinking caps on and suggest a name. And for a little motivation, if we end up using it for the monthly event, I'll buy you the Japanese literature book of your choice (from The Book Depository).

For the reading group, I think I'll go ahead with a bi-monthly group read, with any read-alongs running concurrently. I'm assuming (maybe incorrectly?) that most people won't join in both the current book group choice and the read-along at the same time, but even if they want to I think it would still be doable. I know I plan to.  My idea is that the schedules of the two would be independent of each other. So, for example, if we start the book group next month, we would have two months in which to read the book on our own and then we would convene sometime around the end of November to discuss the book. The next selection would then be discussed two months after that. The read along would probably last for 2, 3, 4 months depending on the length of the book. As an example, I Am a Cat was originally published in 3 volumes so that could be pretty easily divided into 3 months, or even longer if people wanted. In that scenario I'd probably post an update for each section, therefore a post a month. The books haven't been chosen yet, this is just to give an example.

So I have a couple of questions.

1) Would you prefer to have the reading group discussion on the same day every two months (ie. November 25th, January 25th, etc.), or the same day of the week (such as the last Friday of the month in question)? And equally would you prefer the discussion to be near the beginning, middle or end of the month. I've given examples at the end but that's not at all set in stone.

2) Here are the suggestions so far of books to read (click on the covers to read the blurbs at Amazon):
A Quiet Life by Kenzaburo Oe
The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki

I think the last two would probably be better as read-alongs since they're both on the long side. Are you interested in reading, or discussing any of those? Are there any others you'd like to suggest? I can put up a poll, or else we can just decide informally this time for the first book(s) but then have proper submissions later once we get rolling.

I also don't really have any creative name ideas for the reading group, but figure we can always just go with something typical, like these possibilities:
Reading Japan Book Group (I'll probably keep the "Reading Japan" label that I've been using so far as the overall category with each reading event a sub-category).
Japanese Literature Reading Group (The reason I originally went with "Reading Japan" for my own perpetual reading project was because I also read books about Japan by non-Japanese authors, but we'd probably be reading Japanese authors for the most part for the group, right?)

However, the same goes here, if you can think up a better name for the reading group that we end up using, I'll treat you to a Japanese literature book of your choice.

For the read-alongs I'd probably just use the book's title, like the I Am a Cat Read-along. And once the names are all decided on I'll make up some buttons.

As for the short story feature I mentioned in the previous post, I'd still like to try it but I think I'll wait a couple of months and then try to incorporate it in with the general reading group, perhaps choosing a specific collection to read through week by week.

I've never hosted a reading group or a mini-challenge or anything before so I really do appreciate your input.  I look forward to reading some great books, and discussing all things Japan with you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sunday Salon: Are you interested in Japan? -- Your Input Needed

What a busy week this was, with work and after work plans and of course, BBAW.  I wish I could've participated in BBAW more than I did, but it's been fun to find new blogs to read, and catch up on some of the posts I missed during the week.  Needless to say, with everything I had going on this past week, I didn't get very much reading done.  The collection of Poe's writings has been largely ignored, but I have started Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur which I'm buddy reading with Wendy.   I am only a few chapters in so far but I hope to spend some time with it tonight.

So instead of talking about my reading this week, I'd really like to get your input on some ideas I've had for my blog.  I hinted at some new content in my BBAW:  Setting Goals post on Friday, and what I've been thinking of fits in with my earlier decision to have more of a Japanese focus on my blog.
But let me say right off the bat that I would never want to detract from Bellezza's wonderful Japanese Literature Challenge. She's a fantastic hostess and I hope she continues to host this challenge for many years to come. The ideas I've had would simply be optional extra events for those interested in perhaps going beyond the books.

The first idea I've been toying with is starting a kind of discussion group or event to talk about Japanese literature and culture.  Inspired largely by Dewey's Weekly Geeks, and the Read-a-thon mini-challenges, I thought it might be fun to have a monthly(?) topic relating to Japanese literature and culture, with a fun task for you to do.  Some possible topics/tasks could be: to go out for Japanese food, or make something at home and report back with photos or recipes, to watch a Japanese film and tell us about it, to read a manga, to make an origami crane, whatever really.  Anyone who wanted to join in could write up a post on their own blog, and submit the link, or simply chat about it in the comments on the dedicated post here.

Or it could just be a central place to talk a little about what Japanese lit we've been reading that month.  Or if anyone had a specific question about some aspect of Japan, we could use that as our starting point for a discussion, say, on cultural differences, or some seasonal custom, for example. I'm certainly no expert on Japan, and in some ways my experiences here have been somewhat limited, but I'd be happy to share more of what my life here has exposed me to, and for the rest we could hopefully learn more about this fascinating country together. It would also give you a chance to have a little taste of Japan no matter where you are. And there would be little prizes.

 The second idea is ... well, first let me ask you this ... Have you ever read a Japanese literature novel and wondered about some of the customs described in the book?  Or not completely understood something and wished you could talk about it with someone else? You know the Japanese are famous for their subtle, open-ended novels.

Mark David recently mentioned that it would be nice to start up some discussions on books that we've read in common for the Japanese Literature Challenge.  I agree, and although there are already several online reading groups, I wonder if there would be interest in a very casual group that would read and discuss some Japanese literature books together.  Maybe bi-monthly(?) and nothing too formal.  Just a chance to meet in one place, as it were, to chat about a book, to ask any questions about cultural aspects that are unfamiliar, have a spoiler thread so we could talk about the ending if we wanted to, and so on.  We could start out with books that a lot of people have already read, such as The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, which already has several reviews over at the JLit Challenge review site, and perhaps graduate to some other books later on. Like for my Reading Japan Project, I'm open to reading books set in Japan by non-Japanese authors as well.  I've been wanting to read The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak every since Nymeth's glowing review so that could be a choice too. 

This book group style would work for shorter books but the other possibility is a kind of read-along.  I recently found out that Matt of A Guy's Moleskine Notebook is already hosting a Tale of Genji Read-Along, which I regret missing out on, but maybe there are some other books that you would like to read together at a slower pace, and by reading them together encourage each other on. I know I keep putting off reading I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki because I have the complete 3 volumes in 1 version and it's quite the chunkster, or I wouldn't mind re-reading The Pillow Book, or Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, or any number of Japanese novels that might be more rewarding to read and discuss with others. 

I also know that everyone is busy, and committing to read a specific book can be difficult to do so I was thinking that perhaps the occasional group reads could be interspersed with other themed reading, such as having a short story month where you choose the story you want to read, or to read any book by a certain author, or books set in a certain time period, or... well, you get the idea.

Along similar lines, Kristen M. at We Be Reading's Poe Fridays also made me wonder about possibly doing a regular Japanese short story feature, perhaps reading one story a week, or one every two weeks.  Haruki Murakami has several short stories, for example. I wonder if reading one story a week might be too restricting though, or too slow of a pace; perhaps the straight-forward reading group method would be better?

So as you can see I haven't figured out the details yet, or even which of these ideas would work best, so that is where you come in.  Please please let me know what you think, even if it's to say that you have no interest whatsoever.  Don't hesitate to be honest because I'd rather know now if there's no point going forward with any of this. Or if one idea has more interest, I'd rather pursue that one. And if you have any other suggestions or ideas, I'd love to hear them. I'll still be reading, reviewing and highlighting Japanese literature here, along with my other reading, regardless if this gets off the ground or not.  Plus, now that it's cooler and I actually feel like leaving the house sometimes, I plan to start posting more photos again with perhaps a regular 'Views of Japan' or 'Everyday Japan' feature, or something like that.

So, as the Japanese might say ikagadeska - what do you think?  If you'd rather not get into it in the comments, please feel free to email me (inspringthedawn at gmail dot com). 

I suppose you'd also like to know who is the lucky winner of a copy of Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe, courtesy of Alma Books.  Sorry for making you wade through the rest of this post to get here. Thanks to everyone who entered and tweeted.  I enjoyed reading your answers to the question I posed about the fictional characters or real women that you admire.  The answers ranged from family, to famous historical figures to beloved fictional characters, and if you're interested you can read everyone's replies in the comments section on the giveaway post. Well, I added up all the extra entries, and then with a little help of, we have a winner. And the winner is ...

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did, Eva.  Please let me know your mailing address so that I can pass it on to Alma Books, and then hopefully the book will be on its way to you very soon.

If you didn't win today, don't despair as Buy a Friend a Book Week is coming up in the first week of October, and you'll have another chance to choose a book then.

Also a reminder that you still have until Tuesday to enter my giveaway for two mysteries.  Have a great week everyone, and don't forget to have your say on these ideas.  Thanks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

BBAW: Setting Goals

Tell us, and this is really important, in 50 words or less what you love best about your blog! And then in 50 words or less where you want your blog to be by the next BBAW!

I'm pretty happy with my current look but have to admit that seeing so many beautiful blogs during BBAW has made me a little tempted to change things again. I also like to think my reviews have improved over time and hope they continue to do so.

My main goal for the near future is to add some new, interesting content relating to Japanese literature and culture. I've been toying with some, I think fun, ideas that I hope to ask for your input on very soon. Stay tuned!

Work and life kept me from fully participating this week but I'm so glad to have been a part of it. Congratulations to all the Award winners, all the shortlisted and nominated blogs and all those other wonderful blogs out there that make up this great community of readers.  Plus a very big thank you to Amy for the vision and hours of hard work to make Book Blogger Appreciation Week such a fantastic event!

Also, a reminder that today is the last day to enter the giveaway for a fantastic historical fiction novel.  Have you entered yet?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BBAW Giveaway #2: in a mystery mood

I had a look at my giveaway box and decided to offer up a couple of mysteries this time around.  Best Intentions by Emily Listfield, and Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman. Both books have been read once by me, but they both still look almost like new. Best Intentions is a hardback; Every Secret Thing is a mass market paperback. For more info on the books, click on the book covers below to read about them at Amazon. You can read my reviews of the books by clicking on the titles above.

To enter, your comment must include all of the following, or it won't be counted:
1) The title of the book you'd like to win. You can enter for both but in that case please indicate order of preference.
2) Your answer to: What is the best mystery you've read this year?  (It can be crime/suspense/cozy/hard-boiled/whatever - I define the genre very loosely).    
3) Your email address, unless it's easily visible on your blog.

The giveaway is open worldwide and you have until Tuesday, September 22nd to enter. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Thank you for entering. This giveaway is now closed. The winners will be announced soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Interview - Part II

I had the pleasure of being paired up with Jessica of The Bluestocking Society for the Interview Swap. Inspired by Nymeth and Chris's recent Nerds Heart YA discussion, we decided to conduct the interview conversation-style. Even with the big time difference, we managed to get online at the same time last week and it was a lot of fun chatting together in almost real time. We've split our conversation into two sections so before continuing, if you haven't yet, please go over to The Bluestocking Society to read part one of our interview. Then come back here to read the second half.

Jessica: What are some blogging challenges you've faced?

Nat: I know what you mean about HTML. I was so pleased with myself the first time I managed to customize my template by myself! LOL. I agree, I think my biggest challenge is finding the time to do everything - post on my blog, comment on other blogs, join in this or that event. Sometimes I wonder if I would've started if I'd known how it would take over my life, but I can't imagine quitting now. I enjoy it too much!

A slightly different topic, has your taste in books, or how you read, changed since you started your blog?

Jessica: Ah, the wonderful world of templates. So many headaches! Well, let's see. We certainly can't have a BBAW interview without talking a little about books. I tend to read mostly literary fiction and YA. I think my taste in books has remained largely the same since I started blogging and tracking my reading. But I have noticed that I can more easily identify books that I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy. I think that stems both from having to write down and post my thoughts about the books I read and from reading other bloggers' reviews.

You seem to review mostly Japanese-centric books. Does that stem from a love of the genre or a sense of place or both? Has your taste in books changed since you started blogging?

Nat: I decided to focus a bit more on Japanese-centric books lately, mostly out of a desire to read and learn more about this place that I currently call home. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with Japan but it's a fascinating place so I'm trying to read about it while I'm here.

I don't think my taste in books has changed too much since I started blogging but blogging has certainly introduced me to books that I may not have ever heard of, or tried, otherwise. I've come to trust the recommendations of some of my favourite bloggers and I can be pretty susceptible to blogger buzz. My wish list and TBR pile have definitely grown rather out of control since I started blogging, but I know I'm not alone in this. I think we can all relate to wish lists a mile long because of blogger recommendations.

You wrote on your About Page: "I am trying, relatively unsuccessfully, to cure myself of my book-buying habit." That made me smile because even though I'm trying to cut down, I have a book-buying addiction myself. Do you buy a lot of books?

Jessica: I can't even think about my TBR pile, either the real one or the electronic one! This blogging thing definitely adds to my wishlist on a daily basis. And, yes, I buy a lot of books. A lot of books. There seems to be no cure and too much temptation. There is a Borders located around the corner from my office, there are several good used and independent book stores in nearby Salt Lake, and the internet is always lurking nearby. I just love having books around. In fact, even though I do use the library quite a bit, I often end up buying the books I borrowed so I can have them in my collection!

How is the book-buying situation in Japan? Do you have good access to books in English?

Nat: I love owning books too! Much to the dismay of the moving guys who had to carry all of them when we moved this summer. Japanese apartments tend to be small, but my husband has accepted that the books go where I go!

As for the book situation in Japan, all I can say is thank goodness for online bookstores and internet shopping! Living in Tokyo, some of the larger bookstores do have English books, but they tend to be more expensive. So I'll browse at one every so often but I do most of my book buying online. I went a little book-buying mad when we were living in England though and I still have books that I bought there but haven't read. I could never stop buying books entirely but I have been sticking to a monthly budget this year which has helped slow down my acquisition rate some.

So, what is the best book (or books, if you can't narrow it down) that you've read so far this year?

Jessica: Yes, the budget is a good idea. I think the budget will be more effective at reigning in my book buying next year when we have an additional mouth to feed and buy books for! Ah, the dreaded and adored question of best books. I've had a pretty good reading year so far. Lots of three- and four-star books, but five have stood out as five-star books: Book by Book, by Michael Dirda, Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski, and Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. I don't think I could pick a favorite from those, because I liked them all for very different reasons. I will say that each of those five books was recommended to me by another blogger. Huzzah for book blogging.

What about you, Nat? What are the best books you've read this year?

Nat: You're going to have so much fun buying books for the baby! I actually haven't rated any books with five-stars this year, but I think I'm rather stingy with my ratings. I've had a few four-and-a-half star ones though and three that stand out as being especially memorable are: Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe. Me reading the last two is definitely a result of blogging, and I was encouraged to finally read the first one because of a reading challenge, so huzzah from me too!

OK, one last question. How would you complete this sentence?
There's nothing I like better ....

Jessica:  . . . than a rainy day, a good book, and a cup of hot chocolate, with my husband nearby and my trusty beagle at my feet. :)

Nat:  For me I think it would be... there's nothing I like better ... than curling up with a good book on a cold, winter day, with no distractions, a mug of hot tea beside me, and a cat snoozing nearby. Ideally it would also be snowing outside and there would be a wood fire crackling in the fireplace. Considering it almost never snows in Tokyo, and we don't have a fireplace, that part of it is not very likely to come true for me in the near future, but I can dream!

Jessica:  Ooh. Our answers are very similar! There's plenty of snow here in Utah in the winter, so you'll have to come on over and read here sometime. And, just for the record, it rarely rains, really rains, here in Utah, so maybe we just want what we don't have.

Nat:  That's probably true. I still miss snow, it's the Canadian in me, so I just might have to take you up on that!  Thanks so much for chatting with me Jessica. I really enjoyed getting to know you better, and I wish you all the best with your pregnancy!

Jessica:  Thank you, Nat. It's always nice to get to know the people behind the blogs! Have a fabulous BBAW!

I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as we did putting it together. Visit the Book Blogger Appreciation Week site for more BBAW Interviews.

Monday, September 14, 2009

BBAW Giveaway #1: Beyond the Blossoming Fields

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember that I recently read and loved Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe, a historical fiction novel based on the true story of the woman who became Japan's first official female doctor. (For any new visitors who haven't already seen it, here's my review.) Well, Alma Books has kindly agreed to send a copy of Beyond the Blossoming Fields to one of my readers.

As a young girl from a wealthy family, Ginko Ogino seems set for a conventional life in the male-dominated society of nineteenth-century Japan. But when she contracts gonorrhoea from her husband, she suffers the ignominy of divorce. Forced to bear the humiliation of being treated by male doctors, she resolves to become a doctor herself in order to treat fellow female sufferers and spare them some of the shame she had to endure.

Her struggle is not an easy one: her family disown her, and she has to convince the authorities to take seriously the idea of a female doctor, and allow her to study alongside male medical students and sit the licensing exam.

Based on the real-life story of Ginko Ogino – Japan’s first female doctor – Beyond the Blossoming Fields does full justice to the complexity of her character and her world in a fascinating and inspirational work of fiction.
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (with your email address if it's not readily visible on your blog).

Optional, for one extra point each,
1) tell us about another strong female character (real or fictional) that you admire.
2) tweet or blog about this giveaway and then make sure to let me that you've done so. (Please include @tanabata2000 in your tweet).

The giveaway is open worldwide and will be open for the duration of BBAW.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, September 19th. Good luck!

Thank you to everyone who entered.  This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been announced.

BBAW: Sharing the Love

The first day of BBAW, Monday September 14th, we encourage you to write a post thanking and spotlighting your favorite blogs that didn’t make the shortlists.

It's impossible to list all of my favourite blogs, but here are just a few of them.

Best General Review Blog
bookgirl's nightstand - Iliana reads a variety of fiction, and whether it's historical fiction, mysteries, contemporary fiction, or you get the idea, I've written down countless titles after hearing about them on her blog.

Musings of a Bookish Kitty - In addition to her great reviews, she has been, and remains, one of my biggest blogging inspirations. I know I've certainly stolen borrowed several of her ideas, and I admire the rapport, and loyalty, she's established with her readers.

Best Literary Fiction Review Blog
kiss a cloud - Claire reads such a great selection of books and isn't afraid to tackle the weighty ones, ones that I'd like to read but that tend to send me cowering in the corner. She also has a beautiful site that is truly a joy to visit.

Lotus Reads - Lotus reads some fabulous international literature, and often introduces books that I hadn't heard of before. She doesn't post as regularly as she used to but every time she does I'm pretty much guaranteed to add another book to my wish list.

Best Cultural Review Blog
Color Online - I'm new to this blog, having just discovered it through BBAW, but I'm surprised it wasn't shortlisted for this category, and I'll definitely be back.

Best Reviews
Absorbed in Words - I only discovered this blog recently, thanks to the Japanese Literature Challenge, but Mark David is passionate about reading and writes wonderful, thoughtful reviews.

Best Challenge Host
Dolce Bellezza - It's thanks to her incredible enthusiasm about Japanese Literature that the challenge keeps growing each year, not to mention her generosity. She also makes fantastic origami!

Most Chatty
Bookfoolery and Babble - Chatting about what's going on in her life is an essential part of Nancy's posts and I love them for it. We often have different taste in books, but I still want to read every post for her witty, amusing take on the world around her. Plus she's also a fabulous photographer!

The Written World - Kailana is so friendly and chatty, she makes everyone feel welcome, and she reads a crazy amount of books, so it's always fun to see what she's been up to.

I could go on but I'm going to stop there.  I love a lot of blogs (you should see the state of my Google Reader), and while I've been rather remiss about visiting, or commenting when I do visit, these last few months, I hope you know that even though I can't list everyone here today, I appreciate you all. Thank you for sharing your love of books, your lives, and everything else with us, the book blogging community is a much better place because of each and every one of you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Salon: in which very little reading takes place, but we have a winner

This is going to be a short Sunday Salon post because I haven't read anything all weekend! And in fact, this whole week has seen very little reading being accomplished. What with trying to make our apartment presentable for company coming next week, and trying to get stuff done for BBAW, and what seems like a gazillion other distractions, by the time I get to bed at night I can only manage a few pages, if that. I'd wager that I've only read a handful of pages all week. Sigh. But I'm slowly, very slowly, reading some of Poe's poems and stories and I'll do a proper Short Story Sunday post once I've read a few more of them.

I think I might start Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir & Damien Lewis this week, and read it alongside the Poe. I've been meaning to read it for awhile, and if I finish it by the end of the month, I'll be able to complete the Non-Fiction Five Challenge. I'm pretty sure BBAW will take up a lot of my free time this coming week but I do have a fair bit of commuting ahead of me this week so hopefully I'll still be able to read a little more than last week.

Thank you to everyone who entered my Japanese Literature Giveaway. I announced the giveaway before the BBAW Awards shortlist came out, which I never ever dreamed I'd be on, but what a great way to celebrate by buying one of you a book in the category that got me there. But you don't want to hear about that, you want to know who won. So without further ado, and with a little help from, the winner of a Japanese Literature title of their choice is ... Frances, who asked for Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.  This was one of the best books I read last year.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Please let me know your mailing address and whether you'd prefer the US edition (left) or the UK edition (right).  Then, I'll get the book sent out to you as soon as possible.

If you didn't win this time, all is not lost. I'll be having a couple more giveaways over the next few days for Book Blogger Appreciation Week so be sure to check back for more chances to win. Actually, I'll give you a hint.  The giveaway I'll be announcing tomorrow is for a book that a few of you were wishing for.  Happy BBAW everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Paprikaby Yasutaka Tsutsui
(Original title: パプリカ)
Science Fiction, 1993 (English translation, 2009)
Alma Books, trade pb, 341 p.
Translated from the Japanese by Andrew Driver
When prototype models of a device for entering into patients’ dreams go missing at the Institute for Psychiatric Research, it transpires that someone is using them to manipulate people’s dreams and send them insane. Threatened both personally and professionally, brilliant psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba has to journey into the world of fantasy to fight her mysterious opponents.

As she delves ever deeper into the imagination, the borderline between dreams and reality becomes increasingly blurred, and nightmares begin to leak into the everyday realm. The scene is set for a final showdown between the dream detective and her enemies, with the subconscious as their battleground, and the future of the waking world at stake.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Best posts: Cultural Review Blog nomination

PhotobucketThere's been some discussion on Twitter, and elsewhere, about how the judges came to their decisions regarding the shortlists for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards. As you may know, all the nominated blogs were asked to submit 5 blog posts that they think best represent their blog in that particular category, and it is these posts that the judges considered. I like Natasha's idea to share these with you, so here are the posts that I submitted, with a little input from my regular readers, as best representing In Spring it is the Dawn for the category of Best Cultural Review Blog.

Reading Japan: 2008 - A wrap-up post of my Japan-themed reading in 2008.

Celebrating Japanese Literature - The post in which I discuss my plan to focus more on Japanese literature here on my blog, and some of the Japanese literature books I'd like to read in the near future.

My book review of After Dark by Haruki Murakami.

My book review of The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki.

My book review of A Geisha's Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice by Komomo.

Also under consideration was my review of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, and if I'd reviewed it in time I probably would have submitted this review of Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe.

And there you have it. Thanks again for the huge honour of being nominated, and good luck to all the shortlisters! I know I'm looking forward to discovering some great new blogs as I go through the awards list. Here is the full list of shortlisted blogs, and the voting booth. Happy voting, everyone!

What a surprise!

The BBAW Awards shortlists have been announced and yours truly, In Spring it is the Dawn, is there in the category of Best Cultural Review Blog! Wow! I never ever expected to be shortlisted! There must've been only 5 nominations for that category, right?
But to whoever nominated me --- Thank you! Thank you!! I'm truly thrilled, and I look forward to sharing more Japanese literature with you in the coming months.

Congratulations to all the shortlisters! And a huge thank you to Amy for all her hard work in getting this special week off the ground.

Now go vote for your favourite book blogs.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Salon: August in Review

This week I finished reading Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa and I have to admit I was a little disappointed with it. It was a huge best-seller in Japan and has been made into a movie, a TV series, and even a manga. I'm curious how they filmed it so I might try to see the film sometime and see if that alters my perception of the story at all. Still, it was a quick read and a nice way to pass the time commuting on the train. After finishing Be With You, I picked up The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe, which had just arrived from my recent Book Depository order. So far I've read the Introduction (being a complete newbie to Poe, it was interesting to learn a bit more about his life and his writing), a couple of poems, and the story M.S. Found in a Bottle, which was a bit odd.

I was supposed to read some more of Poe's stories today to join in with the R.I.P. Challenge Short Story Sundays, but instead I ended up reading Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi. Talk about completely different! The thought process went something like this though ... Gee, I still need to read 2 non-fiction books before the end of the month if I want to complete the Non-Fiction Five Challenge ... Do I have any short non-fiction titles? (looking at shelves) ... Oh yeah, what about Embroideries that I picked up in Canada last winter ... Let's just take a look and see how it compares to Persepolis ... (an hour or so later)... oh, that was a pretty good read! Oops. I actually kind of had it in mind to read during the next read-a-thon, as I've found graphic novels are great for when my eyes are getting tired and I can't concentrate as well, but I have some other graphic novels that I can just as easily save for then. This was definitely a good book to read right through in one sitting, and it kind of fit in with my August non-fiction reading about women's lives in Japan, so I'm glad I ended up reading it this weekend. As for Poe, I think I'll try to read a story a day this week, so hopefully I'll be able to chat about some of them next Sunday.

August was spent primarily in Japan, yes literally, but also book-wise. I started off the month reading the true stories of regular women in modern Japan, as they talked about their loves, their marriages, and their disappointments. Then I moved back in time to the late nineteenth century where I read about the many hardships and indignities Ginko Ogino had to suffer to become Japan's first licensed female doctor. After that I took a little break from Japan, and hopped over to England to find out what Nick Hornby had been reading, or not reading, over the last couple of years. Then I returned to Japan, to read about the differences in culture and lifestyle between Japan and the US. And finally, I ended the month in a bizarre place that resembled Tokyo, where a beautiful psychotherapist had to travel into the world of dreams to fight her enemies, and save the city from some disturbingly real nightmares. What a surreal ride that was!

Books completed:
(click on the title to read my review, click on the book covers below for more information on the books themselves)
42. Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman - Sumie Kawakami
43. Beyond the Blossoming Fields - Jun'ichi Watanabe
44. Shakespeare Wrote for Money - Nick Hornby
45. Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures - Kyoko Mori
46. Paprika - Yasutaka Tsutsui (review pending)

New-to-me authors: 4
Books in Translation: 3

My favourite book of the month is Beyond the Blossoming Fields. It was well-written, engaging and I really enjoyed learning about Japan's first woman doctor and some of the changes the country was undergoing at the time. However, even though that was my favourite, I enjoyed everything I read in August. I found much to agree with in the non-fiction titles and I was especially glad to read the impressions of Japanese women, from the source as it were. Nick Hornby's reading adventures are always a pleasure, and Paprika was the perfect way to lighten the mood after the more serious topics. So all in all, it was quite a good month.

Books in: 8
Books out: 0
I'm trying to be good but I just had to buy a couple of Japanese titles and then a few books that I can't wait to read for the R.I.P. IV Challenge.

The Year of Readers: Reading for the Book Wish Foundation.
Money raised this month: $13
Total raised to date: $129

Reading Challenges Progress Report
(see sidebar for current challenges)
Non-Fiction Five Challenge (May 1 - September 30, 2009): 3/5
Dewey's Books Reading Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 3/5
Lost in Translation Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 13/6
Orbis Terrarum Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 6/10
World Citizen Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 2/3
What's in a Name? 2 Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 5/6
Herding Cats II: Attach of the Hairballs (until Dec. 31, 2009): 2
1% Well-Read Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 0/10
Manga Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 6/6
Graphic Novels Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 2/6
ARC Reading Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 13 read, 6 to go
Everything Austen Challenge (July 1, 2009 - Jan. 1, 2010): 1/6
Japanese Literature Challenge 3 (July 30, 2009 - Jan. 30, 2010): 3/1
Canadian Book Challenge 3 (July 1, 2009 - July 1, 2010): 1/13

Long-term Reading Projects (Total read in 2009)
Reading Japan Project: 14 (including manga, 4 in August)
Orange Prize Project: 0

Reading plans for September
I hope to read one more non-fiction title for that challenge, but otherwise I'm very much looking forward to, and in the mood for, some R.I.P., autumn-type reads. I have quite a few that I really want to read so the only problem will be in choosing which ones. Now if only the weather would co-operate; I'm so ready for summer to be over.

What books are you most looking forward to reading this autumn?

Have a good week, and if you haven't already, don't forget to enter my Japanese Literature Giveaway. Happy reading!

Friday, September 04, 2009

'Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures'

Polite Liesby Kyoko Mori
Non-Fiction/Essays/Biography, 1997
Henry Holt, hardback, 257 p.
Kyoko Mori’s life falls into two halves: childhood in Japan, adulthood in the Midwest. In both places she has been an outsider, unable to quite mimic everyone’s polite lies. In twelve penetrating, painful, and at times hilarious essays, she explores the codes of silence, deference, and expression that govern Japanese and American women’s lives.
Throughout, Mori examines the paradox at the center of her own life: she is too Japanese to trust irrational feelings such as love or grief and too American to live a life built on denying them.

Standing in this painful place of perfect honesty, Mori explores the ties that bind us to family and the lies that keep us apart, the rituals of mourning that make death human, and the images of the body that make sex seem foreign to Japanese women and ever-present to Americans.

In Polite Lies Mori has created essays with the power of autobiography. In her hands, one woman’s life is a mirror of two very different cultures.
I picked this up on a sale table in Munro’s in Victoria quite a few years ago so I’m glad the Non-Fiction Five challenge motivated me to finally read it, as it proved to be a very interesting look at the differences between two very distinct cultures. The author was born in Japan but has spent the majority of her adult life in the American Midwest. Having spent half of her life in one country and half in another (when this book was published in 1997 she had apparently spent exactly 20 years in one, 20 in the other), she brings to these essays the perspective of someone who has truly experienced both cultures on a personal level.

She had a difficult, traumatic childhood, which has no doubt influenced her feelings toward Japan, and some things have changed in the thirty odd years since she left Japan, and in the ten years since the book was published, but much of what she described is still relevant today. I’ve only lived in Japan for about 9 years now, off and on, however, growing up in Canada and now living in Japan, married to a Japanese man, I could certainly understand many of the cultural differences discussed in the book, and I found myself often nodding in agreement with what she had to say.

As often seems to happen when I read non-fiction about Japan, it left me feeling a little bit blue about some aspects of Japanese society. Of course no country is perfect, or without issues, but it reinforced again some of the reasons why we don’t plan to settle here permanently. Still, it was a very worthwhile read, and it was especially enjoyable to read about Japan through the author’s eyes and her experiences. Whether she was talking about language, education, rituals, safety, or health, her personal anecdotes made the essays highly readable. Recommended.
For me, crowded trains are the ultimate metaphor for Japanese society. Standing or sitting shoulder to shoulder, people sleep together, and yet they won’t make eye contact or start casual conversations. There is a forced closeness that doesn’t lead to true intimacy, communication, or even contact. Trains are also models of punctuality and orderliness – the high standard of Japanese discipline I was taught in grade school and rebelled against. (p. 236)
Buy this book at: | | | |

My Rating: 4/5
(#45 for 2009, Non-Fiction Five Challenge, World Citizen Challenge, Reading Japan Project)

Also reviewed at:
Naked Without Books!
If you've reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Japanese Literature Giveaway

Do Not Disturb, © Yoshitomo Nara

I meant to get this up yesterday but you don't want to hear about my killer headache or the other events that have conspired to keep me away from the computer. So, let's talk giveaway! In conjunction with the 3rd Japanese Literature Challenge, and my own personal Reading Japan Project, I'd like to have a few Japanese-themed giveaways over the next few months. And what better way to usher in the autumn season than by offering a book to a blog friend, just because.

The prize: A Japanese literature title of your choice*.
Is there a Japanese literature title that you have been wanting to read but haven't yet got your hands on? Well, now is your chance! It can be fiction, or non-fiction, manga, whatever, but it must be Japanese (in translation of course, unless you can read Japanese, then feel free to choose a Japanese language version).

To enter, simply leave a comment below with the title and author of the book you'd like to read, and please include your email address if it's not easily visible on your blog. (If you need some ideas, check out the list of suggested reads at Bellezza's blog.)

The giveaway is open worldwide, and you do not have to be a participant of the Japanese Literature Challenge 3, although we'd love to have you join us!

Please submit your title by midnight JST (GMT +9) on September 12th. The winner will be announced on Sunday, the 13th. Good luck!

*The small print: Since it defeats the purpose of a Japanese literature giveaway, non-Japanese literature titles will be disqualifed. The book must be readily available to purchase online (no out-of-print books) as it will be coming from The Book Depository.

*Thank you to everyone for entering.  This giveaway is now closed*