Thursday, January 14, 2010

New 2010 schedule for the Japanese Literature Book Group and Read-alongs

Thank you to everyone who voted for which books you'd like to read together this year.  The poll is now closed and here are the final results:

I've put together a schedule incorporating all the top vote-getters, from Dance Dance Dance with 9 votes to The Sound of the Mountain with 5 votes.  This still left a couple of possible slots, but you'll notice that there were 5 books tied at 4 votes each.  Which to choose?  We'll be reading The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki so instead of Some Prefer Nettles also by Tanizaki, I decided to add The Temple of the Golden Pavilion and The Silent Cry because both of these books are by authors that we have not yet read together. This leaves the two books by Banana Yoshimoto, so I added her in as an extra summer read in which you can read either title from the poll, and we can discuss either or both of them.

Speaking of extra reads, I didn't realize it when I put together the poll from the nominations, but Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami is actually a sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase.  I haven't read either yet so I'd like to read A Wild Sheep Chase before Dance Dance Dance, and am happy to discuss it with anyone else who would like to do the same.  You'll also notice that I've put The Silent Cry as a two-month read-along even though it's not such a long book.  I've only read the first couple of pages but the writing seems dense and one that I think I could personally use some mutual cheerleading to read it so I hope you don't mind.  And on the flip side, I've put Battle Royale as a simple book group selection.  I realize that Battle Royale is a chunky book, and as such you might expect it to be a read-along divided into sections to be discussed along the way.  However, I have a feeling that it'll read fairly quickly, a discussion part-way would invariably include major spoilers, and the way the schedule stands we'll have almost two and a half months to read it.  I hope these considerations make sense. 

So without any further ado, here is the 2010 schedule for both the Japanese Literature Book Group and Read-along


Discussion begins on the last Monday of January, March, May*, July, September and November.

January 25th - The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

(March 10th - A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami)

March 29th - Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

May 10th - Silence by Shusaku Endo
*Please note that the date for May has been moved up from the last Monday to the second Monday.  I'm hoping to attend Book Expo America and if I do I won't be able to host the discussion at the end of the month. Sorry for any inconvenience.

July 26th - Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

August 30th - Goodbye Tsugumi and/or Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

September 27th - The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata

November 29th - The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima


Discussion begins on the 15th of each month that a read-along is scheduled.

February 15th I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume (Volume Three)

March 15th - The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Book One)

April 15th - The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Book Two)

May 15th - The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Book Three)

No read-along scheduled in June.

July 15th - The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (Book One)

August 15th - The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (Book Two)

September 15th - The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (Book Three)

October 15th - The Silent Cry - Kenzaburō Ōe (part 1)

November 15th - The Silent Cry - Kenzaburō Ōe (part 2)

No read-along scheduled in December.
(For specific page information, visit the Read-along page by clicking on the button, or the tab in the linkbar above.)

The Pillow BookAre you wondering where The Pillowbook of Sei Shōnagon is? I originally thought of adding it as a regular read-along and reading it over 3 months, but I think The Pillowbook, with its lists and diary-like entries, is the kind of book to savour slowly, so I propose an extra, leisurely read-along starting in February. Much like Kristen M.'s Poe Fridays, my idea is that each week we'll read 10 sections, and every Friday I'll put up a post about the week's reading. You wouldn't have to post each week yourself, you could simply stop by and let us know your thoughts. There are 297 sections, with a few supplementary ones, so 10 a week (with a couple weeks off in the spring for BEA, sorry) will take us pretty much to the end of September. Some entries are very short, others are a couple of pages long but I think 10 a week would be very manageable. How does that sound?

So, are you happy with these schedules?  Do let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  And as always, you are completely free to pick and choose whichever titles interest you.  There is no obligation to join in each time, although of course we'd love to have you.  I'm really looking forward to reading and discussing these books with you. Here's to a year of great Japanese literature!

The small print:  Links in this post to Amazon (including book cover) or The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively.  Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission.  For more information visit my About Page.


  1. Great list! I've just finished Wind-up Bird Chronicle, so look forward to taking part in that discussion.

    I've read Wild Sheep Chase and enjoyed it until the weird ending (Murakami can be relied upon for weird endings!) I haven't read Dance, Dance yet, so will try to read it along with you.

    I also have a copy of the Makioka Sister, so will ensure I read that along with you too.

    I love Japanese books, so am looking forward to discussing them all with you.

  2. I'll be joining you for "A Wild Sheep Chase" and "Dance Dance Dance" for sure. I've been wanting to read "Chase" for a long time now. I'm excited!

  3. It all sounds fineto me! I'm glad you've decided to add Oë and Mishima to the lis ;)

  4. I have added these all to my reading calendar for the year and will decide as I go along which I will participate in. I'm excited to read a bunch more Japanese Lit this year!

  5. I've read The Housekeeper and the Professor and hope to join the discussion. However, am still reading the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - hope fully will finish by March!
    Book Dilettante

  6. I just realized in the past weeks too that Dance3 is sequel to Wild Sheep Chase. I have Wild Sheep at home, but I don't think I can finish both books by the scheduled date, so I'll have to pass. (I don't wanna read them out of order)

    The Makioka Sisters is the one I'm gonna try to join. And since I loved Battle Royale, I look forward to just join the discussion ;)

  7. I'm really looking forward to reading Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance with you. Also, I've already read The Housekeeper and The Professor and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, so I'll be sure to participate in those discussions. I think you have a wonderful list lined up, Tanabata, and I'm already salivating. (So to speak. :)

  8. Great Selections-I will join in for every thing (except where I cannot buy the books here in Manila)-I read Dance Dance Dance recently and I do not really want to reread it so soon with so many of his other books unread-the same might also be true of Kitchen and Goodbye Tsugumi

  9. Seems like a sound schedule, Nat; I'm very excited! There are some book groups and read-alongs that I am particularly excited about and others that I shall decide nearer the time if I am joining in.
    First up though is Volume III of I Am a Cat and the first ten sections of The Pillow Book (seeing as I conveniently have a copy from you and have been itching to read it).

  10. I am completely new to Japanese Lit but I loved The Pillow Book (just finished) and am about to join in the Housekeeper and the Professor, so looking forward to following along in the future!

  11. I'll be joining in for the The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle! :)

  12. I've read The Makioka Sisters, Kitchen, Goodbye Tsugumi, The Sound of the Mountain, and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, so won't be rereading those except for The Sound of the Mountain which I might (as it was very long ago that I don't remember much of it).

    That said, I will read along, possibly, with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicel, and definitely with The Silent Cry.

  13. Jackie - Murakami can definitely be relied on for weird endings! I'm glad you'll be able to join in for some of the books. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them.

    Teresa - Me too! I've been wanting to read his earlier books for a while now and it'll be fun to discuss them with others.

    gnoegnoe - I thought it would be good to add a couple of different authors into the mix, so I'm glad you're glad. :)

    Kristen M. - Great! I'm excited to read more Japanese literature this year too! :)

    Book Dilettante - We'll just be starting The Wind-up Bird Chronicle in March so you still have time. :)

    mee - I'm sorry the schedule is too tight for you to read the two Murakami titles. I can understand you not wanting to read them out of order. I'm looking forward to discussing The Makioka Sisters and Battle Royale with you.

    Bellezza - I'm excited to finally read the two earlier Murakami titles, and re-read Wind-up Bird, and can't wait to hear your thoughts on them. :)

    mel u - That's absolutely fine, there's no need to re-read anything you've read previously. Feel free to just show for the discussions. I don't plan to re-read Kitchen either although I hope to read all the rest even the ones I've read before as it's been quite a while.

    Claire (Paperback Reader) - Yay, I'm glad you'll be joining in whenever you can, or feel inspired to. :)
    Yes, I need to start volume 3 of I Am a Cat myself soon.

    Rebecca - I hope you will discover some more enjoyable Japanese literature this year.

    Mark David - Great! I think it'll make for some interesting discussion.

    claire - Even if you're not re-reading, please come join the discussions if, or when, you feel like it. A couple will be re-reads for me but it's been a while so I'm looking forward to them too.


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