Monday, August 09, 2010

What I've been reading

The Makioka SistersEven though it seems like summer will never end, this year is just flying by. August is well underway and all I can think is, how did that happen? I haven't posted what I've been reading since early last month so here are the books I've read over the last little while. Reading has been going in fits and starts for me this summer. I either get sucked into a book and ignore everything else to read. Or else I'll have days where I barely read at all. I blame the heat. And the humidity. But you don't want to hear me complain about the weather yet again.

I had a few reading commitments in July, so first up was reading a few short stories by Gogol for the Classics Circuit Imperial Russian Tour. (My post on Three Stories by Nikolai Gogol). Then I read Book One (of three) of The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki for the Japanese Literature Read-along. This is a re-read for me but so far I'm enjoying it just as much as the first time around. I've also been continuing with my slow re-read, of a few pages each week or so, of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, which largely inspired me to start this blog!

After those, one of the books that completely sucked me in was Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, which I read for the Japanese Literature Book Group discussion. Despite the book being about 600 pages long, it was really quite a fast read. The premise is similar to The Hunger Games but I found Battle Royale to be a deeper, more interesting, psychological story.

To be honest, the angsty, glossy, reality-show love triangle of The Hunger Games kind of annoyed me when I read it last fall. No need to throw stones, or tsk tsk in disbelief, I know I'm in the minority. However, Battle Royale put me totally in the mood for more dystopian lit so I finally picked up Catching Fire. It literally (ok, not LITERALLY, but you know what I mean) called out to me from the shelf where it has been sitting for a few months now. Whether it was all about the timing being right, or what, but I quite enjoyed it. It seemed less like just an angsty, glossy reality show love triangle. I'm even looking forward to Mockingjay now.

Luckily Catching Fire was also a fast read since I really didn't have time to stray off my reading schedule. So next up was my selection for the latest Spotlight Series on Graywolf Press, Shyness & Dignity by Dag Solstad. What a change of pace from fast-paced YA to sober literary fiction. Once I got a hang of the style of the writing though, it flowed along quite nicely. (My review of Shyness & Dignity).

My most recently finished book is How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway (my review of How to Be an American Housewife). I always seem to enjoy immigrant stories or those of different cultures coming together and this one definitely lived up to my expectations.

Currently I have a few chapters left in The Last Block of Harlem by Christopher Herz, and this week I need to pick The Makioka Sisters back up to read Book Two for the upcoming discussion. Also on deck is Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis, which I'm quite looking forward to.

Whew! So that's what I've been reading lately.
What have YOU been reading?

It's Monday, What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey


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  1. I hadn't heard of Battle Royale but it does sound a lot like the Hunger Games (which I enjoyed) - I'll have to check it out! Also love your blog header :)

    A Tapestry of Words

  2. The other day I finished "Anthropology of an American Girl" by Hilary Thayer Hamann and loved it. I hated to see it end, but have since moved slowly on to Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse."

  3. Hi!
    Sounds like you had a great reading week. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  4. wow...there's a lot of books in your list. I'm so glad you like Battle Royale. it's 600pages huh? hehehe I didn't realize that, I finish it in a week so I though it was less than 600pages.

    I want to read it again...but I want to do it when I finally found and then BOUGHT the book.

  5. We have very similar taste in books. I adore Russian Literature. One of the books I am reading is by Solzhenitsyn. I do not think I have ever read Japanese Literature which I need to remedy. Have a wonderful week reading. My Monday:

  6. I really wish I could have joined you guys for Battle Royale, but having to focus on my tbr pile until I move is limiting my options right now :\ I definitely hope to get to it at some point, though!

  7. I think I must be the only one in the blogging community who hasn't read Hunger Games yet!

    And I don't mind you complaining about the weather, I can only imagine what it must be like there, when I can barely deal with "the heat" in the Netherlands.

  8. Some great books there! Will you write a review of Battle Royale? It is a book I'm interested in reading at some point after reading other reviews of it, so I'm interested to hear your thoughts as well.

  9. Oh Catching Fire! The memories! :D

    How To Be An American Housewife sounds good!

  10. I love the books you are reading. I wish I could swap my pile for yours!!

    I am desperately lacking in Russian Lit at the moment. I have to seriously get some under my belt. I hope you have a great reading week.


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