Note: I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon this Saturday, October 18th, but I will not be posting any updates here.
When I'm not reading or cheering, I'll be hanging out on Twitter and Instagram. Come say hi!

Monday, June 28, 2010

JLit Book Group Discussion: 'Silence' by Shusaku Endo

Welcome to the Japanese Literature Book Group discussion of Silence by Shusaku Endo.

About the author

Shusaku Endo"Shusaku Endo (遠藤 周作) was born in Tokyo in 1923, but his parents moved shortly after to live in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. When his parents divorced in 1933, Endo returned to Japan with his mother to live in her hometown of Kobe. His mother converted to Catholicism when he was a small child and raised the young Endo as a Catholic. Endo was baptized in 1935 at the age of 12 and given the Christian name of Paul.

Endo studied French literature at the University of Lyon from 1950 to 1953. His books reflect many of his childhood experiences. These include the stigma of being an outsider, the experience of being a foreigner, the life of a hospital patient, and the struggle with tuberculosis. However, his books mainly deal with the moral fabric of life. His Catholic faith can be seen at some level in all of his books, and it is often a central feature. Most of his characters struggle with complex moral dilemmas, and their choices often produce mixed or tragic results."

Do Nothing But Read Day

Yesterday was Do Nothing But Read Day, for which I signed up kind of at the last minute.  As I expected, I couldn't set aside the whole day but I did manage some quality sofa time in the afternoon chilling out with some books.

What did I read?  Well, since it's manga month for the June Hello Japan! mini-challenge, I finally took volume 9 and volume 10 of the Emma series by Kaoru Mori off the shelf to read.  It was so fun to catch up with these characters, and especially to see Emma and William's big day!  I'm sad now though knowing that there are no more stories to look forward to.  Reading these last two volumes in the series definitely made me want to go back and read them all again, which I'm sure I will do at some point.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Japanese Literature Challenge 4 (and updated JLit Book Group/Read-along schedule)

I've been very remiss in not posting earlier about the Japanese Literature Challenge, hosted once again by the lovely Bellezza. This fourth round of the challenge began on June 1st and runs to January 31st, 2011. My own Japanese literature reading has become a year-round project but there is still no way I would miss out on this challenge. It's a great opportunity to share our JLit experiences, and I especially love hearing about and discovering many new Japanese literature titles to add to my growing list. For information on signing up, click on the button or the link above.  To see what the other participants are reading, check out the Japanese Literature Challenge 4 review site.

Friday, June 25, 2010

'Pillow Book' Friday: Week Thirteen (Endearingly lovely things and Enviable People)

The 
Pillow BookThis week we're looking at entries 141 to 160 in the McKinney translation of The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon.  As always, I've included the corresponding entry numbers in the Morris version too though, when possible, for anyone reading along with that version.  For more information on the different translations, please visit the 'Pillow Book' Friday page. Don't hesitate to jump in anytime, whether you've read along from the start, or not.  Or if you're not reading along because you've read the book previously. It's the kind of book that can easily be dipped into here and there, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on Sei's rants and musings.

Week Thirteen
McKinney: Entries 141 - 160 (p. 148 - 163)
Morris: Entries 97 - 110 (p. 168 - 181)

Monday, June 21, 2010

What I've been reading

Sorry I disappeared for the past week. Weather, and headaches, and other random daily life events conspired to keep me off the computer. Since I haven't managed to participate in the Sunday Salon recently, I thought I'd take part in the It's Monday, What are you reading? meme, which is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, to catch you up on what I've been reading.

To be honest it's been a pretty slow month so far, but I have been reading a little bit. Last week I started reading Silence by Shusaku Endo for the Japanese Literature Book Group discussion coming up soon on June 28th.  I'm enjoying it as it's a fascinating episode in Japan's history.  I'm over halfway now so I should have no problem finishing it up this week.

Monday, June 14, 2010

NYC: Central Park

Central Park

Of the few famous sightseeing spots we visited in New York, Central Park was my favourite. TV shows and movies always seem to focus on the dangerous side of Central Park so it was nice to discover just what a lovely refuge the park is! I'd love to see it in autumn.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

'Pillow Book' Friday: Week Twelve (Sei gets emotional)

The 
Pillow BookI know it's not Friday but let's just pretend it still is, ok?   So, this week we're looking at entries 121 to 140 in the McKinney translation of The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon.  As always, I've included the corresponding entry numbers in the Morris version too though, when possible, for anyone reading along with that version.  For more information on the different translations, please visit the 'Pillow Book' Friday page. Don't hesitate to jump in anytime, whether you've read along from the start, or not.  Or if you're not reading along because you've read the book previously. It's the kind of book that can easily be dipped into here and there, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on Sei's rants and musings.

Week Twelve
McKinney: Entries 121 - 140 (p. 127 - 148)
Morris: Entries 81 - 96 (p. 145 - 168)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

NYC: Times Square

I know I've been back from New York for a week and a half already but I'm only now finally over the worst of the jetlag and starting to get back in the swing of things. Yes, it's taken me this long to recover. Every day in New York was busy from morning to night and I guess I'm just not young anymore! So yes, jetlag is my excuse, and I'm sticking with it!

H and I arrived on the Saturday afternoon before Book Expo America, which gave us about 3 days to explore the city and check out some of the sights before the main bookish event. However, instead of doing all the sightseeing photos in one long post, I've decided to dole them out over the next couple of weeks. So watch out for those. And I've started putting together a BEA post so that'll be up soon too.

First up, one of the first places we saw (after the airport and our taxi ride into Manhattan, of course). Our hotel was just a couple of blocks around the corner from Times Square so it was the first place we headed after we got settled in. And nothing quite says New York and Times Square like the Naked Cowboy!

Monday, June 07, 2010

'The Big Sleep' by Raymond Chandler

Fiction, 1939
Penguin, mm pb, 254 p.
Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old Man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood’s two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA’s seedy backstreets, Marlowe’s got his work cut out – and that’s before he stumbles over the first corpse…
Raymond Chandler is recognized as having a strong influence on many of the detective stories written since, so I was curious to try a proper hard-boiled novel for myself, and The Classics Circuit Golden Age of Detective Fiction Tour was the perfect push to actually do so.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hello Japan! June mini-challenge: Manga

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.
June's Topic

Manga (漫画), literally translated, means "whimsical pictures", and the word first came into common usage in the late 18th century. However, modern manga originated in the Occupation (1945–1952) and post-Occupation years (1952–early 1960s), with such manga artists as Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy) and Machiko Hasegawa (Sazae-san).

In Japan people of all ages read manga, and it includes a wide range of subjects: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, horror, sexuality, and business/commerce, among others. Since the 1950s, manga have steadily become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry, representing a 406 billion yen market in Japan in 2007 (approximately $3.6 billion)*. Manga have also become increasingly popular worldwide, and outside of Japan, the term tends to refer specifically to Japanese comics.

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: May round-up

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge last month. May's Hello Japan! task was to appreciate Japanese sport, and/or Japanese athletes, and we had some great submissions. What with preparing for my trip to New York, being away for a week, and recovering (I'm still getting over the jetlag), I didn't end up posting anything for the May topic, but I love that those who did covered a variety of different sports!