Monday, January 10, 2011

Holiday reading

My last reading check-in was just before Christmas so I thought I'd tell you a little about what I've been reading over the holidays and these last couple of weeks. Christmas was a fairly quiet affair, with the requisite Christmas cake. Plus to get in the Christmas mood, along with my yearly viewing of Love, Actually, I read David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice. Some of the stories in the collection were very chuckle-worthy, but others... well, let's just say they weren't quite to my taste. Click on the book cover to read my review. I'd like to try another book of his though to see if it was just this particular collection that didn't completely work for me. If you're a Sedaris fan, please suggest which one I should read next.

The year-end is the big celebration here in Japan, rather than Christmas, so we were away for a few days to spend the New Years holidays with the in-laws. They don't have internet (can you imagine!?) so I thought I'd get a fair bit of reading time in, but somehow that didn't quite happen. I blame Twitter (even without an internet connection, I still had my phone) and the distraction of visiting with family and friends. One highlight of this trip was meeting up with a fellow book lover who I met a few months ago on Twitter. It was so great to meet up in person and we had a really wonderful chat about books and life. Reading-wise, I did finally finish The Temple of the Golden Pavilion though, so that felt like an accomplishment in itself.

Musashino Hachimangu
Hatsumode (First shrine visit of the New Year) at Musashino Hachimangu, Kichijoji, Tokyo

After we got back early last week, we visited a local shrine for Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year, to pray for good health and success in the coming year. However, it didn't seem to work as a couple days later I ended up with yet another cold. (!) But on the positive side, it was the perfect opportunity to stay warm indoors, and curl up with a book, or two. So this weekend I did just that. On Saturday I finished Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau, which I had started earlier in the week. Despite the fact that the characters were all pretty selfish, I ended up quite liking them.

And on Sunday I settled in with a mug of tea and read through the very compelling novella, Sukkwan Island by David Vann. Sukkwan Island recently won the 2010 Prix Médicis étranger. To celebrate the fact that David Vann's first full-length novel, Caribou Island, is coming out later this month, right now, courtesy of Harper Collins, you can read Sukkwan Island for free via the following: Kobo | Sony | Amazon | and it should also be available for Nook, and on Apple's iBookstore if you do a search. If you like well-written, dark stories, with a fabulous sense of place, I recommend you check it out. What have you got to lose, after all?

I love discovering new-to-me writers and now I'm very much looking forward to reading Caribou Island, which I've got loaded on my e-reader and am just about to start.

I did wish you all a very Happy New Year already, but I do hope this Year of the Rabbit has started out well for you, hopefully with some good books!

What are you reading this week?

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

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  1. some great hoilday reading I m just starting Caribou island at moment ,all the best stu

  2. Woohoo: I downloaded this for my Nook, so I'm glad to hear it's good! :)

  3. Some interesting sounding books there. I love your pictures.

  4. What a fun post and I love the pictures! I need a good book about Japan this year (fiction or non fiction) - recommendation? :)

  5. Stu - I have a little under 100 pages left in Caribou Island now. Enjoying it very much. Have you also read his novella, Sukkwan Island? So tragic, but so good.

    Eva - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Very dark, but so atmospheric.

    Tracy - Thanks. It's an interesting mix of books to be sure. Are you reading anything good right now?

    Sheila - You could always join my Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge, and read something by him this year. ;)

    I always recommend this one, but I love The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. It's a character-driven novel about 4 sisters in Japan just before WWII. It's very Austen-esque, about love and marriage, and social obligations, class, etc.

    I'd also recommend Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor. Such a lovely story. And not as dark as some of her other stories.

    But seriously, what kind of book would you like to read? Contemporary? Classic? ??

  6. I stopped by your blog. I have found David Sedaris to be hit and miss too. I'm going to take a look at Caribou Island - sounds like a good read.

  7. Ann (Cozy in Texas) - Thanks for stopping by. Humour is such a personal thing, it's hard to find a perfect match.
    I finished reading Caribou Island on the weekend and it was very good. Dark, and rather depressing (certainly not cozy :P) but compelling.

  8. I typically love Sedaris, and Holidays on Ice was not great. Not even good really. I suggest Me Talk Pretty One Day. It's my fave so far and I've read most of his stuff.

  9. I had a copy of David Sedaris' first book and I couldn't get through it. His style is just not for me, although I'd still love to see him in person. I've heard he's a marvelous speaker. And, there's one essay by Sedaris in Paris Was Ours, a book I'm currently reading. I'm hoping I'll like that one.

  10. Andi - OK, I'm glad to hear that you didn't like Holidays on Ice because I know you've raved about him before. I WILL give him another try. :)

    Nancy - Humour is so personal, isn't it? What is hilarious for one person, falls completely flat for another. Ah well. It probably would be good to see him live. I am going to try another collection at some point though to see if I like it any better.


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