Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recent and current reads (so happy to be reading again!)

Oops. I didn't even get a chance to turn on my computer yesterday, but I still want to tell you about the books I've been reading now that my reading mojo has returned. As I mentioned, it was a good 5 weeks during which I didn't read much other than news articles and tweets about the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and damaged nuclear power plant. The only thing I managed to read during that time, that wasn't related to what's been happening here, were a couple of manga.

The first one was Maoh: Juvenile Remix, Vol. 1. The main reason I decided to give this series a try is because it is written by Kotaro Isaka, the author of Remote Control which incidentally was the last book I'd finished before the earthquake. It was a fun ride of a thriller but unfortunately his other books don't seem to be available in English, except for this manga. So of course I was curious. The main character in Maoh is a high school student with the unusual ability of being able to make others say out loud what he's thinking. It seems like as the series progresses, he'll have to learn how to use this ability to stop a powerful man from taking control of their city. This first volume was mostly just the set-up, but there seems to be a lot going on and I'm curious to see where it will go from here.

The other manga I read was from the very popular food manga series, Oishinbo. The English translations are collections of stories from the series (which is over 100 volumes long!!), based on a theme. The one I chose to read this time was all about rice! It talked about different ways to eat, and prepare rice, and was a lot of fun to read about this very essential, staple Japanese food. There are 7 of these "Best of the Best" English translations of the series so far, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of them.

When I finally began reading "proper" books again about a week ago, the first one I finished was Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki. I'd planned to start this just around the time the earthquake struck, and derailed my reading plans, plus it's a novella so I thought it might be a good place to start. I'd actually tried to read it a couple times during those weeks, but just couldn't concentrate on it properly. However, finally it clicked. It was perhaps a little dark and literary for me right now, but it was a touching deconstruction of a marriage, and how little we really know about each other.

I'm terribly behind on review books now, but I also wanted something easy and fun, so I went with The Raising by Laura Kasischke next. A mysterious death at a midwestern university, with a bit of suspense and gothic atmosphere thrown in. It was fairly predictable but it kept me turning the pages and seemed to be just what I needed. I read the whole thing in a couple of days, and after the reading drought, that in itself felt so great!

Now I'm reading The Silent Cry by Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburo Oe. It might just be because I'm not in the right frame of mind for it, but at over 100 pages in, it still hasn't grabbed me. I'm reading it for the Japanese Literature Book Group (yes, I'm late for this too, will post soon, promise!) so I'll persevere, but I'm not terribly optimistic I'm afraid. Disappointing. I haven't had the best of luck with Japanese classics lately but I've loved some in the past, and there are several I still want to read so I'm certainly not giving up.

Otherwise, I have bookmarks in a couple of books of short stories. After the Quake by Haruki Murakami. These stories were inspired by the Great Kobe Earthquake in 1995 but they certainly resonate now as well.

#Quakebook 2:46 Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan EarthquakeAnd 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake, personal accounts of the earthquake and the immediate aftermath. The stories I've read so far really capture the feelings and mood of the people here in Japan during the recent disasters. It's available now as an Kindle ebook but will soon be out in a print version too. All proceeds from the book go to the Japanese Red Cross to help the survivors.

What are you reading this week?

It's Monday, What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. (even on a Tuesday) ;)

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  1. Glad you got your reading mojo back! Nice set of books!
    Book Dilettante

  2. Good to see this post from you, Nat! I agree 100% with The Raising - not great "literature" but what a fun, fast-paced and engrossing read!

  3. Taking note of your list and adding to my own reading list from it. :) I just finished 2:46 over the weekend and am reading The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa. It's been years since I've had time to read as many books as I have been and I'm psyched! Enjoying your blog very much!

  4. Hi,

    I just started reading the OISHINBO manga series. I'm starting with Izakaya: Pub Food as I was explaining to a friend what types of food Izakayas serve and wanted a book to share with them. Cookbooks are okay but this manga is more interesting as it's a story too.

  5. Having your reading mojo back must be a fantastic feeling! I've heard so much about Next World Novella and The Raising.

    I just finished Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin which I loved. Right now I'm reading a graphic novel called Astronaut Academy then I have a ton of books on my nightstand for this week. Happy reading!

  6. I am glad you are reading again! It is nice to see you blogging, too. :)

  7. Glad your mojo is back! Enjoy After the Quake, the stories are excellent (particularly the one with Worm and Frog).

  8. It's really good to see you're reading and blogging again :) I have been wanting to read Politycki's novel too, just haven't gotten around to do so. (Also, I am a teeny bit hesitant when it comes to this publisher, because I really did not like Tomorrow Pamplona, in the original Dutch version).
    And wow, you liked The Raising :) Er, could you tell me how it ended? ;) I struggled so hard to get through it, and eventually even abandoned it.

    I haven't read a lot since last week. Still reading The God of Small Things, which truly is a gem.


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