Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Salon: In Case of Emergency - Just One Book

Three months have passed since the devastating earthquake and tsunami took place on March 11th in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. I haven't written any updates here on the situation for awhile, because for the most part very little has changed. The situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is not yet resolved, and in the worst tsunami-affected areas, the recovery effort will take a long time, but here in Tokyo things are mostly back to normal.

There is always the possibility of a big earthquake hitting Tokyo in the near future, but the main concern for us now is the continuing power shortage, especially as the weather continues to get warmer. We're in the middle of rainy season now so the humidity continues to climb, seemingly on a daily basis, making it feel hotter than it actually is. Every business and household has been encouraged to decrease their electricity consumption by 15% from last year. Otherwise, there simply won't be enough power to cope with the extremely hot summer days in July and August. So we're being more careful about turning off lights and unplugging appliances we're not using. And every time I leave the house I make sure to leave extra food and water for the cats, in case we can't get home right away. But other than that, our daily lives have returned pretty much to how they were before the earthquake.

One important thing this experience did though was make me realize that we really weren't very prepared for a major earthquake. It made me re-do our earthquake kit, and I've tried to prepare for different situations such as having to leave quickly, or bunkering down at home, by having bags packed and a stock of bottled water and other essentials on hand all the time. I'm not sure we're really ready even now, but then can you ever be truly prepared for something of that scale? The one thing I haven't quite figured out yet is which book to take. In the event that we do have to leave quickly, I have a small bag ready to go, but which one book should I pack in it?

If we were to end up stuck in an evacuation shelter for weeks or months, like the survivors of the recent disaster, surely I would need something to read to take my mind off things. Of course it would be nice to just take my e-reader, as there are plenty of books on it to keep me going for a while. But if there is no electricity or no way to charge it, it would only last for so long. So, that leaves a specially chosen paper book. Do I take a well-loved classic? Or maybe a favourite Murakami novel? A suspense thriller might be fun and distracting but would probably be over too soon, and would I want to re-read it? Non-fiction? Humour? Short stories? Which would be best?
At the moment I'm leaning towards Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Do you think it's a good choice?

What would your one book be?

P.S. I updated the Haruki Murakami Challenge blog today with a post listing some Japan earthquake aid anthologies, including a new one I just heard about recently. Check them out. It's a nice way to help Japan get back on its feet. One book, one story, at a time.

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  1. A group of writers have written a collection of Hapanese themed short stories to benefit the Japan Relief Fund - for #3.99 on Kindle etc., all proceeds from Shaken will be donated to the fund. I have the details on my blog.

  2. Book Dilettante - That's funny. Earlier today on the Murakami Challenge blog I posted about some Japan aid story anthologies, and just added a link in the post above. :)

  3. I am amazed at the resilience of people in your situation. Prepared or not, it's a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Valuable lessons for us all.

    I hope everything comes together for you. It would be difficult to choose just the right books.


  4. I think you're right in that you can never be truly prepared for something of that scale. There are just way too many variables. But putting an already read book, one that you want to reread, in your disaster kit is a great idea.

    When we left here after Katrina, I thought we'd be gone a couple days, and we were gone 2 weeks. I did take the few books I was reading or getting ready to read at that time, and I still remember 2 of them. But if I'd run out of things to read, I was in a city where I could've easily gotten more.

    I think that Murakami is a great pick. I know I could reread that one and get even more out of it.

    Speaking of things written in response to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, I wrote a poem in that vein that was accepted here:
    It's called "Beignets in Japan."

  5. Hi Nat :)
    I sincerely hope you and H will not have to experience such a situation...

    Haruki Murakami would be ideal, entertaining and definitely an author one can read over and over.

    Wishing you a nice, safe week ahead.
    Sylvie (Madeleine)

  6. Thought I'd commented here, but obviously not. I think it would be whatever book I happen to be reading, unless I can Sneak a couple of others in my pockets I have very big pockets so should count for a few more which then increases my dilemma, OH "£$%^&7

  7. Laurel-Rain Snow - Thanks. :) We were quite lucky compared to the areas in the north that were so devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. We're far enough away that we really weren't affected too seriously. And life does go on.

    Teresa - Absolutely. There are so many variables. We can try to prepare for as many as we can but it's impossible to predict exactly what will happen.
    Thanks for sharing your poem. :)

    Sylvie - Thanks, I hope we don't either! That's what I was thinking with Murakami, his books are definitely worth reading more than once.

    parrish - You had commented actually, but I have moderation on to catch spam. Sorry about that. I deleted the first one since it was similar. Hope that was ok. And it sounds like I need bigger pockets. ;)

  8. Yes no problem, just nice to know sanity level is where it normally is

  9. Oh! I just read the part in #WindUpBird where the gets his knapsack which was for earthquake preparedness and I thought of you and what Japan is going through. Thanks for the update; I can see how taking a book by this author would be a good one to have ready for possible multiple re-reads. So many layers, yes?

  10. Owl59 here.

    It is very hard to chose one book. I cannot choose at the moment.

    Hard-boiled Wonderland is a good choice. I love that novel. I have read it more than several times. It can take you to a different land and also give you food for thought.

  11. my choices would be don quixote a book you can read and reread time after time ,all the best stu

  12. I would probably go with a well-loved favorite. That way I know I'd be entertained. With my luck, if I just guessed, I'd end up with a stinker like my recent DNF, Freedom! Ack!


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