Monday, June 06, 2011

What I've been reading...

My reading had still been going in short bursts of focused attention over the last little while, but finally seems to be levelling out, and for the last week or so I've been reading on a pretty much daily basis again. Yay! It's been about a month since I last shared what I've been reading, so I do have a few books to tell you about.

Most of what I've read these last few weeks has been manga, short stories, or mysteries. All perfect for my easily distracted state. One of the manga I read was Oishinbo: Sake, written by Tetsu Kariya, and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki. Like the title says it's a manga all about the production of sake from the famous Oishinbo series. Despite living in Japan, I haven't actually drunk much sake. It was really interesting though, and after reading it, I went out and bought a couple of bottles of small brewery sake which I'm looking forward to trying soon. The other manga I read was vol. 2 & 3 of the Maoh: Juvenile Remix series, written by Kotaro Isaka, and which I hope to post about later this week.

For short stories, I read the wonderful debut collection by Philip Huang, A Pornography of Grief. Don't let the title put you off, these were beautifully-written stories of illness, death, grief, and the unpleasantness that life can throw at us. Dark but honest. Descriptive but not gratuitous, and with touches of humour. I really enjoyed them.

After reading one story here and there over the last couple months, I finally finished Haruki Murakami's after the quake, a collection of 6 stories that were inspired by the big Kobe earthquake that took place in 1995. Even though these stories refer to that earlier earthquake, they certainly resonate now as well, after the most recent quake and tsunami. With Murakami's typical dash of surrealism thrown in.

I also finished off the Japan aid anthology, 2:46 Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake. The digital version is free from Kindle right now so if you'd like to read some real accounts of people who were in Japan during the recent disaster, please go ahead and download it. There will be a print edition coming out soon, with all proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross.

Last month's Hello Japan! mini-challenge was all about Japanese mystery and crime stories so I read two books by Miyuki Miyabe, who is a very well-known, prolific mystery writer in Japan. The first was The Devil's Whisper, in which 3 young women are found dead in close succession, and a teenage boy gets drawn into figuring out what happened to them, and why. The next was The Sleeping Dragon, in which a young boy goes missing, and a journalist covering the story soon finds his life and loved ones threatened. Both were light, quick, fun reads.

Then just last week I devoured Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson, which I'll tell you more about next week. For now I'll just say it was suspenseful page-turner, that left me thinking about how important our memories are. I also read Orchards, a new YA novel by Holly Thompson. After something bad happens at school, Kana, who is American and half-Japanese (her mother is Japanese), spends the summer with her relatives in Japan helping out in the mikan (mandarin orange) groves. It was fun to read about her experiences in Japan, and was a lovely coming-of-age story.

And now I'm reading Joyner's Dream by Sylvia Tyson. It's an epic family story told over many generations, starting in England and ending up in Canada. Each generation is tied together by a love of music, a special violin, and a certain skill at thievery. I'm about three generations in, and am quite entertained so far.

What have YOU been reading?

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

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  1. SO good to see you! I always enjoy seeing what you are reading! The Grief book and the earthquake books all sound good. I am going to look into these further.

    I have heard good things about Before I Go To Sleep and look forward to learning more about that one!

    Hope you can pop in on Thursday for the Blogiversary Party!

  2. I have been wanting to read Before I Go To Sleep, it is on my TBR list. Enjoy your week and happy reading. My Monday:

  3. I m reading please look after mother ,a korean novel that was a big sucess there ,all the best stu

  4. Well you may have been reading in fits and starts, but it looks like some really good reading! I'm captivated by A Pornography of Grief. I do love a finely crafted short story, so I'll have my eye out for this one. And I'm always up for Murakami. :)

  5. You read lots of interesting and diverse books Nat! I think I'd like to read Orchards, The Pornography of Grief and some Miyuki Miyabe. I think I've only read All She Was Worth which I remember really enjoying, even though it was rather frightening.

  6. Orchards is still on my to read list :) I am glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully I am getting my hands on it soon :)

  7. What a large number of books you've added to my TBR! I'm going to start with Huang, I think!

  8. Sheila - I really enjoyed the stories in A Pornography of Grief. I hope you do too, if you have a chance to read it. I have a couple more earthquake aid anthologies to read too that I'm looking forward to.

    Jennifer - Thanks for stopping by. Before I Go to Sleep is a fast, fun read!

    Stu - Please Look After Mother sounds very good! I've added it to my wish list. :P

    Andi - It took some doing to get back into a reading groove but I think I'm finally there. Short stories really do make a nice transition when you can't concentrate on a whole book. I'd love to hear what you think of A Pornography of Grief if you do read it.

    chasingbawa - LOL. It keeps it interesting I suppose. I think you'd enjoy all the ones you mentioned. :)

    Uniflame - I hope you enjoy it! :)

    Niranjana - Sorry about that! ;) But you have some good reading ahead of you!


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