Golden vacation reading

In Norway, easter break is closely associated with skiing, kvikk lunsj, and reading (mostly crime novels). As I live in Japan, I have no easter break, but we do have «Golden Week» at the end of April/start of May which gives us about a week of vacation. While I did have a lot of driving lessons scheduled for this week, I had just gotten out of a bit of a reading slump right before vacation and so I got a lot of reading done as well (no crime novels though, not my cup of tea).

ののはなの通信 (Letters between Nono and Hana) was the book that got me out of the reading slump, I spent every free minute reading this and haven’t finished a Japanese book of this size as fast as I did with this ever.

I loved seeing their exchange over a span of about 30 years; letters, notes in class, postcards, and then later; email. It starts around in 1984, and it was so funny to me when one of them wrote in a letter :

「もっと速い通信手段があればいいのに!書いたことを一瞬でやりとりできるような、そんな方法が編み出されないかな。」

«I wish there was a faster way of communicating! Where one could write to one each other instantly. I hope someone invents that»

After finishing ののはな通信 I needed a little break from Japanese, and so I picked up a new (to me) book by Xiaolu Guo «A lover’s discourse» in English. It was similar to one of her other works «A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers» which I love. Works by Roland Barthes and Marguerite Duras were discussed within the novel, so I have ordered the book by Barthes (no ebook sadly) and read the book by Duras right after finishing Guo’s book.

I read Duras’ «The Lover» (as there was an ebook), and it wasn’t quite what I had expected, not sure what I had expected to be honest, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Last of my GW reading was «The Song of Achilles» by Madeline Miller, that I started sometime last year and found at 16% read. The only image I have of Achilles was that from the movie «Troy» with Brad Pitt, so it was quite an experience to read this as it’s very different from that movie. I have now enjoyed both this book and her boon «Circe» previously so will be keeping an eye out for anything new from her.

Now for my TBR/started but didn’t finish as I got into a reading slump list:

The book by Barthes that I have ordered, 月曜日の抹茶カフェ which is the sequel to 木曜日にはココアを, and 猫のお告げは樹の下で both by Michiko Aoyama, はつ恋 by Yuka Murayama because I can’t resist covers with cats and so I picked it up during GW, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and rereading Murakami’s 1Q84. I have also started Cloud Atlas but only a few pages in and it hasn’t gripped me yet so might take a while to finish (or just never finish)

What is everyone reading lately?

Translation is magic

It is no secret I love translated fiction, without it I do not know where I would be. While I did pursue learning Japanese as a means of reading the novels I loved in their original language, I seem to be unable to reread them in Japanese and feel the same joy.

For example; Haruki Murakami. I read every book of his I could get my hands on, in English. I loved them. Whenever someone asked me why I was studying Japanese I would say because of Haruki Murakami and wanting to read his books in Japanese.

Now, was the first novel I read in Japanese by him?

No.

It was actually «If cats disappeared from the world» by Genki Kawamura.

I have, however, read some Murakami now. I read Norwegian Wood, a given, and I have read his essay collections, which are very enjoyable. But, while I have purchased and tried to read some of his short story collections and novels that have come out while I have been living here, I haven’t been able to enjoy them as I did with the English translations. They are different, as if I am looking at a completely different work. When Japanese people tell me «oh I can’t read him, his works are difficult to read», I cannot but agree. Like in 1Q84, there are two Murakamis (for me at least with English and Japanese, for Spanish speakers their Murakami will be different from the Murakami of a Chinese speaker and so on. I wonder if I meet a third Murakami if I pick up his books in Norwegian?).

While it was a bit of a letdown to have the purpose of my language learning become so estranged to me, I have been able to soothe my sorrow in new, yet to be translated works.

Not all have been in my top ten, but I have found some diamonds indeed, that I wish to be translated and shared with the world. Anyone know who to contact about this?

I know two of my favorites have been translated so far, the aforementioned «If cats disappeared from the world» and Shion Miura’s «The Great Passage», but I haven’t seen the below translated as of yet.

ののはな通信 by Shion Miura (currently reading it, but so in love already)

麦本三歩の好きなもの by Sumino Yoru (I remember loving reading this years ago, but couldn’t get into the second volume last year and so gave it away unread)

店長がバカすぎて by Hayami Kazumasa (So relatable and interesting turns)

52ヘルツのクジラたち by Sonoko Machida (All the tears)

Last, but not least, 木曜日にはココアを by Michiko Aoyama (currently reading the follow-up to this, 月曜日の抹茶カフェ)

Anyone who have read any of these books?

Back to the jibun techo

After getting a job with regular hours, I thought I didn’t need a fancy schedule book anymore, just a bujo would do.

But then I started driving school and having to find time to schedule in theory and driving lessons, deadlines, etc., was not easy with just the bullet journal. So I got a jibun techo again, with weekly schedules to get a better view of my time.

Stickers are for covering up my mistakes or change in plans haha

I am trying to use the other pages as well, like Book list page, but I haven’t been good at jotting down when I finish a book this year so I don’t know when I finished two of these books.

It’s not a big problem of course, but for someone with detailed booklists going back 10 years… I haven’t been too good at reading lately.

Epistolary

Adjective; of, relating to, or suitable to a letter; contained in or carried on by letters; written in the form of a series of letters

As an avid letter writer myself, I was drawn to this novel, adorned with stamps, and seeming to be a collection of letters between two people. A mutual on twitter taught me it is called an epistolary novel and it is my new favorite term. Finally a term to describe that which I love to read.

I am 39 pages in (out of 517) and I have already ordered the hardcover version for my bookshelf.

I know The Great Passage by Shion Miura has been translated so I hope this one will be too.

Friday morning, reading, plants, and lately

This morning I managed to wake up (yesterday I did not), so I can have a relaxing morning. I like to get up early so I can do nothing for about two hours. Sometimes I will do some cleaning or some yoga, but that’s on the rare occasion that I am perfectly rested and have the energy.

Lately it is cold, so the first thing to do is turn on the heaters to heat up the rooms and to make a cup of tea. Since I woke up with a bit of a sore throat today I decided to make peppermint tea.

I am rereading Murakami’s 1Q84 lately. Darjeeling is in the window looking at the birds outside, making her little meowy noises.

After being inspired by a tiktok I am trying to grow some greens in my humble kitchen and they are sprouting a bit! I also got some more mini plants to greenify our space a bit. They’re not good for Darjeeling so I am keeping them in rooms she doesn’t have access to. The teapot pot is so cute though! I love it and want another hundred more.

Not long now before I can eat some spinach! (Haha)

When we got home from the supermarket on Monday, we got home to a crime scene;

It had been on top of the dresser lately but now it is no more. Just the day before I had been talking about why I like it so much to Teddy, maybe Darjeeling got jealous. At least she didn’t hurt herself!

I have also picked up my studying again lately after getting (yet another) new textbook on the recommendation of my friend.

Yesterday I got some Japanese sweets at the supermarket because they were irresistibly cute!

It’s a mini pumpkin!!

It’s 7am now so time to get back to my book before I have to get ready for work.

Have a lovely Friday everyone❣️

Saturday bookstore browsing

I went to the bookstore to get a housewife magazine today, and while I was browsing I first saw that there is now a fourth book out in the «Before the coffee gets cold» series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

As I looked to the right I saw a very familiar design, namely that of Michiko Aoyama’s books! I didn’t know she had a new book out, nor that it seems to be a continuation of my favorite book of hers; 「木曜日にはココアを」(Cocoa on Thursday)!!

This time it is «Matcha cafe on Monday» or 「月曜日の抹茶カフェ」.

I can’t wait to read this!

Potato donuts and a chic day off

Today it is a public holiday here in Japan, don’t know which one, what matters most to me is that I have a day off.

I have seen online that they have different potato donuts at mister donuts here so I decided to try them out. I can’t remember the last time I went to a donut shop, nor when I last ate a donut, so it must be a while since it happened. Anyways.

We have mitsuimo (honey potato), mitsuimo and butter, daigakuimo (candied sweet potato, literally university potato though haha), sweet potato, and murasakiimo (purple fleshed sweet potatao, very appetizing name).

Mitsuimo was ok, mitsuimo and butter not to my taste (not a fan of butter taste?), daigakuimo was ok, sweet, sweet potato was good, and murasakiimo was the best I think. I wanted to like the sweet potato one more, but it didn’t have as much sweet potato taste as other sweet potato sweets, like wagashi, usually have so.

Darjeeling was also interested, but not enough to have a bite haha

Today I felt very french, with my parisienne favourite perfume from SHIRO, and a dress and belt from the collaboration between uniqlo and Ines de la Fressange.

I have been reading another book by Dora Tauzin lately namely; «パリジェンヌはいくつになっても人生を楽しむ» or “A parisienne enjoys her life no matter how old” (loosely translated).

Anyone tried the donuts from mister donuts lately? Or any other good donuts out there?

Reading so far in 2021

A lot of Japanese novels or books in Japanese so far this year. The only non-Japanese novel was a recommendation by a penpal and I loved it.

持たない暮らし is one of those organizing/decluttering books that I read mostly over the break. Sadly have not been able to organize my life yet, nor throw all my things away. And so the journey continues.

Read the second book of “Before the coffee gets cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, and I might have liked this better than the first. Can’t wait for the third one to be translated. I could read it in Japanese of course, but since I started it in English I’d like to continue it in English.

The Great Passage was great as per my post. Circe was amazing, I couldn’t put it down.

お探し物は図書室まで is the newest book by Michiko Aoyama, who wrote 木曜日にはココアを and it was in a similar vein with different stories beng slowly connected together. I loved it. While the former book was set in both Japan and Australia, a very ambitious undertaking, this one was all in Japan, very cozy and near.

I finally finished サキの忘れ物. I love the cover and I love the title story, but the other stories were just…not to my taste. I finished about half of the stories, the other half I left halfway through. I kept putting it down and not picking it back up because I was dreading the stories that didn’t catch my attention, feeling guilty wanting to skip the stories (though I had to in order to get through).

I’m reading (though I keep forgetting that I am) both Sense and Sensibility and Anne Karenina. I also started the second volume of 麦本三歩の好きな物 yesterday.

I don’t have any specific reading plans nor goals, I like browsing the bookstores and have the books come to me. And recommendations from friends and penpals and whoever is around is also good, gets me out of my comfort reading zone.

How is everyone’s reading coming along so far this year? Any plans/goals?

麦本三歩の好きなもの, a series??

Have I talked about this book before? I feel like I should have, seeing as I loved it. But I did read it a long time before even starting this blog so I might have forgotten to write about it.

It’s “Sanpo Mugimoto’s favorite things” or “The things Sanpo Mugimoto likes” or something in that vein. About Sanpo, a librarian in her twenties, and her every day life. Every chapter is about something she likes, for example; “Sanpo Mugimoto likes walking”, “Sanpo Mugimoto likes libraries”, “Sanpo Mugimoto likes today”, etc.

It’s a very cozy book, slow paced, every day life, (aka easy vocabulary) just what I like.

So today I dragged Teddy out of the house and to the bookstore/starbucks. I just finished Michiko Aoyama’s 「お探し物は図書室まで」this morning (a post will come later), and so I felt like I could allow myself to look at and even buy a new book having finished reading one.

On the new books’ shelf I saw 麦本三歩の好きなもの, it had a different cover, but I didn’t think that would justify calling it new. But, when I looked closely I saw “第二集” (vol.2)!

It has around 100 more pages and I am very excited. Of course I had to have it right away. I love how they have kept the same style both with cover and the inside in both, both yellow as well. Yellow just kind of gets you excited doesn’t it? Such a happy colour, perfect for the coming season.

It has chapters like “Sanpo Mugimoto likes sleeping”, “Sanpo Mugimoto likes pudding hair” (what プリンヘア is I do not know but I hope to find out by reading), “Sanpo Mugimoto likes girls”, “Sanpo Mugimoto likes corners”, etc.

So if you like slow everyday life kind of novels this is for you, funny, charming, relaxing.

I want to work in a library.

Spring is in the air, and on the trees

The plum blossoms are blossoming and the weather is going from winter chill to warm and breezy (and back again to the chill). It is spring.

This year I started a new job, though similar with the old one it is just different enough to not have me dread going to work. (Last year was rough)

I am keeping busy and the house and balcony is slowly filling up with flowers as well. I was walking down the main street on my day off last week and was drawn to the flower shop, and left with a little bouquet. I’m trying to propogate my pothos but it’s going slow and I might not be doing it right.

I am still writing a ton of letters, and I recently started, not collecting but, getting my own stamps so that even the postage is cute. I do feel the tendency to hoard them and not use them for what they are intended but I try to keep it in check.

Also thanks to my lovely penpals, my list of books-to-read, outside of my usual sphere of Japanese lit, is growing. I am halfway through Aoyama’s お探し物は図書室まで and loving it, and I started Circe by Madeline Miller and will be reading the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, both recommended by penpals.

We got a tree for Darjeeling and she likes it, but finds it difficult to get down from the fourth step so we’re considering getting a second more climbable tree on the side

I would like to get back into studying this year, the textbooks on my shelf haunt me, but we’ll see. If only one could learn enough through just reading novels to pass N1 I would be so happy but alas. As they said in If cats disappeared from the world by Genki Kawamura; 「何かを得るためには、何かを失わなけれならない」(I think that’s the quote, it’s been years since I read it) meaning something like “no pain no gain”.

I still go to my piano lessons, though it doesn’t feel like I am improving much. But they’re only for fun anyway so. I’m currently practicing backnumber’s Happy End.

As I settle more into the new routine of daily life, I predict more tea and more books. And more walks. And more baking. I recently made chocolate chip cookies for the first time and they were addictive.

Just a little update before I head off to work. I would like to blog more but I don’t really know what to blog about. Maybe I’ll have a clearer vision in the future.

Until next time~

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