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?

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

This week we had a national holiday so both me and Teddy had work off. We decided to drive up north to Miyagi prefecture to see the fox village! We were also lucky enough to be there just in time to experience the foxes up close; by holding one🦊

The foxes in the park are wild so to not get bitten we couldn’t touch them, though I really wanted to, they looked so cozy! And after holding one I stand by it, Momo (the fox I got to hold) was so warm and fluffy and a lot bigger than I had expected. Maybe Darjeeling could become this size one day, I certainly wouldn’t object.

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~

Wandering through translated fiction

I love translated fiction, translated books, translated works. I didn’t know how much I love it until the day I found myself in the middle of reading three translated works, all translated from their respective languages into a different language. I could have read them all in their original language but somehow found myself reading them in translation.

The books were namely:

  • The Makioka Sisters (translated from Japanese to English)
  • Stolthet og Fordom (Pride and Prejudice, translated from English to Norwegian)
  • フランス人は10着しか服を持たない (Lessons from Madame Chic, translated from English to Japanese)

I have gone full circle.

Growing up I read a lot of translated fiction, even my favorite children’s book was translated from Dutch (I didn’t know that at the time though).

I think a lot of people read translated fiction without realizing it. I was certainly not actively thinking about it as I was reading before. When I first started reading Gabaldon’s Outlander series at 15, it was in Norwegian. Was it because I wanted to read translated fiction? Not really, all I wanted was a story and I had yet to delve into reading novels in English.

When I started reading English novels, I read many novels by Spanish, Chinese, Japanese authors, and maybe even many other nationalities, but as a non-native English speaker, I didn’t think too deeply on the translated aspect, I was more focused on how much bigger the selection of novels were in English compared to Norwegian. As English is a much more global language than Norwegian, it is natural that the amount of novels and translations of foreign novels is greater, and so the amount of insights into other worlds, other cultures you can get your hands on is greater. The world is at your fingertips.

This is almost turning into an ad for learning English, which wasn’t my purpose but for people’s whose first language is not English I do think your life will become enriched if you take your language studies seriously.

Anyways, I love how stories from cultures and places I have never even heard about becomes available to me through the art of translation. I have walked through the streets of New York while lying in my garden in Norway. Mingled with the Russian nobility while sunbathing on a Spanish island. Through my reading I have journeyed across the globe, from the plains of Tibet, to the docks in Spain, to the Scottish highlands, to the countryside in Japan, and to the deserts of Australia. I am a literary pilgrim.

(Which is also where peregrinja is from, from the Spanish peregriña, the female version of peregriño meaning pilgrim, and in Norwegian we write the ñ sound as nj so that’s just a little story on how I made my name as I am both a wanderer through literature and also a migrant having moved to several places and countries for things such as education and employment (whether the current location is permanent or not I have yet to decide))

If I had only read Norwegian novels by Norwegian authors in Norwegian, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I can’t imagine where I would be, what I would be doing. My love of languages has shaped so many of my choices. Because I liked English I decided to do the international baccalaureate diplomma programme instead of normal Norwegian high school. Because I read Haruki Murakami’s novels and I now had an international high school diploma, I decided to study Japanese at a university in the UK. And because of that I moved to Japan, where I am now.

Translated fiction is the cheapest and safest journey you can go on. Studying a language and reading fiction that hasn’t yet been translated is the second best.

Who else loves translated fiction? Let’s talk. 話しましょう。Hablemos.

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