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Lilisin in 2016

Club Read 2016

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1lilisin
Edited: May 8, 2016, 11:34pm Top

Hello again everyone and greetings to 2016!

The year 2015 proved to be a non-reading year for me as I only read six books and three of those were in January! Moving to Japan was the main culprit for my lack of reading as I am constantly out and about and socializing. This was also the year for television as I have been keeping track of several different tv shows. The US has just reached a wonderful point in tv history with its dramas that it's hard not to watch while being hard to keep up! I haven't missed reading in a I-must-read kind of way but I do enjoy reading as a whole so it would be nice to get back to it eventually. Plus I have such good books on my TBR pile.

In any case, I have no idea what will happen in 2016 but this is the thread that will track that.

So far in 2016:
1) Jules Verne : Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth)
2) Henri Troyat : La tete sur les epaules (Head on his Shoulders)
3) Banana Yoshimoto : ハチ公の最後の恋人 (Hachiko's Last Lover)
4) René Frégni : Tu tomberas avec la nuit (You'll Fall like the Night)
5) Alexandre Dumas : Le Meneur de Loups (The Wolf Leader)
6) 久美沙織 : いつか海に行ったね (I Went to the Ocean Once)
7) Erich Maria Remarque : Arc de triomphe
8) Akira Mizubayashi : Une langue venue d'ailleurs

----

Books read in 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

2lilisin
Edited: Mar 29, 2016, 4:28am Top

Since my passion is Japan, a large amount of what I read stems from this passion. This is a list of all Japanese authors and works I have read which is continuously updated as I read more. I fantasize about how if only read more, this list would be so much greater!

Multiple books read by single author:
Junichiro Tanizaki : In Praise of Shadows; The Makioka Sisters; Le meurtre d'Otsuya
Yasunari Kawabata : Thousand Cranes; Kyoto
Seishi Yokomizo : La hache, le koto et le chrysanthème; Le village aux huit tombes
Yasushi Inoue : La Favorite; Shirobamba; Le paroi de glace; Le fusil de chasse
Seicho Matsumoto : Tokyo Express; Le vase de sable
Shusaku Endo : La fille que j'ai abandonnee; The Sea and Poison; When I Whistle
Kobo Abe : The Woman in the Dunes; The Box Man; The Face of Another; Secret Rendezvous; The Kangaroo Notebook
Yukio Mishima : La mort en ete; Le marin rejete par la mer; Sun and Steel
Akira Yoshimura : Shipwrecks; La jeune fille suppliciee sur une etagere; On Parole; Un spécimen transparent : Suivi de Voyage vers les étoiles
Kenzaburo Oe : Nip the buds, Shoot the kids; Gibier d'elevage; Hiroshima Notes
Haruki Murakami : 1Q84; After the Quake; Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche; 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年​ ​
Ryu Murakami : Almost Transparent Blue, 限りなく透明に近いブルー; From the Fatherland, with Love
Banana Yoshimoto : The Lake; Kitchen; アルゼンチンババア; ハチ公の最後の恋人
Otsuichi : ZOO2; GOTH 夜の章

Only one book read by author:
Kumi Saori : いつか海に行ったね
Natsuo Kirino : Out
Nagai Kafu : Rivalry: A Geisha's Tale
Ayako Miura : Lady Gracia: A Samurai Wife's Love, Strife and Faith
Takeshi Kaiko : Into a Black Sun
Takashi Nagai : The Bells of Nagasaki
Shizuko Natsuki : La promesse de l'ombre
Yasutaka Tsutsui : Hell
Keigo Higashino : The Devotion of Suspect X
Hikaru Okuizumi : The Stones Cry Out
Michio Takeyama : Harp of Burma
Fumiko Enchi : The Waiting Years
Masuji Ibuse : Black Rain
Natsume Soseki : And Then: Natsume Soseki's Novel Sorekara
Akiyuki Nosaka : La tombe des lucioles
Shohei Ooka : Fires on the Plain
Murasaki Shikibu : The Tale of Genji
Hitonari Tsuji : La lumiere du detroit
Ryunosuke Akutagawa : Rashomon et autres contes
Nobuko Takagi : Translucent Tree
Eiji Yoshikawa : Taiko
Meisei Goto : Shot by Both Sides
Mitsuyo Kakuta : The Eighth Day
Shohei Ooka : Fires on the Plain
Nosaka Akiyuki : La tombe des lucioles
Osamu Dazai : Soleil couchant

Nonfiction writers
Hiroo Onoda : No Surrender
Iris Chang : The Rape of Nanking
Donald Richie : The Inland Sea
Mineko Iwasaki : Geisha, a life
Komomo : A Geisha's Journey: My life as a Kyoto Apprentice
Alan Booth : The Roads to Sata
Didier du Castel : Les derniers samourais, Le crepuscule des geishas
Ian Reader : Religious Violence in Contemporary Japan: The Case of Aum Shinrikyo

TOTAL: 78 books

3lilisin
Edited: Feb 10, 2016, 1:56am Top

I enjoyed seeing all my read Japanese books listed so I've done the same for French books organized by author. I'm actually surprised at how small this list is considering I'm French and read primarily in French. But this list will continue to be added to as well.

Multiple books read by single author:
Alexandre Dumas : Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, Les Trois Mousquetaires, Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, La Reine Margot, Le Meneur de Loups
Victor Hugo : L'homme qui rit, Le dernier jour d'un condamne, Notre-Dame de Paris, Les Miserables
Jules Verne: Voyage au centre de la terre, The Mysterious Island
Emile Zola : Au bonheur des dames, Le ventre de Paris, Pot-Bouille
Romain Gary : Les cerfs-volants, Les Racines du Ciel
Marguerite Duras : L'amant, L'amant de la Chine du Nord
Rene Fregni : Ou se perdent les hommes, On ne s'endort jamais seul, Elle danse dans le noir, Tu tomberas avec la nuit
Emmanuel Carrere : La classe de neige, L'adversaire

Only one book read by author:
Colette : Cheri
Celine Curiol : Voice Over
Guy de Maupassant : Une vie
Patrick Modiano : Rue des boutiques obscures
Jeanne Benameur : Les demeurees
Jean Meckert : Les coups
Tonino Benacquista : Quelqu'un d'autre
Sebastien Japrisot : Un long dimanche de fiancailles
Raymond Hesse : Vauriens, voleurs, assassins
Albert Camus : L'etranger
Jean-Marie le Clezio : L'africain
Henri Troyat : La tete sur les epaules

TOTAL: 36 books

4janeajones
Dec 17, 2015, 10:05am Top

Great list of Japanese books. I shall be consulting it for recommendations.

5lilisin
Dec 17, 2015, 10:41am Top

>4 janeajones:

Let me know if you're looking for any particular subject or era and maybe I can recommend a specific book!

6RidgewayGirl
Dec 22, 2015, 5:46am Top

Not reading because you're too busy experiencing life in a new place is the best reason for not reading. I look forward to following your thread here next year, whether it's filled with books or not.

7lilisin
Dec 24, 2015, 8:46am Top

>6 RidgewayGirl:

Thank you! I'm very happy with my life indeed. Everything is so satisfying and I feel like I just keep adding on to the awesomeness.

In fact, my big news coming into the new year is that I have joined an orchestra here in Tokyo! After not having played the violin in 13 years, I suddenly find myself in the middle of the 2nd violin section! I'm beyond enthused. And not only that, but my first concert will be playing one of my favorite composers! Mahler!!!! We will be playing his Symphony N.5 which is so difficult but oh so beautiful. I've been lost in reverie at work recently. So excited.

8rebeccanyc
Dec 24, 2015, 10:24am Top

Congratulations! It's so great Japan is living up to or exceeding your expectations.

9wandering_star
Dec 24, 2015, 6:42pm Top

Very exciting about the orchestra! Wonderful way to move into a new year with new experiences.

10NanaCC
Dec 25, 2015, 2:13pm Top

What a wonderful experience you are having! Happy new year!

11lilisin
Edited: Jan 5, 2016, 10:40pm Top

Something really strange happened this week. A seriously rare and strange thing. I.... I read a book. I actually started and finished a book in three days. I think I'm in a bit of a shock state right now. I'd forgotten what this felt like.

1) Jules Verne : Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth)
France
3.5/5 stars

And this is the book that has become my first book of 2016.
My first ever Verne was The Mysterious Island when I was in elementary school. I loved that book (although now I remember nothing of it) and it was probably one of the first steps I took toward reading exclusively the classics. (I tried to read Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow after that but couldn't get through it although now I would like to try again.)

Being French but raised in the US, I've been trying to go back and read some of the classics that all my cousins probably had to read at school but I never got to do, so this is why I came back to Verne, especially after the editions looked so tempting in the bookstore last I was in Paris.

Journey to the Center of the Earth is as the title suggests, about a scientist (savant) who discovers a document that indicates the center of the earth is accessible and decides to embark on a journey with his nephew/assistant that will take him deep into a volcano and below. It was a fun book and I breezed right through it. Absolutely nothing happens when you think about it but it is a delightful trip through science and fantasy that makes me wish I could embark on such an adventure.

12.Monkey.
Jan 6, 2016, 5:16am Top

There were various parts of that one that made me groan due to the awful "science" aspect (like riding on the magma inside the volcano, lmao), but overall it was a fun story. Glad you read & enjoyed it!

13wandering_star
Jan 6, 2016, 3:57pm Top

Congratulations, sounds like a fun start to the year! (I am still halfway through my first read...)

14lilisin
Jan 7, 2016, 12:40am Top

>12 .Monkey.:

Considering the fact that for the book to work one has to basically ignore scientific fact, I thought Verne handled it well. He would always state the actual science before presenting the fantasy and always had a character mention how this fantasy world errs from science. This prevents misinforming the reader but also maintaining the air of adventure and fantasy.

Even the magma chapter he mentions how it's a type of "boiling substance since obviously this boat could never float on a bed of magma" even though we, the reader, and Verne are well aware that this boiling substance is indeed actually magma. So yes, I was able to enjoy the read even being a scientist myself, since it's always wonderful to imagine a fantasy world where science might work differently from our own.

15baswood
Jan 7, 2016, 5:50pm Top

Jules Verne a great story teller

16FlorenceArt
Jan 9, 2016, 4:48pm Top

>11 lilisin: Sounds like fun! I haven't read many Jules Vernes books and specifically not this one.

I'm afraid I have to tell you something though: Jules Verne is not a classic we have to read in school, unless things have changed a lot. Try Molière instead, one play every year, with a teacher explaining to you why "Mais qu'allait-il faire dans cette galère" is funny (hint: it's called comique de répétition). I remember vividly the first time I saw a decent representation on stage and suddenly realized that Molière could actually be fun! What a shock!

17lilisin
Jan 9, 2016, 8:32pm Top

>16 FlorenceArt:

I was hoping you'd stop by! Yes, certainly Verne is not read in school as there is absolutely nothing one can analyze in this book. My wording is a little off but I just meant reading the in school classics also reminds me to read the after school is out for the day classics which is where Verne would more likely fall. I mean seriously, I still have never read The Little Prince.

18lilisin
Edited: Jan 13, 2016, 2:37am Top

2) Henri Troyat : La tete sur les epaules (Head on his Shoulders)
France
3.5/5 stars

I stayed up till 4 in the morning to finish reading -- or rather, I planned on just reading 50 pages before going to bed and found myself turning the next page and the next till suddenly reading 47 more pages really didn't seem like much. I just found myself very gripped by the ease of the writing and the fast pace of the main character's downfall.

The book is one I happened entirely by happenstance. I was roaming around the antique bookstores in the bookstore district of Jimbocho in Tokyo when I found some foreign books in a 100 yen bin (~1 dollar). It would seem the previous owner had tried to use it to study French as the first two pages had a few words translated into English in the margin. It seems they quickly gave up.

This Troyat was to the top of the pile and despite not knowing the author and knowing nothing of the plot (the old mass market paperbacks have no synopsis or quotes or anything on the back cover) I grabbed it since it was so cheap. And I'm glad I did.

Although I went into the book knowing nothing about it I'll share the plot here. The book is about a 19 year old who excels in school, loves his mom, and plans on becoming a lawyer. But these accomplishments are accompanied by ego and lust so when the boy discovers that his father did not die in an accident, and instead was guillotined for his actions during WWII, the boy's ego and world comes crashing down.

A simple plot but I really liked where it took me so I will hope to read more Troyat in the near future, next I can get my hands on some books. I'll probably try to read one of his more famous works.

(PS. This is actually a great book for those of you learning French. Very easy to read.)

19lilisin
Edited: Jan 13, 2016, 2:33am Top

3) Banana Yoshimoto : ハチ公の最後の恋人 (Hachiko's Last Lover)
Japan
3/5 stars

Finally finished reading the last 20 pages of this book which I started over the summer and just slogged my way through. It wasn't a bad book in any sense of the word but it wasn't super inspiring and I think I'm done reading Yoshimoto. Fans of her though will appreciate a more subdued version of her typical work and will like the lover story.

It's the story of Mao who meets an Indian/Japanese boy and with whom she starts a relationship despite them both knowing that at the end of the year he will be returning to the Himalayas to become a monk and to abandon the material world. Mao comes from a troubled background and has recently left her mother behind to flee the cult she grew up in, but in Hachi she finds love and peace.

It's a story of first loves and first lost loves and it is quaint but I'm just not a Yoshimoto fan, I find, so it was hard for me to feel motivated to turn the page, especially the parts about the cult which I found added nothing to the story.

In any case, if you wish to read this, there is a translation available in Italian.

20Mr.Durick
Jan 13, 2016, 2:33am Top

>18 lilisin: Is that the same Henri Troyat who wrote the biographies? If so his life of Tolstoy was once held in high regard, and I may have read it. And if so I'm surprised that he wrote this fiction.

Robert

21lilisin
Edited: Jan 13, 2016, 8:10pm Top

>20 Mr.Durick:

Yes! It is indeed the same Troyat. He apparently has quite an expanse of works writing almost a book a year from 1935 to 2010 (although since he died in 2007 I assume those were published posthumously and not from his ghost).

Besides his biographies his most famous work is La neige en deuil (The Mountain) which I will look for next I'm in France.

22Carmenere
Jan 14, 2016, 7:35am Top

Hi lilsin! Good luck with your reading plans for 2016 although "out and about and socializing" are exciting temptations that are difficult to resist, it looks like your off to a great start!

23Simone2
Jan 14, 2016, 10:50am Top

Interesting reviews. I hated Journey to the Center of the Earth, however it was my first audiobook, told by a horrible whining narrator, so maybe that's part of it.

And I really liked Kitchen by Yoshimoto. Your review makes me curious of reading this novel, although when you say it took you so much time, I get a bit scared of starting it!

24wandering_star
Jan 14, 2016, 6:28pm Top

>18 lilisin: I love it when you find books like that which have translations pencilled through the first few pages only. I have a few (and I've been responsible for a few too!)

25lilisin
Jan 14, 2016, 11:18pm Top

>22 Carmenere:

Thanks! I do indeed seem to be riding a strong wave of reading this January. I'm very excited about it. Although, I tend to enjoy reading from 10pm to midnight but that's the time most people get off work here in Japan so that's when I tend to get bombarded with text messages. From friends and from potential future ex-boyfriends as I'm on a dating app and there are actually quite a lot of interesting guys on it. And even when they're not interesting it's great Japanese practice chatting with them. So quite the conundrum! So much to do!

>23 Simone2:

Oh, goodness. Yes, I don't think I would like this Verne on audio since nothing happens really. Perhaps one of his shorter and livelier books would work best although he reads so quickly it's really best to read him on print.

You might like the Yoshimoto. As I said, I already dislike her so I came into the book with a strong feeling of 'well I'll probably dislike this book'. It's short at only 150 pages or so, so if it took me awhile it's because I was reading it in Japanese and because I was only reading it at work when I was able to sneak it in between my papers.

>24 wandering_star:

My grandfather would always underline character names, interesting dates (to him), and certain random words but never an entire passage. It makes it interesting to read after him as you wonder why in the hell he underlined what he did.

My uncle however, underlines the most interesting passages in the book and it's nice knowing we've enjoyed the same spots.

Other than these two people, however, I tend to avoid marginalia.

26Simone2
Jan 15, 2016, 2:53am Top

>25 lilisin: You are reading it in Japanese? Wow... I am impressed. What is your favourite Japanese author?

27cabegley
Jan 15, 2016, 10:48pm Top

>25 lilisin: "Potential future ex-boyfriends"--ha! Favorite thing I've read all night!

28lilisin
Jan 16, 2016, 6:16am Top

>26 Simone2:

The language I post the title of the book in is the language I've read the book in if that helps. My favorite Japanese author is Kobo Abe followed by Akira Yoshimura.

29theaelizabet
Jan 16, 2016, 5:01pm Top

Fascinating thread, already! Congratulations on making it into the orchestra! I hope you will regale us often with life in Japan.

30kidzdoc
Jan 17, 2016, 9:37am Top

potential future ex-boyfriends

LOL

31lilisin
Edited: Feb 7, 2016, 8:25pm Top

4) René Frégni : Tu tomberas avec la nuit (You'll Fall like the Night)
France
3.5/5 stars

Rene Fregni is an author I loved reading about 10 years ago and always had the intention of revisiting. His previous works that I have read and highly enjoyed are Ou se perdent les hommes, Elle danse dans le noir, and On ne s'endort jamais seul, with the last being my favorite. (It's the story of the distress a father goes through upon learning his daughter has been kidnapped; very gripping.)

This book is more autobiographical as Rene Fregni talks about how a judge almost ruined his life despite being an innocent man caught up in a world he never intended on being a part of. Fregni's anger is palpable and we are taken on a rollercoaster of emotions as Fregni threatens to take the life of the judge who has made it a mission to take his.

A good book for those familiar with Fregni, but not a book I'd recommend as a starting point to Fregni. I'd start off with either the previously mentioned On ne s'endort jamais seul or Elle danse dans le noir. I do not believe this author is translated but his French is very easy to understand and natives can read him in one sitting easily.

32lilisin
Feb 1, 2016, 10:59pm Top

So last night I went out to see Star Wars with my friend for my birthday but the movie didn't start till 10pm so we decided to get some sushi, then ended up getting ice cream at Ben & Jerry's (B&J's goes by the name Thirty-One here in Japan and since I turned 31 yesterday I thought I'd eat some ice cream). Afterward we went upstairs to use the restroom and stumbled upon a manga store which had everything I wanted at eye level (how did they know!?). So for my birthday, my friend bought me two titles.

1) 総員玉砕せよ!
2) 神々の山嶺(上)

The first is about the author's experience in the Philippines fighting for the Japanese army. The comic has been successfully translated into English and won major prizes. You can find it as Onward Toward our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki.

The second is a historical drama about ascending Mount Everest. It was also translated into English and received several prizes. It is called The Summit of the Gods by Jiro Taniguchi and I got the first volume (out of three in the Japanese version). This one was recommended to me by wanderingstar, I believe. If not, it was at least definitely a LT recommendation.

I'm excited to read both although I admit I'm not sure when I'll get to them. Sooner, rather than later, I hope.

By the way, Star Wars was fantastic. I wouldn't ever consider myself a Star Wars fan but I've seen all the movies and I've always found them enjoyable (plus the music is really fun). But I really, really liked this one. It had some great classic moments and it was great revisiting old characters and old battle scenes while getting to see all the new characters (and actors I'm very familiar with and like). The plot was quite simplistic and it was really spelled out for us but still, I had a lot of fun with that. The first movie I watch this year!

33wandering_star
Feb 1, 2016, 11:22pm Top

Yes! It was me. Glad you managed to find them - and that you had such a nice birthday (happy belated birthday!)

34lilisin
Edited: Feb 1, 2016, 11:56pm Top

Ah, I'm glad I was right!
It turns out they've turned the books into a movie that is coming out soon so they republished everything making it much easier to find!

And thank you!

35RidgewayGirl
Feb 2, 2016, 2:21am Top

Happy birthday! It sounds like you had the perfect celebration. And I fell for the Star Wars movie, too.

36FlorenceArt
Feb 2, 2016, 3:06am Top

Happy birthday!

37lilisin
Edited: Feb 7, 2016, 9:35pm Top

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes! I haven't yet read the two comics that were given to me but I have finished a book 5 of the year! Considered I only read 6 books the entirely of last year, I'd say I'm doing much better. (Although now I haven't read any manga so far.)

5) Alexandre Dumas : Le Meneur de Loups (The Wolf Leader)
France
3.5/5 stars

I am a huge fan of Dumas and this is a lesser known work of his. I enjoyed it but for good reason, it is not as well known. It is about a clog maker who is granted wishes for having protected a wolf from being killed. However, the wishes can only be granted if they are done in the name of ill will towards others so soon our clog maker's desire for a life better than his own leads him down a treacherous path full of regret.

I enjoyed the book overall but it didn't feel like a Dumas as the characters weren't as fleshed out as he usually likes to do. And at a short 237 pages, it's hardly the typical Dumas doorstopper. So, enjoyable, but not a book to base Dumas's genius on.

38lilisin
Edited: Feb 8, 2016, 3:40am Top

Remaining titles on my TBR pile:

Japanese:
Ryu Murakami: オーディション (Audition)
Hiromi Kawakami: センセイの鞄 (Strange Weather in Tokyo)
Shusaku Endo: 深い河 (Deep River)
Haruki Murakami: 女のいない男たち (Men Without Women)
久美 沙織: いつか海に行ったね (I Went to the Ocean Once)
Otsuichi: 暗いところで待ち合わせ (Waiting in the Dark)
Otsuichi: ZOO 1

French:
Ayako Miura: Au col du mont Shiokari
Jules Verne: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers
Akira Mizubayashi: Une langue venue d'ailleurs
Erich Maria Remarque: Arc de triomphe
Victor Hugo: Quatrevingt-treize
Alain-Fournier: Le Grand Meaulnes
Alexandre Dumas: Vingt ans après
Francois Mauriac: Le Noeud de vipères

English:
Shohei Ooka: Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story
Kenzaburo Oe: A Quiet Life
Shusaku Endo: Scandal
Alan Booth: Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan
Kobo Abe: The Ark Sakura
John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
Akimitsu Takagi: The Tattoo Murder Case

Looks like I have a nice balance of English/French/Japanese. I need to be reading Japanese foremost, followed by French and English last (question of language maintenance/upkeep), but there really are some good ones in the English category. What to read next....

39RidgewayGirl
Feb 8, 2016, 2:27am Top

I really liked The Tattoo Murder Case.

40sibyx
Feb 19, 2016, 7:58am Top

Happy (belated) birthday. Such adventure! Looking at your Japanese lit list I am happy to see I've read more than I would have guessed.

I read one or two french books a year and I'm interested in the the Troyat! I too was only familiar with him as a biographer - I think most of those are translated and easy to find. I even have at least one or two around, Chekov, Tolstoy.

41Linda92007
Feb 21, 2016, 9:37am Top

>2 lilisin: I'm late commenting, but wanted you to know that I am highlighting your list for future reference. I have read several of these authors/books and based on those would like to further explore Japanese literature. Nice to be able to tap into your knowledge!

42lilisin
Mar 29, 2016, 4:21am Top

6) 久美沙織 : いつか海に行ったね (I Went to the Ocean Once)
Japan
2.5/5 stars

That was not the book I thought it was going to be.

I was looking for an easy book to read in Japanese when this book stood out on the bookshelves. I skimmed the first chapter at the bookstore: a kid accuses another kid of lying about having gone to the ocean. The synopsis on the back of the book just recopied the kid's diary entry so I was given no further clue as to the contents of this book. The book flap also said "this book will make you cry!". With this combination I was expecting a book about one of the kids dying from cancer; not a book about a mysterious unknown mold causing a large population to suddenly die, and result in a world where they can't live under the sun and an air one can no longer breathe.

This is not at all a genre I typically read, but being used to American movies about mass contagions, once I realized what the book was about, I expected a mass hysteria that unleashes terror upon Japan.

But once again, that's not what the book was about.

It actually ended up being a social commentary about how unprepared Japan would be upon the discovery of a deadly contagion. Basically stating how, by the time the Japanese government would respond, it'd be too late. And in this book, that's exactly what happened.

Hidden with the book are also aspects of Japanese society that the author finds unsatisfactory and frustrating and are actually incredibly relevant to today's non-viral Japan. In this book the contagion was actually spotted quite early when a reporter wanted to write a piece about a mass of birds having suddenly died. In their lungs was this black goo that the reporter surmised to be caused by fungal spores. He was entirely correct. However, because fungus=mold=yeast, and the newspaper he works for is sponsored by a sake brewery, his article was not published due to fear of backlash from the sponsor.

Further on, we are finally lead to an autopsy as the mold has spread to humans and it is determined strange that recent patients seem to be developing cancer-like symptoms so quickly and dying at an equally alarming rate. Here the author makes a commentary about the lack of forensic pathologists in Japan leading to a backlog of autopsies to be performed. In fact, right before reaching this chapter I had just read an article on the internet about the lack of pathologists in Japan leading to potential unsolved murders because bodies aren't being inspected for potential foul play. Autopsies are not automatically performed on bodies that have died outside of a hospital, like they are, say, in the United States. Thus, if no indication of foul play is suspected, an autopsy will not be performed. Thus, in the book, it takes time before an autopsy is finally performed on one of these mystery patients.

Further criticism of Japan comes about when discussing the publishing of the autopsy's results, receiving finance to perform more autopsies, the crisis behind financially disadvantaged people being indebted by inheritance taxes that end up being used just to pay the medical bills of the deceased.

It's all a huge mess (I mean, Japan is) and it is an important message that the author has portrayed. But the marketing of the book was all wrong. All the Japanese reviewers could only focus on the fact that they didn't cry and that nothing happens in the book. Well, that's what the book is about. Nothing happens so the world becomes engulfed with this deadly spore that changes the way we live.

Oh, and where did the spore come from? Blame it on climate change.

Turns out the spores were perfectly preserved within ice and climate change melted the surrounding ice allowing birds to pick at the spores and spread them across the earth. Quite the predicament.

Final conclusion though. Interesting little book. Poor marketing. This will never get translated.

43wandering_star
Mar 29, 2016, 11:26am Top

That sounds really interesting actually. Has the author written anything else?

44lilisin
Mar 29, 2016, 9:15pm Top

>43 wandering_star:

Apparently this author is a bit all over the place. She seems primarily to write in the mystery, SF/fantasy genre but also has novels based on games and has written essays and nonfiction (one book about 10 ways to having a good pregnancy).

The book I read apparently was categorized under horror!
So, while the book actually had very interesting aspects and I did overall enjoy reading it, the marketing was so poor that it just left many readers confused. I guess her past writing experience pigeon-holed her into the SF category so publishers kept her there even though this book has quite to say about modern Japanese society.

And I thought the whole climate change part at the end was a bit overkill as it was just one sentence basically saying "see! we're doing bad things! climate change!!!!! look!". I'm a big proponent of climate change and think we should do everything possible to create a better environment but her last page was a little bit too ... what's the word? Jeering? Pandering? Pandering, I think that's what I want to say.

45baswood
Mar 30, 2016, 7:10pm Top

Amazing what you learn on these threads. There is a shortage of forensic pathologists in Japan. Is this a cultural thing I wonder.

46lilisin
Mar 30, 2016, 8:52pm Top

>45 baswood:

Here's the article I mentioned in my review.

There are a few points in play here.
1) Japan is heralded as a safe country with low crime rates (which is true), but at the same time it is still not totally immune to crime. However, the mindset is that Japan is so safe, and the people so good, that foul play is not an automatic idea that comes to mind. Accidental death, or death by natural causes, would be the more natural inclination of police.
2) There is a stigma attached to jobs related to death. Because of this, people are more likely to get medical degrees to help the living than to help the dead. The Oscar-winning Okuribito (Departures) covered this topic quite well and the author Akira Yoshimura uses this as a common theme in his books.
3) The stigma isn't just attached to jobs. An autopsy can often be seen as the equivalent of desecrating a corpse which can be shocking to a family. Best to be avoided when possible.
4) The police departments in Japan, are, often as can probably be seen in your own country, fairly inept.

So definitely lots of cultural factors behind the trend.

47rachbxl
Mar 31, 2016, 3:12pm Top

Interesting. What you say about the stigma attached to death-related jobs reminds me of a strangely beautiful Japanese film I saw a few years ago about a couple of undertakers, who were virtual outcasts.

48lilisin
Mar 31, 2016, 8:19pm Top

>47 rachbxl:

That would be the movie I mentioned in post 46, Departures. A very good movie, indeed.

49SassyLassy
Apr 2, 2016, 7:30pm Top

>48 lilisin: Departures was a fascinating movie.

That story of the spores was used by Alfred Hitchcock. A small boat approaches a schooner through the foggy night. Its navigator begs for food but insists that no one can look at him. As he rows away, the passengers on the schooner can see a grotesque form covered in fungus.

Apparently the story is based on a 1907 short story The Voice in the Night by William Hope Hodgson and can by found in some Hitchcock story anthologies.

50lilisin
Edited: Apr 27, 2016, 10:04pm Top

Things happening recently.

So, the Mahler concert was this past Sunday on the 24th and it was quite the disaster. The piece is very difficult, especially for an amateur orchestra, and the cello section, our weakest section, struggled the entire four months of practicing. But our Saturday rehearsal went well and our morning rehearsal for the concert went super well so I was actually thinking, yes, we can do this! And..... we didn't. lol The hall we played in created the most wonderful sound, however, on stage it felt like you were playing all by yourself. Suddenly, you can't hear the people playing around you so your own playing is heightened which means your mistakes are heightened. A strange experience. And since you can't hear the people around you, counting the rhythm becomes very very important which unfortunately, when it came time for the actual performance, people let their nerves overcome their training and solos were missed/forgotten/incomplete, and the rhythm became a big jumble. But overall a fun experience.

I'm looking forward to our next concert already: all Tchaikovsky!
Polonaise from Eugene Onegin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhW_o1D4P3o

Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxOtYNf-eWE
- although definitely won't be playing as fast as the video

Symphony 1 in G minor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dop_dPIgeI

---

Also, I leave for the Philippines tomorrow! I decided to do pure island tourism and no cultural tourism. I'm excited to be spending time on the beach but it will be a strange trip as I'm travelling solo so I'm not too sure how that is going to go. I'm free to do whatever I want but I'll have no one to talk to about it. And unfortunately, although I was looking forward to just sitting under a nice warm sun, it looks like the rain is going to follow me. ~sigh~ I just can't seem to beat the weather. Hopefully it's just morning island showers and not all day rain. That would just get depressing, very quickly. In any case, despite my protests about the weather, I'm actually very very excited and am ready to take off.

For my trip I'm bringing three books along:
Alexandre Dumas : Vingt Ans Apres
Akira Mizubayashi: Une langue venue d'ailleurs
Erich Maria Remarque: Arc de triomphe

With my parents arriving the following day after I get back from the Philippines I need to do some French reading as my mouth was having trouble spitting out words during our last Skype call. I hope 1700 pages of reading is enough. I can't tell as I'm really not sure how busy/not busy I'll be with this trip. Either I'll read nothing or read a lot.

In any case, this is where I'll be:



(Image courtesy of gophilippinestravel.ph)

51deebee1
Apr 28, 2016, 5:43am Top

Nice, lilisin -- you're visiting my country! You're going island hopping in Palawan, somewhere in Coron from the photo, it seems. Good for you -- hope you have nice sunny weather, not too hot (as it is in Luzon, up north, these days). Great place for diving, snorkelling. And if you enjoy seafood, this is the place to be. I'll be in the country myself in a few weeks but mostly for work, so won't be enjoying places like the above this time :-(

I'm free to do whatever I want but I'll have no one to talk to about it.

You have us here at LT to "talk to" about it. If there's any info I might help you with during this trip, let me know!

52NanaCC
Apr 28, 2016, 8:26am Top

>50 lilisin: That place looks beautiful.

53lilisin
Apr 28, 2016, 9:51am Top

>51 deebee1:

Close but I'm actually going to Siargao! Well, at least until Friday then I spend the weekend in Bohol. I actually would love it to be hot. I need my Texas-like weather. I want to feel 90 degrees on my skin. But I never realized you were from the Philippines! I'm really looking forward to visiting your country. In fact, I should probably start packing my bag. I'll try to post pictures when I'm back!

54deebee1
Apr 28, 2016, 10:39am Top

Surprised to know that your first (I presume) visit to the country is to Siargao rather than to the much more popular Boracay (which I don't like) or Palawan (which I love)! I was only in Siargao once, long before it was on the (travel) map, when everything was so basic. That region is beautiful and rather still unexplored. So I say, enjoy your trip and don't be put off by the many touts that will be hawking their wares, and the high humidity. Panglao Island (Bohol) is a lovely place, and the Boholanos are my favourite people back home :-) Looking forward to your stories and photos!

55baswood
Apr 28, 2016, 5:25pm Top

>50 lilisin: Were you in that cello section lilisin ?

56lilisin
Apr 28, 2016, 8:52pm Top

>54 deebee1:

I avoid places like Boracay like the plague. The idea of music and partying on the beach when I want to enjoy unspoiled nature sounds nauseating. Also since I'm travelling solo as a woman I prefer to avoid large groups of drunk tourists as a precaution. So I did quite a bit of research for lesser traveled routes and ended up choosing Siargao.

But it's looking like I might need some divine intervention from the weather gods. Might need to pack another book.

>55 baswood:

I'm part of the second violin section of which I'm one of the weaker players as I'm still readjusting after not having played for 13 years before suddenly tackling Mahler.

57janemarieprice
May 2, 2016, 9:53pm Top

Your concert and trip sound great! Congratulations, sounds like you deserve the break. I hope the weather holds out. And >54 deebee1: humidity! If it's 90% sign me up. :)

58deebee1
May 3, 2016, 6:54am Top

>57 janemarieprice: 90%??? Wow, with the heat, that's a sauna, jane. Even the most humid part of southeast asia (and I guess, the world) -- Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta area - at 32-33 degrees can be very, very uncomfortable at around 75%.

59lilisin
Edited: May 10, 2016, 1:39am Top

So I'm back from my vacation! At least, part 1. Today I'm at work but after work I meet up with my parents and brother who are visiting me and from tomorrow we will be traveling around Japan. Hopefully my sore throat today is not a sign of getting sick!

Otherwise, my vacation was wonderful. I ended up having only one day of full rain and every day after that was beautiful! I feel like I've been gone a month and not just a week.

I arrived in Siargao, in Pacifico, on Saturday morning. I stayed in a hotel where we had our own cottage, no warm water in the shower and no air conditioning, just a fan, but those two things are not needed. I did have a bit of a problem with ants in my bed but overall, it was just the remote hotel I was looking for. I ended up spending the rest of the day reading on a cushioned lounge chair under the shade and looking at the pristine unpopulated beach. At least until that afternoon I rented a scooter and went next door to the Magpupungko Pool which was cute although I got lots of stares from the locals due to my very white skin. (A year and a half in Japan and I'm the palest I've ever been.) One group even asked to take pictures with me.

Sunday it poured rain so I just went back to the aforementioned chair and read all day which was incredibly relaxing. Monday I left at 7am to take advantage of the wonderful weather and drove the scooter from Pacifico to Del Luna (1 hour of driving) and just soaked in all the scenery. I checked out the Cloud 9 (famous for competition surfing) boardwalk but after seeing way too many beach blond surfer foreigners who looked like Academy Award statues (how do they get THAT tan!?) (Nothing wrong with these people; I'm just not part of the surfing culture.) I decided to flee back to my peaceful corner of the island. On the way back I stopped in the many villages and was followed by flocks of children marveling at my skin color. Some were brave enough to touch me, one cute girl held my hand and another child screamed and cried as his older brother tried to get him to go towards what he saw as the pale white devil. The kids were super cute and even invited me to go swimming with them in the creek. I unfortunately had to politely decline as I'm now incredibly hesitant to swim in non-moving waters due to too many horror stories of flesh eating bacteria and worms that manage to squeeze themselves into your body. At the end of the village stop I bought all the kids a piece of candy to thank them for their tour. I returned to my hotel. Not without a nice sunburn on my thighs and forearms (the scooter tan, worst than the farmer tan?). Back in Japan the tan is now etched in my skin where it looks like I'm wearing a garter belt (I am not).

Tuesday was a swim and read all day kind of day, Wednesday I toured around the north of the island, and Thursday, myself and two younger guests went to a lagoon and had fun horsing around on a paddle board all day. Was really a wonderful stay. Had wonderful conversations with the other guests and in the hotel and we all spend our evenings playing cards and games with another once the sun went down.

The night sky was so beautiful as the lack of anything around the hotel led to a beautiful night sky full of the brightest stars, probably the brightest I've ever seen. Then, in the distance, you could see lights slowly drifting through the low tide as men with headlights waded through the water looking to spear octopus. Was incredibly beautiful.

Friday I left the paradise that was Siargao Island and headed to Bohol which isn't where I really wanted to go but I thought it'd be safe to be closer to my departing airport in case weather were to suddenly get bad. Bohol was not my favorite as it was much hotter, not as beautiful and green and just full of foreigners and locals trying to sell you massages and tours. A week of quiet paradise had spoiled me and made it harder to enjoy Bohol. I started to get more into it by the last day but at that point it was time to come back.

In any case, a really wonderful vacation.

---

I also managed to read over 1000 pages this week finishing two books Erich Maria Remarque's Arc de triomphe and Akira Mizubayashi's Une langue venue d'ailleurs and starting Dumas' Vingt Ans Apres all books I hope to discuss soon.

60wandering_star
May 10, 2016, 7:15am Top

Wow - sounds amazing...

61baswood
May 11, 2016, 5:04am Top

Enjoyed reading your little travelogue and will be interested to see what you thought of Arc de triomphe

62lilisin
May 19, 2016, 12:36am Top

I am now back from part 2 of my vacation. My parents and one of my brothers came to visit me here in Japan and we did a wonderful tour. I'm back at work for two days while they head off to Sendai then I show them around Tokyo this weekend and Monday before they head back home.

Due to their arrival I had them bring me a whole lot of my favorite snacks and books! Some are books I already owned but want to read soon while others are new books that my mom bought me. So here's the list!

Already owned:
Alexandrer Dumas : Joseph Balsamo
Akira Yoshimura : Le convoi de l'eau
Marguerite Duras : Un barrage contre le Pacifique
Shizuko Natsuki - Hara-kiri, mon amour
Colette - Gigi
Thomas Hardy - Tess of the d'Ubervilles (read this book in high school and wrote many essays on it and yet remember nothing!)

New books!:
Christine Jordis : Paysage d'hiver, voyage en compagnie d'un sage
Haruki Murakami : L'Étrange Bibliothèque
Zola - La curee
Zola - La terre
Zola - Le docteur pascal
Zola - L'argent
Amelie Nothomb - La nostalgie heureuse
Amelie Nothomb - Petronille

---

Hope I can get to those reviews soon.

63lilisin
May 30, 2016, 2:38am Top

I've been so busy this past month with traveling and with going back to work after the long vacation that I'm exhausted and putting all my remaining energy into practicing the violin so that I don't fall desperately behind the orchestra from missing so many rehearsals.

Despite being too busy too read, and despite having just received a significant care package, I still did however manage to buy three more books yesterday as I decided to go to the used bookstore while waiting for my friend. Ha, not the brightest of ideas!

The newest books:
Haruki Murakami : Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Takeshi Kaiko : Darkness in Summer
Sawako Ariyoshi : The Twilight Years

All authors I've read before and enjoyed so the low prices for these typically expensive books (extra expensive in Japan) made these an easy buy. Shouldn't be reading these in English but I just am not reading fast enough (or enough in general) to realistically read all the books I'd like to read only in Japanese.

I also would really like to review those two books I read earlier this month.

64NanaCC
May 30, 2016, 7:23am Top

Love hearing about your "adventures". I'm glad you are still enjoying it.

65lilisin
Jan 5, 2017, 2:59am Top

So it seems I stopped reading in May of 2016 and basically never touched a book after that (although I did buy some used books due to the excellent price despite not reading). I don't foresee reading anytime soon in 2017 either but out of tradition I will make my thread.

2017 thread here.

Group: Club Read 2016

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