July’s Reading Journey

Mostly a month of Japanese Lit pleasure!

by Carol Low

July seemed like a month of Japanese literature for me, reading 5 of them in this genre out of the month’s total of 9 books read. In recent years I’ve grown to like Japanese influences on many things, including books, both fiction and non-fiction.

I started the month with a Japanese thriller, The Decagon House Murders. It’s akin to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This book was gripping and had enough elements to make me look over my shoulders in the quiet of the night! ???? Gave me goosebumps too at the revelation of the murderer. All my guesses were obviously wrong, but that’s the fun of a thriller.

Some years back I attempted to read Yuval Harari’s Sapiens book but it was a difficult read for me. I think it’s the case for many, prompting he graphic book to be released. I got through the graphic book rather easily and quickly and found it fun and interesting. This version is quite suitable for older children/teens too. Not sure how many volumes it’ll come in, but I would read volume 2 too. Looks like it gets more interesting in volume 2.

“How Do You Live?” is a recently translated work of a classic Japanese novel. It’s also in the works of being made into an animated film by Studio Ghibli. This book reads to me like part novel, part essay on the philosophy of life. It may seem like a simple story about the on-goings of a teenage boy’s life, but the author has incorporated many interesting historical stories to fall back on as a way to make us examine the intricacies of life. It’s a book I will re-read from time to time, especially on the “essay” parts.

Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case is a book I’ve read several times over many years, and it’s still a book I would revisit. As the title says, it is the very last of Agatha Christie’s Poirot series. She started her first Poirot book set in a house called Styles, and this is also the same house that’s set for the last Poirot case. This book is one that makes me feel not only intrigued by the mysterious murderer’s identity, but also emotional as Poirot takes a bow. I would suggest to leave this book as the very last one to read amongst all the other Poirot books out there.

The Woman in the Purple skirt is a book that got me wondering about what I’ve just read. It starts off as a strange story of an obsessed stalker, narrating the every day life of another woman. All seems rather ordinary, yet it does make the reader feel curious and thus continue reading to see where it leads to. It takes some surprising turns and ends with more questions than answers. That’s how it was for me, and I’m still trying to figure it out! ????

Strange Weather in Tokyo was quite endearing, and a little strange for me too. I’m not big on reading romance, and this book falls into this genre. It’s also quite a “tasty” book because the characters eat a lot and their stories usually take place over yummy meals! Nevertheless, I did enjoy this book and I will explore more books by this author. It’s my first time reading this author.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars…hmm…I can’t say enough good things about Kristin Harmel’s books. This is the latest, just released in recent weeks. Set during the First World War about a girl who lives in isolation in the forest after being taken from her family at the age of two. It’s beautifully written and makes a really good basic survival guide if you ever get lost in the forest! I took my time to read this book, as I know the author has put in much effort to incorporate some true background stories into this work of fiction. And her books have always been quite emotional to get through. But it’s all worth it.

Now, on to more books this month. I don’t really have a book plan as to which books I would read in a given period. I normally pick them up according to mood of the day, or what catches my fancy from moment to moment. So I shall see what August brings to me…

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