The top 8 books
I plan to read in June 2020
Click on the covers to know more
📚 A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), by Haruki Murakami
Reading with the Murakami online book club
This is the third book in the Rat series, and even though it’s very famous, I haven’t read it yet. So I’m really glad to have now the opportunity with the Murakami online book club. I get a lot of insights through the input of the participants.
“His life was like a recurring nightmare: a train to nowhere. But an ordinary life has a way of taking an extraordinary turn. Add a girl whose ears are so exquisite that, when uncovered, they improve sex a thousand-fold, a runaway friend, a right-wing politico, an ovine-obsessed professor and a manic-depressive in a sheep outfit, implicate them in a hunt for a sheep, that may or may not be running the world, and the upshot is another singular masterpiece from Japan’s finest novelist.”
📚 Inhabitation, by Teru Miyamoto
Written in 1984, published in English in 2019 by Counterpoint Press
Received for review through Edelweiss Plus
I received this book last year, and finally taking time to read it now. It sounds a bit like a Japanese Metamorphosis (Kafka), though with many more levels. It starts almost normal and becomes weird, I’m really loving it!
“A living lizard nailed to a pillar and a young man bound by a family misfortune––a tale that poses questions about life, death, and karma by one of Japan’s most beloved living writers.
In 1970s Osaka, college student Tetsuyuki moves into a shabby apartment to evade his late father’s creditors. But the apartment’s electricity hasn’t been reconnected yet, and Tetsuyuki spends his first night in darkness. Wanting to hang up a tennis cap from his girlfriend, Yōko, he fumbles about in the dark and drives a nail into a pillar. The next day he discovers that he has pierced the body of a lizard, which is still alive. He decides to keep it alive, giving it food and water and naming it Kin.
Inhabitation unfolds from there, following the complications in Tetsuyuki’s relationship with Yōko, a friendship with his supervisor who hides his heart disease at work, and his father’s creditors, always close on his heels. Daunted, Tetsuyuki speaks to Kin night after night, and Kin’s peculiarly tortured situation reflects the mingled pain, love, and guilt that infuses Tetsuyuki’s human relationships.
For more than four decades, Teru Miyamoto’s gentle prose—which often explores a kind of spiritual isolation—has enthralled Japanese readers. Now, translator Roger K. Thomas brings one of Miyamoto’s most well-loved novels to an English-speaking audience for the first time.”
📚 Un Crime en Hollande (1931)
Readalong with one of my French students. Works for The Classics Club
We are back to reading Georges Simenon. This is the 8th book in the Maigret series.
“When a French professor visiting the quiet, Dutch coastal town of Delfzjil is accused of murder, Maigret is sent to investigate. The community seem happy to blame an unknown outsider, but there are people much closer to home who seem to know much more than they’re letting on: Beetje, the dissatisfied daughter of a local farmer, Any van Elst, sister-in-law of the deceased, and, of course, a notorious local crook.
Written in the dark, grimly comic prose that Simenon is renowned for, A Crime In Holland will delight lifelong fans and new readers alike.”
📚 Psalm 118: A Commentary by Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894)
Psalm 118 is my favorite of all psalms, with its fascinating structure. This commentary is so rich! Theophan highlights how the verses follow each other in a logical way, as far as the spiritual life is concerned. He also makes references to both the Hebrew and the Greek texts, and to many Fathers of the Church. Loving it!.
📚 Or What You Will, by Jo Walton To be published on July 7th 2020 by Tor Books
Received for review
“He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god.
But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years.
But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.
Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.”
📚 And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon: Essential Stories, by Nikolai Gogol December 5th 2019 by Pushkin Press
Received for review, will read for The Classics Club.
I usually don’t read short stories, but this is a Russian classic I want to be more familiar with.
“Admired by writers from Nabokov to Bulgakov to George Saunders, Gogol is considered one of the more enigmatic of the Russian greats. He only wrote one novel, Dead Souls, and destroyed much of his later work, so his stories constitute his major output.
In this collection, beautifully and skilfully translated by Oliver Ready, Gogol’s three greatest St Petersburg stories – ‘The Nose’, ‘The Overcoat’ and ‘The Diary of a Madman’ – are presented alongside three masterworks set in the Ukrainian and Russian provinces, demonstrating the breadth of Gogol’s work.
Gogol’s extraordinary work is characterised by his idiosyncratic, and often very funny sensibility, and these stories offer us his unique, original and marvellously skewed perspective on the world.”
CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS
📚 Berezina, by Sylvain Tesson (2015) – available in English
As far as audiobooks are concerned, I tend to binge on some authors. Last year, I binged on Michel Bussi. Right now, I’m in a Sylvain Tesson period. After listening to La Panthère des neiges, I’m listening to Berezina: on sidecars, Sylvain and a few friends decided to drive from Moscow to Paris, following Napoleon’s route in his debacle. Fascinating narrative, full of details about the environment and Russian culture that Sylvain appreciates so much, and full also of many historical details, thanks to books and memoirs the team reads by night. The descriptions I got in French textbooks a few decades ago are miles away from the horrific reality.
“Take four friends, put them on two Ural motorcycles (complete with sidecars), send them off on a 2,500-mile odyssey retracing history’s most famous retreat, add what some might consider an excessive amount of Vodka, and you’ve got Sylvain Tesson’s Berezina, a riotous and erudite book that combines travel, history, comradery, and adventure.
The retreat of Napoleon’s Grande Armée from Russia culminated, after a humiliating loss, with the crossing of the River Berezina, a word that henceforth became synonymous with unmitigated disaster for the French and national pride for the Russians. Two hundred years after this battle, Sylvain Tesson and his friends retrace Napoleon’s retreat, along the way reflecting on the lessons of history, the meaning of defeat, and the realities of contemporary Europe. A great read for history buffs and for anyone who has ever dreamed of an adventure that is out of the ordinary. ”
📚 Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy (To be published on August 4th 2020, by Flatiron Books)
Will be listening thanks to Libro.fm (check for ways to get free audiobooks and support independent bookstores – excellent app!)
I listened to Book Expo America, thanks to their Zoom sessions (I would not have been able to participate if it had been the usual BEA in New York), still available on their Facebook page.
One of the books highlighted was Migrations, and it sounded really good. so I was delighted that it was a title available on Libro.fm!
‘Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she so loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his salty, eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish.
As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that the beguiling scientist in their midst is not who she seems. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of letters to her husband, and dead set on following the terns at any cost, Franny is full of dark secrets. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from.
Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Migrations is a shatteringly beautiful ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened. But at its heart, it is about the lengths we will go, to the very edges of the world, for the people we love.”
PLANS FOR JUNE
📚 Review several books received through The Callisto Publisher’s Club. I still have several books behind
📚 I have a few reviews to catch up with, and mostly, I’d like to post more notes from the last theological book I read, and from the one I am currently reading.
📚 Restart my daily reading journal
📚 Update my Links page!
HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR JUNE?