Sunday Post #37 – 2/7/2021

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After the snow, a rather cold week. So hibernation with books is still the best option. I finished three books and DNFed one.


In Praise of Shadows  L'Anomalie

Murder in Mesopotamia 

📚 In Praise of Shadows, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1933
Read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

Last week, I explained how I got lead to wabi sabi and to this book. I found it powerful, and decided to do a full review on it, so please come back tomorrow to read what I thought about it.

📚 L’Anomalie, by Hervé Le Tellier
Published in 2020, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt

That was so well done, with interesting references and surprises along the way. I also plan to do a full review post on this one.

📚 Murder in Mesopotamia (Hercule Poirot #14), by Agatha Christie
Published in 1936
Listened to for The Classics Club

This was another good mystery by Agatha Christie, set in Iraq. I didn’t enjoy it as much as others, for several reasons. I actually remembered the case too well, from the BBC series, so the end was not surprising.
If I had not watched it, I wonder if I would have noted a big missing person in the list of suspects…
Because of the context, archeological digs in Iraq, I think we could expect more elements on that and the country, but there are not too many –except maybe in the relationships between servants and masters– even though the author did go on archeological digs.
But the main reason I didn’t like it as much could well be because of the audio performance. For the first time in this series, I think, the narrator of the story is not Captain Hastings, but a woman, Nurse Amy Leatheran. I assume that’s why HarperAudio decided not to have Hugh Fraser do the audio narration of that one. They chose instead Anna Massey.
She may be a good actress, but I really didn’t like at all the different tones and voices she used in her narration, nor the way she conveyed Poirot’s Belgian accent. I found the whole thing too harsh. Fraser’s is all in subtleties, which works better for me.

“When nurse Amy Leatheran agrees to look after American archaeologist Dr Leidner’s wife Louise at a dig near Hassanieh she finds herself taking on more than just nursing duties – she also has to help solve murders. Fortunately for Amy, Hercule Poirot is visiting the excavation site but will the great detective be in time to prevent a multiple murderer from striking again?”

📚 This week, I DNFed The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After #1), by Drew Williams . It had been recommended by my library. I enjoy scifi, but the way this was beginning didn’t work for me.


A cat a man and two women Hikikomori

The Half-Finished Heaven

📚 A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1936
Reading for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

I am really enjoying this one, about a love triangle involving a cat! And a cat with a lot of character, as expected.
I also find in it the theme of vacillation, which I am starting to wonder if it’s a Japanese cultural characteristic, as it’s omnipresent in the book I read last year by Soseki (see for instance And Then), and even Tanizaki’s other novel, Some Prefer Nettles.
What do you think?

“Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She’s lost everything: her home, status, and respectability. Yet the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily’s return, Shozo’s reluctance to part with the cat reveals his true affections, and the lengths he’ll go to hold onto the one he loves most.
A small masterpiece, A Cat, a Man, and Two Women is a novel about loneliness, love, and companionship of the most unexpected kind. In this story of Japanese society and manners, Tanizaki gives us a perfectly-formed oddball comedy, and a love triangle in which the only real rival is feline.”

📚Hikikomori and the Rental Sister, by Jeff Backhaus
Published in 2013

This is not Japanese literature, but as I am doing the Japanese Literature Challenge, I thought it would be the perfect timing to read this novel sitting on my shelf, about an important element in contemporary Japanese society: hikikomori.

📚 The Half-Finished Heaven, by Tomas Tranströmer
Published in 1962
Reading for Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

I already forgot on which blog I heard about Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011. I decided to give it a try, with this selection.
Nature is very much present in his poems, and I am enjoying  them so far.


Devils in Daylight

📚 Devils in Daylight, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1918
Will be reading for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

Yes, that will be my third book by Tanizaki this month.

“One morning, Takahashi, a writer who has just stayed up all night working, is interrupted by a phone call from his old friend Sonomura: barely able to contain his excitement, Sonomura claims that he has cracked a secret cryptographic code based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Gold-Bug and now knows exactly when and where a murder will take place—and they must hurry if they want to witness the murder, because it’s later that very night! Sonomura has a history of lunacy and playing the amateur detective, so Takahashi is of course reluctant to believe him. Nevertheless, they stake out the secret location, and through tiny peepholes in the knotted wood, become voyeurs at the scene of a shocking crime…”


The Case of the Gilded Fly   People Like Them

📚 The Case of the Gilded Fly, by Edmund Crispin
Published in 1944

I like trying classic mysteries so far unknown to me. Found this one on a blog.

“Theater companies are notorious hotbeds of intrigue, and few are more intriguing than the company currently in residence at Oxford University. Center-stage is the beautiful, malicious Yseut, a mediocre actress with a stellar talent for destroying men. Rounding out the cast are more than a few of her past and present conquests, and the women who love them. And watching from the wings is Professor Gervase Fen-scholar, wit, and fop extraordinaire-who would rather solve crimes than expound on English literature. When Yseut is murdered, Fen finally gets his wish. Gilded Fly, originally published in 1944, was both Fen’s first outing and the debut of the pseudonymous Crispin (in reality, composer Bruce Montgomery).”

📚 People Like Them, by Samira Sedira
Published in French on 1/8/2020.
Expected English translation by
Lara Vergnaud on 7/6/2021
Will receive for review for Criminal Element

The Perfect Nanny meets Little Fires Everywhere in this intense psychological suspense novel inspired by a true story about a couple in an insular French village whose lives are upended when a family of outsiders moves in.
People Like Them is disturbing and powerful. It explores the topics of racism and jealousy in a very subtle way. I loved it. –Leila Slimani, bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny
Everything started one Saturday in July of 2015…
Anna and Constant Guillot live with their two daughters in the peaceful, remote mountain village of Carmac, largely deaf to the upheavals of the outside world. Everyone in Carmac knows each other, and most of its residents look alike–until Bakary and Sylvia Langlois arrive with their three children.
Wealthy and flashy, the family of five are outsiders in the small town, their impressive chalet and three expensive cars a stark contrast to the modesty of those of their neighbors. Despite their differences, the Langlois and the Guillots form an uneasy, ambiguous friendship. But when both families begin experiencing financial troubles, the underlying class and racial tensions of their relationship come to a breaking point, and the unthinkable happens.
With piercing psychological insight and gripping storytelling, People Like Them asks: How could a seemingly normal person commit an atrocious crime? How could that person’s loved ones ever come to terms with it afterward? And how well can you really know your own spouse?”


Wabi sabi

📚  Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Beth Kempton
Published in 2018

“A whole new way of looking at the world – and your life – inspired by centuries-old Japanese wisdom.
Wabi sabi (“wah-bi sah-bi”) is a captivating concept from Japanese aesthetics, which helps us to see beauty in imperfection, appreciate simplicity and accept the transient nature of all things. With roots in zen and the way of tea, the timeless wisdom of wabi sabi is more relevant than ever for modern life, as we search for new ways to approach life’s challenges and seek meaning beyond materialism.
Wabi sabi is a refreshing antidote to our fast-paced, consumption-driven world, which will encourage you to slow down, reconnect with nature, and be gentler on yourself. It will help you simplify everything, and concentrate on what really matters.
From honouring the rhythm of the seasons to creating a welcoming home, from reframing failure to ageing with grace, wabi sabi will teach you to find more joy and inspiration throughout your perfectly imperfect life.
This book is the definitive guide to applying the principles of wabi sabi to transform every area of your life, and finding happiness right where you are.”


📚 Book of the month giveaway
📚 Books available for free this month, to review an your own pace
Review copy available for upcoming book tour: Victorine (literary/histfic)
📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom
📚 Books available for swapping


  • 2/8: Book review: In Praise of Shadows
  • 2/10: Book review: Word Detective, Grade 3
  • 2/11: Book review: Brain Candy
  • 2/12: Book review: Ocean Life
  • Memes participation for L’Origine



24 thoughts on “Sunday Post #37 – 2/7/2021

  1. For a second, I thought you DNF’ed a Christie story and I thought no way! But of course, that wasn’t the case. I am impressed by your reading of Japanese literature, seems you get through a lot! Perhaps you should do a best-of post when the Japanese challenge is over?


  2. Wow. You must really be enjoying Tanizani. I think I shall have to see if I can rustle up some for me around here.

    I saw that In Praise of Shadows is on sale for Kindle. I’m very interested in seeing what you think about it, Emma.

    And a new book on wabi sabi. I had to add that to my wish list.


  3. I wasn’t wowed by that Agatha Christie either. it’s odd that it doesn’t convey much of a sense of the location, especially since her husband was an archaeologist and she went on some digs with him.


  4. I haven’t re-read that Christie yet (don’t remember much of it) but my next will be Death on the Nile. I love that Japanese literature challenge, I discovered a new author this week, MUKAI Kosuke with a fresh and lovely first novel. Enjoy your week 🙂


  5. Pingback: 2021: February wrap-up | Words And Peace

  6. Pingback: My top 6 books for the 1936 Club | Words And Peace

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