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It’s quite cold and snowy (though I know Chicago’s winter weather is pretty awesome compared to the East coast), so what is there else to do than read? lol
I had another productive week:
- One of the categories on my visual journal is Documentaries (free on youtube).
We enjoy turning our leisurely Saturday breakfasts into cultural events.
Since the beginning of the year, we have watched Ant Mountain (on a huge ant colony in Switzerland); Travel on the Orient Express; The construction of the Euro tunnel. And yesterday, we watched The Journey of the Snowy Owls
- In the kitchen, for the fist time, I tried Korean Tuna Pancakes – super easy and delicious
- Inspired by @MileStyle, I decided to start a Twitter thread for my 2022 reads – 15 already.
- And this week biggest discovery is an awesome way of tracking your books: CAWPILE V3 by BookTuber Book Roast.
Follow the link to watch her explanation and download a (free) copy to make your own.
I have used my own more basic tool for several years, and tried also the one designed by Bookriot, but really BookRoast’s is so much better and easier to use when you want to edit and add categories. Highly recommended.
Since last Sunday, on the blog:
- January 2022 Book Club titles
- Top Ten Tuesday: New to me Authors I discovered in 2021
- Book review: Constance
- Book review: How Do You Live?
- Friday Face Off: Murder Mystery in Space
JUST READ / LISTENED TO
📚 How Do You Live, by Genzaburo Yoshino
Published in 1937
Middle grade historical fiction
Read for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club
VERDICT: Japanese variation on “Know Thyself”. Classic middle grade novel full of wisdom. If we were to apply all its advice, the world would definitely be a better place. The first step is to read the book!
Read my full review
📚 L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre, by Georges Simenon
Published in 1932
Translated as The Saint-Fiacre Affair (Inspector Maigret #14)
Read it with one of my French student, and
for The Classics Club
The first half of the book was excellent, with great atmospheric details, as Simenon knows how to do. It was also involving Maigret more personally, and painfully so, as the crime sends him back to where he lived as child.
An old countess is found dead at church shortly after Mass. But no one seemed to have come around her to kill her, so how was is done? By whom? Why?
Unfortunately, the plot got really muddled, with the reader just as confused as Maigret himself, who looked more and more like a passive witness of something he couldn’t grasp. Some chapters were pure muddle for me – and I read it in the original French, so I can’t even say that’s the translator’s fault!!
I’m not even sure why the killer really did it.
I didn’t read the whole book displayed on the cover, just the Dojoji play.
The play focuses on a wardrobe at a private auction. It is a piece of furniture with unusual features. As buyers get ready to purchase it, a woman arrives who has connections with its strange origin.
I wish I knew more why it’s called Dojoji and how it’s really based on Noh theater. I read a summary of the 15th century Dojoji play, and I find there’s also a dancer involves, who disappears quickly at the end. The owner of the furniture shop could be a modern version of the character of the abbot. The wardrobe could stand for the bell, and there’s also a special marriage situation.
It’s a bit weird, but it’s got some interesting passages about beauty and identity, and as often with Mishima, it contains reflections on tradition and modernity.
I had a hard time finding the play. Couldn’t find it in English, and I almost passed by this book, because it’s called Dojoji another short stories, whereas I knew Dojoji is a play. Desperate, I thought, ok I’ll read the short story instead. When I opened the book, I realized it WAS a play.
Why does this editor consider it a short story??
📚 Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
Published in 2000
I so enjoyed the first book I read at the end of 2021 by Kate DiCamillo (The Beatryce Prophecy), that I followed other book bloggers’ advice, and picked up this one at my library.
One summer, as she just moved to Florida, Opal feels lonely and decides to adopt a dog she finds by chance in a grocery store. He looks in bad shape and is ugly, and Opal is all too ready to apply her Dad the preacher’s principles: to take care of people/creatures less fortunate than oneself. And because of the dog, Opal is going to have a summer full of adventures and discoveries.
It is a great coming of age story, with lots of wisdom about friendship and how to handle loss.
It was neat meeting Opal and Winn-Dixie, her very smart and special dog!
📚 Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young Published in 2008
I recently reviewed Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Beth Kempton, and one of you mentioned this other book on Wabi Sabi.
Thankfully, it was at my awesome public library (it almost has everything I want!)
This is a gorgeous picture book to introduce wabi sabi to children and adults!
Wabi sabi is a cat, wondering about the meaning of her name.
I loved the format of the book (you read the book vertically) and the use of multimedia art, with cool collages – see the one I shared on Instagram.
It was also fun at the end to realize that most if not all the illustrations were actually based on famous haiku!!
📚 Les Chemins du cœur : l’enseignement spirituel des Pères de l’Église [The Ways of the Heart: The Spiritual Teaching of the Church Fathers], by Archimandrite Placide DeseillePublished in 2012
This is a good collection of essays on various topics related to Orthodox spirituality.
You can read more about it here, with excerpts (that I translated in English) and some of my notes on it.
🎧 L’Inconnue de la Seine, by Guillaume Musso
Not yet available in English
Published on 9/21/2021
It was ok. There were some interesting elements, especially related to the theater and to Dionysus, but some aspects I didn’t like too much, like three different variations on mental health.
And how Raphaël started the whole thing seemed too unreal.
It also didn’t feel realistic that Raphaël at the end would go to the island without questioning anything. So it made the end too easy and flat.
CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO
I couldn’t find it easily and quickly in English, so I’m reading it in French.
“The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo’s real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another … and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son…. And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.
In a series of colorful, unforgettable scenes, Enchi brilliantly handles the human interplay within the ill-fated Shirakawa family. Japan’s leading woman novelist and a member of the prestigious Art Academy, she combines a graceful, evocative style that consciously echoes the Tale of Genji with keen insight and an impressive ability to develop her characters over a long period of time. Her work is rooted deep in the female psychology, and it is her women above all-so clearly differentiated yet all so utterly feminine-who live in the memory. With The Waiting Years, a new and important literary figure makes her debut in the Western world. ”
🎧 Intuitio, by Laurent Gounelle
Not yet available in English
Published on 4/7/2021
“Timothy Fisher, a young author of thrillers, leads a quiet life in Queens with his cat Al Capone. When two FBI agents show up on his doorstep asking him to help them arrest the nation’s most wanted man, he first thinks it’s a joke.
But he ends up accepting their strange proposal: to join a secret program aimed at training intuitive candidates, people capable of accessing their intuitions at will.
At first skeptical, Timothy, who thought he had a banal existence, discovers that the world hides unsuspected possibilities.
He finds himself embarked on a race against time which leads him to tame this little-known but accessible power.”
Very intriguing, especially the parts on the detailed technique to access one’s own intuition. The author says he did go through similar tests and they do work. It has been used by police to solve crimes.
BOOK UP NEXT
📚 Lean on Me, by Serge Joncour
Translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and Jane Aitken
US publication date: March 1, 2022
by Gallic Books
Received for review
Will be reading for
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
I have read and enjoyed already two books by Joncour, especially Wild Dog, but I haven’t read this one yet, not even in French, so I was thrilled to receive it for review.
“Winner of the prestigious Prix Interallié.
When a flock of crows invades their shared apartment block, farmer-turned-debt collector Ludovic and fashion designer Aurore speak for the first time. With nothing but the birds in common, the two are destined for separate lives, yet are drawn inexplicably together.
Though their story is set in Paris, the tale of Ludovic and Aurore is far from an idyllic romance. With one trapped in an unhappy marriage and the other lost in grief, the city of love has brought each of them only isolation and pain. As Aurore faces losing her business and Ludovic questions the ethics of his job, they begin a passionate affair. Love between such different people seems doomed to failure, but for these two unhappy souls trapped in ruthless worlds, perhaps loving one another is the greatest form of resistance.
From the award winning author of Wild Dog, Lean on Me explores the realities of unlikely love, and how connection and intimacy offer us an escape from all that is harsh and cold in our modern day lives.”
LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
The River Ki, by Sawako Ariyoshi
Published in 1959
I added it because of the great review by Tony.
“The River Ki, short and swift and broad like most Japanese rivers, flows into the sea not far south of Osaka. On its journey seaward, it passes through countryside that has long been at the heart of the Japanese tradition. And it flows too past the mountains and the villages, past the dams, ditches and rice fields that provide such a richly textured backdrop to this novel.
Powerful enough to sweep away people on its banks and placid enough to carry along with its flow a sumptuous wedding procession, The River Ki dominates the lives of the people who live in its fertile valley and imparts a vital strength to the three women, mother, daughter and granddaughter, around whom this novel is built. It provides them with the courage to cope, in their different ways, with the unprecedented changes that occurred in Japan between the last years of the last century and the middle of this century.
Sawako Ariyoshi, one of Japan’s most successful modern novelists, describes this social and cultural revolution largely through the eyes of Hana, a woman with the vision and integrity to understand the inevitability of the death of the traditional order in Japan. Ariyoshi writes with a love for detail bound to a broader understanding of the importance of the geographical and biological forces that mold her characters-and the result is a story that flows with all the vitality of The River Ki itself.”
BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK
See presentation above
GIVEAWAY: choose 1
NO BOOK AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW
One is coming soon!