The top 7 books to read in February 2023

Here are
The top 7 books
I plan to read in February 2023

January-February (not March this year) is the Japanese Literature challenge, in which I am (slowly) participating. I hope to read at least two books this month for this.
My French students keep me busy with reading French books with them.
I hope to be able to read a nonfiction in Italian by my favorite Italian author.
I read/listened to 12 books in January, so I should be able to read more than the titles below, but they are the priority titles for me this month.


Master of the Uncanny

📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Kidō Okamoto
Japanese short stories (before 1939)
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
168 pages
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I’m about 25%, and really enjoying these quirky stories!

“Born just after Japan transitioned from the Shogunate to Meiji, Kidō grew up in a samurai-oriented world being transformed by the West in many ways. As a reporter he covered domestic development and overseas wars, while also marrying a traditional geisha, eventually becoming a playwright and author. In addition to a number of well-received plays, he also penned more than fifty horror stories over a roughly ten-year period starting in the mid-1920s. Just prior to this period, the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 destroyed almost everything in Tokyo that remained from the Edo era, and Japanese horror itself was transitioning from the traditional uncanny stories to more modern horror structures.

While many of Kidō’s stories are retellings of tales from China and other nations, he also drew on a diverse range of traditions, including the heritage of Edo-era storytellers such as Ueda Akinari and Asai Ryōi, to produce a dazzling array of work covering the entire spectrum from time-honored ghost tropes to modern horror. The majority of his stories were collected in four volumes: Seiadō kidan (1926), Kindai iyō hen (1926), Iyō hen (1933), and Kaijū (1936).

Kidō remains popular for his elegant, low-key style, subtly introducing the “other” into the background, and raising the specter of the uncanny indirectly and often indistinctly. His fiction spans an enormous range of material, much of it dealing with the uncanny, and as a pioneer in the field his work formed the foundation for the new generation of Japanese authors emerging in post-Restoration literature.

This selection (12 stories) presents a dozen of his best stories: pieces which remain in print almost a century later, and continue to enchant readers—and writers—today. Finally, English-reading audiences can enjoy his strange visions as well.”


Rouvrir le roman📚 Rouvrir le roman,
by Sophie Divry
French nonfiction/ Book about books
Published in 2017
208 pages
Reading with French student F.

Interesting reflections on how and why authors write.

“This book aims to discuss preconceived ideas that weigh on the conscience of contemporary French writers. The main purpose is to show that the novel is not dead, and that literature is worth it.
Sophie Divry offers solutions to reset the novel into a place of research and adventure. She shares her ideas for a literature that is more demanding, more lively and more tenacious, more necessary for authors and readers alike.”

120 rue de la gare📚 120, rue de la gare,
(Nestor Burma #1)

by Léo Malet
French mystery
Published in 1946
215 pages
Available in English as
Bloody Streets of Paris
It counts for The Classics Club
Reading with French student E.

Wow, this is my first book by Léo Malet, and it is great fun! There are hilarious details, and I like how the detective Nestor Burma goes around to figure out what happened.

“Set in France during World War II, this is Léo Malet’s first novel starring detective Nestor Burma.
Burma’s assistant Bob Colomer, having just arrived in France after being held prisoner in a German camp, is murdered at the Lyon station as soon as he reunites with his boss. Colomer’s last words, whispered to Burma as he lay dying, are the address 120 Station Street, the same address Burma had heard from an agonizing patient in a military hospital.
And thus begins an investigation that will force Burma to revisit episodes from his past he thought he had buried long ago, and that will take him from Vichy France to Nazi-occupied Paris.
First published in 1942, this passionate noire novel is a description of everyday French life during World War II, where rationing, division of territory, and Nazi-imposed restrictions serve as the backdrop to this tale of intrigue.
It sealed the birth of the French noir novel, a cocktail of suspense, humour, poetry and social reflection.”

I am acually also reading two books on Orthodox spirituality.


I am a Cat📚 I Am a Cat,
by Natsume Soseki
Japanese literary fiction
was first published in 1905
Translated by Graeme Wilson and Aiko Ito
470 pages
IIt counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I have read many books by Soseki, The Gate for instance, but not this one, which might be his most famous!

“Written from 1904 through 1906, Soseki Natsume’s comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.
A classic of Japanese literature, I Am a Cat is one of Soseki’s best-known novels. Considered by many as the most significant writer in modern Japanese history, Soseki’s I Am a Cat is a classic novel sure to be enjoyed for years to come.”

Why Read the Classics


📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Nonfiction / Book on Books
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
306 pages

I’ll be reading it in Italian – part of my plan to read more books in Italian and Spanish this year.
I started a little some time ago, and found this wonderful sentence:

“The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying: ‘I’m rereading…’, never ‘I’m reading….’”

So now that my Italian is better, I’m really looking forward to dive deeper into this.

“From the internationally acclaimed author of some of this century’s most breathtakingly original novels comes this posthumous collection of thirty-six literary essays that will make any fortunate reader view the old classics in a dazzling new light.
Learn why Lara, not Zhivago, is the center of Pasternak’s masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago, and why Cyrano de Bergerac is the forerunner of modern-day science-fiction writers. Learn how many odysseys The Odyssey contains, and why Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories are a pinnacle of twentieth-century literature. From Ovid to Pavese, Xenophon to Dickens, Galileo to Gadda, Calvino covers the classics he has loved most with essays that are fresh, accessible and wise. Why Read the Classics? firmly establishes Calvino among the rare likes of Nabokov, Borges, and Lawrence–writers whose criticism is as vibrant and unique as their groundbreaking fiction.”


Blanc  The Wind in the Willows

🎧 Blanc,
by Sylvain Tesson
Nonfiction/ Travel
240 pages

This one is closer to La Panthère des neiges (Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet) than the one I just listened by him.
It’s actually his reflections and notes taken over four winters, as he and his friend went through high mountains
It is not yet available in English, so here is my translation of the synopsis:

“With my friend the high mountain guide Daniel du Lac, I left Menton on the Mediterranean coast to cross the Alps on skis, to Trieste, passing through Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
From 2018 to 2021, at the end of winter, we were rising in the snow. The sky was virgin, the world without contours, only the effort counted down the days. I thought I was venturing into beauty, I was diluting myself in a substance. In the White [Blanc] everything is canceled – hopes and regrets. Why do I so enjoy wandering in purity?

🎧 The Wind in the Willows,
by Kenneth Grahame
Childrens classic
Published in 1908
288 pages
7 hours

I MAY have read this a LONG time ago, but don’t remember a thing about it.

“Spend a season on the river bank and take a walk on the wild side…
Spring is in the air and Mole has found a wonderful new world. There’s boating with Ratty, a feast with Badger and high jinx on the open road with that reckless ruffian, Mr Toad of Toad Hall. The four become the firmest of friends, but after Toad’s latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels?”

Eiffel Tower Orange



10 thoughts on “The top 7 books to read in February 2023

  1. Pingback: Sunday Post #77 – 02/05/2023 | Words And Peace

  2. I read Malet for the first time some years ago, same book, and I really loved it. Calvino is on my list, and this sounds like a good title. And all the Japanese books I still have to read.


  3. I always admire those who can read in other languages. My hats off to you who can read Italian and Spanish, and how many other languages? I just finished a Keigo Higashino novel for Japanese Literature Challenge, reading the Chinese translation. Why, it’s so new there’s no English version yet. Published in Japan 2021 and the translated version I read was published in Taiwan in 2022.


    • Well, once you learn another language and another alphabet, the second gets easier, and the more the easier. I am French actually, and studied Spanish and Latin at school, so Italian is not a huge challenge.
      I regret not having tried Japanese earlier. For years I kept saying I was too old to learn it, until a young man convinced me to try. I am so so loving it, but I still doubt I have enough years left (I’m mid 50s) to be able one day to read a novel in Japanese. Picture books will probably be my highest reach, lol.
      I love Higashino! I have read books in two of his series. So happy for you you were able to enjoy his very latest! On my way to your review, and thanks for stopping by


  4. Pingback: 2023: February wrap-up | Words And Peace

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