Sunday Post #78 – 02/12/2023

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I have been very busy with my online French classes, but other projects have slowed down, so I’m getting more active again on my Japanese learning and blog posts.

Posted this week:

I finished 5 books this past week – don’t be impressed, two were short picture books.


120 rue de la gare


📚 120, rue de la gare
(Nestor Burma #1),
by Léo Malet
215 pages
French mystery/noir

Read with one of my French students
It counts for The Classics Club

Click on the cover to access my review

Master of the Uncanny


📚 Okamoto Kido:
Master of the Uncanny
Selected and translated by Nancy H. Ross
168 pages
10/10/2020, by Kurodahan Press
Short stories
– originally publisghed between 1897 and 1931

Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16
It counts for The Classics Club

Click on the cover to access my review

What do you do with an idea


📚 What do you do with an idea?,
by Kobi Yamada,
illustrated by Mae Besom
Picture book
Published in 2014
Original language: English
36 pages

I so enjoyed What Do You Do with a Chance?, that I decided to read what other books by the same authot my public library has.
So I read three.
Their all all built along the same format: an important life question and and as inpisration to dare dream bigger.
The three books are exquisitely illustrated by Mae Besom. I really enjoy her style and use of colors, with play with greys and colors. With lots of work on textures and details as well.
When the character finally understands what he can do with an idea (please go get the book to see what), his whole world turns into color: no more grey on the last page!
So very neat.

What Do You Do with a Problem

📚 What do you do with a problem?,
by Kobi Yamada,
illustrated by Mae Besom
Picture book
Published in 2016
Original language: English
36 pages

So this is the thir third I read by this author (see above).
Because of the theme of this one, this is the darkest (as for illustrations) of the three books, so with lots of greys, when problems threaten to invade your whole world, but the last page is full of bright colors and hope, as the character has realized what to do with a problem.

The Wind in the Willows🎧  The Wind in the Willows,
by Kenneth Grahame
Narrated by Andrew Wincott
Published in 1908
197 pages
It counts for The Classics Club

This is so so very good. I am not too sure I ever read it, probably not.
It’s basically the adventures of four friends (Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and Toad), complicated by Toad’s behavior. And how they stick together and help even the boisterous and proud creature.
It’s full of hilarious details, and plays with word and sounds.
Ultimately, if you consider the title of the last chapter, it could even be considered like a simplified version of the Odyssey.
Besides all the above reasons, I also liked the fact that the story is almost exclusively set in the world of animals, with very few interactions with humans. It’s a whole world all in itself.
If you want to discover or revisit it, I HIGHLY encourage you to listen to it, with the absolutely phenomenal narrator Andrew Wincott.


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

This is a book on books, with fascinating views on novels, authors, and publishers, on how the novel has evolved along centuries, and on what we need to do today to keep it evolving and relevant to our current daily lives.
This is not a book you zip through, you need to slow down to think and evaluate what the author says. And there are many references to novelists – TBR danger!

“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.”
In the beginning she speaks about editors set in their ways, who think novelists should not reflect and explain about their writing process, even though in previous centuries, it was expected the author would explain his/her method in the very introduction to the book!

Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmès📚 Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmès
(Arsène Lupin #2)

by Maurice Leblanc
French mystery
Published in 1908
222 pages
Available in English as
Arsène Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes
It counts for The Classics Club
Reading with French student E.

I had a lot of fun rereading the first book in this series a few years ago, and book 3 more recently. So I’m really enjoying reading volume 2 with one of my French students.
I’m sure many of you now know Lupin thanks to the movies.
Anyway, here is the English synopsis:
“LeBlanc’s creation, gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, is everything you would expect from a French aristocrat — witty, charming, brilliant, sly . . . and possibly the greatest thief in the world. In this classic tale, Lupin comes up against the only man who may be able to stop him . . . no less than the great British gentleman-detective Herlock Sholmes! Who will emerge triumphant?”
The name Sherlock Holmes being under copyright when Leblanc wrote this book, he found a hilarious way to use the name without using it!
We are right in the book when the victim of a theft (that might have been orchestrated by Lupin) is finally requesting Herlock’s help. So I’m eager to see how the battle of the brains will work out!

Arvo Pärt_Out of Silence📚 Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence,
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Nonfiction / Biography / Music / Eastern Orthodoxy
Published in 2015
231 pages

I bought this book several years ago and was planning to read it last year for the TBR challenge, but never had time for it. So it’s finally time.
I finished the introduction, which makes the book extremely fascinating. 
If you are not familiar with Arvo Pärt’s music, please try it right away! I don’t think you can keep neutral, even if you are not Orthodox.
I actually discovered him many years before my conversion, so I’m very interested to understand more deeply how Orthodoxy is articulated in his work.

“Listeners often speak of a certain mystery in the way that Arvo Pärt evokes spirituality through his music, but no one has taken a sustained, close look at how he achieves this. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence examines the powerful interplay between Pärt’s music and the composer’s own deep roots in the Orthodox Christian faith—a relationship that has born much creative fruit and won the hearts of countless listeners across the globe.”

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
Narrated by David Shih
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

How come I have read many books by Soseki, The Gate for instance, but not this one, which might be his most famous!
I usually read books translated from the Japanese, because I think I can better enjoy the style, but I saw this was available as audiobook on Hoopla, so for once, I have decided to listen to a book translated from the Japanese. 
So far, it’s working beautifully, thanks to the wonderful narrator David Shih (who narrates mostly books related to Asia, it seems).
Though I may also access the ebook version, especially to reread the excellent introduction.
The book is written in the first person narrative, and the narrator is a nameless cat. The work is a satire, as what humans do are considered ftrom the perspective of a smart and rather proud cat (aren’t they all, anyway? lol).
The synopsis highlights the fact that it “satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era”, but I think that most of it can actually apply to human foolishness and hypocrisy in general!


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

Some time ago, I decided to teach myself how to read Italian, to be able to better enjoy my favorite Italian author: Italo Calvino.
Last year, I read my first novel in Italian by him (The Cloven Viscount is the English title), so I’ll be reading it this nonfction in Italian – as part of my plan to read more books in Italian and Spanish this year.

“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.”


The Shelf From LEQ to LES


📚  The Shelf: From LEQ to LES, Adventures in Extreme Reading
Phyllis Rose
Nonfiction / Book on books
271 pages

A quirky book on books? Totally right up my alley!

“Phyllis Rose embarks on a grand literary experiment—to read her way through a random shelf of library books, LEQ–LES.
Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.
The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.”



Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday




39 thoughts on “Sunday Post #78 – 02/12/2023

  1. I’d be interested in the Pärt book — would love to know how his faith is reflected in his work. In the last choir I was in in the States we sang some of his music, always wonderful to do.

    This week, I’m making slow progress on Demon Copperhead, I’m also working on All Quiet on the Western Front — devastating topics, the opioid epidemic and WWI. I think I need something to recover from those next.


  2. Here’s my order of languages learned: English; Spanish (studied fervently for forty + years; I have a very basic slow ability to speak and read in this language); French (seemed so easy to learn French after my struggles with Spanish; I can read simple French slowly and I can have very basic conversations); Italian (I keep getting Italian confused with Spanish! Frustrating.) You are so good with languages. I admire your desire to learn more languages and to try new things with the ones you already know.

    I bought the Italo Calvino book (in English) for my Kindle. I hope to read it and If on a Winter’s Night this year.


    • If on a Winter’s Night is by far my favorite by Calvino, so so smart! And oh the pleasure when you start understanding the title!
      As you know, the big thing with languages is to keep at it on a daily basis.


  3. Looks like a good reading week! Nothing wrong with reading picture books, I think it sounds like a great idea, LOL! Glad you enjoyed The Wind in the Willows. Your review makes me want to read it again, but I no longer own it. Have a great week!


    • Sorry, I found your comment in the spam, not sure why.
      No, I really don’t find it confusing to learn several languages at the same time. I’m reviewing my Spanish while expanding my Italian, and it’s actually helpful to see how what a word in Spanish becomes in Italian, there are common patterns. Focusing on patterns does help to grow your vocabulary (for romance languages).
      And when I read a novel in Italian for instance, the context helps.
      And well Japanese is so different than any other language I know that there’s no danger here, lol. Though knowing several otger languages does help me build up associations of sounds to memorize new Japanese words.


  4. The Shelf sounds fascinating! I reread The Wind in the Willows last year and loved it. I am missing participating in the Japanese Literature Challenge this year. I just couldn’t fit it in. I love hearing about the books though. Glad things are slowing down for you. Have a good week!


    • I’m very picky, but now focus mostly on my TBRs, disregarding for the most part all the recently released boosk with hype. So yes, I have been enjoying many awesome books since I have stopped requesting so many new books


  5. I love the sound of The Shelf! And thank you for the recommendation to listen to The Wind and the Willows. I remember loving that book when I read it decades ago (or did my father read it to me? I can’t remember) and it sounds like a good one to revisit as an adult via audiobook. Watership Down is another one I’d like to reread as an adult. I don’t usually like animal books, but those two I loved.
    Good luck with your languages! A novel I just read, The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt, had a lot in it about learning Japanese.


    • Yes, at the top of my review of Okamoto’s book, (and in my presentation of I Am a Cat) I did write that I read it for The japanese Literature Challenge 16, which is this year. And the logo of the challenge is on my homepage. I have been doing this challenge for many years


    • My goal is only the reading part, not really the speaking. So I just used Duolingo for the most part. Duolingo is much better than it was when it started 10 years ago. I used a bit a textbook, but mostly my practice now is reading some online material, articles, and Italo Calvino. I’m now in his book on the classics


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

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