Sunday Post #79 – 02/19/2023

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We are already in the yoyo weather season (as I call it) here in Chicagoland, going from mid 50s to snow and ice, back to the 50s. Much earlier than usual!

I just posted a (looooong) review this week (on Rouvrir le roman), but have devoured a few other books – I have entered a manga obsession again, as I finally restarted finding some that work for my picky tastes. See more about this below.

And I forgot to mention last week, the list of reviews posted on this blog is now over 1,000. So far, exactly 1,0005, though I know there are actually more, that I forgot to list on my Authors List recap page.

Here are the 4 books I finished this past week.


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

VERDICT: Some basic reflections on the future of the novel, and its place in our society and culture.

I hadn’t opened a literary criticism book for a while, and I had seen good things about Rouvrir le roman (not sure where), so I decided to read it with one of my French students who has read vastly and even attends some classes on literature.
Click on the cover to access my review

Cat + Gamer #1

📚 Cat + Gamer, #1
by Wataru Nadatani
猫暮らしのゲーマーさん 1
was originally published in 2019
Translated from the Japanese by
Zack Davisson
5/11/2022, by Dark Horse Manga
200 pages
Manga/ Literary fiction
Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16

OMG, this is so good!
I love manga, but I am super super picky. It has to be a good story, but not too YA, not too romantic, not too violent, and with nice art as well!
Well, Cat + Gamer fits perfectly the bill!
The cat owner, Riko, is 29. So, away from YA dramas. Plus, she’s a gamer, which has some attraction for me. She’s on the shy and private side, but as soon as she leaves her place of work, she kind of leads a very different life, with online games, where she is fiesty and very competitive.
But her life is changing quite a bit when a kitten is found on the grounds of her company.

I loved all the details related to games, but also to cats. Plus cute drawings.
Don’t you LOOOVE that cover??
The kitten, I’m not going to reveal his/her name, as this takes a good part of book 1, is all you can imagine about cats, with your dreams and nightmares, lol.
I can’t wait to read more adventures about Riko and her cat.

So far, there are 8 volumes, 2 only in English, but 6 available in French!
That will do. Nice incentive to speed up my Japanese learning!

Astra Lost in Space #1

📚 Astra Lost in Space, #1
by Kenta Shinohara
彼方のアストラ 1
was originally published in 2016
Translated from the Japanese by
Adrienne Beck
12/5/2017, by VIZ Media LLC
208 pages
Manga / Science-fiction
Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16

Suddenly really lucky with manga, as I just found another one that I really like, so far.
This high school organizes Planet Camp: they send a group of teenagers on another planet for a week, and they have to find ways to survive there before a ship comes to take them back home.
When this group of 9 teenagers arrive on planet McPa, something weird happens: an orb absorbs them and send them deeper in space, 5,000 light-years away!
They have to figure out where they are, and how to get back home, if that’s even possible.
Was this orb part of a test? They have no idea so far.

It’s a cool evocation of the world of teens, each very different, and some not really happy or even open to collaborate, even if it seems to be the only way of surviving.
And of course I like all the scifi gadgets that are supposed to exist in 2063, when the story takes place, and the weird fauna and flora they discover on wherever they landed!

They make a very important discovery at the end of volume 1, and I need to know what happens next, so I just got the next 4 volumes from my library!


📚 Mooncop,
by Tom Gauld
Graphic novel / Science fiction
Published in 2016
94 pages

Tom Gauld’s art is fabulous (another cool cover!), but I have enjoyed some other of his books better as far as the story is concerned (check for instance The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess).

This is about this cop sent to work on the Moon, but he is a bit sad, because really there’s nothing much to do there. Plus, little by little, people ask to go back and live on Earth.
The very end sounds a bit flat too me. It would be ok as the first book in a series, but this book was published in 2016, and so far it has no sequel.
So a bit disappointing for the story, but I enjoyed every page for its art sake.

I didn’t finish any audiobook this week, as my current one is over 21 hours – see below.


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’m now reading this collection of essays by him in Italian – as part of my plan to read more books in Italian and Spanish this year.
I originally thought the whole book was Perché leggere i classici?, but I realized this is actually the title of the first essay only. But all the other essays deal about various classics, so I’ll definitely be reading the whole book.
The edition has a long and detailed biography on Calvino as well.
I am almost done with the first essay, and I so enjoy the Calvino’s 14 definitions of the classics. So he come sup with these various definitions and explains what he means by them.
If you want to have a quick look at the definitions and relevant excerpts, here is a good free pdf with them (in English). The whole pdf are quotes from this 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. 

But so far, this one is a bit disappointing. The first quarter of the book seems a bit disjointed, with three separate plots.
Though I just started the second quarter, when Lupin and Herlock Sholmès finally meet, and this part is more fun, with some hilarious comments.
I am curious to see how the three plots connect, and how the author s going to deal about the smarter man of the two!

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?”

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.

If you are not familiar with Arvo Pärt’s music, please try listening to it right away! I don’t think you can remai n 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.

The author is slow in going into that, as he focuses first on more general matters, such as religion vs. spirituality, and the link between text and music. But these reflections are fascinating anway.

“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.
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!

The very beginning is excellent. Now, I’m in a less interesting part, where the narrator sometimes is no longer the cat.
The focus is definitely on the social satire of Japanese people of the time, on authors, neighbors, problems to find a husband for the daughters, though there are also lots of funny passages on what humans physically look like, obviously from a feline perspective!


The Hunting Gun📚 The Hunting Gun,
by Yasushi Inoue
Japanese short story
was first published in 1949
80 pages
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I have read only one book by Yasushi Inoue, and it was slightly disappointing, but I have decided to give himanother chance with this short story.

The Hunting Gun, set in the period immediately following WWII, follows the consequences of a tragic love affair among well-to-do people in an exclusive suburb of the great commercial cities of Osaka and Kobe.
Told from the viewpoints of three different women, this is a story of the psychological impact of illicit love. First viewed through the eyes of Shoko, who learns of the affair through reading her mother’s diary, then through the eyes of Midori, who had long known about the affair of her husband with Saiko, and finally through the eyes of Saiko herself.”


La Médaille


📚  La Médaille,
Lydie Salvayre
Literary fiction
168 pages

One of the books added to my TBR because of the last book I finished!
It was actually published in English as The Award, so here is the synopsis:

“A story of an awards ceremony of a massive automotive factory takes acceptance speeches and presentations, makes them into individual minibiographies, and explores the insanity and chaos that is a reflection of human life.”


Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday




28 thoughts on “Sunday Post #79 – 02/19/2023

  1. French and Japanese novels are among my favorites, so I like your list. I’ve only read a few of them.

    best… mae at


  2. Of course I was immediately intrigued with Arvo Pärt, so off to YouTube I went to listen to what someone has named his ten best pieces of classical work. Some almost don’t sound like…well, music. But it’s surprising and lovely.

    I’m delighted that you are reading Calvino in Italian. That’s wonderful.


    • What pieces did you listen to that you say they don’t sound like music??
      The first piece that I discovered by him, and that I so enjoy is te Miserere: for instance.
      The whole piece from the very peaceful and humble beginning (think of the Publican not even daring to lift up his eyes), to the explosion of the Dies Irae part is just stunning.


        • Oh I guess I didn’t understand your comment about “they don’t sound like music”.
          This is indeed a great selection, with both vocal and instrumental pieces. Glad Miserere made the cut!

          Do you know the story behind Sarah Was Ninety Years Old? It was composed early, 1977, when the Communist censure was still strong. So most of the piece is this repetitive thing, though beautiful. And the Biblical text comes only very later – it was to make sure the censure authorities lost patience, stopped listening and approved the piece, thnking there was nothing “dangerous” in there… before they got to the important Biblical quote.
          In a way, it does reveal a bit of the artist’s whimsical nature. he has a lot of humor

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on going over 1000 reviews! That’s great.

    Nice, a couple of cat related books 🙂 I have to check them out. They look good, although I know one is Manga which I haven’t read yet.

    I hope you have a great week!


  4. Looks like a good reading week for you! I’m always so impressed that you can read in multiple languages. I took 3 years of French in high school, but that’s it for me! I remember a lot of vocabulary but not much else. The graphic novels look good, too. I enjoy them but have gotten behind in the past 6 months or so – I need to get back into them.

    BTW, I left a comment last week but when I came back, I didn’t see it. So I hope this one stays. I’m late this week, but I hope you’ve been enjoying your books –

    Book By Book


    • Hmm, I checked in the spam, and didn’t see your other comment.
      Sorry about that. Thanks for trying again!
      I’m French and larned 3 languages at school (English, German, and Spanish), plus some Latin. So reading in Italian is not that difficult.
      If you a have a base of vocabulary, then reading a bit every day, starting with simple stuff, will help you grow your vocabulary. Reading French is actually fairly simple, as there are tons of cognates with English


  5. Pingback: Japanese Literature Challenge 16 | Words And Peace

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

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