Japanese Literature Challenge 16


Japanase Literature Challenge 16

#JapaneseLitChallenge16   #JapaneseLiterature

Thanks to DolceBelleza (@bellezzamjs) who has been organizing this challenge for many years! This is my 8th participation.
Click on the BEAUTIFUL logo to read more about it, to join us, and to read reviews as they will be posted.

The Challenge runs January-February 2023.
I was planning to read 6 books, but January is starting crazy busy this year, so not sure how well I’ll do with this. But anyway, as usual, I’m planning on reading more Japanese lit all year around.

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Here is my TBR (in chronological order) for this event – my recap, with links to my reviews when they become live.

This year, I have MOSTLY chosen classics, so they also count for my Classics Club’s 4th list.

  1. Shuna’s Journey (1983), by Hayao Miyazaki
  2. I am a Cat (1905), by Natsume Soseki
  3. Hell Screen (1918), by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa review here below
  4. Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny (1939), by Okamoto Kidō – currently reading
  5. The Honjin Murders (1946), by Seishi Yokomizo
  6. The Hunting Gun (1949), by Yasushi Inoue
  7. The Sound of the Mountain (1953), by Yasunari Kawabata

I just read Hell Screen, so I’m actually posting my review here:

Hell ScreenHell Screen, by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
First published in 1918
This edition:
Translation by Jay Rubin
58 pages
2/1/2011 by Penguin Group

I had already read In a Grove and Rashoumon by Akutagawa, but the two stories presented here are very different in style.
I think it was a great editor choice to actually put together in the same book these two short stories: Hell Screen and The Spider’s Thread.
They both deal with terrifying characters and hell, within the genre of old tales, legends, fantasy, and horror.

In Hell Screen, among stories related to the great Lord Horikawa, the author focuses on one in which we meet the very gifted artist Yoshihide. The problem is, to paint truthfully he needs live models, so for instance he doesn’t hesitate torturing servants to be able to paint people in pain. Then one day, Horikawa commissions him to paint a folding screen portraying scenes from the eight Buddhist hells. And the painter asks for a live scene of hell to be able to finish his painting in truth…

This was a rather terrifying story, with an expected outcome – it was easy to guess who was going to be burning in a carriage falling from the sky.
I actually didn’t know about the eight Buddhist hells. Some descriptions of sinners pertaining to all stations of life sounded very close to The Divine Comedy, or to paintings by Bosch!

In The Spider’s Thread, we start in Paradise, but from there we see a robber in hell: Kandata. He doesn’t seem to have Yoshihide’s repulsive characteristics, but we discover Kandata’s true nature when he’s given a chance to get out of hell.

It was interesting to discover a very different style in Akutagawa’s short stories.


2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: September checkpoint

tbr 2022 rbrbutton


Adam is asking us how we are doing so far with this challenge.
Since the August checkpoint, I have finished two books:


📚 Eventide, by Kent Haruf
Literary fiction
Published in 2004

I so enjoyed this book!
It was great meeting again the McPheron brothers, and Victoria. The brothers are two old farmers, living and working together on this isolated farm  near the very small village of Holt, Colorado.
Victoria is a young woman they sheltered in the previous book (Plainsong), when she was in trouble. She now has a young child, and she is going back to school.
I really enjoyed the slow pace, the description of the landscape, of the daily chores on the farm. And obviously the study of the relationships between people in this city. The focus is really on relationships, within different families, in different social milieus.
And Haruf is so good at dialogs, especially at evoking the accent and speech characteristics of these two old guys. I read the book, I didn’t listen to the audiobook, but still, their voice was so alive to me through Haruf’s writing!
He wrote a 3rd book in this trilogy (Benediction), but it’s not about the same characters. I’m disappointed, as Raymond is kind of turning a new page in his life (you are never too old for that), and I wanted to know more about that. I also wanted more on the young boy DJ. But alas the author has passed away, so no more adventures coming on these characters I feel like I met in real life.

📚 Ensemble, c’est tout,Ensemble, c'est tout
by Anna Gavalda
Literary fiction

574 pages
Published in 2004

I read French Leave by Anna Gavalda in 2011. I liked it, but was not super impressed. But something (or someone??) told me to try another book, and I must have found Ensemble, c’est tout at a second-hand book sale – not easy to find these in French around Chicago!

VERDICT: Very enjoyable character-focused novel, with flowing dialogues.

Click on the cover to read my full review.

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Here is my full list for this challenge:

  1. Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée: How a Founding father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell 6/12/22
  2. Le Voyage d’Octavio, by Miguel Bonnefoy 5/22/22
  3. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry 5/21/22
  4. Stuart Little, by E.B. White 5/18
  5. The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells 7/22/22
  6. Eventide, by Kent Haruf 9/10/22
  7. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey 8/21/22
  8. Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda 8/26/22
  9. Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit
  10. Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, by Haruki Murakami (currently reading)
  11. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence, by Peter C. Bouteneff
  12. A is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton 7/13/22

11. Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French, by Harriett Welty Rochefort
12. The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, by Graham Robb

TBR 2022


20 Books of Summer 2022: it’s a wrap

20 books of summer


20 Books of Summer 2022:
it’s a wrap

Thanks to 746books.com I participated in this challenge from June 1 to August 31, for the third time.

Here were my original 20 books:

20 books of summer a

I am very happy, because I stuck pretty close to this list (rather unusual for me, lol), with 16 done and 2 more started.

AND I actually read almost as many books that were NOT on that original list:

20 books of summer b

I finished 7 in June, 12 in July, and 9 in August

Statistics wise, that’s:

28 books (7 on paper, 10 ebooks, and 11 audiobooks)
That’s a total of 4,929 pages (average of 53 pages/day)

And 95H46 of audio time (average of 1H02/day).

If I convert these audiobooks into pages, that’s 3,399 pages (average of 36 pages/day).
So the total in pages is 8,328 (average of 90 pages/day).

My original goal was 5,946 pages (average of 64 pages/day), so I’m very happy with this summer reading.

Genre wise – a nice mix
And 16 of these were classics
The oldest book was published in 1865, the most recent on July 16, 2022
Mystery: 10                – favorites: The Bride Wore Black / Confessions
Literary fiction: 6        – favorite: Ensemble, c’est tout
Scifi: 4                       – favorite: Upgrade
Nonfiction: 3              – favorite: L’Enfer numérique
Historical fiction: 3    – favorite: So Big
Play: 1
Fantasy: 1

Library: 11
Web: 7
Owned: 4
Netgalley: 2
EStories (audio subscription): 2
Print review copy: 2

English: 13
French: 10
Translated into English: 5
(2 from the Japanese, 2 from the French, 1 from the Russian)

My disappointments
I was disappointed with only #2, 11, and 19.
My conclusion: you REALLY need to read all the others!

Click here or one of the above charts to access my full chart

How many books did you read this Summer?
Which ones were your favorites or your disappointments?