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Nothing really special this week, except I am happy I managed to find the time, in the midst of lots of hours of teaching (French, online), to finish the lecture I’ll be giving to the sisterhood at my church on March 25.
And one result of exhaustion is reading more manga and comics!
I only posted once since last Sunday:
JUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧
📚 Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence,
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Published in 2015
Nonfiction / Biography / Music / Eastern Orthodoxy
This was really excellent, and I need some time to write a review.
I really enjoyed how the author closely connected Arvo’s art with Orthodox theology.
Though his section of tintinnabuli could have been a bit clearer.
I discovered so many layers in his music I didn’t know were there.
Definitely making me want to relisten to so many pieces.
📚 Éclipses japonaises,
by Éric Faye
I finished this one late Saturday night, so I haven’t had time to write a review.
This is an excellent and quite eye-opening historical novel focusing on (mostly Japanese) people kidnapped and taken to North Korea, to use them as teachers to teach Korean spies to speak and behave as real Japanese people.
And possibly to perform some “special missions.”
This is very good, and it confirms I need to read more books by the author of Nagasaki.
📚 Department of
by Tom Gauld
Comics / Humor/ Science
This author/illustrator is absolutely amazing!
This time, this is not about authors/books/editors, but about science, all kinds of sciences, and all kinds of invention.
It’s both so hilarious and so smartly done, plus the illustrations are fabulous.
Very neat and detailed, the type of art I really enjoy.
📚 Baking With Kafka,
by Tom Gauld
Comics / Humor/ Book about books
Maybe I like this volume slightly less than the others, because it’s not on one particular theme. And I’m afraid there are a few pages I actually didn’t understand.
Still, it’s always great to open a book by Tom Gaud: I love his humor (here on books, pop culture, and various themes) and his beautiful art is totally on target for the messages he wants to convey.
This is the kind of books I would love to own and revisit often, but I’m fortunate that my public library is walking distance from my house!
If you want to give a beautiful and smart book, Tom’s books are gold, lol.
📚 Astra Lost in Space, #5
by Kenta Shinohara
was originally published in 2018
Translated from the Japanese by
12/4/2018, by VIZ Media LLC
Manga / Science-fiction
Oh wow, this was a fabulous series.
I really enjoy all the events, discoveries, revelations of the last volume, and how things turned out at the end.
This is a very positive series, illustrating the difficult stages of growing up, but how a group of friends can stick together to make it eaier and even enjoyable – even if some pain is involved.
It’s also about finding one’s own identity, and learning to think – which may imply not always taking for granted what adults have told us.
There are very few books these days inviting people to think, this was refreshing.
There’s also the hope that newer generations could find better solutions to major problems than what previous generations did.
I also loved all the scifi and scientific details.
My only regret: this is already the last book in the series.
Shinohara says it’s the first time he writes scifi manga, he should definitely keep going, plus the last pages make me hope more discoveries could be in store for at least a couple of the main characters.
📚 What’s Michael?:
Fatcat Collection Volume 1,
by Makoto Kobayashi
originally published 1990-2000
Translated from the Japanese by
Alan Gleason & Hisashi Kotobuki
2/25/2020, by Dark Horse Manga
Manga / Cats / Humor
This is a great collection of the first 6 volumes of the What’s Michael? manga series – though this collection is not presented in the usual manga manner, in the sense that you read it as a Western book, from left to right.
It’s full of hilarious details on cats’ personalities and quirky behavior, and common scenes for cat owners.
There are really funny passages, like with these 2 tough Yakuza members: Yakuza K has a cat, but works hard to hide the fact from his rival Yakuza M, for fear of looking too weak or sentimental.
The drawings are so well done, very detailed and with clean lines.
Every cat owner should have this book!
I hope to be able to read volume 2 of the fatcat collection soon.
Not done yet with my long but fabulous current audio – see below.
CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO
📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
Nonfiction / Book on Books
Hmm, I don’t think I have read any pages from this one this week, too tired I guess.
Though it’s really good
and I’ll definitely keep going.
I am currently reading the essay on Orlando furioso, an Italian epic poem by Ariosto (early 16th century).
📚 L’Arabe du futur :
Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1978–1984
(L’Arabe du futur, #1)
by Riad Sattouf
Published in 2014
Available in English as
The Arab of the Future:
A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984
French nonfiction / Graphic novel / Memoir / History
Reading with French student F.
Almost done with this one. Really fascinating to see the evolution of his father’s ideas, as he decides to take his young family back to Syria.
Some scenes of daily life are quite appaling!
“The Arab of the Future, the #1 French best-seller, tells the unforgettable story of Riad Sattouf’s childhood, spent in the shadows of 3 dictators—Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, and his father.
In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria–but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.
🎧 Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence:
An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,
by R. F. Kuang
Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi
Fantasy / Historical fiction
OMG, I can see now why all the hype on this one, and definitely well deserved!
I love linguistics, and I almost made it my career, so there’s so much to enjoy for me in this book.
I love all the explanations, examples between languages, and data on research.
The author did an awesome job at finding a fantasy element that would fit with languages and with world history – here the growth and decline of the Birtish Empire. A very brilliant idea.
And the characters are so well described, you can’t but feel with them.
I’m glad I decided to listen to it, the narrator Chris Lew Kum Hoi is excellent, plus other voices insert words pronounced correctly in various foreign languages. This is unusual in an audio production and so so refreshing!
BOOK UP NEXT
📚 Les trois mousquetaires,
by Alexandre Dumas
I’ll be reading it with French student E.
It counts for The Classics Club
I read this novel a few decades ago, and at this point, I was actually not considering rereading it.
But my French student E. thought it would be good for her to read it, as she bumped into so many references to this novel.
I’m actually delighted to revisit it with her!
“Alexandre Dumas’s most famous tale— and possibly the most famous historical novel of all time.
This swashbuckling epic of chivalry, honor, and derring-do, set in France during the 1620s, is richly populated with romantic heroes, unattainable heroines, kings, queens, cavaliers, and criminals in a whirl of adventure, espionage, conspiracy, murder, vengeance, love, scandal, and suspense.
Dumas transforms minor historical figures into larger- than-life characters: the Comte d’Artagnan, an impetuous young man in pursuit of glory; the beguilingly evil seductress “Milady”; the powerful and devious Cardinal Richelieu; the weak King Louis XIII and his unhappy queen—and, of course, the three musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto “all for one, one for all” has come to epitomize devoted friendship. With a plot that delivers stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and, of course, great bouts of swordplay, The Three Musketeers is eternally entertaining.”
LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
Fenêtres sur le Japon : ses écrivains et cinéastes, by Éric Faye
I did mention above how I definitely wanted to read more books by Faye.
So I added this one to my TBR: a portrait of old and new Japan, through its famous authors and movies. Perfect for me.
📚 MAILBOX MONDAY 📚
📚 A History of the Island, by Eugene Vodolazkin
Оправдание Острова was first published in 2020
Translated from the Russian by Lisa C. Hayden
To be published on May 23, 2023 by Plough Publishing
I enjoyed a lot Laurus, so when I discovered there was a type of sequel, to be soon published in English, and that it was available through Netgalley, I didn’t hesitate.
My thanks to the publisher!
“Monks devious and devout – and an age-defying royal pair – chronicle the history of their fictional island in this witty critique of Western civilization and history itself.
Eugene Vodolazkin, internationally acclaimed novelist and scholar of medieval literature, returns with a satirical parable about European and Russian history, the myth of progress, and the futility of war.
This ingenious novel, described by critics as a coda to his bestselling Laurus, is presented as a chronicle of an island from medieval to modern times. The island is not on the map, but it is real beyond doubt. It cannot be found in history books, yet the events are painfully recognizable. The monastic chroniclers dutifully narrate events they witness: quests for power, betrayals, civil wars, pandemics, droughts, invasions, innovations, and revolutions. The entries mostly seem objective, but at least one monk simultaneously drafts and hides a “true” history, to be discovered centuries later. And why has someone snipped out a key prophesy about the island’s fate?
These chronicles receive commentary today from an elderly couple who are the island’s former rulers. Prince Parfeny and Princess Ksenia are truly extraordinary: they are now 347 years old. Eyewitnesses to much of their island’s turbulent history, they offer sharp-eyed observations on the changing flow of time and their people’s persistent delusions. Why is the royal couple still alive? Is there a chance that an old prophecy comes to pass and two righteous persons save the island from catastrophe?
In the tradition of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, Vodolazkin is at his best recasting history, in all its hubris and horror, by finding the humor in its absurdity. For readers with an appetite for more than a dry, rational, scientific view of what motivates, divides, and unites people, A History of the Island conjures a world still suffused with mystical powers.
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