April: East-Asia Month!


4月には、東アジアの月です!

In April, I will continue working on my goal to reduce my pile of to-read books. In March, I read all the books I owned (but hadn’t read) by Spanish authors (3). In April, I will read all the East-Asian books I own but haven’t read yet.

It’s a doable pile:

The Strange Library by Haruki MurakamiThe Reason I Jump by Naoki HigashidaThe Three-Body Problem by Cixin LiuWolf Totem by Jiang RongLight and Dark by Natsume Soseki

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami. A short story in a beautifully designed book. Ideal for the 24 hour readathon!

Slightly bigger, but not by much, is The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, the story of an autistic boy, told by himself. Also ideal for the readathon.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu is a science fiction novel that I happened to come across in a book store. I’ve never heard of the author or the book, but it sounded so intriguing, I had to buy it. Read about it here.

Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong is one of the books that has spent the most time on my to-read pile. Not sure why. I heard good things about it. This is the ideal month to read it! Read more about it here.

Finally, I have a beautiful edition of Light and Dark by Natsume Soseki. A Japanese classic, but unfinished novel. I have the feeling this will be a tough read. I’ll read a bit every day, three short chapters. That will bring me half-way the book. If I enjoy it, I’ll continue in May. Read more about it here.

Want to join in?

My East-Asian authors are all from Japan or China. But let’s define East-Asia as any country to the right of (but not including) India. I’m not sure if there is an official definition, but this will do, right?

So, let me know in the comments if you’d like to join in and read all (or some) of your East-Asian books in April.

What will you be reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and are planning to read next.

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The last week I read…

& Sons by David GilbertDit kan niet waar zijn by Joris LuyendijkThe Shut Eye by Belinda Bauerbal

I finished three books. &Sons by David Gilbert (click on the title for my review), Dit kan niet waar zijn [This Can’t be True] by Joris Luyendijk, a non-fiction book about banks, and The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer, a thriller with some supernatural elements.

I’ve just started in Bal Masqué by Elia Barcelo. My final Spanish author for this month. Not hugely interesting to start with, but I have great hopes.

Next up it’s

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander EssbaumGeachte Heer M [Dear Mr. M] by Herman Koch

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum.

If I get round to it, the new Herman Koch, Geachte Heer M. [Dear Mr. M.].

Reviews

The Green Pen by Eloy Moreno

The Green Pen by Eloy Moreno. I read together with Isi of FromIsi, but my review is in Dutch.

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My challenges

FitReaders2015

#Fitreaders is a challenge for all readers (and everyone else, really) who want to get more active. My goal is 3 x 7,000  and 3 x 5,000 per week, and one day off. Last week, I was not far off this target, so I am happy with that.

Cut-Out-Processed-Food

The Cut out Processed Food in 14 Weeks challenge for last week, was Eat local; at least one meal per day should contain something locally grown. I did go to a farm shop but was not convinced all their stuff was local (bananas, nuts? Not in the Netherlands, for sure!). But it was nice not to buy from a big supermarket. I got some things, but not enough for seven days. I may make it a habit to visit them once a week or so. This week’s challenge is to cut out sweeteners, which I’ll skip. I’m concentrating on the local thing.

What are YOU reading this week?

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Book review: & Sons by David Gilbert

& Sons by David Gilbert& Sons: What it is about

From the publishers: “The funeral of Charles Henry Topping on Manhattan’s Upper East Side would have been a minor affair (his two-hundred-word obit in The New York Times notwithstanding) but for the presence of one particular mourner: the notoriously reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic of American teenage angst. But as Andrew Newbold Dyer delivers the eulogy for his oldest friend, he suffers a breakdown over the life he’s led and the people he’s hurt and the novel that will forever endure as his legacy. He must gather his three sons for the first time in many years—before it’s too late.

So begins a wild, transformative, heartbreaking week, as witnessed by Philip Topping, who, like his late father, finds himself caught up in the swirl of the Dyer family. First there’s son Richard, a struggling screenwriter and father, returning from self-imposed exile in California. In the middle lingers Jamie, settled in Brooklyn after his twenty-year mission of making documentaries about human suffering. And last is Andy, the half brother whose mysterious birth tore the Dyers apart seventeen years ago, now in New York on spring break, determined to lose his virginity before returning to the prestigious New England boarding school that inspired Ampersand. But only when the real purpose of this reunion comes to light do these sons realize just how much is at stake, not only for their father but for themselves and three generations of their family.”

& Sons: What I thought

I read this book for my book group after Ciska (also in the book group) recommended it. I had to read this big tome in a too short amount of time, and that did not help my enjoyment.

There was a lot going on in the book, but the biggest problem was the (sole and unreliable) narrator. He knew everything! He was obsessed with another family, that he had known all his life, because their fathers had been childhood friends. He recounted conversations that he had not been privy to, whole scenes that happened without him being present, even scenes that happened in the past, between the fathers.

When I first realised this, it felt wrong, but soon I got used to the narration. Only, at no point could the reader be sure that what he was being told, actually happened like that, or actually happened, period. So, how much of the story, if anything, is true, is anyone’s guess. Weird, weird, but also interesting.

That was the interesting thing about the book. Well, the story itself was also quite good, with family secrets being revealed. Unfortunately, I got confused with the characters and lost track of what was going on, on occasion. First of all, there was this narrator, who in my mind could not be the same narrator throughout. So, before I realised it was the same person, telling us his version of events rather than the actual events, I had mixed up Phillip (the narrator) with Richard. The second problem was that the main characters all had very common names: Phillip, Richard, Jamie, Andrew. That didn’t help matters!

Also, parts of the book were about the past, when Phillip, the narrator could not have been present, and I took this to be happening in the current time.

So, another, more careful reader (or someone who is warned in advance), has a better chance of following exactly what happens. I was in a hurry to finish before book group night and rather confused by the narration. But Ciska explained it all. :-)


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (okay to good; a more careful reader may give 4+ stars)

Number of pages: 454

First published: 2013

I got this: bought it in a physical book store

Genre: Contemporary fiction

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and are planning to read next.

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It seems this post didn’t publish on Monday. Did I forget to press the button? Well, any day is a good day to talk about books! 

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The last week I read…

The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant by Pablo TussetThe Green Pen by Eloy Moreno& Sons by David GilbertDit kan niet waar zijn by Joris LuyendijkThe Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer

I finished The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant by Pablo Tusset. How about that for a title? It’s Spanish Month on one of the Dutch blogs and this is my first book. Click on the title for my review.

I also finished  The Green Pen by Eloy Moreno, another book by a Spanish author, which I read together with Isi of FromIsi.

At the moment I’m trying to get &Sons by David Gilbert finished for our book group meeting on Friday. It’s sometimes slow, sometimes a fast read. I think I’ll make it!

I also started The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer. A thriller. I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by this author, and it starts really interesting!

And this book, I just need to sit down and finish. But now that I’m reading &Sons in somewhat of a hurry, it’s just lying there. Dit kan niet waar zijn [This Can’t be True] by Joris Luyendijk, about banks and how no one really seems to know what they’re doing (including the banks themselves).

Next up it’s

bal

Bal Masqué by Elia Barcelo. My final Spanish author for this month. I have run out of books by Spanish authors, but not out of books. :-)

There are also the three books above that I started but not finished yet. I think that will keep me busy this week!

 

Reviews

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel FaberThe Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant by Pablo TussetWeerwater by Renate Dorrestein

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.

The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant by Pablo Tusset

Weerwater (Dutch) by renate Dorrestein

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My challenges

FitReaders2015

#Fitreaders is a challenge for all readers (and everyone else, really) who want to get more active. My goal is 3 x 7,000  and 3 x 5,000 per week, and one day off. This week, I’ve done spectacularly badly with one day under 2,000 – that’s like sitting on the couch most of the day. And a few 3,000s and one 8,000. Let’s talk about something else!

Cut-Out-Processed-Food

The Cut out Processed Food in 14 Weeks challenge for last week, I didn’t do. It was No refined or hydrogenated oils. Since the week before I had been very careful not to eat anything with sugar, I didn’t feel like another week taking extreme care of what I ate. But this week, the challenge is to Eat local; at least one meal per day should contain something locally grown. I’m going to the farm shop tomorrow!

What are YOU reading this week?

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