I took a break from the blog in October, and I read less than I usually do. I only read two books in Japanese, but one of these is a real achievement to me.
『罪の声』 by Takeshi Shiota (塩田武士)
This is one of the most (if not the most) difficult books I read this year (the other one would be Miri Yu’s Tokyo Ueno Station), and it is also the longest (535 pages!).
I had ordered it because the obi says 昭和最大の未解決事件を圧倒的のリアリティで描いた大ベストセラー！ and this kind of advertisement is enough to make me buy a book… When I received the copy and saw how thick it was, I shied away from it, and it stayed on my TBR for several months.
Overall, the novel was much easier to read than I expected. I would say that the general language level is similar to the majority of mystery novels that I am reading. However, there are some passages that I found very challenging, and the story is very complex in itself with a lot of names to remember.
I will talk more about the content in my book review, but this fiction is inspired by the real Glico-Morinaga case, an extorsion case that took place in 1984-1985. You don’t need to know about the real case to read the novel, because several passages go over the different stages of it… and these descriptions were not easy to read in Japanese to me.
I also counted more than 50 names… Even though I wrote a list of characters, I did not write sufficient information for each of them, and I had to re-read some passages to refresh my memory about who was who (it took me almost one month to read the book – I guess that if you read this book in a week, you won’t forget as much as I did between two reading sessions). I can read comfortably in Japanese now, but there is something that I still cannot do: skim through the pages I have already read to find a specific passage. If I only glance over a paragraph, I get zero piece of information from it. I need to read the text, I cannot just take a quick look at it. So having to go back to previous chapters took me forever and was quite arduous too.
But I made it to the end, and this book is the one I am the most proud of finishing this year!
I cannot wait to watch the movie:
『リバース』by Kanae Minato (湊かなえ)
Another book that I had on my TBR for some time. If I were to make a list of my favourite books in Japanese, Kanae Minato’s 『豆の上で眠る』would be on it. As a consequence, I was confident that I would love 『リバース』, but when I first started months ago now, I gave up after 50 pages. I found the beginning very slow and could not get into the story.
I started it again this month, and yes, once again, I found the beginning quite boring. I managed to go through the first chapter, and things started getting more and more interesting. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel, even if it did not have the impact that 『豆の上で眠る』 had on me. Looking at Amazon’s ratings, I see that 『リバース』 has slightly better ratings than 『豆の上で眠る』, so I guess that which story touches you most is personal.
This is the first time that I participate in Nonfiction November (or any reading challenge), so I am very excited about it. The idea is just to read more nonfiction in November than you would usually do. If you read just one book of nonfiction it’s okay, but of course, you can read as many books as you want. There are four prompts to help you pick your books, so I will stick to them and try to read 4 Japanese nonfiction books in November!
For more information about Nonfiction November, check out the video announcement by abookolive.
Prompts and books:
TIME – 『あのころ』by Momoko SAKURA. This is a collection of essays about the author’s childhood, so it seems perfect for the “time” prompt!
MOVEMENT – 『裁判者失格』 by Ryuichi TAKAHASHI (高橋隆一). This book is, I believe, about a judge’s inner struggles and what lays behind a court ruling. The subtitle on this book made me think that it could fit the “movement” prompt: 法と正義の間で揺れ動く苦悩と葛藤, though I recognise that it is a bit of a stretch here.
BUZZ – 『嫌われる勇気』 by Ichiro KISHIMI (岸見一郎) and Fumitake KOGA (古賀史健). With more than 3700 ratings on Amazon, this book is perfect for “buzz”.
DISCOVERY – 『岩田さん』edited by Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun (ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞). Satoru Iwata is known for his inventive projects and new ideas that have marked the game industry, so it will be my “discovery” book.
I only chose books that are on the short side (all are less than 300 pages), so I hope I will complete this November challenge and have time to sneak in one fiction too.
I am late on posting my book reviews and I really want to post all the book reviews of books that I read in 2020 before the New Year. Sadly, I think that I will discontinue my news category “Inhae reads the news in Japanese” because it really takes me too much time to write it. I will be posting book reviews instead for the rest of the year, and maybe start a new series altogether for 2021.