May wrap up

I think that June, more than any other month, always takes me by surprise. I even wrote “April wrap up” as title for this post, and it took me a while before I realised my mistake!

We had a lot of rainy days lately, and I fear that June is going to be the same. To illustrate May, this is a view of Bugaksan (北岳山) from the back area of Gyeongbokgung (景福宮). There is this vast and calm strolling area North of the palace which was quite deserted. I guess that most people stay near the main buildings and don’t realise that the park extends much farther North.

Finished in May

Kogoro Akechi challenge

『魔術師』 by Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)

I read the 5th book of the Kogoro Akechi collection and this one was one of the most interesting story so far. I also found it easier to read than other titles of the series. I guess that I am simply getting used to the author’s style and preferred vocabulary.

In any case, my reading challenge is doing well, and I am confident that I will be able to complete it 🙂

Saburo Sugimura series #2

『名もなき毒』 by Miyuki Miyabe (宮部みゆき)

I loved the first half of this novel and read it quickly, but it took me forever to read the second half. This novel is good, but so slow…

My reading tracker tells me that during the period I was reading this book, I left it untouched for 10 days. I find that this number is the best indicator of how I felt towards a book. I track the number of days it took me to read a book (the days where I actually read the book) and the period it took me to read it (the number of days between the starting and finishing dates), but what is really interesting is the difference between the two. 10 days is on the higher end to me.

Overall, 名もなき毒 was on the easy side in terms of language level, but the slow pace made it hard to stay committed to the story until the end.

Medical page-turner

『逃げるな新人外科医』 by Yujiro Nakayama (中山裕次郎)

As far as reading time goes, this book wins the podium as it only took me two days to read.

It is a real page-turner, it has a quick pace with a lot of things happening and an overall engrossing story. New paragraphs often start with things like 翌日, 翌朝 or 三十分後, meaning that the story directly jumps to the next action or event, without filling the empty space in-between, which makes for a real page-turner.

The book is also filled with dialogues and mainly based on them rather than descriptions or explanations.

Medical jargon and specialised vocabulary are also often explained to the reader, which makes the book very easy to read even if you are not familiar with medical terms. For example:

サラサラの薬とは、血液をサラサラにする薬のことである。心筋梗塞や脳梗塞といった重大な病気を防ぐが、手術のときには血が止まりにくくなるという欠点がある。(p.24) Here the author does not only explains what this medication does, but he also underlines the consequences for the surgery, which makes the story very easy to understand.

播種とは、正式には腹膜播種と言い、お腹の中にがんの小さいつぶがばらまかれてしまった状態を言う。胃がんや大腸がんなどで進行すると起こることがある。(p.44)

This is also the second book I read by this author, so I am used to all the basic medical words that were in the first novel and also appear in this one.

Overall, this is an engrossing read that is much easier to read than you would expect from specialised fiction.

One story, two books

『あの日の君に恋をした、そして』and 『そして、その日まで君を愛する』 by Koichi Nitori (似鳥航一)

It has been a long time since I read a light novel and these two books seemed very intriguing. They are part of the same story, but tell different events and are told from two different points of view. I found this idea interesting and decided to give it a try.

Roughly speaking, the story is about a father and a son who wake up in each other’s body when they are both 12 years old, with a gap of 30 years. One story is told from the father’s point of view, the other from the son’s point of view.

あの日 is mainly a mystery novel, and I found it very entertaining. そして is more an every day life romance, and I found it quite boring to be honest (just my personal taste speaking here, both novels are good).

What I want to point out is that these books are extremely easy to read in Japanese. あの日 in particular was super easy. I don’t think that there was a single word in the whole novel that I didn’t know. I think that it can be a very good first novel to read in Japanese, and definitely something you can try if you are around a N3 level. The story is engrossing enough to make you want to continue reading even if you are struggling a bit.

そして was also easy, but it is really uneventful so I found it needed more commitment to go through it. I also find that the whole story makes more sense if you read あの日 first.

Currently reading

Akira Hamura series #1

『プレゼント』 by Nanami Wakatake (若竹七海)

I am starting a new detective series with プレゼント. It is a collection of short stories and the first book in the Akira Hamura series. What I find strange is that only every other short story features Akira Hamura, while the other stories are about another detective.

I have read 3 of the 8 short stories and I have loved none of them… The stories are good, but I don’t really like the author’s style, the way it is written. Maybe it is just a question of getting used to it, so I will finish the book, but I am a little disappointed.

Engrossing corporate novel

『空飛ぶタイヤ』 by Jun Ikeido (池井戸潤)

I have decided to challenge myself with another Ikeido and chose one of his most famous novels. It is not difficult to read overall, but there are some passages that I need to re-read twice or more to understand. I don’t have much problem with business-economic related words (thanks to the JLPT), but I sometimes need to look up expressions that I don’t know. For example, I just came across 溜飲を下げる, followed by しのぎを削る or 切羽詰まる.

I really like that Jun Ikeido makes his novel accessible even for people (like me) who are not into business/bank/corporate things. When a specialised word appears, it is always explained. For example:

過積載というのは、車両に定められた重量を超えた荷物を積み込むことだ。これをやると、トラックだけではなく、その運送業者そのものが営業停止を食らうことになる。(p.17) I like that the author does not only explains the word, but also the implications it has for our characters. This makes the story very easy to follow.

コンプライアンスとは、「法令遵守」と訳す。要するに法令を守りましょうということで、モラルの低下を危惧する企業が尊重している行動規範のようなものです。社員の逸脱行為がないか目を光らせているのである。p.66

There are a lot of characters in this novel, I noted 46 names in the first 200 pages. This is far more than most novels, and I am only at the beginning! I also take notes after each chapter to note what happened, because it is a very long book and I am reading it slowly.

Plans for June

That’s it for May, I don’t have any particular goal for June, except to finish the two books I have started. I will try to read another one as well (certainly a mystery or something easy), but I don’t think that I will have time for more, given that the Jun Ikeido is very long.