2022 reading project, reading challenge and reading journal

After completing my reading challenge of 2021, I feel like nothing can stop me, so here are several projects and challenges for 2022!

MWJ Awards project

The Mystery Writers of Japan Awards are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of Japan, an association founded by Edogawa Rampo in 1947. The awards started in 1948 and honour the best works in three categories (though this changed over the years): long fiction, short fiction and critical work.

As a fan of crime fiction, I thought it would be fun to work my way through the list of award winners and read them all (as far as possible) in chronological order.

This is not a yearly reading challenge, but rather a reading project that will keep me company for a long time.

I made a Notion page especially for this project. Feel free to visit it if you want to join me in this adventure! I will update the page as I read, and you can also use the template if you want to participate too, or use it as an inspiration to create your own reading challenge. Here are the links:

If you are not interested in this particular challenge but want to use a similar layout to record your readings, you can copy the template, delete the contents of the database and create your own entries.

Here is a quick overview of how the page works: (I haven’t read any of these books yet! It’s just a simulation to show how the page works.)

On the page, you will find the list of all the prize winners in chronological order. The older publications are out of print, but for the most part, there is an electronic version available on sites like Bookwalker or Booklive. I started to research the availability of the first books. If I have found it on Bookwalker, I linked to it in the book’s page, otherwise, I marked them as ”unavailable”. I only did this for the first entries, so it’s still a work in progress.

When you start a book, just enter the starting date in ”started”. If a book has a started date but no finished date, it will automatically appear in the ”currently reading” section.

When you finish a book, just add a ”finished” date and a rating. Once a finished date is given, the book will disappear from the ”currently reading” section and appear on the ”read so far” list.

In each book’s page, you will find a DNF checkbox. If you check it, the book will disappear from the ”currently reading” section and stop haunting you forever.

The ”book review” is the place where I will link to my blog.

This is the list:

Here is the ”currently reading” section. It will display the cover of the book. Only the books with a started date and no finished date appear here:

This is the ”read so far” section. Once a book has a finished date, it moves here:

Finally, I have added a timeline and board view where the books are classified by rating.

Note: There might be mistakes in the list, of course. I know that the cover does not always correspond to the digital version, and I realised too late that the auto-correction was enabled on my ipad, so it might have messed up with the transcriptions of the authors’ name. I’ll correct any mistake in the template when I see them.

Reading journal

I will be using a physical reading journal in 2022 🥰 I won’t make monthly spreads or decorate each page, it will mostly be used for loose notes about the books I read (summaries, review drafts, vocabulary, etc.). I just used the first pages to list all my challenges, I will complete them as I go.


I am participating in the 2022 Target Language Reading Challenge created by @studywithkat on Twitter. I want to read more in Korean, so I will be joining this challenge for Korean only. It will be one Korean book per month, and I will do my best to follow the prompts 🙂

I will write the name of the chosen book in the corresponding box each month.

Read in more languages

I also want to read in more languages, including English, German and Spanish. I feel confident reading in German, but I haven’t touched Spanish since school, so reading books in Spanish will be a fun challenge.

It’s not easy to see on the picture, but I have a separate space for Japanese, Korean, English and for translations. I grouped German, Spanish and French together, because I will probably read less in these languages.

20th Century reading challenge

And finally, I thought it could be fun to read my way through the 20th Century. I will try to read at least one book set in each decade. The book could be in any language and the story must be influenced by the social or political background of the chosen decade.

On the left page, I will select my favourite book for each month. On the right is my 20th Century reading challenge. I will write the book or books I read for each decade.

And that’s it!

I wish you all the best for 2022 ❤️

Book review:『走れ外科医』by Yujiro Nakayama


Author: Yujiro Nakayama (中山祐次郎)
396 pages

This is the third novel in the series 泣くな研修医.

In the series, we follow young surgeon Ryuji Ameno as he takes care of his first patients and is overwhelmed by the amount of things to learn in 泣くな研修医, then we see him slowly but steadily gaining some experience in 逃げるな新外科医. In 走れ外科医, Ryuji has now gained confidence and becomes an inspiration for his younger colleague Rinko.


I absolutely loved the first book of the series because I found the character of Ryuji extremely relatable, and the novel was an excellent way to peek into the medical system of Japan. I learned a lot about medical procedures and Ryuji’s struggles felt very real. The second book was less powerful, but it was still very interesting to read, and I liked the introduction of the new character Rinko. It might be inevitable that the third novel should lose a bit of what makes the series so engrossing. As Ryuji becomes more experienced, the series also departs from its recipe, and while things get better for our protagonist, the novel might also feel less exciting for the reader.

But to be honest, I would have been perfectly happy to follow Ryuji in his daily tasks, meet new patients and accompany them during their stay at the hospital. With a more mature and experienced Ryuji, things would have been less chaotic than they used to be (though I guess he could also have been confronted with difficult cases), but still, it would have been good enough.

However, the author decided to take another course and try different things to diversify what is happening in the novel. First, we have a weird change in focus. I believe that the whole series has been told from Ryuji’s point of view without exception, so it felt very strange when we suddenly follow the point of view of two other characters. I found that it did not bring much. The episode where we follow Rei Sato, a senior doctor who has been mentoring Ryuji since book one, was very strange. We almost never get to know her during the whole series and suddenly, we are asked to follow her while she makes a life turning decision.

I have never been a fan of episodes with Haruka, Ryuji’s girlfriend. I always found them to be the weaker parts of the novels, and I had the same feeling here too. Their relationship seems artificial, I cannot feel that Ryuji really cares for Haruka or even has feelings for her. The scenes seem here only to check the case ”scenes with girlfriend”, and they feel uninspiring to me. Similarly, the episode where Ryuji visit his mother with Haruka felt rushed and didn’t lead anywhere. It felt like a mandatory episode that the author wanted to be over with as quickly as possible, which feels strange given how deeply episodes with his family must have affected Ryuji.

The last 100 pages of the novel where we see Ryuji and two other characters climbing mount Fuji were extremely boring to read to me. It is very long for a single episode (1/4 of the novel!) and I did not find it interesting at all. Nothing much happens, it is just a description of the climbing with dialogues that don’t seem to go farther than ”are you alright?”, ”I’m alright” and ”thank you so much”. Other readers might enjoy reading this kind of scenes, but it is not for me at all.

This book belongs to a series of medical fiction and this is the reason why I bought it, so I felt a little bit betrayed by the series at the end of the third book. I would have loved to learn more medical things or treat different illnesses with Ryuji rather than climb Mont Fuji for 100 pages. Maybe the author did not want to overwhelm the reader with too many medical explanations, but at the same time, this is certainly what you are looking for if you buy this book.

I find that the author really did a great job at teaching the reader some basic medical vocabulary and procedures in the first two novels. As a result, we are now used to the medical words our protagonist will use, and we are also familiar with his daily routine at the hospital. So I think that the author should have trusted the reader to be able to understand more advanced medical procedures, and it would have been nice to be confronted with more complicated health challenges as Ryuji gains experience. But it looks like the author wanted to address a more general public by writing a story of nice people hanging out together.

To me, this novel felt like it was written for the drama adaptation. All the characters felt more stereotyped, they just appear to play the part assigned to their character. The fact that we focus on several characters and that more space is given to friendship and relationships in general compared to medical challenges made me also feel like I was actually watching a drama rather than reading a novel.

Overall, the sudden change of point of view and the Mont Fuji episode made this novel much weaker to me than the previous ones. This being said, I don’t regret reading it. All the books of the series are easy and agreeable to read, and I heartily recommend to try the first novel, even if you are not particularly into medical fiction. I also think that the series is particularly good for language learners, because it is easy to read with a lot of dialogues and a lot of recurring vocabulary, which makes learning new words really rewarding.

November wrap up

I didn’t know what to draw to illustrate November, so I just drew my cat 🤷‍♀️

Japanese books read this month

Aではない君と by Gaku Yakumaru (薬丸岳)

Based on the other books I read by this author, I was expecting a thriller with a little more action than Aではない君と contains. The novel is quite slow but stays engaging all along with an interesting topic: what happens when a minor is arrested in a murder case.

This is the fourth Yakumaru book I have read now, and Aではない君と contains topics that were already treated in other books: school bullying in ガーディアン, murder committed by minors in 天使のナイフ, and more generally, the protagonist is often a father who leads a normal life until something tears his life apart, and he has to fight for truth or justice (天使のナイフ, 約束).

I would say that Aではない君と was my least favourite of all four books. The pace is slow with a lot of repetitive scenes, and I could not feel any sympathy for our protagonist’s son, the character around which the whole novel revolves.

最後の証人 by Yuko Yuzuki (柚木裕子)

This book is the first in the Sadato Sakata series, and it was excellent! Sadato Sakata used to be a public prosecutor, but we learn that he resigned years ago to become a lawyer. In this novel, we follow Sakata as he takes a difficult case and finds himself fighting prosecutor Mao Shoji in court.

I was a bit disappointed at first because I was expecting the whole novel to be about court proceedings, but we also follow the narrative of what happened from the point of view of the characters involved. As a result, the court scenes where we hear witnesses talking about the case can sometimes feel unexciting as we think we know what happened already.

The end was surprising though, and the chapter recounting the last day of the trial was extremely engrossing.

Interestingly, the following 3 books of the series are all collections of short stories about the time when Sakata was a public prosecutor. I happen to have already read the second book of the series because I did not know that it was the second book when I bought it. There was nothing on the cover, the obi or even inside the book that told me “this is the second book in a series, you should start with that one”. I really hate when this happens as I prefer to read a series in order, even if it does not have much impact with this series.

妖怪博士|暗黒星 by Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)

This is the 11th book in the Kogoro Akechi series that I am reading this year. There are 12 books in the collection I bought, and my reading challenge for 2021 is to read one book a month, so I am close to completing my challenge!

妖怪博士 belongs to the Boy Detectives Club series, and it was extremely good. I cannot say if it was my favourite because all the novels I read from this series are all equal in quality. If you love one, you will probably love them all. One thing with this series though, is that you really need to read them in order. 妖怪博士 in particular is much more enjoyable if you have read the first adventures of the Boy Detectives Club. It even contains some spoilers as to how the previous cases were solved.

暗黒星 belongs to the regular Kogoro Akechi series, and it was a pure delight. It belongs now to my favourite books of the series together with 魔術師 and 吸血鬼. There are two types of plot in the series. One is when a villain is introduced as the worst criminal of all time who is terrorising the city, and the story is then a Akechi vs Villain adventure. The other type is when some weird and inexplicable events happen to a family (usually living in a big house) and Akechi is called to investigate, the crime is then more intimate and personal. Sometimes, both lines are mixed, but I really do prefer the latter. This is the kind of story with have here in 暗黒星 and I did not want it to stop. I wish that the last two remaining novels (only one book, but it contains two novels) are in the same line.

Korean reading project

I’ve learned Korean before learning Japanese, but unfortunately, I have never been able to read comfortably in Korean. I did manage to finish several novels (maybe 4 or 5), but I never reached that cap that I had with Japanese, where reading progressively but steadily becomes easier. The lack of kanji (I should say ”hanja”) is really killing me, and I have given up trying to read whole novels in Korean. The fact that the book scene in Korea is not really focused on mystery fiction also did not motivate me to put in the extra effort.

But now, I have decided that things must change 😠 !! I will apply the same method I used for Japanese to read Korean books. I will report on the books I read in my monthly wrap ups and I’ll try to read one Korean book per month. I might also write short reviews for them, but I will certainly group 3 or 4 books in the same blog post.

아몬드 (Almond) by Won-pyung Sohn (손원평)

The book I read this month is 아몬드 by Won-pyung Sohn 손원평. It has been translated into English under the title Almond by Sandy Joosun Lee. Interestingly, this book was labelled as Young Adult fiction when it came out in Korea, but after reading it, I would say that it is more correct to just classify it as literary fiction.

Our protagonist and narrator, Yunjae, is born with a brain condition that makes it impossible for him to have emotions and to identify or understand other people’s emotions. Yunjae is our narrator, so we see the world through his eyes and interact with other characters through him as well, which is what makes this book so interesting.

As for the language level, 아몬드 is definitely on the easy side, though it is not the easiest book I have read in Korean (for example, I am reading 일의 기쁨과 슬픔 by 장류진, and I find it is easier). With the English translation available though, I think that it is a very good book for Korean learners.