All posts filed under: book review

Book non-review: I give up reading 『光』by 三浦しをん

I still want to believe that I will pick up this book again and read the remaining 60 pages of 『光』. If you follow my blog, you know that I have loved 三浦しをん (みうらしをん)’s other novel 『舟を編む』, but I cannot say the same for this one. I struggled to read 『舟を編む』because the Japanese level was too high for me, but I struggled to read 『光』because I was never able to get into the story. The reason why I am not enjoying this book is better explained using Nancy Pearl’s four doorways into a book. I first heard of these four doorways on Kazen’s blog Always Doing and it was a revelation. It helped me understand why I love or dislike a book. While I cannot really judge for the language doorway, I think that this book is mainly focused on the story and the setting. But to me, the characters door was completely shut. I couldn’t relate to any of the characters, they didn’t feel real enough to me. To be more precise, I found …

Book Review: 『のほほん絵日記』by さくらももこ

This is not the post I planned to write today (I thought I would post in my “currently reading” section), but I heard on Monday that Momoko Sakura had died from cancer on the 15th. I thought it would be appropriate to devote this Wednesday’s post to one of her books. Momoko Sakura is well known for her manga 『ちびまる子ちゃん』but she also wrote a lot of other books and 『のほほん絵日記』is one of them. I bought and read it some time ago but for some reason, never wrote a review of it. 『のほほん絵日記』is a collection of short illustrated journal entries. Initially, these entries were written for a Suntory campaign made in 1999 for their のほほん茶, a product which is, I think, discontinued. I don’t know how Momoko Sakura’s work was integrated into the campaign, but she made 48 entries for Suntory. Later, she decided to collect all of them in a book and added 40 more entries. She describes, in the postscript, how she spent three nights and two days in a hotel in Atami with …

Book review: 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』by 北川恵海

To get back on track after a small break, I picked a book I expected to be easy: 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』by 北川恵海 (きたがわ・えみ). I have already read another book by Emi KITAGAWA, which I liked very much, but I liked 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』even better. I have only positive things to say about this novel, and I can only heartily recommend it to any Japanese learner (because it is easy to read) and anyone struggling with his work. The story As the title suggests, the novel is about quitting one’s work. The protagonist, Takashi AOYAMA is a young salaryman, who has been working for his company for 6 months. He spends most of his time at work, comes home only to sleep, has no friends, no girlfriend, no free time and only waits for the week to be over. Now it is time to write something like “Then he meets a guy named Yamamoto and his life changes”, but it would give the impression that the novel is a kind of candid pursuit of happiness when it is much more than that. …

Book Review: 「私のクラスの生徒が、一晩で24人死にました。」by 日向奈くらら

The book 「私のクラスの生徒が、一晩で24人死にました。」by 日向奈くらら (ひむかな・くらら) reminded me how much I like horror stories and thrillers. I have a taste for thrillers and psycho-thrillers with horror elements but I always find that half of the books I read in these areas are disappointing. It was not the case with Himukana’s book that I found very entertaining. Strangely enough, I could point out some aspects of the books that may be considered as weaknesses, but while I was aware of them, they did not bother me, nor did they prevent me from enjoying the book. Maybe reading in Japanese makes me less demanding? The story Nahoko KITAHARA is a teacher in a select high school establishment. As the title plainly states, 24 students of her class mysteriously die overnight. I liked that the novel does not lose time in endless settings and almost opens on this terrible event. However, I was afraid that the rest of the book would nourish itself from this one event, with characters keeping wondering how this is possible and so on. I was …

Book review: 「虚ろな十字架」by 東野圭吾

「虚ろな十字架」is both a typical Keigo HIGASHINO and a surprising one. Typical in its setting, its characters and the way the story unfolds. From the very beginning, I felt that I was on familiar grounds, reading an author that I appreciate and whose writing style seems to be unchanging throughout the years. The novelty of this novel was in the topic it chooses to handle: the capital punishment. The whole story, though absorbing in itself, can also be read as a debate over the death penalty. In this respect, the novel has a social dimension and an interest that reaches much farther than the pleasure of reading a mystery novel. As for the story in itself, it reminded me of some other novels by Higashino that I have read. It is not a traditional detective story with an investigation made by the police. Murder is to be solved, but instead of tracking down a murderer, the reader will start a journey into the characters’ past. Also, Higashino forces his characters to face difficult moral choices, a …

Book Review 「君たちはどう生きるか」by 吉野源三郎

I have finished reading 「君たちはどう生きるか」by 吉野源三郎 (よしの・げんざぶろう), and as I said in my monthly review on Monday, I did not enjoy reading this book. This being said, I do think that the novel has a lot of qualities and a unique format that makes it interesting, but it just wasn’t for me. This book was first published in 1937. It is a novel for children or at least, young readers, and it has gained considerable popularity with the publication of a manga adaptation last year. It seems now that this story is very popular among adults. (learn more) Why I did not enjoy reading this book I have no intention to criticise the novel in itself, but I cannot start to understand why it is so popular among adults now… Though I usually appreciate reading books for younger readers (sometimes I even wonder if I am not learning languages only to have a good excuse to read books for children), I read this one without real enthusiasm. Children book? I am confused concerning who should read …

Book Review: 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」by 北川恵海

「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」(read: かぶしきがいしゃ) is a novel by 北川恵海(きたがわ・えみ). It is the second book by Emi KITAGAWA, the first one being 「ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる」. It was this last title that drew my attention when I saw it in a bookshop. But I chose 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」because the wrapper band said: 読んだ後はきっと元気になれます… haha, I let myself be influenced by a commercial catchphrase! Even if it the novel is not explicitly categorised as “light novel”, I think that it can be defined as such, given that the author herself uses this word in her afterword. Light Novels I have never read light novels before because their cover is generally very manga-like, or at least this is the impression I have. As I am not really interested in reading mangas, I naturally never have been particularly interested in reading light novels. I don’t even know what “ライトノベル” actually means and I have seen on Wikipedia that there is no strict definition of the genre. (I should maybe just add that there is no illustration in our book). In fact, I didn’t know that 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」 could …

Book review: 「赤い指」by 東野圭吾

「赤い指」is the seventh book of the detective Kaga series “加賀恭一郎シリーズ” (かが・きょういちろう) by Keigo HIGASHINO. Before starting the review of this novel, I would like to say a word about the series. The series First, you don’t have to read them in order. Even though they follow a chronological order (starting when Kaga is still a student), it would not impact the comprehension of each story to read them separately or in a random order. I also find that the books are very different from each other in terms of structure. The first two novels were very similar with two main focalisations that alternate (a chapter seen from the point of view of Kaga, then a chapter seen from the point of view of another character). The third book, 「悪意」was very unique and different from the other novels. The following two books were very similar: we read the story from the point of view of another or other characters of the story and we don’t know what detective Kaga is up to. The sixth book was …