All posts filed under: book review

Book Review: 『コンビニ人間』by Sayaka MURATA

I bought 『コンビニ人間』by Sayaka MURATA (村田沙耶香) on an impulse in October and finished it before having time to write about it in my Wednesday “currently reading” section. In the meanwhile, I read an excellent review of 『コンビニ人間』(Japanese version) by Kazen from Always Doing. 『コンビニ人間』 is a short novel of 160 pages that won its author the Akutagawa prize. The book “人間はさー、仕事か、家族か、どちらかで社会に所属するのが義務なんだよ。” (p66) In a society that constantly throws this kind of reminder to your face, how are you supposed to find your place when, at 36, you have neither one nor the other? Through the story of its protagonist Keiko FURUKURA,『コンビニ人間』describes the struggles of those who are “not normal” and won’t fit in the society either because they cannot or they don’t want to. “あ、私、異物になっている” (p.84) At 36, Keiko is still doing the job she started 18 years ago, like many other students, in a convenience store. Sayaka MURATA describes perfectly well the unpleasant situations a woman will have to face if she cannot justify her existence either by her work or her family. When she …

Book Review: 『日本語びいき』by Yumi SHIMIZU

『日本語びいき』 is definitely one of my best books of the year! The author, Yumi SHIMIZU (清水由美), is teaching Japanese to foreign students and wrote this book for her fellow native Japanese speakers. Through 21 short chapters, she invites her reader to rediscover the Japanese language and let oneself be amazed by patterns that natives usually take for granted. Here is how she concludes her book: “何か一つでも、日本語について「ほう!」と思っていただけましたなら、うれしいです。” About 『日本語びいき』 First of all, I appreciated greatly the structure of the book. Each of the 21 chapters can be read independently and will not exceed 10 pages. I read them in order, but you could jump to the topics that appeal to you most (the author sometimes refers to previous chapters, but I still think that they can be read in any order). Being very short, the chapters are pleasant to read and I never felt overwhelmed with information or grammatical details. It also has funny illustrations by ヨシタケシンスケ. The topics of the book are very wide, the author talks about grammatical particularities, pronunciation, hiragana as well as usages. …

Book Review: 『未来のミライ』by Mamoru HOSODA

I bought the novelisation of the film 『未来のミライ』by director Mamoru HOSODA to try the collection Tsubasa of the publisher Kadokawa. Tsubasa is a collection of books for children with full furigana and a wide range of genres classified in different levels of difficulty. 『未来のミライ』, which is novelised by Mamoru HOSODA himself, belongs to the level “小学上級から”. I am very happy with the collection Tsubasa, and I will certainly buy other books from it. However, I had a hard time reading 『未来のミライ』and I would not have finished it, weren’t it for the sake of this review. Read with furigana It really is a pleasure to read a novel with full furigana. I thought of several ways to use the books of this collection to study: Look up more words: I can’t tell you how often I give up looking up a word because I don’t want to draw the kanji in my electronic dictionary. I mean, having the possibility to draw the kanji rather than doing a painful search by key is a great improvement. But sometimes, …

Book review: 『流星の絆』by Keigo HIGASHINO

I would like to congratulate myself on having read a +600 pages book in Japanese! As it was a book by Keigo HIGASHINO, it was not a challenging read. I consider his books to be among the easiest books I have read in Japanese so far: a writing style that I think is easy to get used to; a detective story that focuses on the plot, and does not attempt to show literary feat by making long descriptions, using difficult words and complicated sentences; enough suspense and tension to make you turn the pages without realising it. Every time I read a novel by Higashino, I am amazed by his capacity to write so many books that are both very similar in style and contain a unique plot, story and mystery. When I started reading the first page of 『流星の絆』, I felt immediately close to the characters and involved in their story. I wanted to know what would happen to them. The sympathy that bounds the reader and the three protagonists together during the very first …

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 …