All posts filed under: book review

Book Review: 『往復書簡』by Kanae MINATO

『往復書簡』(おうふくしょかん) is a collection of four epistolary short stories by Kanae MINATO (湊かなえ) published by 幻冬舎文庫 (げんとうしゃぶんこ). A journey to the past With the exception of the fourth story, which is very short and a little different than the others, the three main short stories all follow a similar pattern: several people who share a common past or have a connection with it will start exchanging letters. In each story, there is a particular event that lies in the past, altered by the years, the incomplete memories and the things unsaid. The protagonists will unveil this past mystery and search for the truth. I found this format very original and interesting. The stories show how a same event can be experienced and remembered completely differently by the person who where involved at the time. You cannot help but reflect about your own past. It is a little scary to think that your friends might have a completely different recollection or experience of some shared events. In the end, what really happened matters less than the …

Book review: 『手紙』by Keigo HIGASHINO

It took me a long time to read it, but I finally finished the novel 『手紙』by Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾)! Reference: 『手紙』(てがみ), by 東野圭吾 (ひがしのけいご), published by 文春文庫 (ぶんしゅんぶんこ). The story 「差別はね、当然なんだよ」 p317 This novel is not a detective novel, the only murder occurs in the prologue and there won’t be any police investigation afterwards. 『手紙』is about the aftermaths of the murder, and the story is tell from the point of view of the murderer’s brother. Naoki is still in high-school when his older brother Tsuyoshi commits robbery and murder and is imprisoned. His first concern is money, for the two brothers have lost their parents, and Naoki is now alone to make his living. But in a society where discrimination is strong, Naoki will realise that his biggest problem is not the lack of money, but his connection to his brother. In this novel, Keigo HIGASHINO addresses the problem of discrimination and depicts the way the society turns its back on anyone that has a connection to murder.  My thoughts To be honest, I didn’t …

Book review: 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI

(I don’t usually post book reviews on Friday, but I will certainly take some holidays at the end of the month, so if I want to publish all my book reviews before the end of the year, I will have to post twice a week!) I have finished 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI (三上延) and I loved it! It is a light novel published by メディアワークス文庫 (Kadokawa) and as such, it is easy to read, even for Japanese learners. The Book and the Story 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』is a novel, but it is divided into 4 chapters that each contains an independent story. I like this structure very much because the book, while being a novel, allows you to take a break between two chapters without feeling lost when you return to it. The story is simple enough: the young Daisuke meets the owner of a used bookstore, the beautiful and mysterious Shioriko. Together, they will solve mysteries brought by the clients of the bookstore. Hence the subtitle of the book: “栞子(Shioriko)さんと奇妙な客人たち”. To be honest, I was a little afraid …

Book Review: 『探偵倶楽部』by Keigo HIGASHINO

There are 5 short detective stories in 『探偵倶楽部』(The Membership Detective Club – たんていくらぶ) by Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾) and I loved every single one of them! The stories all feature the Membership Detective Club, but the detectives are not the protagonists. The stories mainly focus on the people that are involved or find themselves involved in a murder case. The police is also playing a part in some of the stories, creating a tension between people trying to hide things, police officers who try to solve the case, and the detective agency working in the shadows. But what is really amazing in these stories is the the complexity of the case. You would think that a detective story of 50-60 pages can only have a straightforward plot because there is no room for plot twists, but Higashino is able to condense a very complex story in a few pages. I have been surprised in every single short story because the end turned out to be very different from what I expected. I always consider myself blessed …

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 …