All posts filed under: books review

Book Review: 「放送禁止」by 長江俊和

I finished reading the three stories of the book 「放送禁止」by 長江俊和 (ながえとしかず), and it was much better than I thought it might be. First of all, I should say that the three short stories in the book are a written adaptation of the TV series of the same name. If you prefer to watch the TV version, then it’s better not to read the book first. Nice mysteries The stories are all told from the point of view of a reporter who is filming a documentary. The reader sees the things through the camera and listens to what the protagonists have to say during their interview or while the reporter films their daily life. First, I thought that it would be more some kind of horror stories that keep you awake at night. Therefore, I was surprised to see that they are not at all “horror” stories, even though I could imagine that the TV series might be scarier than the book. To me, they were more mysteries, involving social topics (family violence, stocker, suicide). …

Book review: 「イノセント・デイズ」by 早見和真

I have finished reading 「イノセント・デイズ」by 早見和真(はやみ・かずまさ) and loved this novel very much. I found the story interesting, I like the themes encompassed in it, and I appreciated the structure of the novel very much. Some themes of the novel The novel starts with what we call in French a “fait divers” (tragic events like criminal cases that don’t concern politics or international matters). Right from the beginning, the reader is given a position: we belong to the public, we read the news, we nod at what reporters and judges have to say, we attend the trial discretely and rejoice ourselves to be reading such an exciting novel. Or at least, this is how I felt that the novel positioned me. A feeling even more strongly felt because I often read similar events in the news on NHK, whereas the French news portal I usually read rarely reports these “faits divers”. On NHK News, on the contrary, there are a lot of criminal cases that echo our novel, and I started reading the novel and the news on NHK almost …

Korean resources: monthly listening magazine for Japanese

I always have doubts when I present Korean resources to learn Japanese because I don’t know if they can be ordered overseas. I have no experience with it myself, but I think that buying Korean books is more complicated than buying Japanese books. But I hope that it will change someday and that it will become easier to receive books shipped from Korea. Anyway, the magazine I want to talk about is NHK 일어. (pronounce: NHK ilo) I can’t really make out much about the publisher http://www.sisafl.co.kr because their website does not seem to have been updated for a while. Anyway, they publish two monthly magazines, one to learn English and one to learn Japanese. How the magazine is structured The magazine has a glossy cover but the 100 pages inside are all in black and white. The only exception is the first two pages with the table of contents (you can see them on the Aladin page). If you just look at the printing quality and the interior design, the magazine does not seem very attractive …

Book Review: 「ぶたぶたラジオ」by 矢崎存美

When I was doing my book haul in Kyoto last December, I took this book only because the cover design was cute:   I also fancied that it would be easy to read, and I was right. It took me a week to read it, and I haven’t even had time to post about it in my “currently reading” category. It definitely was the recreational title of my 2018 reading challenge! Let’s have a closer look! The series The author 矢崎存美 (やざき・ありみ) has written a whole series of stories around ぶたぶたさん. As far as I can tell, there are 21 books and 「ぶたぶたラジオ」is the newest one. There are titles like 「ぶたぶたカフェ」、「ぶたぶた図書館」、「学校のぶたぶた」or 「居酒屋ぶたぶた」. As the author tells the reader in her afterword, our book 「ぶたぶたラジオ」follows a previous one called 「ぶたぶたの本屋さん」, something easily guessed given that ぶたぶた works in a bookshop when our story opens. However, you don’t need to have read the bookshop title to understand the radio one. The book A brief word about the story The cover design and the fact that the main character of …

I finished reading「彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち」by 沼田まほかる

I have finished reading 沼田まほかる’s novel 「彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち」. Reading this book took me a long time, but even though I struggled to go through some parts of it, I enjoyed reading it. I know that some passages were above my level, and even if I could follow the story and most of the dialogues without problems, I may have had a partial understanding of some narrative parts. As a consequence, I don’t feel qualified to write a review of this book. I think I missed some of its subtilities. I will, instead, write about how I read this novel. The story turns around Towako, a young woman, and her relationship with men. Three male characters shape her life: Jinji, with whom she lives, Kurosaki, her former lover, and Mizushima, a salesman she meets in the course of the story. Right from the beginning, though, we feel that something will happen, or maybe has happened, that we, and Towako, still don’t know. To be honest, I read the first half of the novel more with a sense of …

Book review: Asahi Keywords 2019

At the beginning of every year, Asahi publishes「Asahi Keywords 朝日キーワード」, a book that introduces key notions that help to understand the news in all usual domains, from politics to social matters, economics or culture. Published in January 2018, this year’s edition is entitled 「朝日キーワード2019」and summarizes the year 2017 (this is a little confusing…). This book aims at Japanese, not Japanese learners, and is designed for people who don’t necessarily read the news on a daily basis but need to show a certain knowledge of what happened in Japan and in the world these last months. Typically, people who prepare for an entrance exam or a job interview. There is even a special edition called 「朝日キーワード就職2019 最新時事用語&一般常識」, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t tell the difference between the two. Inside the book 「朝日キーワード」 covers all the main topical issues of last year in the following fields: 政治、国際、経済、社会、医療・福祉、環境・国士、科学・技術・情報・通信、労働、教育、文化・マスコミ、くらし、スポーツ. The section “politics”, “international” and “economics” all begin with an introductory double page that introduces the essential points one has to grasp to have a good global understanding …

Book review: 「豆の上で眠る」by 湊かなえ

In 湊かなえ’s novel, the reader is invited to blink into a family’s untold secrets, but before we know it, we find ourselves sharing the protagonist’s emotions and feeling unexpectedly involved in her story. While personal tragedy and family drama give the novel its deepness, the mystery and quest for the truth make it a real page-turner. I finished reading 「豆の上で眠る」 by 湊かなえ and I loved it! The story is much more complex and gripping than I expected it to be by just reading the summary. The summary tells us that we are to expect a “sisters mystery” but I personally thought that the relationship between the little sister and the mother was much more fascinating than the mystery surrounding the two sisters. The narrator and protagonist Yuiko is returning home to visit her mother who had been admitted to hospital. This trip will be filled with memories of the past, focusing on the disappearance of Yuiko’s big sister, Mayuko, when they were kids. Contrary to what the summary suggests, the story is not as much centred …

Book review: 「噓を愛する女」 by 岡部えつ

I finished reading the first novel of my 2018 reading challenge (read one novel in Japanese a month in 2018). I chose a very short one to begin with: 「噓を愛する女」by 岡部えつ(おかべえつ). To summarize briefly the story, Yukari (由香里), a successful working woman pushing 30, is living with her boyfriend Kippei (桔平), who does not seem to want to marry her. When Kippei is brought to the hospital unconscious after he suffered from a subarachnoid haemorrhage, Yukari discovers that her boyfriend’s identity is not what she thought it was. She begins an investigation to discover who he really is and why he lied to her. The novel is very short, 260 pages, and is mainly focused on what Yukari does and discovers. There are very few descriptive parts, which makes it very easy to read for Japanese learners. Every chapter brings new elements that take Yukari and the reader nearer to the truth and this investigation-like story made me keep turning the pages long after I had read my daily quota. But even if reading this …