Sunday, November 14, 2010

Books, Books, Books!

When I first moved into my apartment, I was bored a lot.  I would be allowed to leave work around noon – which was great because I had nothing to do at work either – and go home where I had very little on my to-do list. I had no phone, no car, and knew very few people.  To combat boredom, I attacked books.

Recently, I wondered just how much I have read since I arrived in Japan.  I sought recommendations for books from a few Augie professors and used their recommendations to get a few books for the journey.  In addition, friends and family gave me a few more books and, when I arrived in Kitami, I found others near me who also love to read and have been willing to loan and borrow books. 

Here’s a list of the books I’ve finished since July 22nd, 2010:

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (233 pages)

This novel is a reflection of O’Brien’s experiences in Vietnam and life after the war.  Very well written book that I would highly recommend, but it probably wasn’t the book to read at the time I did since I was the most homesick at this point and stories revolving around war aren't the best way of cheering oneself up.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet (991 pages)

Captivating!  I think that I finished this book in a week.  It’s set in medieval England and the author does a tremendous job of developing each character.  It was hard to put this book down. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (644 pages)

I followed Pillars of the Earth with this novel, and found myself reading for hours each day for the next few days.  It is set in Sweden and uses a few unique characters to make this suspenseful novel much better than your average mystery novel. 

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (670 pages)

Although this may be structurally similar to Brown’s other novels, I found it more interesting than some of his previous ones probably because it is set in D.C. and I spent a semester living in the same city.  

Shogun by James Clavell (1152 pages)

I heard from several people that this is the novel to read if you’re going to Japan.  It’s a fictional novel, but is was another book that I just couldn’t find a good place to stop reading.  It revolves around an Englishman who is essentially marooned in Japan with some of his crew and how he gets swept up in the extremely dangerous politics of the Samurai. This was one of the books loaned to me by a nearby friend. 

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (478 pages)

If you can get used to the author’s relatively ornate or flowerly writing style, the plot continues to pick up through the entire novel.  It is set in Japan as well, but a few centuries later than Shogun.  Jacob de Zoet is a Dutchman who plans on staying in Japan for only five years, but due to events outside of his control, ends up staying much longer.  The story is much better than I just made it sound, though.

Total pages: 4,168.

In-between books, I like to read a few stories from the short story anthology that I got in Sapporo in August at the only store that has a real English section in Hokkaido.  It’s a nice change of pace from the long novels that I have been reading.  

Currently, I’m alternating between The Magnus by John Fowles (655 pages) and World Without End by Ken Follet (1046 pages) and I’m about a quarter of the way through both.  In queue are Regeneration by Pat Barker (250 ) and Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (751).  I believe that I’m set at least into the new year. 

However, I’ve been finishing books at a slower rate than I was in August.  Now, I try to attend my taiko group twice a week for a few hours, and I have karate class on Wednesdays. On top of that, I joined a private gym in town that I really want to use a lot since I’m paying a good chunk of money each month for it.  And since I’m in the “big city” in the area, a lot of local English teachers have to come into town for some reason or another and they often think of giving me a call.  Of course I love that they do so!  I always like to meet up with friends to have a bowl of ramen or to discover new places.  

What this means, though, is that I have to learn to be much more efficient with the time that I do have at home so that I can keep up with my blog, talk with my family, do the dishes (usually the first thing to be sacrificed), and keep reading.  Efficiency is still a work in progress.


1 comment:

  1. Loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, just finished it! Maybe I´ll read the next two in Spanish...hahahaha...I´m glad you´re reading so much, but when do you have time to go out!?! :P