What I Read in January 2017

A new exciting year of reading is ahead of us! Me? My year got off to a decidedly Japanese start, with my first three books all being about Japan or by Japanese authors. And then after that I read another book which was not at all Japanese and not as good. Correlation? Coincidence? Who can say. Here’s what I read:

What I Read in January

Attack on Titan, Vol. 20, by Hajime Isayama (graphic novel)
Finished on 14 January – Kindle (iPad)

Ahh, the latest instalment of my favourite manga series. For a while there I took to reading individual chapters online as they were published (thanks, Crunchyroll!), but you know what? It’s just nowhere near as satisfying. A SINGLE CHAPTER IS NOT ENOUGH. So although I had already read all the chapters within this volume (there are four in each) it was much more fun to read them one after another. I’ve decided to just wait for the volumes to come out on Kindle now, instead of devouring the series as quickly as possible. I reckon by around August, the Kindle volumes will overtake where I got up to with individual chapters. Um, anyway, what was I saying? Yeah, this was great, of course. Featured a lot of Levi being a badass. And yes, apparently I am going to talk about him in every single blog post from now on, even when it’s not book-related. Er.

Rice, Noodle, Fish, by Matt Goulding
Finished on 22 January – Hardback

I spotted this while I was doing my Christmas shopping. The single copy in Waterstones was a bit battered, so I decided to wait it out, because that shit matters, yo. A couple of weeks later I found a pristine copy. I spotted it immediately but there was some dude clambering up a ladder RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT so I just had to stare forlornly at it for a minute. As soon as I got my chance, I grabbed it and took it to the counter. I started reading it on the bus home and was immediately sucked in. Such beautiful, evocative writing. This isn’t a regular guidebook – it tells the stories of seven different regions of Japan and their cuisines, as well as the author’s own personal experiences. It’s interspersed with interesting sections about non-food related Japanese culture, too, like geishas, sex hotels and vending machines. Highly recommended.

Strange Weather in Tokyo, by Hiromi Kawakami
Finished on 24 January – Kindle

I didn’t intentionally read three Japanese books in a row, but the way it happened is pretty serendipitous. I had just decided that, since I often have a hard time choosing what to read next, I should let a random number generator decide for me. So that’s what I did, and this is what it landed on. I laughed and then I dived in. It was fun to read a book set in Japan, written by a Japanese author, immediately after finishing a book all about Japanese culture and cuisine. I was able to picture settings and understand meanings much better than I otherwise would’ve done, and often I went, oh! they really do do that in Japan! Anyway, about the book: I loved it. It’s a love story about a 36-year-old woman who crosses paths with an old teacher of hers (now in his 70s) while they were both drinking sake alone in a bar. It sounds creepy, but it isn’t. It’s whimsical and lovely and it made me cry a bit on the train.

The Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna
Finished on 28 January – Kindle

I started reading this late at night when I was having an existential crisis. As you do. (If you get The Untamed Lowdown, you’ll know all about said crisis.) So yes, I started reading it late one night and finished it the next morning. It’s a slim volume and, although the message is good, the book itself is… well, I think it would be better to read a physical copy rather than a Kindle copy for one thing. It’s full of (what I assume are) colourful, beautiful illustrations. It’s the kind of book where half the pleasure is in the physical thing itself, I think. The book and its message are pretty sparse. But if you’re the type of person who feels you have to meet other people’s expectations constantly, you’ll probably find it useful and inspiring. Personally, the battle I have is against myself and what I think I want and what I really want. So not quite for me, but what the hell, it was a quick, fairly enjoyable read.

My January Book Statistics

Books read: 4

Fiction: 2
Non-fiction: 2

Audiobooks: 0
Kindle books: 3
Physical books: 1

2017 book total: 4

I’m not aiming to hit a certain number of books this year, but I am trying to read something every single day, even if it’s just a couple of pages. (Though ideally more, otherwise I’ll probably only get through, like, three books this year. Short ones.) I’m excited to see how many books I will read in a year with this approach. Click here to follow me on Goodreads.

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