I intended to write this hours ago, watching the early morning sun from my window. And yet, despite going to bed a bit before midnight last night, I slept until past 4 pm today, and it’s the twilight that keeps me company now. My body, in the grips of a flare up and perhaps something more, needed the sleep, and I can’t begrudge it those lost hours. This is not how I meant to ring in the new year: my flare up started on New Year’s Day, and thus my usual cleaning and tidying rituals have had to wait. It’s too difficult holding my hands up above my head to dismantle a garland, and besides my balance isn’t terribly trustworthy right now. The little everyday dreams I’d meant to put into place by now have had to wait as well.
A few years ago, I would have been upset, felt betrayed by my body, restless in my inability to complete simple tasks. But now, I’ve been through the mourning, and am settled quite nicely in acceptance, even contentment. I’m growing up.
So even though this week has not gone as I expected, I will still write and share my thoughts on another new year, one full of promise. There a few points in a year’s cycle that seem to me to naturally encourage reflection, and this is one of them. What I share aren’t resolutions, in the go-getter goal setting sense, anyway. But it turns out resolution is a word with many meanings, including “the act or process of resolving or separating into constituent or elementary parts” and, musically speaking, “the progression of a dissonant tone or chord to a consonant tone or chord” and even a literary one: “the part of a literary work in which the complications of the plot are resolved or simplified.” I certainly break my life into separate parts to decide which areas need adjusting, and then put them back together again, hopefully in a more consonant way. And I have a sense of simplifying to a few overarching themes, for the year at least. So perhaps they are resolutions after all.
I’d like my life to have more:
- fresh air
- talking with family & friends, both online and off
- teaching Thistle tricks
- music (violin lessons will soon commence)
- knowledge of the natural world
and I’d like to have less:
- borrowing trouble.
My life is not typical, but like everyone else’s it has its benefits and downsides. Time is my primary gift, and I would like to value it a little more. I would also like 2014 to be a year of creating (as opposed to consuming): I have found that the more I create, the more satisfied I become, and the easier it is to place smaller, meaner thoughts in context. I do not think judging is always bad; my judgement is what has made me so committed to social justice. Yet negative thoughts can build into a cycle, and the best way I know to break that cycle is to remember that (almost) everyone is doing the best they can, according to what they feel is right.
One of my best friends recently wrote about choosing one word for the year, and I found myself enchanted with the idea. The obvious word would be create, and yet I shied away from it. My thesaurus search for synonyms proved fruitless too. Until I began to just reflect, and came up with making. I like that present progressive tense, without the overtones of the imperative, and creating might have done just as well. But making, with its Saxon roots, somehow seemed sturdier, humbler, and just right for me. In this upcoming year, I’ll be making all kinds of things, from the banal to the life changing, inviting metaphors of yarn and needles and knitting the slim strands into a sturdy, enveloping whole. There will be moments of struggle, I’m sure, dropped stitches that seem impossible to fix. At those moments, I hope I remember why I chose to begin anyway. At least I’ll be able to reread these thoughts.
It’s now pitch black outside my window, and I haven’t even gotten to bookish things. I’m a bit superstitious, and for my first read of the year, I decided to go with an author I knew I could depend on. I ended up choosing Ana Castillo’s Peel My Love Like an Onion, which was just a perfect novel for me, particularly now: full of love and humour and struggle and lots of reflections by an emotionally strong but physically disabled woman. I adored every moment of it, and it definitely got the year off to a good start. I also ended up finishing an entire audiobook, Sally Gardener’s fairy story I, Coriander. It was a reread for me, and kept me good company as I lay in bed, playing with knitting and my Christmas gift yarn, deciding what kind of sweater it wished to be. Just last night, I finished my first nonfiction read of the year, although I’d begun it in the last days of 2013: How the Light Gets In by Pat Schneider. It’s an essay collection by a poet, now in her 70s, that I requested from the library after reading “The Patience of Ordinary Things,” a quietly beautiful poem of hers I encourage you to read as well. It was a graceful, if challenging book, to which Schneider brought a stunning degree of emotional honesty. I feel richer and wiser for having read it.
Now it’s certainly time for me to close this post. I wrote it as much for myself than anyone else, and yet as I begin my eighth year of blogging here, I suspect the blog is once again evolving. There will still be lots of bookishness, but the form of that bookishness might change a little. We shall see.
Happy New Year! I’ll miss 2013: it was a truly special year for me. And I do love odd numbers. But this upcoming year holds much promise, which I will be discussing on Sunday. For today, I thought I’d look back at the books I acquired in 2013! Considering I enjoy building my hypothetical bookcase in my atheneum posts, it seemed interesting to see how that compares to my actual buying habits.
This is the first year I’ve had any disposable income, so it’s the first year in ages I’ve bought books. I ended up using Better World Books as my source, for both their ethics and prices. This year I spent $69.55 on 25 books. I also received 21 books as gifts, most from my mother who used my wish list to also order from Better World Books.
Starting with my books…aside from the Spanish pocket dictionary and Ecuador guidebook (which won’t count in the following analyses), all of these are either by favourite authors or natural history books (you can click on the picture to enlarge it and see the titles). They’re about evenly divided between novels (no short stories or poetry) and nonfiction, between international and US/UK authors, and, excepting the natural history books, between authors of colour and white authors. Of the 23 books, 13 are ones I’ve read before and 10 are new to me; if I take out the natural history books, the ratio becomes even more skewed at 12:6. I prefer to stock my shelves with books and authors I know I can depend on! All of the ones I’ve already read are obviously books I’ve adored.
Overall, I think this stack accurately reflects my current reading habits and interests, except for the lack of classics, because I put those on my Nook instead. It was dictated in part by which books were available as trade paperbacks and counted for the sales Better World Books hosts, but I have so many favourite authors that I still had plenty of options! I haven’t yet read any of the new-to-me books I got, because I’m saving them for after I move (my new library system doesn’t have the same generous holds and interlibrary loan policies as my current one, so I imagine I’ll be looking to my own shelves a bit more), but I feel confident recommending any of the books in the picture if they catch your eye.
And here are the presents! There are 3 crafting books at the bottom (1 knitting, 2 sewing), and the rest also divide quite evenly between nonfiction and fiction, with a poetry collection for good measure (the Atwood). 8 are books I’ve read before and am happy to have easy access to for rereading, and there are 5 natural history books! Lots of international authors; in fact, only the Byatt and Gaiman are US/UK fiction. Of course those home base authors are much more heavily represented in the nonfiction. As above, except for the natural history books, these represent some of my very favourite authors and titles, so I definitely recommend everything in the picture!
Today or tomorrow I’ll add these piles to my actual bookcases, working things in here and there. I think I own between 200 and 300 books, so together these represent a big addition, and it will be interesting to see how my bookshelves evolve with them. I mentioned ages ago that, as I stopped buying books, my shelves were a bit frozen in time, reflecting an earlier reading self. Now, I’d happily say they’re becoming truer to who I am as a reader today. I’m not sure if I’ll have a lot of disposable income in the upcoming year ($70 seems like so much money!), but I plan to visit some library sales at least, and I’m sure I’ll treat myself to a package or two from Better World Books.
Oh! I almost forgot ebooks! Of course I added bunches of free classics, and used my fabulous library for most of the other ebooks I read, but I also bought 2 ebooks before I went to Ecuador, so that when the library ebooks expired (3 weeks) I’d have something other than classics to read. I ended up selecting The Bill McKibben Reader (by one of my favourite authors, this collection offered a lot of pages for not a lot of money) and Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (this was very topical, as I was exploring multiple ecosystems in a country with one of the most diverse bird populations on the planet). I read both during my trip, loved both, and am happy that I’ll be able to reread them easily in the future. I currently have a small gift card, enough for 1 ebook, and I’m sure I want to buy a Susanna Kearsley novel, but I haven’t decided yet if I should save it for her new release or get one of the ones I’ve already read and loved. I only own The Winter Sea, which I bought a couple of years ago during a publisher special for only $2. I prefer having her works as ebooks, since they’re comfort reading for me, and when I’m too sick to hold an ordinary book, I can still read ebooks.
I’m curious, for those readers who also buy books, if you buy with a plan or at whim, and if your buying reflects your reading tastes or is somehow skewed. I now have more books on natural history than any other specific nonfiction topic, despite only beginning to get interested in it! And of course, let me know if we share any favourite authors. :)
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight.
-Ralph Blane, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
I wish for every one of my readers all of the joy, peace, contentment, togetherness and love that represent the best of this time of year, whether you’re celebrating Christmas or the solstice or simply a few days off work. Thank you for visiting my little bookish corner; you have given me many gifts over the years.
As someone who loves traditional mysteries, particularly as comfort reading, and also strives to ensure half of what I read is written by authors of colour, I face a serious dilemma. The mystery genre is dominated by white authors, and what authors of colour there are tend to write grittier fare than I prefer. This makes sense: after all, for most minorities, the police and courts and justice system represent institutionalised racism rather than a comforting, orderly righting of wrongs. I have more thoughts on this, and will probably devote a whole post to it, but right now the point is, in these circumstances Mardi Oakley Medawar is such a treasure for me!
Of Cherokee descent, Medawar writes just the kind of mysteries I love to curl up with: her primary series features Tay-Bodal, a nineteen-century Kiowa healer who’s on the fringes of his warrior-focussed society, whose everlasting curiousity and wry, self-deprecating humour make him a marvelous amateur sleuth. I love the series for its historical setting (Tay-Bodal and his tribe, living in the northern Texas/Oklahoma are at the forefront of the US government’s westward expanding, land grabbing policies) and cultural insights. The integrity of the Kiowa’s social structure and worldview is clearly conveyed, and thanks to Medawar making Tay-Bodal a bit of an outsider, the explanations necessary to white readers feel more organic than forced. Tay-Bodal is regularly torn between his cultural norms and his curiousity, both in the fields of murder and the medical field his life is actually devoted to. The supporting characters are wonderful too, from Tay-Bodal’s much higher ranking and strongly opinionated wife to his good friend, a shaman whose high status would usually prohibit a friendship with lowly Tay-Bodal.
Murder at Medicine Lodge is the third in the series and puts its mystery right at the heart of Native American/white relations. The Civil War has recently ended, and several Native American tribes have gathered at Medicine Lodge to try to create a peace treaty with the US government. There’s considerable mistrust on all sides, and when a US soldier is found murdered on the plains, his superiors believe Tay-Bodal’s chief is the culprit and intend to hang him. Thus, Tay-Bodal must race against the clock to figure out what actually happened. The mystery is well plotted and includes some fascinating historical tidbits. All in all, I loved reading this and am only sad that there’s only one Tay-Bodal book left for me to discover. I hope Medawar plans to continue such a wonderful series, and I highly recommend it to all readers, particularly those who are perhaps nervous to read books by authors of colour that are sad or dark or depressing. I promise, the Tay-Bodal series manages to be both a comfort read without compromising the realities of nineteenth century Kiowa life. They don’t have to be read in order, but if you’d like to start at the beginning, the first one is Death at Rainy Mountain. Have fun!
Suggested Companion Reads
- DreadfulWater Shows Up by Thomas King : a fabulous contemporary mystery with a traditional structure by one of my favourite Native American authors.
- So Far From God by Ana Castillo : if the Southwest setting of Murder at Medicine Lodge appeals to you, this a beautiful Chicana story set in New Mexico. It’s not as comfortable a read, but the strong female cast and touches of magical realism still made it the kind of book I love from page one.
- The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King : it’s impossible for me to think about historical mysteries & not include the Mary Russell books, some of my favourites ever! This is the first one, in case you’ve yet to discover the series.
I found Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye to be a challenge. I thought it was a short novel (the ebook version is 180 pages), only to be discover after fifty pages that it is in fact a collection of three long short stories or short novellas. More fundamentally, the title led me to expect, well, strong female characters. The kind that triumph over adversity and while they go through hardships, come out the other end fundamentally in tact. And looking at the cover, I thought there might be some kind of magical realism involved. I suppose I imagined Marie NDiaye as a kind of French-African early Isabel Allende. I was deeply mistaken.
NDiaye is a powerful writer: her prose entranced me almost effortlessly, with a structure and rhythm that reminded a bit of Woolf, if Woolf wrote in French (I read this in translation, but many of the structures reminded me more of French than English). And her characters are compellingly weird: in fact, the first novella reminded me a bit of Helen Oyeyemi (but more straightforward). Norah, the main character, has journeyed from France to visit her estranged African father in his native country. She’s overcome her poor childhood and become a French lawyer: at first, it seems like all of the problems in the story stem from Norah’s selfish, conceited father. But as the narrative unfolds, Norah’s thoughts are clearly a bit off, becoming stranger and stranger. I loved this bit unconditionally, but it abruptly ends, and I was popped into the head of an even more disturbed character, Rudy.
Rudy is actually insane, and while I could admire NDiaye’s considerable skill in bringing his thought process to life, I absolutely hated being in his head. I kept checking to see when it would end (sadly, this novella is almost a hundred pages, and thus twice as long as Norah’s tale), as every sentence made my skin just crawl. I imagine the strong woman in this tale is his longer-suffering Senegalese wife, a teacher in her own country but now stuck as a stay at home mom in the country due to French employment laws. But the glimpses of her are all through Rudy’s twisted vision and thus don’t provide the reader any relief. The final novella/story takes up the tale of an impoverished, and perhaps mentally handicapped Senegalese woman who, being a young childless widow, is sent by her in-laws on the long, hard attempt to cross northern Africa and immigrate to France. While her story is once again powerfully told, and draws necessary attention to the plight of Africans desperate to enter Europe, legally or not, the hardships she endures made me cry. And as I was reading right before bedtime, I was then horribly concerned about nightmares (I’m prone to them) and ended up staying up for an extra two hours to calm and distract myself.
Now I hope you can see why I struggled so much with this book. In fact, I’m still not really sure what to say. NDiaye is clearly a deeply talented writer, but I’m hesitant to explore more of her books. If they’re similar to the first novella, I’ll probably love them. But if they’re more like the third, or God forbid, the second, I simply don’t have the stomach for it. The darkness doesn’t feel excessive or forced: I do think it’s essential for what NDiaye is trying to accomplish. So I’m left with a dilemma: push more out of my comfort zone, to engage with good writing that, while not problematic on a social justice level, leaves me disgusted? Or draw back? I’m not sure yet, but at least I’ll know in future not to read her work in the evening. I’d also love your thoughts/advice as to what you do when confronted with such books.
If I had unlimited funds, which authors would I want to see filling my bookshelves? That question originally arose from my musings about my home library, and I decided to start a new series to answer it. In Assembling My Atheneum, I’ll discuss the authors whose entire works I’d love to possess, as well as which books of theirs I’ve read, which I already own, and which I’d recommend to those wanting to give them a try. If you’re curious, you can see everyone I’ve featured so far.
This year, one of my favourite discoveries was Beacon Press, which describes itself as “an independent publisher of serious non-fiction and fiction.” It’s a US publisher affiliated with the Unitarian Universalists, and has been in operation since 1854. So far, I’ve mainly explored their non-fiction offerings, but I’m sure I’ll give their fiction a go soon. I love them for the progressive catalogue, full of books sure to appeal to any one interested in social justice issues. If you are at all interested in feminism, or gender/sexuality issues, or race issues (both within the US and on an international scale), or history that looks at marginalised people, or progressive Christianity, or foreign affairs analysed by international authors, and you’re looking for nonfiction authors who aren’t always white, middle class men from the US or UK, you owe it to yourself to peek at their selection. If you’re anything like me, doing a library catalogue search for Beacon Press feels like being presented with the most marvelous candy store and knowing you can choose anything; I get excited by the possibilities and overwhelmed at having to choose where to begin!
The titles I’ve read include: The Springs of Namje by Rajeev Goyal (actually the exception to the rule and one I didn’t much care for), Reimagining Equality by Anita Hall, The Iron Cage by Rashid Khalili, Kindred by Octavia Butler, The Tiger Ladies by Sudha Koul, Ruined by Reading by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Translated Woman by Ruth Behar, Encountering God by Diana Eck, Belfast Diary by John Conroy, and more. These are all books unafraid to confront important topics, from the religious to the political to the personal, and everything in between, written by thoughtful authors for thoughtful readers. The only one of those titles I own is Encountering God, although I might have some other Beacon books without realising it (they have a very extensive catalogue). There’s no point listing the titles of theirs I’d like to read, as every single book of theirs sounds appealing to me! They’re like my dream publisher, and luckily for me they’ve already been around long enough to put out tons of fascinating titles.
Usually on these posts I suggest a title or two for readers new to the author as good places to begin. But in this case, Beacon has such a variety (from poetry to autobiography/memoir to non-fiction on tons of topics to fiction), that seems a bit impossible. I will say that of the books I listed in the previous paragraph, I had the strongest emotional response to Encountering God by Diana Eck (enough to immediately include it in my next order from Better World Books), Translated Woman by Ruth Behar, and Kindred by Octavia Butler (a novel for the nonfiction averse). Beacon also carries quite a few of Mary Oliver’s collections, one of my very favourite poets. Otherwise, I’d suggest simply visiting their website, where they’ve helpfully organised their books by category, and browsing until something gets your attention. I suspect it won’t take long!
Honestly, this is my internal monologue re: The Truth About Stories:
OMG, I heart Thomas King so, so much. I thought I couldn’t love him anymore! But now I do! So much truth telling and pathos and god damned awesomeness! But why wasn’t it three times as long?! I lurved it so much I never wanted it to end!
Ahem. But that isn’t quite the proper blogging form, is it? ;)
Thomas King is a Native American author, dual citizen of the US and Canada, and all-around incredible writer. I’ve read four of his novels and loved them all; his mastery of different styles reminds me of Neil Gaiman. The Truth About Stories is an essay collection in which King meditates on narratives, perceptions of Native Americans, and the deep power stories hold. Sadly, I had to ILL my copy, which means I had to return it ages ago and thus don’t have it next to me to refer to as I write this post. But here’s a taste:
Did you ever wonder how it is we imagine the world the way we do, how it is we imagine ourselves, if not through our stories. And in the English-speaking world, nothing could be easier, for we are surrounded by stories, and we can trace those stories back to other stories and from there back to the beginnings of language. For these are our stories, the cornerstones of our culture.
Part of what makes this book work so well is that King shows as much as he tells. Each chapter begins with the same story, told in a slightly different way by an oral story teller to a slightly different audience: watching it morph while reading the same basic thing several times was a wonderful way to feel the difference between oral and written stories. And each chapter ends with the same line, which gains power at each repetition:
Just don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story.
You’ve heard it now.
By the end, it was giving me goosebumps. Meanwhile, King looks at the dysfunctional relationship white North Americans have had with Native Americans in a way that is loving but doesn’t shy away from the hard, racist truths. He manages to analyse white privilege without alienating white readers, and thus I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to anyone, regardless of their previous awareness of race and privilege. He uses the same gift he has in fiction, to present a truth that transcends differences and unites with the reader while never losing touch with the specificities of individual humans and the societies they live in, but this time in nonfiction.
I’m aware I’m speaking in almost uselessly general sentences. But The Truth About Stories is the kind of book that deserves to be read and reread: not for its own sake but for the reader’s. I adored it, as much for the moments it made me sob as those that made laugh, and just writing this post makes me want to read it again. Clearly, I need to buy a copy for myself, since my library doesn’t have an easily accessible one. And anyone who loves stories enough to read a book blog should go read this too, as quickly as they can get their hands on a copy.
I am studiously ignoring the passage of time since my last post, which seems to be a necessary habit this year!
I love this time of year. I love the weather and the darkness and how contemplative everything becomes. How the plants draw into themselves, and the sky is moody more often than not, and the contrast of the fairy lights outlining my window. I make myself take them down again in January, to preserve their magic.
I’m in a really lovely spot, the two months since my last field notes has seen me process and contemplate and change and grow and settle in, so that now I can simply pause and reflect, feeling good about myself and my life, and enjoy the sense of peace and joy of the season. I’ve found myself rereading more than anything: I just finished Katherine Swift’s The Morville Hours for the second time, and I think I will make it an advent tradition. It’s a perfect book for this time of year. I’ve been indulging in favourite authors, and even getting one new book in Deborah Crombie’s mystery series every time I go to the library. I start it as soon as I leave and likely as not it’s not by the next day. In the past I would have made myself wait, drawn things out from a sense of scarcity, but now I’m just revelling in a new favourite.
I have several new favourite authors this year, and I do intend to share them with you. I’ve made my peace with not being able to post about every book I read, even every 5 star book I read, this past year, but I do plan to reconstruct as well as possible my reading list (I stopped updating this summer) and include a general overview of the ones that somehow touched my soul.
I’ve also gotten back into short stories; I’m dipping at random into My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, edited by Kate Bernheimer, whenever I need to take a knitting break or am switching between my ‘big’ reads or just feel like a story, and it’s been wonderful. On a funny note, my niece was with me when I picked it up from the library; she loves to do the self checkout and now that she’s 7 she’s quite a fluent reader so she always reads the title. This one was on the top of my pile, and as it’s being scanned, she started to read it out loud: “My mother she KILLED me…my father…he…ATE…me?! Auntie?! WHY would you read a book like that?!” in a mix of horror and amused giggling. I started laughing too as I tried to explain. One day I hope she’ll read it for herself and find out.
All photos my own, taken over the past fortnight, you may click to enlarge.
I first heard about Patricia Wentworth and her Miss Silver mystery series from Jenn. As I love traditional mysteries and am always looking for new series to try, I decided to request Latter End pretty much at random from my library’s catalogue.
Miss Silver is an amateur sleuth, as well as being a spinster and retired governness. She first appeared in 1928, and Wentworth continued writing novels featuring her until 1961! My library only has five of series, and since Latter End was written in 1947, it falls in the middle of Wentworth’s writing career. It is definitely a classic mystery: a murder occurs in an old family house, there’s a limited pool of suspects, all of whom have motives, and Miss Silver uses deduction and her fine attention to detail to solve the crime. She also knits throughout, which I enjoyed: I suspect Wentworth herself was a knitter because the knitting is somehow more solid and practical than Miss Marple’s, if that makes sense.
Anyway, I loved spending time with Miss Silver and the puzzle that Wentworth constructed. It took me a bit longer than usual to figure it out, which is always fun! Wentworth’s prose is more serviceable and straightforward than flowery, but that’s fine for mysteries. I will say that gender roles in the book frustrated me a bit: even the apparently strong-willed and independent young woman going to pieces and needing a manly shoulder to cry on. On the other hand I imagine the psychological burden of having a murder committed in your house, being considered a suspect yourself, and knowing it must be one of your family that is the killer would be quite harrowing. Wentworth doesn’t focus on psychology a la P.D. James, but her acknowledgment of it does humanise her characters.
All in all, I will be reading more Miss Silvers in the future. I’ve always wished Christie wrote more Miss Marples, so I’m thrilled to have learned about Wentworth! The prospect of a whole new series of comfort reads is quite satisfying indeed.
You know that sinking feeling, when you’ve read and loved an author’s previous book, and begin another one she’s written, and suddenly realise it might not be as good? But you keep reading, hoping you’re wrong, and it just gets worse and worse? And when you finish you realise you should have abandoned it at the beginning, like your instincts told you to? No? Just me? Well that in a nutshell is how I felt about The Lady and the Monk by Pico Iyer. I loved his book about the Dalai Lama, and I was thrilled he had such an extensive back list. I decided to pick up The Lady and the Monk, because Kyoto intrigues me. I expected a thoughtful, multicultural, new-world-order kind of thing. Instead, I found a deeply disturbing account of Iyer’s time living in Kyoto, complete with creepy friendship-turned-affair he conducted with a Japanese housewife. Um, yeah.
It’s not that I think all such relationships are creepy; no, it’s the way that Iyer wrote about it that was so problematic. Unfortunately, I don’t have the book handy to share passages, so you’ll just have to trust me. First, Iyer creates this weird conceit that Japan is best summed up in the dual figures of a (male, stoic, enlightened) monk and a (feminine, helpless, man-ensnaring, devoted-to-superficial-appearances) lady, and proceeds to analyse all of his experiences through that terribly sexist lens. Which was infuriating enough, but then this Japanese woman entered the picture, and it was as if Iyer never quite realised she was a real, live person. He was so busy objectifying her, making her represent his clever little idea, that it seems as if he carried on this whole relationship just for the sake of his book/argument.
By the end of the book, I was utterly disgusted with Iyer and wishing that the girlfriend had written her own account. As it is, I’m now sad that rather than exploring the rest of his books, I’ll be avoiding him due to his objectification of women. Honestly, the older I get, the less patience I have for that kind of nonsense. It’s particularly disappointing in an author who purports to be cosmopolitan.
Companion Replacement Reads
- The Makioka Sisters by Junchiro Tanizaki (Haven’t blogged about this, but Tanizaki does an excellent job of capturing the lives of upper class Japanese women in a time of social change as Japan approaches WWII. Loved it!)
- A Year in Japan by Kate Williamson : a quiet, reflective, illustrated travelogue by a Canadian artist who spent a year Kyoto.
- A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (which I haven’t blogged about, but it’s just as wonderful as all the hype would have you believe)
- The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura : Okakura lays out some Japanese philosophy for a Western audience in this wonderfully entrancing book which touches some of the themes Iyer attempts to bring up.
- The Pillow Book by Sei Shonogan : let’s let a Japanese woman speak for herself, eh? ;)